A Dash of Class

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By Nora Sweat

By NORA SWEAT   One of my New Year’s resolutions was to bring you more recipes from foreign countries, so you are in for a treat this week, as much as I was when I met this wonderful lady born in South Africa. We talked over coffee at Barnes & Noble, and what was almost two hours seemed like 15 minutes. I learned so much from this marvelous South African, who, with her husband, Claude, has traveled all over the world. I am glad they call Elizabethtown home. Norelle and Claude Poole left South Africa 19 years ago with Claude’s business, which is manufacturing and commissioning of steel tubing and piping. He has clients all over the world. Norelle was born in Cape Town, the very tip of Africa, and learned most of her cooking skills from her Grandma Ward while her mother worked as a social worker. Grandma Ward not only taught her granddaughters how to cook, but the skills of keeping a home, doing laundry, sewing and other household chores. Norelle learned as a child to be very giving. One of her very favorite memories is going to the fresh market with her grandma and cousins. They would buy all types of vegetables, which she and her cousins would peel and prepare, along with shucking peas and cutting green beans in long strips (julienne), to be added to shanks of meat. Grandma Ward would allow the stew to cook all night. Then, on Saturday, they would pack it in a box with Styrofoam pellets to keep it warm and deliver the stew to the poor. If the children didn’t complain doing these chores, they were rewarded by their Grandma. But if they did complain, they had double chores. Norelle speaks three languages from her country as well as some of the dialects used in the 12 tribes in South Africa. The four languages are English (because South Africa was under British rule until the 1940s), Afrikaans, Zulu and Xhoza. Citizens learned the latter two after Nelson Mandela was released from prison. I was very pleased to learn that she studied domestic science, later called home economics in middle school. She grinned as she told the story of a time in the class when they made hats and aprons and embroidered their names on the aprons. Also, she told me that when students entered the pantry to get supplies they had to whistle. This was to keep them from sneaking bites of raisins, currants, coconut and other goodies on the shelf, which would have made the amounts short for students in labs later in the day. The monetary system is rand and cents. The religions are what Norelle called “a rainbow of nations,” Catholic, Buddhist, Lutheran, Anglican, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Pentecostal. One of the most popular South African foods is Christmas Fruitcake. Norelle asked why Americans don’t like fruitcake (me included) and I told her maybe they hadn’t had her fruitcake. I am very anxious to try it as it doesn’t sound anything like my mom’s recipe. In a future column, I will feature more of Norelle’s native dishes and in weeks to come, Norelle will tell us about Thai foods as she and her husband lived in Thailand for eight years.

Correction: Due to an editor's error, Maxine Stith's last name was spelled incorrectly in last week's 'A Dash of Class' column. The News-Enterprise apologizes for any confusion this may have caused. Nora Sweat is a native of Hardin County and a retired home economics/family and consumer science teacher. She can be reached at norasweat@thenewsenterprise.com or by mail at 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701.   Christmas Fruitcake 2 sticks butter, softened overnight

1 cup brown sugar

5 eggs ¼ cup brandy

1 teaspoon almond extract 1 teaspoon lemon extract 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder ¼ teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons cocoa 1 teaspoon allspice 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon nutmeg 1 teaspoon ginger 1 cup currants 1 cup golden raisins 1 cup dark raisins 1 small packages dates 1 cup each Maraschino red and green cherries; rinsed, dried and cut in fourths ½ cup almonds, slivered   Cream butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beat well. Add brandy and extracts. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa and spices together. Cover fruits and nuts with part of flour mixture and toss until well covered. Add remaining dry ingredients to creamed mixture. Mix well. Add flour-covered fruits and nuts and mix in batter until all are covered. Spoon into a well-greased and lined (with greased parchment paper) 8-inch spring form pan. Bake at 340 degrees for one hour; reduce heat to 300 for an additional hour. Check to see if done by inserting a wooden skewer in middle.