Monday, December 24, 2007

KJ's Christmas in Africa!

Happy Holidays Everyone!!!

Thank you to Jeanne for posting my blog today. I’m sorry I’m not here to personally wish you all a happy holiday, but I’m incommunicado in the middle of the African bush. Definitely a green Christmas for me. I’m visiting South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana on safari. Today, I’m in Botswana playing (maybe the wrong word choice) with semi-habituated elephants. Wish me luck!

Spending Christmas in Africa makes me think about celebrating the holidays in an unusual way. What is customary in one country is unusual in another. I’d love to hear about your holiday traditions, the more unusual, the better!

In the meantime, here is a little more info about the holidays in Africa, including a special South African recipe.

In Africa, there is not so much the giving of presents, but the giving of presence. Most people cannot afford to buy gifts. Besides, in the middle of the bush, there aren’t many stores. Instead, many Africans celebrate with a special meal, enjoying one of their treasured livestock over an open fire.

Definitely different than Canada, but one thing remains constant across the globe. Africans celebrate Christmas like everyone else in the world—as a celebratory time for family and friends to come together, eat, drink, and rejoice in the fact that they have each other. It’s all about the people in our lives.

In South Africa, Christmas comes in the middle of the summer. Can you say HOT? Snow would last about thirty seconds! So, what do South Africans do today? After a large Christmas lunch, families visit the homes of friends to ask for and receive a "Christmas box" which usually has food inside.

There are eleven languages in South Africa. Here are the five most common ways of saying "Merry Christmas"!
Merry Christmas: English;

Geseënde Kersfees: Afrikaans

Sinifisela Ukhisimusi Omuhle: Zulu

Sinifisela Khisimusi Lomuhle: Swazi

Matswalo a Morena a Mabotse: Sotho

Whatever you are doing today, I hope you are happy and well. And keep in mind—Christmas is a time of celebration in Africa—that is, unless you are a goat, a chicken, or a cow!

Recipe for traditional yeast-baked rusk!

This is a traditional dish great for dunking in your tea or coffee early in the morning when you watch the sun rise as the boer trekkers did every morning when they traveled from the Cape to the Transavaal. If the rusks are to be kept for a long time, do not substitute margarine for the butter.

Yeast-Baked Rusks

375g (1-3/4 c) butter
500g (2-1/4 c.) sugar
2 extra large eggs
1.5kg (3 lb, 4 oz) self-raising flour
30ml (2 tablespoons) baking powder
500ml (2 cups) buttermilk or plain drinking yogurt

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Cream the butter and sugar together very well. Add the eggs, one at a time. Sift the flour and baking powder together, and add this to the creamed mixture, using a fork to mix. Add the buttermilk or yogurt, using a little milk to rinse out the carton.

Mix well with a fork and then knead lightly. Pack lightly rolled, golf ball sized buns of the dough into the greased bread pans close together, and bake for 45-55 minutes. Place the pans in the middle of the oven, with a sheet of brown paper on the top shelf to protect the buns from becoming browned too quickly.

Remove the paper after the buns are well risen and cooked through, to brown the tops. Reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting. Turn out the buns on to cake racks, cool them and separate them, using 2 forks. Pack them on wire racks or on cooled oven racks—air must circulate. Place them in the cool oven, leaving the door ajar, for 4-5 hours, or overnight, to dry out. If no buttermilk or yogurt is available, use fresh milk curdled with lemon juice or white vinegar.


Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

wooo-hooo! I, for the first time, get the Golden Rooster! Wow! of course I posted the blinkin' blog, so I had an edge. Snork.

Donna MacMeans said...

Now Jeanne, aren't there rules about that? (Especially if it deprives me of the coveted bird) *g*. I was dropped by to say hi before I posted the winner of Mrs. Brimley on the cookie anatomy blog. Be back in a minute.

Donna MacMeans said...

So let's bun-gle in the jun-gle, hey - that's all right by me...

Am I the only one who remembers Jethro Tull?

Wow - now that is a unique place to spend Christmas. Nope - can't saw I ever celebrated Christmas anywhere but in a family member's house, or in my own home - as I am now. Can't wait to read everyone else's replies though.

p226 said...

Your blog has no title. I can't click it like I normally do. So I have to scroll to the bottom of it to read the comments.

