Christmas Tradition #4

In December 2012 I shared some of our food, typically eaten or devoured at Christmas time ūüėÄ

the Algarve fig cake –¬†Christmas Tradition #1 and the Aniseed ¬†cookies – Christmas Tradition #2 and then my favorite the King’s crown cake – Christmas¬†Tradition #3

And so for 2015 my sister-in-law is visiting from Portugal and she made these here at home….

Christmas tradition #4 typically from Algarve, south of Portugal (that’s where my hubby is from) this is one of their regional sweets. Ground almonds and sugar and a paste is formed (this is similar to – but it is not marzipan)

fine almond flour

fine almond flour

sugar and water in pearl stage

sugar and water in pearl stage

add sugar to almond

add sugar to almonds

make little balls with almond paste and fill with 'soft eggs'

make little balls with almond paste and fill with ‘soft eggs’

and then form little fruits leave overnight

and then form little fruits
leave overnight

and the final result is this ….


Little bit of food coloring, paint your fruits and voila you have almond cookies

It looks easy enough but it’s not. It’s not too complicated either but you need some ‘talent’ to make these fruits and not mess the filling. ¬†I made three shapes, one carrot and one fig and the third one went in my mouth because the filling was too much, it was oozing out of the carrot shape and I licked it and realised that’s not a lekker thing to do to the food your guests are going to eat. ūüėõ So I just ate it – no evidence of bad shape was left

Delicious for once a year only! Something my dad used to say about these makes me laugh every time I see them….Today, 9 years ago he passed away…we still miss him at the Christmas dinner¬†‚ô•

Silent Nights

Let it be known that I hate camping. Not the tent itself or the shared ablutions which in the Kruger are very clean. I hate it because I just can’t handle the bugs at night that take over any form of light and when you try to cook it’s impossible to keep them from falling in your food or plate and maintain some kind of normal. I hate the boxes all over the place, always looking for something and packing away (because vervet monkeys or squirrels will guzzle and destroy anything) and I really hate setting up the tent! If I could arrive and the whole thing is set up then I guess it would not be so bad.

Apart from this bit of moaning – camping is ok, it‚Äôs nice. Campers are quiet, friendly people, they go to bed early and rise extra early, but they are respectable of others and camping ‚Äúneighbours‚ÄĚ are just different kind of people. They love nature and outdoor life and are content listening to the birds in the shade or having a drink by the braai at night. All the time in silence. And that is the part I love.

Tranquil, relaxing & peaceful and quiet time in the bush in my favourite place in the world the РKruger National Park. That was December holiday and Christmas. We stayed in Shingwedzi Camp which was a very good choice, other camps are a bit more busy and noisy. Christmas with an African flair in the sun-kissed, lush green bushveld. The smells of the bush and the fresh air is invigorating! Undisturbed time, it was pure bliss.

Some nights we camped and hubby upgraded us so we had a few nights of aircon with the comforts of a chalet. December in the bushveld is extremely hot. Its summer and the heat was not kind, I was so grateful for the beautiful swimming pool.

Here are some pics that I absolutely love –


chalet DSC0231




Watching this young elephant playing in the water was awesome –







My boys opening presents on Christmas eve –




Almost the end of 2013 what a perfect ending it was….



Happy Holidays

Today we start our road trip….on a much deserved holiday and my most favorite destination, we are off to the beach!

Happy Holidays to you all

Merry Christmas may the New Year be filled with love and happiness, may it be healthy and prosperous. Wishing you everything of the best for 2013!

God Bless


Thank you Secret Santa

Thank you Secret Santa

I ‚ô• my heart. Next year I will use¬†it for¬†my blueberry flap jacks ūüôā


Christmas Tradition # 3

With my sister and sister-in-law immigrating,¬†also with dad gone¬†we are so few now, and although there have¬†been many changes over the last Christmases¬†(missing tree) not a lot has¬†changed¬†around the dinner table (except for¬†some sad moments) the food traditions have remained¬†the same,¬†they have¬†stayed and lived on for years…..

I don’t like cooking, don’t care much about the kitchen but if I’m baking then the kitchen is a happy place. This was¬†my mom¬†or sister-in-law’s job¬†a few years ago, now it is my duty to bake the Christmas cake.

Bolo Rei or¬†King’s Cake¬†or King’s Crown (not sure what they calling it¬†now-days) -everyone¬†in our family loves this, my mom used to bake for orders and for us at home, she moaned a lot too about the work involved and the expense of the cake. It is a lot of work with all the resting periods and allowing the cake mixture to rest, fold in fruits and rest again and grow. You¬†basically¬†spend the whole day in the kitchen and you’re left with 3 cakes, that’s it! So if the family is huge and you want more cakes, then it’s another one or two days in the kitchen. This is nothing like the¬†English¬†fruit cake or mince pies, a light delicious cake with a bit of fruit, lots of pine nuts and pretty glazed fruit to decorate. It is my favorite.bolo rei

Christmas Tradition # 3 this is my Bolo Rei

1 kg of flour

250 g of margarine

300 g of sugar

6 eggs + 6 egg yolks

200 ml of milk (2 dcl)

Pinch of salt

1 active yeast cube

Dried and crystallised fruit and nuts


Crumble the yeast in a bit of warm water and add 250 g of flour and mix well. Let it rest and double up in size.


Generously sprinkle the dried fruit with good port wine and let it just sit and get happy

Mix the flour, sugar, margarine and add the eggs and milk and knead this well together. Add the yeast mixture to this and work the dough with your hands. Add another two handfuls of flour and let it rest in a warm room and double up in size. Room has to be warm, draft-free. Wrap it up in warm blanket.

Carefully mix in the fruit and knead with hands, it’s messy, be patient. You might need more flour for dusting. Make and shape the 3 ring cakes (a circle). Some people roll dough and add fruits and roll it up, I just mix mine as is. Decorate with fruits (candied pear, candied fig, pineapple, pine nuts, pecans) on the outside let the cakes¬†rest and grow once more.¬† Sprinkle with icing sugar. Bake in pre-heated oven.

While warm brush with fruit jelly (smooth peach jam + bit of water and boiled in sauce pan) just to make it shiny. Add a little more icing sugar if needed. I always add the food glitter for the festive happy look.

It’s Yum! Enjoy! ūüėÄ

Now there’s a beautiful reason for the shape of the cake, it is supposed¬†to represent the¬†crown of the three wise men, the beautiful fruits are the jewels on the crown. The gifts of gold, myrrh¬†and incense are represented¬†in the cake as the ‘gold’ in the¬†colour of the cake, the fruits are the myrrh and the incense is that beautiful smell of the cake baking. Traditionally the cake used to be baked with a small silver charm or gift inside. If you receive the slice with that charm then it is your turn to return the favour and bake the¬†cake for¬†next year.Picture1

I looked in old boxes and secret places in my room and found two charms for my cakes, so someone owes me a cake next year *I wonder who?*

With a story like that, which is as old as the hills, you must know the cake is divine and the process of baking it is worthwhile, it will teach you patience every time you check on the resting dough and need to wait a little longer, it will teach you love for you must have loads of love to go through this process, and it will teach you faith, you need to build on faith to complete anything in life. Those are my three gifts to you Рpatience, love and faith.

Merry Christmas

PS: Maybe with the patience¬†comes a part of reading the recipe carefully and not forgetting to add the milk¬†— oh no¬†huge mistake!!

bolo rei1