It was only recently online that I came across the concept of beeswrap – linen or cotton saturated in beeswax used to wrap food as an environment-friendly alternative to cling wrap. Apparently you can wash it with cool soapy water and keep reusing it.


We get such pretty chitenga fabrics here (and they’re cheap, K35 for 1,5 m pure cotton) and I already had a brick of beeswax purchased from the Luanshya turn-off honey stand…

Beeswax has a pretty high melting point but what surprised me is how quickly it starts to cool and set! Oh, if you’re allergic or freaked out by bees, seal up the kitchen before you do this because I had roughly a dozen bees rock up for the party the minute the wax started melting. It’s a beautiful smell.


You can see here how the wax was a little uneven and starting to set, so I popped it into the oven on grill and that melted it all nice and evenly. Then you can just pour off the excess beeswax into silicone moulds to use another time.

If you’re averse to messing about in the kitchen you can just buy them online. This was quite fun – I think I will be making some more 🙂  (yes, that’s beeswax spattered on the kitchen floor…)




Red Canna Lily is a Weed!

The flower on the right is a canna lily, unsurprisingly classified as a weed by an Australian website I looked at; it pops up everywhere in the garden without any encouragement.

The little floribunda roses are doing their thing – a month after Valentine’s Day of course 🙂


It’s been a while since we last had bananas so I was quite chuffed to see this bunch developing. There definitely is a link between having banana trees in your garden and having more mosquitoes around, but I’m happy to coat myself in citronella and such in exchange for having one of my favourite smoothie fruits conveniently growing a few metres from the kitchen door. It’s also very beneficial to use banana leaves in your compost.


Smoked chicken filled basil ravioli with creamy tomato and thyme sauce

This was so super yummy! I had some smoked chicken breast, so minced a small one in the food processor and made the usual pasta recipe with two big handfuls of fresh basil leaves.

For the sauce, chop 1 medium tomato, 1 small onion and 1 clove of garlic. Add 1 tablespoon tomato puree, 60 ml red wine, 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves, 30 ml cream and 1/2 cup water. Let it cook and thicken for about 15 – 20 mins.

If you’re doing the ravioli straight away, pop it into a large pot of boiling water – it takes about 3 minutes to cook.

Dish out the ravioli, pour the sauce over and top with grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.


Guavas in Syrup

February is the month of guavas here in Kitwe; loved by some but mostly reviled because of its association with the putsi or botfly which infests the overripe and rotten fruit. Ironically, every guava tree I’ve ever seen here fruits prolifically and it seems an awful waste with the fruit going uneaten and the carpet of festering mash beneath the tree. :-p I pick the guavas while they still have a bit of green on the skin, which gives them a 50/50 chance of being worm-free, and then chop them up and cook them in syrup. The dodgy ones go into my compost heap, of course. 🙂


Here I had 1,7 kg of guavas to which I added 300 g sugar, a good squeeze of lemon juice, some cardamom pods for fun, and probably about 2 cups of water. I don’t have a super large pot so I used my wok to let this all bubble away for about 15 minutes; it’s fruit in syrup, not jam after all.

I like to eat them chilled with cream or yogurt poured over.



One Cake Recipe – Two Ways

I found this recipe somewhere online for a lemon coconut loaf and it has become one of my favourite go-tos for when I am craving a little teatime treat. The only way I have changed the recipe is halving the amount of castor sugar in the cake mix, because all that sugar is totally unnecessary. Besides, the glaze provides plenty of sweetness.

I cream 1/2 cup castor sugar with 125 g margarine/butter. Beat in 2 eggs. Sieve in 500 ml cake flour, 10 ml baking powder and 1 ml salt. Add the zest of 1 lemon, 1/2 cup desiccated coconut, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup milk and 5 ml vanilla essence.

Pour into a loaf tin and bake at 180 degrees Celsius for about an hour. This is quite a lot of mixture so alternative you can make about 18 medium cupcakes which you would bake for twenty minutes at 180 degrees Celsius.

