Manager’s Report February 2016

Salayexe's cub resting in a tree by Dawie Jacobs

Wild photo of the month. Salayexe’s cub resting in a tree by Dawie Jacobs

The shortest month of the year came and went in the blink of an eye. We had loads of wonderful game drive sightings, had some maintenance projects and also celebrated many staff birthdays. We experienced some strange weather patterns as well. We had very hot, humid days, coupled with warm, windy days and ended the month with some cloudy days. It is noticeable during the evenings that the season is now slowly changing. The warm humid nights are slowly being replaced by cooler, breezier temperatures. We can also notice the sunrise and sunset times changing a little more every day, as we slowly move towards autumn.

Breeding herd of buffalo by Neil Coetzer

Breeding herd of buffalo by Neil Coetzer

A few months ago I was contacted by one of our guests Chris Duffield who had a booking for February. He explained that it was him and his lovely fiancé’s biggest wish to get married while in South Africa and the breathtaking beauty of the African bush gave them an idyllic idea for their dream venue. On 9 February we celebrated their very special day at Elephant Plains. It was a lovely sunny day – perfect for an intimate bush wedding. Chris and Lucy wanted to keep everything as rustic and natural as possible. They were joined in marriage under a Leadwood tree on our open area next to the water hole. The ceremony was ended off with elephants trumpeting from a distance. Everything was perfect. Thank you for choosing us to host your dream wedding Mr & Mrs Duffield, I trust that you will keep memories of your bush wedding forever!

Salayexe the female leopard by Neil Coetzer

Salayexe the female leopard by Neil Coetzer

I mentioned earlier that we had a maintenance project this month. As you all know by now, most of our buildings at the lodge have thatch roofs. This month, 3 roofs were given a new look. The roofs still have the same structure but now wears a different outer layer. Harvey Thatch is a stone coated lightweight steel roof tile, resembling a natural thatch look, but without the associated problems which thatch roofs typically give. From the inside, you still see the natural thatch as the tiles are secured onto a wooden frame on top of the original thatch. With the colour and texture very close to that of the grass, the newly finished roofs fit right in with the rest.

This month we welcomed a new face to the kitchen. Juandré Jansen van Rensburg joined our team as a junior Sous chef on the 28th and is already part of the family. He has a great passion for cooking and being in the kitchen. Welcome to the team Juandré, I am sure you are going to spend many happy days at EP, while spoiling us with your delicious meals.

Trapcam photo

Trapcam photo

Our trapcam picture this month is kind of a family portrait. This little warthog family came past Rampan early one afternoon to cool down and have a relaxing soak session in the mud. We always get amazing pictures of buffalo, elephant, giraffe and impala at the waterholes, so I was very happy to find some warthogs this month.

February is a very busy birthday month at the lodge. Five of our staff members celebrated their birthdays this month. We started the month with our head ranger, Morné, who celebrated his birthday on the 1st.  I am sure all of you are already familiar with him, reading his monthly Ranger’s Reports. On the 2nd, our trusty tracker, Derrick celebrated his birthday. Derrick has been part of our team for a few years now and he enjoys sharing stories of his childhood with us. Another gentleman who celebrated his birthday was Dion, on the 4th.  Dion is also one or our trusty trackers, who always has a smile on his face!   Marlet celebrated her birthday on the 24th. Although we do not see her every day as we used to, now that she is based in Nelspruit with the children, she still visits the lodge as often as she can and is still very involved with the day to day running of the lodge. The last one for the month was another tracker, Thomas, whose birthday was on the 27th. Happy birthday to all of you! To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during February, we hope you had a fantastic day, filled with happiness and laughter!

Each month our chefs spoil us with delicious new recipes from the EP kitchen. This month is no exception, with a delicious stuffed venison loin by head chef Jacques. The venison can also be replaced by beef fillet or chicken breast.

