Magic Mess

It’s been quite a spell, the last ten or so days:

A week on Sunday we were recovering from having partied the night away (almost), celebrating with friends of ours who, after eighteen years, made their life partnership official.


The spirit was willing but the bodies not;  so we left the celebrations an hour or so after pumpkin time.  Sunday dawned far too soon and we were somewhat the worse for wear.

It was also open gardens and a there were a few we wanted to visit.  I took along the trusty camera but didn’t do well (probably because the sun was bright and the brain was dim), so I have mostly flops and the odd really good one.  Here’s a collage of the better ones.  Last year’s were much better.McGOpenGardensOct20151

The gardens are much better than the photographs…

Monday was a quick business trip to Johannesburg and back home on Tuesday;  quick is actually not so quick because it’s a 180km, two-plus hour drive to the airport, making more than four hours’ travelling time on either side, excluding the inevitable waiting time at the airports.  The meetings were productive, and the project’s moving well which makes up for a night’s not-so-good-sleep in a hotel.  At least I got an early night!

The highlight of the week to which we were really looking forward was A and T’s visit (it is A who takes the lead in organising our school reunions).  They arrived in McGregor during Thursday and joined us for dinner that evening.  I had resolved that it was to be memorable:  stuffed mushrooms to begin with (a variation of this theme), followed by rare roast beef on the Weber (The Husband’s selections for the menu), seasonal vegetables from the garden (carrots, parsnips and spinach), roast potatoes and gravy.  Because our strawberries are bearing beautifully, dessert was supposed to have been individual Pavlovas.

The first disastrous batch

Ah, yes, meringues.

Regular readers know that desserts* are not my forté, anyway, nor had I had any involvement in the making of meringues for nigh on forty years.  The first effort, on this occasion, was a disaster.  So was the second:  they hadn’t held and had stuck to the pan;  but the bits tasted good, though, and were duly rescued.

My go-to person was not available as she wasn’t in the village, happily, having a check-up after a successful cataract op.  I couldn’t phone a friend.

What a mess;  there had to be a plan B. And quickly; I was running out of time.  What could I make with bits (I was using much more colourful language to describe them, at that point) of meringue, cream and, of course, a surfeit of strawberries?

There had to be some way of rescuing that mess.

Hmm, yes!

Eton Mess

My version of an Eton mess was to use pretty wine glasses and in them, layer the rescued meringue bits, cream and strawberries, ending with a layer of strawberries.  I macerated the strawberries for a few hours in a sprinkling of balsamic vinegar, castor sugar and a grinding of black pepper.  The desserts were assembled just before serving.


I’ll share a meringue recipe once I’ve mastered that art!

The following evening brought an end to A and T’s visit to McGregor and was spent at one of our local haunts – Green Gables.


What a way to end a very hectic but fun time!

*Another school friend has given me a recipe for a simple dessert with ice cream.  The weather’s still not hot enough for that, I thought.  It’ll have to keep.

© Fiona’s Favourites 2015

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