I think my unusual traditions have already been enumerated.... the Cartridge in a Bare tree... the Solstice Tire.... the little green army men...

My mom keeps wanting to eat fondue on Christmas eve. I suppose if she keeps that up, for another year or two, that'll wind up a tradition.

I've celebrated Christmas in an odd place or two. Probably the worst was bobbing around in the Persian Gulf aboard the USS Tarawa. Turned out being possibly one of the funniest nights of my life. But it's a long story, probably for another venue.

Anna Campbell said...

Jeanne, are you a rooster virgin? Snork! Congratulations! Oh, man, I just realized there was skullduggery afoot! You posted the blasted blog!

P226, you always come on with the most fascinating comments!

Christmas in Australia is always HOT! A lot of people have gone to cold meals like seafood and salads. My family always did the trad English thing. The painful gut and the bloated feeling were part of the Christmas experience ;-)

Kim, love you post! Can't wait to hear about Africa when you get back. We miss you, Bandita!

Happy Christmas to all Banditas and surrogate Banditas - or in P226's case, he's a Bandito!

Fedora said...

Congrats, Jeanne, on the GR! Occasionally one has to take the advantage if it's there, right? ;)

What a neat adventure you're enjoying, Kim! Thanks for the glimpse into Christmas in a completely different part of the world!

I'm with Donna--haven't had the opportunity to celebrate Christmas elsewhere yet... maybe someday!

P226, let us know when you tell the tale of that worst/funniest night--you have the most interesting stories!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Are you KIDDING ME?!?! Of course I remember Jethro Tull! They had some BAAAD *ss lyrics for their day. Plus, once upon a time, I played the flute and Jethro Tull almost managed to make the flute cool.

And the lengths some people will go to just to get the GR. AHEM! Not very sporting of you Mme. Duchesse, but I guess all's fair when it comes to rooster nabbing.

P.S. Hurry back KJ, we've missed your smiling face here in the Lair!

Buffie said...

WOW! Now that will be a Christmas to remember. The hubby and I were just discussing Christmas trips yesterday. I don't know if the grandparents would forgive us for taking their grandchild somewhere for Christmas and depriving them (the grandparents) of seeing the kids on Christmas morning. But I would love to try it one year.

I hope that all you ladies and p226 have a wonderful Christmas!

Joan said...

Can't even imagine it...Africa or celebrating anyplace else.

(I go to the zoo regularly. Does that count? :-)

And Bandito? Hmmmmm.....I don't know...seems p226 calls for something else. Ok, Banditas! Put your writer's thinking caps on!

Are you quaking in your boots, p226? :-)

jo robertson said...

Go, Jeanne, go Jeanne!! Uh, maybe your capture has something to do with the fact that you POSTED?

What a great post topic, KJ! Even though you can't read the comments, I'm waving and envying you from the Lair. What an adventurous spirit you have!

In 1990 we spent a holiday in Guatemala, where we traveled up into the mountains by jeep and had a honorary meal with the Kekchi, who are native people on the social status of Native Americans about a hundred years ago.

They cooked a turkey in our honor, but the funny thing was my son and husband got to sit at the table in this small thatched-roof hut, but I sat around the perimeter with the rest of the women!

p226 said...

Uh oh.....

Nancy said...

Jeanne, congrats on the rooster!

KJ--what a cool idea for a Christmas post. The African customs and translations were interesting.

Yes, Donna, I remember Jethro Tull. :-)

P226, it looks to me as if the fondue is on its way to "traditional." We love fondue, but it's a lot of trouble to prepare (at least for us).

Anna C, I know the bloated feeling. With six families convening for Christmas when I was young and everyone bringing something, we had more food than we could possibly eat!

Buffie, we did the grandparent pilgrimage on Christmas Day until my folks moved into a retirement home. Thereafter we went up to have lunch with them on Christmas Eve and then spent a leisurely day at home. We never take a trip because the boy wants to be at home.

We have Swedish pancakes on Christmas morning, as the dh did when he was growing up. We also have delicate Swedish paper baskets (originally for candy but too fragile now for anything more than a penny to weight them down so they dangle) on our tree that belonged to his grandmother. His mother also made lutefisk (sp?), but we decided to pass on that *g*.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Waving like mad at the African coast...or at least the general direction...Merry Christmas KJ. I loved reading about the customs and translations from down there. Have a safe trip and hurry home.