Stuffed Venison Loin

Stuffed Venison Loin

Stuffed Venison Loin

Ingredients

3 kg venison loin of your choice
Braai and grill spice
Garlic and herb spice
1 Tub Feta Cheese
1 Small Jar Mild Pepper dews
Trussing String (butchers string) or toothpicks to hold in place

Method

Place the venison loin on a chopping board and with a sharp knife cut length wise down the loin but not right through.

Place some cling film over and hit the meat with a meat mallet till it’s about 5 millimetres thick.

Chop the pepper dews and break the feta into pieces.

Season the loin with braai & grill and garlic & herb spice to your desire.

Place the pepper dews and feta length wise onto the loin.

Roll up your masterpiece and secure it with string or toothpicks.

Grill in a gridded pan to desired temperature (recommended medium rare).

When cooked, portion the meat into desired sizes and remove the trussing string or toothpicks.

Serve with vegetables and starch of your choice & enjoy!

Yields 4-5 portions.

Serve and enjoy!

 

All the best till next month
Tersia Fouché

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Manager’s Report January 2016

Wild photo of the month by Rogier, Melissa en Tuur Nieuwendijk, Mortsel, Antwerp, Belgium

Wild photo of the month by Rogier, Melissa en Tuur Nieuwendijk, Mortsel, Antwerp, Belgium

Like I always say… Time flies when you’re having fun! It feels like just a few days ago that we had our New Year’s dinner and we are already going into the second month of 2016.

Spotted bush snake by Morné Fouché

Spotted bush snake by Morné Fouché

At the lodge, we are buzzing as always. January was a very hot month overall and the rain we received was indeed a huge relief. We never expected after the drought we’ve experienced that after having less than 40mm of rain, the Manyeleti River would flow. So, here comes the “never say never” part. On the 25th we had 34mm of rain. This is normally not nearly enough, but on the morning of the 26th we were greeted by the sounds of flowing water. Yes, indeed the Manyeleti River was flowing! I assume that the catchment areas had a bit more rain than we did, as this is where the water actually comes from. Nevertheless, the water level was not very high and by the afternoon it had almost completely cleared up. We still have some puddles of water in the river and the bush is quickly transforming, being ever so grateful for any amount of water… One can almost hear the grass growing after the rain! Another sound we can not miss after the rain is the frog choir, which is very active every evening. Toads and frogs off all different shapes, sizes and colours bundle together and they make the most interesting sounds. Guests are often amazed by the powerful sounds and some even think we are playing sound recordings! Right after the rain, we had hundreds of bullfrogs all around camp. I even met one on the pathway one evening and he happily posed for a picture. What an interesting, friendly looking face!

Birmingham male lion by Neil Coetzer

Birmingham male lion by Neil Coetzer

Our maintenance team was also up and down on the roads and airstrip this month. Hendrik and his team gave the roads some special attention, filling up all the areas where erosion took place. After the roads, they also levelled out the airstrip and compressed all the loose sand which washed over the airstrip after the rain. Our airstrip is now once again ready for guest arriving on flights from surrounding airports.

Last month, I mentioned that our annual star grading again took place during December. This month, I am proud to announce that our grading has been approved and we are still a proudly 4 star lodge! We will soon receive our new plaque, which will shine bright at our front door.

Trapcam photo

Trapcam photo

Our trapcam found a lovely spot again at Rampan. With the extremely hot days elephants frequently visit the waterholes in search of a fresh drink, or just a spray of water to cool down. They often go right into the water to enjoy a mud bath. We got some good close-up shots this month. I sometimes wonder if the animals know that they are being watched, because they seem to be on their best behaviour…

We celebrated only one birthday at the lodge this month. David celebrated his birthday on the 15th. David is one of our trusty gardeners, always keeping our gardens in tip-top shape and the outside areas of the lodge clean and tidy. To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during January, we hope you also had a fantastic day, filled with happiness and laughter.

Our recipe for the month is a mouth watering one! Head Chef Jacques bakes the most amazing Bacon and Blue Cheese bread for our morning buffet service. If you are a bread lover, this will be heaven on earth, served with butter and preserves! If you prefer a basic country loaf, just give the bacon and blue cheese a skip.

