My beloved baby sister, Alison, (who makes THE BEST Curried Minced Beef and Vetkoek in the world)her husband, Marius, and 2 children are now living in New Zealand which is a real bummer for me as I haven’t seen her in over 3 years. My wonderful niece and nephew, Bianca and Martius (who clearly take after me!) are also sorely missed by their crazy aunt. My darling sister suffered a bad stroke last year at the (very young) age of 38 (and yet another this week), but is pulling through with humour and charm. Headline: Strokes and sex changes. Read more to find out what this means….
She spent 4 months in hospital last year and said at night the “lolly trolley” came by. I found it quite surprising that they brought around sweets at nighttime, but no, a “lolly trolley” is the NZ word for the medicine cart.
She also informed me that she is now apparently a man. I said that I had no idea that a sex change came with a stroke, but it seems that it does. Her occupational therapist told her that since the stroke she can no longer do two things at once (for example, like drink coffee and move about; think and act in one go) so this automatically qualifies her as a man. Poor thing!
My baby sister is actually almost a foot taller than I am (slight exaggeration), lucky thing. I am glad not to have stayed as short as my lovely Granny and uncle who was a mere 4ft9” – at 5ft4” I’m a giant on that side of the family. My Mom’s side is taller and I have to stop people from carrying me around.
When my b-i-law and I taught my sister how to drive, we decided to have a little fun and wear motorcycle helmets (as one does) in the car. She was doing very well when we asked to pull into a parking lot outside a shop. With not many driving instructor skills, we failed to mention that she needed to slow down and then turn……she turned into the spot at about 40km an hour, mounted the curb and came to a sudden and abrupt stop DIRECTLY in front of the shop window. People were stopped in horror at the sight of this maneuver and 2 helmeted people sitting in the car. Oops.
Marius was always a keen diver and we would often head off somewhere for the weekend so that he could go diving (and I could flirt with all the surfers and other divers). Thank heavens for family I say! Should the beautiful blonde diver I met in Plettenberg Bay called Richard still remember the salivating blonde that chased you around, I still would (if I could, but I do have to watch my back these days..)
Anyway, I’m getting off the subject. Marius was doing a group dive and was buddied with another woman. The story goes that they were diving with seals when she felt a bump to the shoulder which she assumed was one of the over-playful seals. Marius was giving her major hand signals to go up and she was very annoyed to have to cut the dive short. Once up, he told her it wasn’t a seal but a Great White Shark that had bumped her. Gulp. The shock was huge and so I was forced to drink out of solidarity. Poor me.
My sister is a great cook and so I’m going to introduce you to a great South African favorite that she makes best of all – Vetkoek and curry.
CURRIED MINCE AND VETKOEK
VETKOEK is fried bread dough, not exactly a Weight Watchers dream meal, but deeelicious. In South Africa, you can buy fresh bread dough in the supermarket and then you just pull off pieces, drop them into hot oil and wait for them to turn brown before turning them over and browning the other side. This takes a little practice as if the oil is too hot then they brown too quickly and are not cooked in the middle.
We have the curry ready and make a few Vetkoek at a time and just have people start eating as they come out of the pan as they taste best fresh. You can, however, make them up and then warm them in the oven or microwave, but as I said, fresh is best. You can use any bread dough recipe you have and just tear off pieces of dough about the size of a small bread roll – they don’t have to be perfectly round. You can also eat them spread with butter and jam, or serve with herbed butter alongside grilled meat.
CURRIED MINCE: In SA, we add apricot jam to a lot of savory dishes as it gives a lovely mild sweet flavor to dishes. Try it and see how you like it! If you do not wish to make Vetkoek, then you can add ½ a bag of frozen mixed vegetables and serve the curry with rice. This is also quite superb.
2 onions, chopped
2 tbsp curry powder (see NOTE)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp mince spice (optional)
1 tbsp apricot jam
1 clove garlic, crushed or ½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
500g minced beef
1 small tin of tomato paste
400g tin of tomatoes
5 potatoes, diced
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup water
2 tbsp chutney
salt and pepper to taste
NOTE: You can use your own curry mix, or bought curry powder. You can use Hot Curry powder (I like this!) or Mild and Spicy (my Sis likes this), depending on how hot you like your curry. Home mixed spices taste very different to store bough, but store bought mixed work really well in this recipe. The turmeric adds a deeper color to the curry.
1. Sauté the onions till browned and then add the curry powder for a minute. Add the turmeric, mince spice if using, salt, garlic and apricot jam, and continue to sauté until the jam dissolves and then add the minced beef and stir fry till it’s no longer pink.
2. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, potatoes, Worcester sauce and water and cook till the potatoes are done, about 20 minutes. Stir in the chutney, add more salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!!