Once the cake has cooled a bit, mix 1 cup icing sugar with 2-3 tbsp lemon juice to make a glaze and drizzle it over the cake.

Ruby grapefruit substituted for the lemon is a nice spin on this, and then I tint the glaze a super soft pink with 2 – 3 drops of red food colouring.



The Chocolate Version:

Omit the lemon zest and coconut from the above recipe. Instead of plain water, use 1/2 cup strong coffee. 

To top with ganache I simply melt 160 g dark chocolate (nothing fancy, I save Lindt for eating) in a double boiler or just a bowl over a small pot of boiling water. Stir in about 60 ml milk. Allow it to cool a little before spooning over the cake.

You can decorate it with M&Ms, crumbled Cadbury Flake, chocolate vermicelli or whatever takes your fancy. Here I used some honeycomb that I had blitzed in the processor. Honeycomb is super easy and fun to make and you can always keep it in a container in the fridge for when you want to add a finishing touch to a creme brulee, ice cream, homemade truffles…you get the idea – versatile stuff. Here is the link to Nigella’s recipe if you want to give it a bash. Personally I like to use honey instead of golden syrup.


Feta and Sundried Tomato Ravioli

A friend of mine inherited a pasta rolling machine and couldn’t stop raving about the dishes she was making at home. Being a fellow carb lover I was hugely envious and so dropped some heavy hints to the hubby that I desperately wanted a pasta maker for Christmas. Jamie Oliver, purists and little old Italian ladies will tell you that you don’t really need a pasta roller. Phhht! Tell that to the chewy clumpy attempt at spinach tagliotelle I made some months ago. Even the husband declared it inedible and he’s not that fussy (as long as there are no raisins, baked fruit, eggplant, olives or artichoke involved).


So my pasta roller arrived in town last week and was assembled on the weekend. Monday involved getting to grips with the machine; actually quite simple when you read the manual but hugely frustrating if you don’t. I whipped up a batch of tagliatelle with rocket, parsley, basil and comfrey – which may sound a bit strange but I’ve been unlucky with spinach lately. I chucked a couple of leftovers into a pot and poured over some evaporated milk and thickened it up with some flour. It sounds like a dogs breakfast but it actually was amazing, our first batch of homemade pasta and now I can understand why Sherry says she can’t go back to store-bought pasta.

So today I thought to challenge myself with a little ravioli attempt!

I blended 100g diced, cooked and drained butternut, a little sprig each of rosemary, sage and thyme and 1 egg in the Nutribullet, with 1/2 tsp salt. I made a well in 170g flour in the cake mixer, dropped the wet ingredients in there and let the Kenwood do her thing for a few minutes.

I rolled the pasta a few times and then cut out long squares and filled them with a blob of my chosen filling: feta cheese blitzed with 3 sundried tomatoes.

I sealed them up with a fork, much like edging pies, and kept them in the fridge until lunch. It was amazing how quickly they cooked – popped into a pot of boiling water they were rising to the top in about 2 to 3 minutes. I drained off the water, drizzled them lovingly with olive oil, a generous grinding of black pepper and some pecorino gratings (you could use parmesan to the same effect). To be repeated often! 🙂




Maybe the World’s Tiniest Pineapple

I think I may have grown the world’s tiniest pineapple. Not that I’m going to bother contacting those Guinness record people though – it will be eaten long before they send someone to Zambia to verify its minuteness. Oh well, it is the first pineapple I’ve ever grown in my garden and so I’m very proud of it anyway and will be watching my ten or so other pineapple plants for further developments.



“Oh what lovely crab claw flowers you have!” exclaimed Trish, one of the coffee gang, on a visit to our house. “Oh, is that what it’s called?” I beamed, glad to be enlightened. For those who like to be very specific I can now say it’s a heliconia rostrata. I got one from my friend Liz and it propagates like mad. The first time I ever saw one was at a butterfly farm in Phuket and I hadn’t imagined something so exotic thriving in our dry heat, but it does alright.


The ants and I adore the soft, sweet gingery scent of these white butterfly ginger blooms. I find it a nice addition to a cup of rooibos tea 🙂