Bacon and Blue Cheese French Country Loaf

Bacon and Blue Cheese French Country Loaf

Bacon and Blue Cheese French Country Loaf

Ingredients

450g Cake flour
30g Granulated sugar
15g Salt
7g Instant dry yeast
250ml Water
75g Blue Cheese
100g Bacon, chopped and fried
Flour to dust

Method

Mix the flour, sugar and yeast in a bowl.
Add the water.
Add the bacon and blue cheese.
Mix until soft, smooth and elastic.
Prove in a bowl, covered with plastic until double in size.
Weigh the dough out in 6 x 150g portions. Shape out in loafs, place on a greased tray and dust with flour.
Prove until double in size.
Bake at 240⁰C for about 20 minutes until golden brown.
Turn out to cool.

Serve and enjoy!

All the best till next month
Tersia Fouché

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Manager’s Report December 2015

Wild photo of the month by Trevor and Julie Legg

Wild photo of the month by Trevor and Julie Legg

What a wonderful year 2015 was! We had so many special moments at the lodge and I am positive that 2016 will bring plenty more amazing memories. To all our guests who shared a wonderful experience with us this year, thank you so much for your support. To those who already have a trip booked during 2016, we cannot wait to welcome you to our magical piece of heaven in the bush. This is where we live our dream!

Birmingham male lion by Louis Liversage

Birmingham male lion by Louis Liversage

It is that time of the year again – our annual star grading date arrived. Each year our lodge gets graded by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA.) With star grading, there are many different criteria you have to meet, in order to earn your grading status. Other than a high level of service and standards, there are many requirements that need to be in place and the assessors have a very fine eye for these details. I am proud to say that our lodge has once again been recommended for a 4 star grading.

Spotted hyena by Louis Liversage

Spotted hyena by Louis Liversage

This year we had a Christmas dinner like never before. Our kitchen went the extra mile and cooked up an amazing 7 course meal. The dining room was tastefully decorated in true Christmas spirit. The beautiful white, red and silver decorations sparkled in the candlelight, from when the first starter was served, till the last bit of desert was scooped up. For our New Year’s dinner, guests were spoiled with a truly South African braai menu. A wide selection of salads, breads and meats were put together, in order to ensure that each and every guest would never forget their last meal for 2015. A special thank you to Lanette and Amanda, who made sure that the dining room looked amazing during these two festive evenings. To our wonderful kitchen team, thank you for all the mouth-watering dishes! To all our guests who joined us during these special nights, I trust that some unforgettable memories were made!

Trapcam photo

Trapcam photo

Our trusty Trapcam is back in action and this month we placed the camera at Rampan. After the pan was cleaned a few months ago, it is buzzing with wildlife. This month, we have a picture of the daily visitors who come to the pan to enjoy the cool water, fresh from the borehole. We are slowly trying to fill the pan, but because we are going through a period of very low rainfall, the water levels are carefully monitored and the pump is only switched on for a few hours at a time.

We have a new staff member who joined our team this month. Welcome to Michael Brown, our new junior ranger. Michael recently finished his training at Bushwise Academy, where he obtained his FGASA qualifications. He is now starting his career in the bush and as soon as he reaches his 21st birthday, he will apply for his PDP, in order to be allowed to do game drives. Michael is already part of our wonderful team and I wish him all the best for a successful career. We also have a familiar face back at the lodge – Andrew Bartlett came to visit us. Andrew came to work here before commencing his studies at Stellenbosch University. Now, whenever he has a gap during holidays, he comes to work at the lodge for one or two weeks at a time. He is part of the EP team and it is always great to welcome his friendly face back to the lodge.

December is a quiet birthday month at the lodge. This month, we celebrated only 1 birthday. The youngest member of our team, Martin Swart, celebrated his 3rd birthday on the 11th. Happy birthday little man! To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays in December, I hope your day was filled with happiness and laughter!

