There are two cats in this photo. Can you locate them both?
Emerson likes to scrabble his way up onto our bed…under the blankets. And then he naps there. I do get concerned that he will 1) suffocate or 2) be crushed to death when I fling myself with heedless abandon on the bed. But it hasn’t happened yet.
As I mentioned a few days ago, Fritz and I are trying to act our age (meaning I’m trying to excavate myself from under piles of crocheted afghans, two cats, and candy wrappers–I’m the old grumpy one, here) and have fun times with friends more often. Friday we have a Valentine’s day dinner and dance, and then Saturday we are hosting a South African-themed dinner party for friends.
Basically this means I have been baking stacks of South African treats for the last few days, and then cursing myself for eating them all when I try on the fitted/sparkly/tight dresses that a sexy young thing like myself should be wearing on Valentine’s.
It’s much easier to disguise an extra few pounds of indulgence when you are wrapped in a heavy wool blanket.
As an aside–I’m still doing Insanity, though I’m not doing it as intensely as I did the first month. I’m probably averaging a work out every other day, and I’m intermittently alternating it with yoga to improve my flexibility. I’m pretty happy with that, though I have a tendency to get obsessive with exercise (meaning: obsessively thinking about how I didn’t do it), so I’m trying to check myself before I wreck myself.
It’s okay to work out only a few times a week. In fact, that is great.
Wow. Thought diarrhea, much? On to the recipe!
Rusks are one of my absolute favorite South African snacks. They are like a less pretentious biscotti–rustically shaped, dry cookies made for dunking into tea or coffee. They come in many forms, and this one has always been one of my favorites.
When my in-laws used to live near my undergraduate college, Tharrie (my mother-in-law and the redhead in the picture below) would bake rusks in abundance. I would snag them even when they were only half-dry, and take three or four (or six or seven) at a time whenever we had tea. They are so delicious and the perfect snack for long afternoons or late mornings.
When I was in South Africa this summer, we had breaks mid-safari where the game ranger would stop the Jeep in the middle of the bush and break out a thermos of coffee and boxes of Ouma rusks. Nothing like a bunch of monkeys lurking the background to make a tea break seem beyond ordinary.
South African Multigrain Rusks (makes four medium loaves of bread, or…a lot of rusks)
- 2 lbs self-raising flour (see below for a regular flour substitution)
- 2 1/2 C sugar
- 5 t baking powder
- 1 t salt
- 1 box raisin bran (the Target brand I used was a 20 oz box, or 567 g)
- 1 box whole-grain cereal of your choice (I usually choose one without nuts; for this recipe I used a honey-oat cereal from Target brand; 18 oz or 510 grams)
- 1/2 lb butter, melted
- 3 eggs
- 1 quart buttermilk
To substitute regular flour for self-rising flour, add 1 1/2 t baking powder and 1/4-1/2 t salt for every cup of flour in the recipe. Add the remaining ingredients as listed.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease four loaf pans. Mix the dry ingredients together, including the cereals.
Add the wet ingredients and stir to combine.
You might have to get down and dirty with your hands to mix this, because the batter/dough is very heavy and sticky.
I also have to mix this recipe in a gigantic stockpot, because my largest mixing bowl can just barely contain all the ingredients. I prefer to have extra room so nothing spills.
Divide the mixture between loaf pans and gently press into pan (don’t feel like you have to pack it, just evenly distribute it in the pan).
Bake for an hour, rotating the pans once halfway through.
Allow the loaves to cool, then slice into rusks. I do this by cutting each loaf into 6-8 thick slices (it depends on how big you want each rusk to be), and then vertically cutting each slice three times to end up with four tall/rectangular rusks per slice.
Did that make any sense? Basically you can cut these however the heck you want to. The thicker the pieces, the longer they take to dry.
Arrange the rusks on baking sheets and dry out in the oven overnight until crisp all the way through. I use the oven set on “warm”–which I believe is 170 degrees) with the door slightly propped open.
These can be stored in an airtight container for a few weeks.
They probably won’t last that long, though.
I will admit that I’ve been trying to limit (limit, I said, not cease) my consumption of simple carbs/sweets, so aside from baking day (in which I had to test at least 14 rusks for quality control), I’ve tried to have just a few of these a day.
Fritz is under no such compulsions.
Anyway, to try these is to love them. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to snag some pictures of the buttermilk rusks I made as well before we give them all away at the dinner party.
Sorry for the long post! Love you!