Things South African: food and humour

As I mentioned in my previous post, my website is undergoing a make-over as I’m consolidating my writing workload.  I’m working on populating my web pages with interesting material for my readers and followers. Like this video I posted on my media page by South African comedian, Trevor Noah:

Noah’s humour ties into what I’ve written in my memoir, An Immoral Proposal. It’s only now, post-apartheid that the racial playing field in South Africa is level, we can laugh at how diabolical apartheid was.  As stand-up comedy is relatively new to South Africa’s young democracy, Noah, the product of a white father and Xhosa mother, has gained international fame drawing on his experiences growing up under apartheid.  In January, 2012,  Noah became the first South African stand-up comedian to appear on The Tonight Show and a year later on the Late Show with David Letterman. Click on my media page to see more videos. http://www.jenniferbgraham.com/media/

In my book,  An Immoral Proposal, I write about my grandmother’s culinary prowess. Raised by her,  I’ve inherited the knack of cooking by instinct. Like many talented Capetonian cooks, I blend my herbs and spices very much like paint on an artist’s palette when marrying them up to tantalize the taste buds. I’m in the process of putting together an e-recipe book featuring favourite traditional recipes of Cape Town. The “Mother City’s” culinary history dates back to the 17th century when Malaysian prisoners under the watch of their white colonial masters set foot on South Africa’s shores from European colonized Java and neighbouring Indonesian spice islands.

These talented slaves made a huge cultural contribution to Cape Town, especially in the food area. They introduced exciting blends of spices, tastes and textures to the bland fare of their European masters. Dishes like bobotie (a fusion of curried, sweet and sour, ground lamb topped with a savoury egg custard layer) is today a national favourite.

South African bobotie

South African bobotie

Any self-respecting South African cook knows virtually by heart how to make bobotie – each one putting his/her own spin on it.  Other favourites like bredie and sosatie derived from the Malay-Portugese cookery vocabulary.  While most of these recipes were ostensibly handed down orally, I do remember my grandmother’s Croxley hardcover exercise book with favourite recipes scribbled down in pencil. The Malay slaves passed down that inherent knowledge of subtly spice-infused food cooked by “feel.”  It’s the knowing instinctively, for instance, to add the tiniest pinch of  ground cloves to your meatloaf that sets apart Capetonian cooks from others.

Every month I offer the Recipe of the Month.  This month’s recipe is the “smoortjie.”  To find out about this dish please subscribe to the Recipe of the Month box on the right and let me know when you’ve made it and how you liked it.

Revamped Website and Other Exciting Stuff

Me at workIf I thought writing a book was a mammoth undertaking, publishing, promoting and marketing is another story entirely.

Being my own mini “Random House Publishing Company” is doing my head in! It’s been an incredible learning curve, notwithstanding heaps of frustration and lots of grey hair (but poof that’s taken care of by my magic wand!)

Happily, hope springs as I catch a glimmer of everything coming together while my website is in the process of being revamped.

I’ll no longer be sending out a monthly newsletter. My news and recipe of the month will now be available on my website jenniferbgraham.com

My new website will incorporate my WordPress blog as well as other exciting stuff like contests and giveaways, my pending e-recipe book and updates about the sequel to An Immoral Proposal.Memoir Photo1 (2)

Watch this space!

Jennifer Reads an Excerpt from An Immoral Proposal

Lights, camera, action! Technology today is just marvellous. That being as it may, creating a video on Movie Maker was still a great challenge for me. The process gave me a tiny glimpse as to the skill, rehearsals and many other factors involved in the film business. While the quality of this video and the reading is far from perfect, I nevertheless invite you to sit back and enjoy!

Happy New Year

Glassy branchesHappy New Year everyone. I haven’t posted for a while due to brain freeze! As you can see from the above image, this is my poor willow tree frozen into glass. That ice storm two days before Christmas really put the kibosh on the holidays here in and around the Toronto area as well as the Maritimes and parts of the United States, namely Michigan. Thousands of homes were without power for over a week including Christmas day.  Fortunately, for me and my dearly beloved, we didn’t lose power and I was very happy to be warm.

Last week I went to see Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.  I will post my thoughts about the movie in my next blog which will be really soon. Look out for it.

Writing – a Tyrant

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a tosample 3 (396x622)y and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.” Winston Churchill.