We received so many compliments on the Duck Confit salad that was served at our Christmas dinner, that head chef Jacques decided to share this special recipe. This delicious duck breast can be served hot or cold and can be enjoyed with many different side dishes.

Duck Confit

Duck Confit

Duck Confit

Ingredients

5 Duck Breasts
120g Coarse Salt
5g Black Pepper
5 Bay Leaves
5g Thyme

Method

Rub the duck breasts with salt, pepper, bay leaves and thyme. Cover and place in the fridge for 12 hours. Rinse off excess salt and spices. Diamond the skin, render the fat and crisp up the skin. Place in an oven dish and bake for 20min at 180⁰C. Remove from the oven and strain the fat from the meat juices. Pour the fat over the breasts and bake for another 30 minutes. Leave to cool and place in the fridge overnight to allow the flavours to develop. Serve with a fresh garden salad and enjoy

All the best till next month, the first one for 2016!
Tersia Fouché

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Manager’s Report November 2015

Wild photo of the month by Rogier, Melissa and Tuur Nieuwendijk, Mortsel, Antwerp, Belgium

Wild photo of the month by Rogier, Melissa and Tuur Nieuwendijk, Mortsel, Antwerp, Belgium

The final countdown has arrived… Just one more month till we welcome a brand new year. With the bush now once again wearing its bright summer colours, we are looking forward to an eventful summer! Game viewing has been amazing and with all the new babies born this month, there is never a dull moment out on game drive.

Breakaway pride lioness by Neil Coetzer

Breakaway pride lioness by Neil Coetzer

Each year November, we have a “birding day” at the lodge where our staff forms a team to compete against our neighbours, Arathusa Private Game Lodge. This has now become tradition and with the winning team being awarded their name on the birding trophy, it is all great fun. The competition does not have many rules and the goal is to identify as many different bird species between 05:00am and 07:00pm. If you see it, you can claim it. Last year, Elephant Plains took the lead and we won the competition with 7 species. This year, we were unfortunately defeated with 6 species, but we accepted our second place with great pride. With the birding trophy proudly presented in our reception area, we are looking forward to next year and once again engraving our name on the plaque as the 2016 winners.

Buffalo bulls by Louis Liversage

Buffalo bulls by Louis Liversage

Some time ago, we decided to start producing our own organic compost at the lodge by using leaves, grass and tree cuttings from our gardens as well as vegetable peelings, fruit waste and teabags from the kitchen. With our compost heap now active and providing us with wheelbarrows full of nature’s most rewarding soil amendment, we decided to get a new project up and running, namely our very own herb garden. Our maintenance team was very creative and made use only of leftover building materials from old projects to put up a frame and cover it with mesh to keep out our resident bushbuck, monkeys and baboons. The end result is a strong little structure in which we can grow the freshest variety of herbs for our kitchen. I cannot wait to get the first plants into the soil. Watch this space!

We welcomed two new staff members to our team this month. Ciske Van Zyl joined us on the 2nd and will be assisting in Front of House and Reservations.   Jacques Swart is our new Head Chef and I must say, his cooking skills are amazing, but not too good for my figure! Ciske and Jacques both decided to leave the buzzing city life in Cape Town to settle in a more tranquil environment. Where better than in the African bush?! Welcome to our team guys. I am certain that you are going to make many friends and lifelong memories at Elephant Plains. We also have a visitor at the lodge. Aisling Bury, a student from Bath, England is currently completing a ten week practical period with us. Her future goal is to graduate from a Swiss hotel school with an MBA in Hospitality Management. She has been a great help all around the lodge and we are excited to share as much knowledge as we possibly can with her.

Nkuhuma pride lioness by Neil Coetzer

Nkuhuma pride lioness by Neil Coetzer

This month we had only two birthdays at the lodge. Lanette, our spa therapist, celebrated her birthday on the 25th. Lanette does not only pamper guest in the spa with relaxing treatments, she also helps out all around the lodge. Helen celebrated her special day on the 29th. Helen is part of our lovely team of housekeepers, keeping our lodge in tip top shape. Happy birthday ladies, I am sure there will be many more to come! To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during November, we hope you also had a fantastic day, filled with happiness and laughter!

