Just a thought....
Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

Tuesday, 06 November 2007

A gem of a plant

Its dull, grey and wet here today. Coolish too. We just saw a news report and photos of snow a few feet deep in Columbia. What's that about? They're right on the equator!

Remember a while ago I blogged about planting my gem squash seeds? I was worried that they wouldn't come up, as the seeds expired in July this year. A few came up. Then the dogs decided they'd love a taste of this strange new herb. They regularly eat my herbs :( They uprooted a few of the young seedlings and munched at others. I 'transplanted' a couple back into the pot and hoped. The third time they uprooted them, I found some mesh and tied it over the pot. They're doing well now, as you can see in the photo. My lavender died. I have a feeling the squash will climb the lavender stem in this pot. Jorge stuck two of the squash seedlings in there, as the lavender was already long gone. I'm going against all the rules of squash growing as it is by planting them in a pot and hoping for a harvest, but even if I just get a few squash, I'll be thrilled. I'll send seeds to all my needy squash-deprived friends out of this harvest... promise! Never mind customs. I'm becoming a customs pro lol

For those who don't know what gem squash is, its a squash that, to my knowledge, is exclusively South African, though, at the rate the expats are going, it's fast becoming international. Here is a pic I found of some squash. This lot was grown in Australia. The average size of a gem is about that of a large apple. The outer skin is hard, though often cooks soft and I love to eat it with my squash. Back home, we serve our squash with salt and a dollop of butter or, as my gran raised me to, with sugar and butter!! Then there's the ever-popular gem squash served with creamed sweetcorn and butter, often topped with cheese. I'm drooling as I'm typing this. If you want more info and a delicious-looking recipe, here is another expat blogging on gem squash: cooksister (I believe her name comes from koeksister, which has me drooling for yet another South African institution *sigh*)

Let me get a move on now and off to the kitchen. I'm going to start a batch of aniseed rusks ;) Want some? We've not had any since moving to Brazil. I finally found a recipe that doesn't involve buttermilk, which we don't have here.

From Wiki, on rusks:"In South Africa, 'rusk' normally means the biscuit, which is considered a traditional food (called beskuit in Afrikaans) and is eaten after having been dipped in coffee or (less often) tea. Historically, rusks evolved (along with biltong) during the country's early pioneering days as a way to preserve bread in the dry climate. It was traditionally baked at home, but there are now several mass-market versions available, the most famous probably being Ouma Rusks. Many bakeries, dellis and home industries also sell them, often using more exotic ingredients than their mass-market counterparts. In addition to the traditional "plain" and buttermilk flavours, flavours available, such as wholewheat, condensed milk, muesli, and lemon poppyseed are available."

Oh, I just found an interesting article on Ouma Rusks at Wikipedia. While you go off to read that, let me share the recipe I'm going to use today. For those who don't know rusks, do try it for a taste of South Africa. They're delicious dunked in coffee, the bigger the mug, the better. Some folk even dunk them in tea ;)

Aniseed rusks
1 kg (2lb) cake flour + 2 cups
7 g (half a teaspoon) salt
250 g (8oz - about a cup) butter
30 ml (2 tablespoons) whole anise seeds
20 g (0.6oz - a tablespoon... just measured the package) instant yeast
300 g (9oz) sugar
1 egg
300 ml (0.6 pints) water

1. Sift flour and salt together. Rub butter into flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix in the anise seeds, yeast and sugar.
2. Make a hollow in the flour. Break the egg into the center. Add the water slowly, stirring and checking consistancy. You may need a little more flour. Knead until elastic.
3. Cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place until double in size. Don't knock back.
4. Shape into balls and place in a deep bread tin sprayed with nonstick baking spray. Leave to rise until even with the edge of the tin.
5. Place rusks in the oven, preheated to 200 °C (390°F), immediately reduce temperature to 180 °C (350°F), and bake for 45 minutes.
6. Remove from tin. Leave rusks to cool completely before breaking them apart (do not cut with a knife).
7. Dry out in the oven at 100 °C (200°F).


  1. Hi Tint!! Thanks for reminding me you were here too. I've linked you to my page. :D

  2. Now all you need is some peppadews, eh?

    My husband, also ex-South African, went nuts when he had rusks for the first time in at least five years here in Canada. I developed quite a fondness for them myself, the last time we visited SA.

  3. I miss gem squash! Can't grow them here - too cold. :-( Maybe if we got a hot house one day!

    On the plus side there are three online shops selling SA stuff in the UK. Last Christmas my mom and I got our magic box of Milo and chutney and rusks. :-)

  4. Michelle, I'm sooo envious of my UK and USA friends with their SA shops *sigh* I haven't had Milo in over 10 years, not to mention rusks. These rusks ended up far too dark. I didn't have the right drying facilities, so the experiment hasn't been repeated. Last time Tat went home, she brought back a jar of marmite... that was eked out over a year.

    The squash here didn't work either. We're too hot and humid. No matter how I do it, they get moldy and die :( Ah well.... c'est la vie...

  5. hi from SA

    i was just lookin for a recipe for aniseed rusks and came across your blog. Do you know how to make melkos? I have had little success. A nanny I had as a child used to make for me and mine never tastes like I remember hers tasting.

  6. hi from SA

    i was browsing around for a recipe for aniseed rusks when i came across your blog. I like my gems with butter, dash of cream and seasoned with black pepper. Im looking for a melkos recipe. a nanny i had as a child used to make me melkos and nothing ive tried tastes like what i remember.


  7. Joano, thanks for visiting :) There is a good recipe for Melkkos on my friend, Peter's site:

    I cheat. I make it without the 'noodles'. Quick comfort food ;)

  8. Anonymous2:03 AM

    If you live in Canada and want some South African food -depending on where you stay - you can try http://www.jimports.ca/ which is Serengeti foods and they ship as well. I live in Regina SK and found the best resources for me here is the Indian (east) food stores as they keep Marmite, Mieliemeal, and various other Knor etc. products which is also UK items sold in SA. I have also found Star Deli (Italian) in Victoria street has a big selection of SA foods. You just need to shop around. Safeway and also now our Wallmart stocks Lyle's golden Syrup. Great Canadian superstore (presidents choice in SK) stocks cream crackers under the name English Crackers exact replica. If you want Boerewors you can ask your local Butcher to make your own recipe or use this one http://www.food.com/recipe/south-african-sausage-boerewors-50588 . Hope this helps
    Kind regards MN

  9. Hi MN, I'm posting your comment in case someone from Canada stops by for a visit :) I'm in Ireland now and have a South African shop nearby, but I find that Ireland has a lot of our products or similar anyway, as does England. I've made my own boerewors (that was some adventure!) and it turned out wonderfully. I must really get a sausage machine and mincer again. As we say, 'n boer maak 'n plan!


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