Of Dates, Dongas and Dung Beetles…

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Date and Pecan Cake

So I guess you could say that things got a little wild two weekends ago… With a spontaneous trip to Phinda that sprang up out of nowhere like a blind pimple on the eve of your first date (ahhhh, the trials and tribulations of puberty), Ryan and I set off on a long-overdue getaway. Having both been a tad stressed of late (and by “tad” I mean MONUMENTALLY) we wanted to “get away” more badly than Lenny Kravitz.

Toffee Sauce

Friday morning saw the two of us (well, mostly me) acting like kiddies on Christmas. You see, Ryan had taken the day off (this was ayoba) but before we could hit the road, we had to renew our licenses at Verulam’s Traffic Department which was 110% not “ayobs” (in any way, shape or form). There, I spent a whole 30 minutes in the eye test line beside an ancient man determined to bestow upon me his antibiotic-resistant strain of Tuberculosis. I found myself fielding every cough and about 28 minutes in, I had come to the conclusion that should I in fact come down with TB, I’d better make the trip an absolute cracker!

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Following an hour and a bit’s worth of primitive departmental torture, we were well on our way to the bush. Let me just say that the entire weekend was nothing short of euphoric and I can safely say that I love the bush (not in that way you sickos) and that it is definitely my happy place! In short, I’m Beyonce, “Crazy in Love” with Phinda… (Insert booty pop here… *booty pop*).

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So as a tribute to Phinda, the stellar staff and unbelievable wildlife, here’s a list of ways in which the wild is a lot like life:

  • A weekend at Phinda passes far too quickly and like many good things in life like Pokemon Tazos in Simba Chip packets, Fresca and that pay day feeling, they must come to an end. Although some far sooner than others…

Pay Day

  • Like adult black rhinos, sometimes it’s best to go it alone. Being a lone wolf is the new black and sometimes it pays off. Think Nsync and JT…

bye bye bye

  • In the wild and in life, there are hierarchies and there are rules. It’s probably best not to test them unless you KNOW you can get away with it…

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  • After witnessing a lion kill, it’s safe to say the following, NEVER think that life won’t go on without you. It was there before you and it will be there after you. (Unless you’re the sun. That shit’s vital).

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  • Life’s “potholes” are the bush’s dongas. Sure, they slow us down a little, but if we learn to hurdle those suckers, we can do absolutely anything.

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  • And in line with the above, no obstacle is too great to overcome. Think of the dung beetle. If those okes can roll with THAT much shit, you can handle yours. HA.

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  • The things you chase the most may elude you for the longest. Whether you’re a cheetah after an impala or a middle-aged man after a promotion, you’ll get it when you’re meant to get it. All of us were chasing the elusive leopard, it never happened. I think we wanted it too much. The universe is a strange cat like that. It’s all mysterious and shit, just like a leopard. So be patient, your time will come.
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Ranger Ryan on the hunt for a Leopard
  • And lastly, the most unlikely species have the potential to become the greatest friends. Whether it’s a spotted genet sitting next to a nyala at the roadside (yes, that happened) or the chick you met in the bathroom at Tiger that one time, you never know what role they could play in your life. Be open to it. (For the record, I met Ryan at the Baron in Sandton. NOT in the bathroom though, so calm yourselves).

timon and pumba

This week’s recipe is for my Ooey Gooey Nutty Date Cake. Sound too good to be true? Trust me it’s not. I know your father probably warned you against placing any measure of trust in someone who says, “trust me,” but I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Its toffee-like topping is more comforting than a Steers meal on the way home from the jol and when served warm, this cake will chase all your winter blues away.

Date and Pecan Cake

This one is for Ryan, who never says no to an adventure and for Lauren, a great friend with an even greater sense of humour. Lastly, it’s for Matt who is, absolutely, the best ranger in the world (narrowly edging out “Ranger Ryan” for top honours).

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Ryan, me and Lol xxx

Yours in Baking, Bitching and bush babies (because “xoxo” was too mainstream and because I never got to see any of those either),

Bron

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Ooey Gooey Nutty Date Cake

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

1 and ¼ cup of chopped, pitted Dates

1 cup of boiling Water

1 teaspoon of Bicarbonate of Soda

125g of Salted Butter

2 extra large Eggs

1 cup of Caster Sugar

1 and ½ cup of Cake Flour

1 teaspoon of Baking powder

½ cup of chopped Pecan Nuts

For the topping:

2 tablespoons of Salted Butter

1 cup of Cream

1 cup of Muscovado Sugar (that’s the very brown one, people)

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Place dates in a bowl, sprinkle bicarb over them and pour boiling water on top. Leave for about 15 minutes to soften them.
  3. Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one is added.
  5. Sift in flour and baking powder and mix.
  6. Fold in pecans and dates.
  7. Pour into greased bundt tin or springform tin and bake for 35-45 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool completely.
  9. When ready to put the topping on, combine topping ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook on high for 6-8 minutes, stirring until treacle coloured. Allow to cool for ten minutes before using.
  10. Top cake with toffee sauce and scatter chopped pecans on top or even better, chocolate-coated pecans!

Health Hack: Swap sugar for xylitol and skip the topping.

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