This month, head chef Jacques shares a mouth watering recipe. Steamed Berry Coconut Pudding is the perfect combination between juicy fruit and a soft vanilla sponge.

Steamed Berry Coconut Pudding Base

Steamed Berry Coconut Pudding Base

Steamed Berry Coconut Pudding
Base

200 g Black berries
50 g Caster sugar
1 Tbsp corn flour
2 tbsp water

Sponge

100 g Butter at room temperature
100 g Caster sugar
100g Self raising flour
50 g desiccated Coconut
2 eggs
Custard or cream to serve

Method

Lightly butter 4 x 250 ml ramekins.

Put half of the blackberries into a small sauce pan, mix the sugar, corn flour and water together and add into the pan with the blackberries. Cook till berries are soft and the sauce is thick. Add the rest of the blackberries and allow cooling.

To make the sponge, put all ingredients into a bowl and beat till it’s smooth.

Spoon the blackberry sauce into ramekins, and then add the sponge on top of the base. Place it into an oven safe dish, add water to the dish to cover 1/3 of the ramekin.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes at 180°C.

Remove from oven and remove the foil. Allow to cool slightly before removing from the dish.

Loosen the edges of the desert from the ramekins with a round nose knife and turn it out onto a plate.

Serve with custard or cream.

Serves 4

As our next newsletter will only be sent out in early January, I would like to wish each and every one of our readers a joyful Christmas and only the best for 2016. Whether you have a holiday planned, or you’re just relaxing at home with the family, make the best of every second and travel safe!

All the best till next month
Tersia Fouché

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Manager’s Report October 2015

Wild photo of the month by Trevor and Julie Legg

Wild photo of the month by Trevor and Julie Legg

Wow! What happened to the year!? It feels like it was only yesterday that 2015 started and now we only have two months to go before the end of the year. I guess you can say “time flies when you’re having fun!” There is always lots of fun to be had in the bush.

Southern ground hornbill silouette by Neil Coetzer

Southern ground hornbill silouette by Neil Coetzer

We had a little bit of rain during the month and the bush began transforming to its summer colours. Bright flowers are also starting to bloom on some of the trees. We had some very hot days during October and more rain will be very welcome, as it is almost time for baby season in the bush. During the next month, we will start to see newborn impala, wildebeest and zebra around every corner, as there are loads of expecting females, just waiting for the perfect time to introduce their precious little miracles to the African bush.

Female giraffe by Louis Liversage

Female giraffe by Louis Liversage

The lodge is looking amazing as the Bougainvillea’s are in bloom. The trees have bright green leaves and the gardens overall have taken on a fresh, summer look. With summer here, we also see a lot more caterpillars, butterflies, insects and reptile species around the lodge. One reptile species that we see more often now than a few weeks ago, would be snakes. I was very fortunate to see a Zambezi Garter snake one morning on my way to the Luxury Suites. While walking on the pathway, I came across a beautiful black and white snake. At only about 15cm long, his beautiful little body had me in awe! At first, we were unsure of the species, as it is not a common snake to our area. Our trusty snake guide pushed us in the right direction. What an amazing sighting. We learned that this little snake is non-venomous, not very common to our area and mostly moves around during the night. They will avoid contact with humans and hardly ever become aggressive.

Young Tsalala pride male lion by Neil Coetzer

Young Tsalala pride male lion by Neil Coetzer

The open area in front of the lodge has transformed into an elephant sanctuary! It feels like every day, 10 minutes after we beat the drum for lunch, the herds in our area start making their way towards the waterhole in front of the lodge. Our guests have been overwhelmed with their peace and grace, as they move past. Some just stop for a quick drink, while others submerge themselves in the fresh water to fight off the heat. With our resident hippo also in the water, there are some days where the two species do not get along very well, as Mr Hippo is not very open to sharing his waterhole. I have seen him chasing zebra and impala all around the waterhole, before grumpily moving off into the bush.