Kate Carlisle said...

Happy elephant watching, KJ! Merry Christmas and hurry back, we miss you!

I'm celebrating the holiday in the desert this year, so I'm right there with you, enjoying a HOT and sunny Christmas!

Duchesse, congrats on snagging the bird!!

Of course I remember Jethro Tull, Donna! Saw them in concert with Jefferson Airplane in 1971. I was, er, six years old. Yeah. Six. With my mom. Yeah. Har har.

Happy Holidays to all!!

jo robertson said...

Kim, the rusk recipe sounds intriguing. I have some questions, however.

Can you give us the butter and sugar measurements in cups? And does the leavening come from the self-rising flour, eggs, and baking powder? No rising before baking, right? Is the resultant product a sort of hardened biscuit? Sounds like it.

Thanks for sharing with us.

Caren Crane said...

KJ, I'm so jealous of your safari! The recipe for rusks sounds great, too. Kind of like monkey bread!

Donna, I remember Bungle In the Jungle and all manner of Jethro Tull. I love the Tull!

P226, I'm all about Christmas fondue. Actually, I'm all about fondue any old day. Your mother should definitely make that a tradition!

AC, being too stuffed to move is definitely a tradition at our house!

Buffie, do you think you will really start to travel at Christmas? We've thought about it, but I would want my whole family to go and it would be a nightmare, logistically! My mother, me, four sibs, 5 spouses, 9 grandkids and who knows how many strays. *g* Best keep it in Charlotte, methinks.

AC, I didn't get to say yesterday, but your little Jilly is the cutest avatar EVER! (sorry, Buffie!)

Joan, I think you and your brother should go to Ireland next Christmas! Can you imagine how cool that would be?!

Kate, we're exactly the same age!! But, um, my mom didn't take me to see Jefferson Airplane and Jethro Tull. My first concert was AC/DC in 1979. *g*

Jo, Guatemala, how exotic! And that would totally be me--banished to the women's circle and feeling testy about it! *g*

Oh, and I converted the measurements as best I could. I think the rolls rise together like pull-apart bread. Since you use self-rising flour instead of yeast, you don't have to let it rise ahead of time. Also, buttermilk helps it rise higher. I love buttermilk!

Caren Crane said...

P226 is a:
- Frito Bandito (ha!)
- Bandita wannabe
- Fauxdita

And my favorite:


Joan said...

uh-oh indeed, p226


Caren, my brother has zero interest in traveling someplace like Ireland. Despite his recent (finally) embrace of his heritage with a Eire forever tattoo he has no real interest in history, the land or the 6 hour flight :-0

Joan said... has promise Caren.


Kate Carlisle said...

Mandita, yes yes yes!!!

P226 may have a differing opinion...

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Everyone! Sorry to be so long checking back in on KJ's behalf. :> Since i've been to Africa - Kenya, at least - I can imagine what kim's getting to see. (Hence the pictures I added.0Thanks to whoever titled the bloody thing since I couldn't get the title to post. Grrrr.

I have to confess that posting then nabbing the bird is a bit of a snark, but hey, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta DO! snicker.

Ahhhh, Jethro. Love him. Both Tull and Beverly Hillbillies. Grins.

I went to see Sweeny Todd last night - Tawny Depp, your boy's magnificent! - My hubby laughed that I wanted to see it for my birthday, then shook his head over why it was so popular. Grins. Lots of blood, but the music is magical. I missed the giant choruses from the play, but oh! The Depp singing! Grins.

So, now it's off to finish dinner, make cookies for Santa, and wrap, wrap, wrap!

I'll check back in later, but in the meantime.....Meeeeerrrrrrrryyyy

Trish Milburn said...

Very cool post for Christmas Eve -- different from the norm. KJ, I hope you're having a great time. I love elephants, so that part especially sounds neat to me.

p226 said...

Mandita? Why am I reminded of "Mango" from Saturday Night Live....

Yes! p226 most definitely has a differing opinion!

Joan said...


Ewwww......get that picture out of my head.

Any suggestions yourself, P226? I mean we have adopted you....along with the GR :-)

p226 said...



p226 said...

Oh, and since Christmas Eve is coming to an end, I figure I'll share that funny/terrible Christmas Eve from long ago.

I warn you, it's not politically correct.

But it's the events, as they happened.