a B&B life...
The peppadews growing at Fairview self-seeds and we find ourselves in a constant supply of these deliciously piquant little peppers. The green shaped ones will all turn red at some stage - I quite like the look of a combination of green and red in one jar. I use it in omelets, pasta dishes, in salad and stuffed with cream cheese it makes a lovely snack served with an ice-cold beer. When we lived in Shoal Lake in Canada, I had a Ukranian neighbour (Baba Stech) who taught me a thing or two about pickling, but a word of special thanks have to go to David Elston who got the plants from us, but took the pickling process to the next level. I gladly share my recipe with you:
Preparation: (Done the night before)
1kg red-ripe but firm little peppers
100g coarse salt
1. Dissolve the salt in the water. If you leave it overnight in a brine mixture, it will prevent the chilies from becoming soft over time once bottled. Do not use table salt as this could make them go cloudy, but make a simple soaking solution of about 100gram pickling salt or coarse sea salt on 1-liter water.
2. Like any chili/pepper the burn lies in the pips, so you can make it less sharp by cutting off the stem and scraping out the pips with a small spoon. You have to cut off the stem anyway to allow the pickling solution to get in. When pickling the Peppadews I use surgical gloves to protect my gentle hands :) but I've also heard that it helps to rub sunflower oil, or olive oil if you want to be wasteful, all over your hands as it forms a protective layer
3. Soak the prepared peppers overnight in the brine at room temperature. Make sure they're all in the brine by putting a plate on top.
4. The next morning you drain them, give a rinse with freshwater and now you're in business:
To Pickle I use my big stainless steel pot and add:
750ml white grape vinegar
600ml white granulated sugar
8 pieces (cherry-size) fresh ginger, peeled
8 cloves garlic, fresh, peeled
8 bay leaves
Method:5. Measure out all the pickling ingredients (except the little green chilies) into a large cooking pot, stir well over low heat until ALL the sugar has dissolved then bring to a rolling, foamy boil.
6. Add peppers and chilies, bring back to the boil and boil them for only about 1 minute.
7. First, fill the STERILE bottles with peppers and then fill to about 1.5cm from the top with the boiling liquid and seal while hot.
This you bring to the boil while stirring for the sugar to dissolve. When it is bubbling you add the Peppadews for about a minute and then start bottling:
You fill the jars with Peppadews, then ladle the pickling solution into about 1cm from the top, (push the peppers down to allow the solution to fill their cavities)
Re. the bottles/jars: your mother will heat the oven to 180°C and put the washed jars and lids in there for at least 10 minutes prior to bottling. I just pour boiling water over the lids and pop the glass jars 3 at a time into the microwave oven for a minute...
As a Guest House, I joined an accommodation bartering site called Swop and Stay. I love their website - the swops work on a point system (you do not have to stay with the establishment that you host) The automated swop process, once you have accepted the swop request, makes the process of gaining or losing points so much easier.
Swapping accommodation with fellow accommodation providers makes so much sense. Not only do we get to stay for free, but we also get to establish network opportunities and we get to learn from each other.
Which brings me to the topic of my blog post - why are we so averse to bartering ? If there is one thing that gets me hot under the collar it is when a prospective guest wants to bargain me down. Is it even fair to lower my price and in that way take the business away from another establishment and forcing them to lower their rates to the point where it is actually costing them to fill their rooms? I'm not exaggerating - I know of one B&B that cut her prices to the point where she was actually subsidizing the guests sleeping over - how crazy is that?)
Yet, I have just exchanged 3 boxes of wine from a well-known wine estate in exchange for a weekend's accommodation. Sitting down with a glass of excellent Pinotage, which we would otherwise never have sampled, as it falls into a price range we consider above our limit, I just realized what a clever concept this really is. It's a win-win situation Being a strictly a one-glass-girl already half a glass above my limit, I drew my laptop closer to research this bartering story further. That left Desmond obliged to sample the Pinotage further and his nods of encouragement at my excitement over the bartering system just became more encouraging as the level of the bottle dropped. Understand, this is a man who is cheeky enough to walk down to the corner deli with a bag of homegrown peppadews and come to an agreement to exchange it for our daily bread and milk! According to him, he was just desperate because I was too lazy to bottle his abundant harvest of peppadews, but that's a story for another day...
The definition for bartering reads: Bartering is a trading system in which you offer products in return for credits to purchase other products and services in your barter group. An American girl innocently required: "i'm doing a travel project for school and i need to know if you have to barter in South Africa? " (At least she had the good sense to use capital letters for South Africa...)
To this naive question she received two rather indignant replies: "NO, we do not barter! South Africa has a very well developed economic system, while the country was very socialist during Apartheid, the country is now far more free market. We have our own currency, the Rand. We also have one of the best banking systems in the world."
"We aren't a group of uneducated idiots who live in huts and hunt lions... We actually have a currency, its called the Rand." And then from someone calling himself Bob Mugabe: "I do not barter. I take." Well, it's certainly true that we have a well developed financial system here in South Africa and we rarely barter, but perhaps we should not be so quick to turn up our noses at the time-honored tradition of bartering. I have come to the conclusion that a good barter system must have the following:
I'm sold on the idea of bartering! But not on bargaining my rates down. I have recently been asked to quote for a one-night booking for the 1st of January - giving my 'best price'. Why would I give a discounted rate for a one-night booking on a public holiday when I have to pay double time to my staff -surely that should make no sense even to the person requesting a 'best price'?
In the winter it actually costs me more to run my guest house - the rooms need heaters, electric blankets, and the linen have to be tumble dried- so why should I lower my rates in the off-season?
Bargain, no. Barter, YES!
About the blog
This is the story of our house, lovingly restored and shared with guests and family since 1995.