We had three staff birthdays at the lodge this month. A big happy birthday goes out to Tannie Margie, who celebrated her birthday on the 6th of this month. On the 8th Khanyisile celebrated her birthday. Khani is the short, friendly waiter, keeping our guests entertained during meals. The 10th day of the 10th month was a very special day for Hendrik, who celebrated his birthday on this day. Hendrik is our own DIY maintenance man, keeping the lodge and surrounds in tip-top condition. I do hope that you all got spoiled on the day, and hope that you will celebrate many more joyful birthdays at Elephant Plains. To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during October, we hope you also had a fantastic day, filled with happiness and laughter.

This month we said goodbye to one of our staff, head chef Reimond. Reimond decided to make his way southwards, towards Citrusdal, a small town in the Cape area. We wish him all the best and I am sure he will have many joyful days in his new kitchen. We have a new head chef joining our team during November and we are all waiting to welcome him to our team.

This month, sous chef Henk is sharing a traditional South African recipe. The ever favourite Jan Ellis pudding. I still remember this warm baked pudding as a little girl in my grandmother’s kitchen. It is similar to Malva pudding, but this one has an interesting twist.

Pear Baked Jan Ellis Pudding

Ingredients

Pear Baked Jan Ellis Pudding

Pear Baked Jan Ellis Pudding

375ml Self Raising Flour
2 Eggs
2 Tbsp Apricot Jam
2/4 Cup Milk
2/4 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp Baking Soda
2 Tbsp Softened Butter
Pinch of salt
Pinch of ground nutmeg
5 Pears Peeled and Cut into slices

Dissolve the baking soda in the milk.  Mix all the other ingredients together, then add the milk and mix well until smooth. Place the cut pears in the baking dish. Pour the mixture on top of the pears and bake for 30-40 minutes at 180°C or until a skewer comes out clean.

For the Syrup

1/2 Cup Boiling Water
1/2 Cup Cream
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Essence
1/2 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Tbsp Grated Orange Zest
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk

Caramelize the sugar in a pan and temper with cream to form caramel. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer. Pour over the bakes pudding and serve with custard.

Serves 6

All the best till next month
Tersia Fouché

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Manager’s Report July 2015

Wild photo of the month by John and Linda

Wild photo of the month by John and Linda

Having passed the first half of the year already, the most common thing to say is “I can’t believe how fast time flies!” And that is indeed true. We are already in the beginning of August and Spring is quickly approaching. We’ve had lovely temperatures this month, with only one or two chilly days in between. Towards the end of the month we had lovely warm days, so much so that our guests enjoyed lounging around the pool area. The lodge was buzzing this month with honeymoon couples, photographers and lots of family groups. With the bush not being as dense as during summertime, sightings and photo opportunities were breath taking and I am sure everyone left with some amazing memories!

Cheetah female by Morné Fouché

Cheetah female by Morné Fouché

Our roof maintenance is still going strong. Rondavel 2 got a complete makeover. It now has a new roof, a fresh layer of paint and even the floor was stripped and redone. So it looks like a brand new room! We also completed the project on the waterhole on our open area, in front of the lodge. The end result is, just as I thought, amazing. Since the moment we switched on the pump to refill the waterhole, we’ve had unbelievable elephant sightings. To fill such a large empty waterhole with water takes a few days under normal circumstances. Now you can just imagine, with the elephants constantly slurping up the fresh water and adjusting the borehole pipes every now and again, it is quite a tricky situation to get the waterhole full to the brim.

