Home for the holidays: cooking in a foreign kitchen

Summer is finally here and so are the holidays.

What better way to spend the holidays than with family, right? But my family is now big and far apart, between my family in law in Cape Town and my mother and siblings in KwaZulu Natal. My holidays then have to be decided into two.

Mainly because of my son, everyone wants to see him. Never mind me and my husband, all they are interested in is tge grandson! #sulking face. It has become tricky since we’ve had him.

Both sides want to spend more time with him, obviously not always practical. He was born in Cape Town and paternal grandma and grandpa were so excited to be part of the process but maternal grandma obviously not impressed by missing out on the experience. Then we moved to KwaZulu Natal for 2 years then she was happy to share these first 2 years of his life. But paternal grandparents were not impressed on missing out. Now we’re back in Cape Town, paternal happy but maternal grumpy about. We cannot win! I suppose it’s all coming from a good place. But keeping everyone happy has proven an impossible job.

So the plan these holidays are to spend Christmas with the maternal family, New Years with the paternal. It means a bit of travel but I think everyone will be pleased, well I hope so because it is costing an arm and a leg. 😳

Coming home has always been the best feeling, the much friendlier faces, replaced environment and the exceptionally warm waters of the Indian ocean- priceless. And to see my little brothers’ and sisters’ faces is always elating too. I still love how my little sister who’s now 6, won’t allow the other sisters to call my son their nephew. As far as she’s concerned, she’s the only Aunt and the others must go find their own nephews! 😘

To save money we’re staying at a friends house in the small town we used to stay in, Mtunzini, between Durban and Richards Bay. Not at my mother’s because my husband cannot physically survive Natal without an airconditioner! It gets that impossibly hot and humid. And understandably there are no air cons in the townships.

Proceeding to my most loved topic: food. I’ve already had my mother’s best beans on toast. She really makes the best beans! Simple flavours yet so wholesome! But her samp and beans are even better! I miss them the most. I’ve even made them for this blog, with fish.

Anyway, we’re staying over the friend’s house( he’s a bachelor and obviously doesn’t have the most stocked pantry and fridge). And I now need to cook, I feel this could be a big challenge. But I’m up for it.

I decide on pan seared lamb rib cutlets served with a potato cake, carrot balls and rocket salad finished with onion rings.


What do you need? Serves 4

  • 8 lamb rib cutlets

  • Carrot balls

  • 1 onion

  • 6 potatoes

  • Butter

  • 1 egg

  • Handful of grated cheese

  • Rocket leaves

  • Horseradish

  • Liquid from canned pepperdews

  • Spices- pepper, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, paprika, bay leaves

The marinade ingredients
The marinade ingredients

What to do?

Start with the potatoes. Peel and thinly dice the potatoes, for quicker cooking time. image

Throw the potatoes in to a pot with hot water, salt, 3 slices of ginger and 2 bay leaves. We are trying to make mash, packed with  flavour.

In the meantime, marinade your lamb. Mix 1 tsp of grated ginger, 1 tbs of garlic( you can never have too much garlic!), 1/2 tsp of; salt, pepper, paprika. Combine well with 30ml of Pepperdew liquid. Then rub well on the lamb. Leave to cook last, let it marinade.

Marinade the lamb
Marinade the lamb

Go back to potatoes. When cook through, take off stove, drain the water.

On to a bowl add the potatoes, knob of butter and 1 tsp of grated/finely chopped garlic and mash. Add 1 egg and mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Then shape into roughly balls and place on the oven tray, top each ball with sprinkles of grated cheese, place the bay leaf and ginger slices from the boiled potatoes. Put into the oven at 200 degrees for 20 minutes. This is not the biggest oven I’ve ever cooked in but it’ll have to do.


Peel onions and cut into rings, lightly saute in a pan with olive oil. Seasoning with salt and pepper when soft.


Boil the carrot balls in salted water, until al dente. Then drain the water and set aside.

Now back to the headliner. Sauté the lamb in a hot pan with just a drizzle of olive oil and a thin slice of butter. Feeling quite naughty tonight cooking with butter but  it’s the holidays and I’ve been mostly good this year 😜.

Brown each side, not taking more than 1 minute a side. When perfectly brown, add 50ml of red wine, the liquid from the marinade and lower the heat. Let this simmer for 3-5 minutes, to make a red wine sauce.image

Lamb off the heat, check on the potato cakes.

Potato cakes aka rosti
Potato cakes aka rosti

When done, dish up and dig in. Don’t forget the rocket and horseradish to serve, Remember to try make your plate look pretty.


imageDinner in a foreign kitchen: served! Bon Appetit!image


It actually didn’t turn out too badly. The dogs even seem to approve, enjoying the bones!

Author: preciousgarnett

I'm a multi-faceted young woman. I'm a proud mom to a now 8 year old 😜. I'm a daughter, I'm a sister and a friend to an amazing circle of powerful people ❤️ I'm a medical doctor, public health specialist currently in marketing I live food, from cooking to finding the best spots in town and in my travels for a good meal. Health, Fitness and Nutrition fanatic. I live by a few beliefs...: 1. Before I do anything whether related to food or not, I ask myself ' Is it worth the calories?' Whether literally or figuratively( i.e. Is the decision worth the stress, effort, investment) 2. What you put in must come out! If you don't let it out, it settles on your tummy and hips. 3. 'Everything happens for a reason'. I try reflect on situations I find myself in, whether by choice or not. And look for Lessons I'm meant to learn from them, in order to grow.

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