Riots of reds, festivals and feathers

t has been a somewhat riotous time in South Africa over the last few months. Funny how, 1976, 1986 and now 2016 are all memorable because of riots – about education. No, I’m not going to break my own rule – yet. Despite all this, life goes on and red has been a theme running through our spring days.

It has been a somewhat riotous time in South Africa over the last few months.  Funny how, 1976, 1986 and now 2016 are all memorable because of riots – about education.  No, I’m not going to break my own rule – yet.

The riots to which I allude are either fun or infinitely benign and only consequential in that they represent my honouring a promise I made a while ago, and when I mentioned that we’d had unseasonably hot weather.  Since then, the pendulum has continued to swing, so to speak, with cold, a bit of wet (not enough) and heat – over 35°C last week, with much more to come.  The Husband reminded me, yesterday, that we’ve had snow in both September and November – heaven sent that would be, if we have a repeat performance.

Despite all this, life goes on and red has been a theme running through our spring days.  It begins each year as we watch the weavers’ dowdy winter plumage turn cardinal red.

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It’s also the time of year that our valley is féted with a phalanx of festivals.

A pelaton cycling the Ride2Nowhere, McGregor Food and Wine Festival and celebrating poetry

Fiona’s Favourite had an offering for two of them, with one concluding with an “official” inauguration of the newest addition to The Sandbag House.  More of that another time.

One festival was at the tail-end of winter and the other at the top-end of spring.  The former should have been cold and windy, the latter balmy, sunny and warm.  Instead, the weather gods did as they are wont, and it was the other way around.  Although my “menu” had been set for the winter festival, a look at the weather forecast suggested mid-summer!

Then Jan Boer arrived at the local with the now-regular gift of under-sized beetroot.  This time, in much larger quantities than usual.

More beetroot than we could wade through – and we enjoy beetroot.

Talk about seeing red!


Cleaned, boiled and bottled.  Everything was red.

It did, however, solve the problem of something cool and refreshing to serve in the mid-summer heat of late winter.

So, here’s my long-promised recipe for beetroot Gazpacho.  It’s adapted from a recipe by Justine Drake and in Jenny Morris’s 2006 book More Rude Food.morrisdrakegazpacho

Just realised that this is at least the fourth recipe that has a Jenny Morris‘s connection….

Beetroot Gazpacho

6 – 10 (depending on the size) beetroot, cooked and peeled
2 long English cucumbers
1 each red and yellow peppers, stem, pith and seeds removed
2 red chillies
3 cloves garlic
4 tblsp red wine vinegar & a dash of balsamic
2 cups vegetable stock (the recipe says chicken)
1 litre tomato juice (or 3 cans, peeled, chopped tomatoes)
1 onion (red or white)
freshly ground black pepper (I left out both the sugar and the salt:  enough of the latter in the stock and with the baby beetroot I used, and the balsamic vinegar, sugar wasn’t necessary)

Blitz all the vegetables except the beetroot until chunky.  set about a quarter of this aside.

Place the rest of the ingredients in a sufficiently large bowl and pureé with an immersion blender until smooth.  Be careful not to splash!  Taste and season accordingly.

Then add the chunky vegetables and stir through and/or reserve to garnish when serving.  Chill and allow the flavours to develop before serving.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream, créme Fraiche or yoghurt.

Note:  Traditional Gazpacho includes bread, but because I stopped eating bread if I can possibly do so politely, some two years ago, I left it out.  By all accounts, it has not detracted from the flavour or the texture.


© Fiona’s Favourites

23 thoughts on “Riots of reds, festivals and feathers”

  1. Some cooking blogs are touting sales, but this one seems to “sell” without advertising. You do a masterful job of making people hungry.

  2. I love the colors of summer, I think that I will try the beetroot gazpacho, my sister has been making me buy beetroot because I am anemic and I have limited ways of cooking/preparing it so this will come in handy

    1. Do and check out the other beet recipes – salad with goat’s cheese & rocket. Am going to test a salad with apple that you can eat hot or cold next time I have them

  3. Beautiful birds.
    We do like beetroot here and I used to pickle it myself with beetroot from an organic box scheme in the UK. Then laziness stepped in here in Gib and we started buying organic beetroot in packs from the sm. But they’ve stopped doing it now, so I may consider doing it again. Not sure about beetroot gazpacho, my beetroot mousses ranks along with a soya bean casserole (tough beans) as my worst culinary efforts ever!

  4. Will try! BTW…I just came across a beet wellington recipe. If you are unable to find it…I will happily send you the link. Cheers. 😉

    1. It is so easy and really refreshing. And quite simply (ha!) spectacular if you want to impress… I shall look for that recipe and let you know – thank you 🙂

        1. And the common all garden chook – the roosters are usually gorgeous. I confess I had to resist making any comments about cocks and testosterone! 😛

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