My memoir, An Immoral Proposal, is being be “flung” to the public on November 2, 2013!

Since I’m self-publishing, it is indeed a tyrant, to quote Mr. Churchill. I am the author, office admin, advertising and marketing person all rolled into one!

It’s been a pleasure working with Artbookbindery, Winnipeg, Canada,  who are printed the first edition of my book.  They provided me with a cover design person as well as a layout editor.  The nice thing about self-publishing is that you’re in control of the project in terms of input into design and layout; and most importantly all rights.  It’s the revising and corrections that’s the slave master.  That’s the downside of self-publishing. I was reluctant to use a professional proof reader of copy editor as besides not having the budget for such services, I learned that proof readers often use spell/grammar check type software that’s not necessarily accurate or efficient.

So, it was down to my eyeballs mainly. I did have editorial help, but overall, I was still responsible for the revisions and corrections which I did a gazillion times. Minor errors will probably still leap up from the book pages, I’m sure.

Watch this space!

 

Memoir: An Immoral Proposal

The man who dared to make the Immoral Proposal Michael and Jennifer 1975

The man who dared to make the Immoral Proposal
Michael and Jennifer 1975

An Immoral Proposal recounts my journey in coming to terms with my family background,racial identity and my story of forbidden love.

I was born under South Africa’s apartheid regime – a system where a white minority government (only white people had a vote) held absolute sway, and segregation based on the colour of one’s skin was the policed order of the day. Under this political climate coupled with a fragmented childhood, my sense of belonging – where I fitted in – was a constant emotional battle.

My birth certificate classifies me as “Cape Coloured” (`Coloured` as in mixed race). The ‘Cape’ part is easy to understand, that’s the region where I started life – Cape Town, Cape Province. But what did Coloured mean? The apartheid government legally defined us as a group of people who “fail to pass for White.” How do you ‘find’ yourself, being both Non-White and Non-Black, while you’re forever wandering about in a no-man’s land in terms of your societal worth?

To compound my problem, at age nineteen, I found myself embroiled in a situation that I knew was illegal and meant up to seven years imprisonment if caught and found guilty, but how do you tell your heart to stop loving. The Immorality Act, legislated in 1950 banning sexual relations and marriage between Whites and any Non-white ethnic groups is one of many apartheid laws that caused untold heartache and tragedy for couples who contravened that law. Falling in love with a white man and vice versa, against all odds, was a disaster waiting to happen.

This book will be available online soon.

Whew! I could use a PA!

If you read my bio you’ll see I’m a global nomad and distance grandma. Well, October was my grand-mothering month. First, I flew to Regina (approx. 3 hour flight) to hang out with Magdalena and Baxter. The airport was relatively easy to get to (a straight shot on the 407 ETR) – grandpa dropped me off.

Just to give you a picture of my crazy lifestyle – we moved yet again after two years being back in Canada – this time way into the boonies or wop-wops as my Antipodes friends would say. We moved into the original crooked little house – yeah, the one from the nursery rhyme.

We’ve lived in over 13 houses (I lost count) in our 37 years of marriage and every house bar one was renovated by my clever Dearly Beloved. But with this one he found out he bit off more than he could chew especially since his ole bod argued with his head that he’s not 30 years old anymore!  Anyway, the crooked house sitting on 2.5 acres of gorgeous treed property needed a major make-over – new kitchen, new toilets, new hardwood in living and dining room. There was construction dust all over the place and in the midst of it all, I’m trying to get my book published!

The last straw was when a month ago, the well ran dry on top of all the chaos around me. That’s when I ran away from home to my friend Fay’s beautiful spa-style home near Cornwall, Ontario where we lived at one time.

Anyway, house-wise, things are taking shape nicely. Next week we get the gas furnace and hot water cylinder installed and then I can start cookin’ with gas again.

We just got back from our second grandparent hangout with the New York grand girls – Cecelia, Phoebe and Rory. To get there from the boonies we had to take a taxi, GO bus, GO train, 5 minute ferry ride to the downtown Toronto airport, one-hour flight to Newark, NJ where our son-in-law picked us up.

All this to say that’s why I haven’t had time to blog! However, I’m glad to report that everything’s on schedule with the memoir publishing. My first printing of the paperback shipment arrives on Tuesday in time for the launch on Saturday, November 2. Meanwhile, I’m working diligently on making the book available on Amazon.com and other media. Watch this space.