Elephant bull by Jonathan Vogel

Elephant bull by Jonathan Vogel

This month, the Sabi Sand Pfunanani Trust took lodge managers on an educational tour to the surrounding villages. Their main goal is to develop small businesses and to encourage the lodges to support local entrepreneurs. I was amazed at all the projects and ideas going on right on our doorstep. We visited our local Utah village vegetable and herb garden, where we already receive weekly supplies of fresh produce. We also got introduced to a tyre repair and wheel alignment workshop and a gentleman who supplies and fits glass. Another stop on the itinerary was at a local tour guide, conducting cultural tours and we were treated to a performance from a local dance group. To our surprise, we also got to visit the local Tilapia fish farm. Our last stop for the day was at the local Shangaan sangoma. Freddie is a very friendly guy and we were given a short presentation on how his readings work when he “throws the bones”. It is only when you are exposed to these enthusiastic entrepreneurs that you realize how creative the human mind can be. Sometimes, less really can be so much more than you thought.

Trapcam photo

Trapcam photo

This month we placed the trapcam at Kraaines Pan. Kraaines is on the western side of our airstrip and animals often visit it for a morning or afternoon drink. We caught this shot of impala and zebra having a drink and two buffaloes relaxing in the shallow water. We did have a few warm days during the last stretch of the month, so it comes as no surprise that some of the larger and older boys of the animal kingdom decided to go for a swim. At the moment we are really having bad luck with our Trapcams. As you will remember, last month our Trapcam was broken by a very intuitive elephant. We got a new, “tamper proof” Trapcam, complete with a steel housing and thought that this would keep the animals at bay. But to no avail though… Three days after placing the Trapcam at Kraaines, we found it in pieces all over the place. Luckily we could still download the pictures. The culprits this time? The Breakaway lion pride! The photos were taken at night at you can see lion silhouettes and whiskers in close-up shots. Because we know that they were in the area that evening, it had to be them! Luckily we managed to get this very nice photo of the herbivores enjoying the waterhole before it was destroyed.

The last week of July was packed with staff birthdays at the lodge. The rhythms of the Happy Birthday song was just about echoing uninterrupted, as rangers and ladies of our housekeeping team aged another year. On the 24th Dawie celebrated his birthday. Dawie has been a ranger at Elephant Plains for a few years now and he is very popular with our guests. The 26th was shared by one of our housekeeping ladies, Eummy and another ranger, Neil. Eummy is mostly active in and around the main areas of the lodge. Neil is the newest addition to our staff and this was his first birthday at Elephant Plains. I am sure there will be many more to come for both of them. On the 29th, another ranger, Jonathan, enjoyed his special day. Jonathan is truly a bubble of energy and with him around, there is never a dull or silent moment. Busi ended of the celebrations on the 30th, when she had her birthday. Busi is also part of our housekeeping team, ensuring that our guest rooms are in top condition for an enjoyable stay. Happy birthday to all of you! To all our readers who celebrated their birthdays during July, I hope your day was filled with happiness and laughter.

Our new menus are up and running like a well oiled machine. It has been a big success! This month, head chef Reimond’s recipe is the delicious Cinnamon Rolls, served as a pastry option for breakfast.

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients

(15 Portions)

Dough

1 ½ Cups warmed milk
3 Eggs
125ml Melted butter
6 ¾ Cups flour
¾ Cups castor sugar
1 ½ Packets dry yeast
1 tsp Salt

Filling

1 ½ Cups muscavado sugar
3 ¾ tbsp Cinnamon
90ml Softened butter

Icing

127g Cream cheese
6tbsp Softened butter
1 tsp Vanilla
1 Pinch salt

Method

Mix the flour, castor sugar, salt and yeast. Mix the butter into the eggs and slowly add the milk to the butter and egg mixture. Add the egg mixture into the flour mixture. Knead until you have dough that springs back when a finger is poked into it. Allow to rise in a warm place until double in size. Mix the muscavado sugar and cinnamon for the filling. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll out into a rectangle until it is about 5mm thick. Spread the butter evenly onto the pastry, then sprinkle the cinnamon mixture over this. Making sure that it is all over the pastry, then press down gently. Roll it up. Portion the rolls and lay them into a baking tray. Allow to rise, covered with foil in a warm place for 30mins. Bake for 20 mins. with the foil still on. Make the icing whilst it’s in the oven. Mix the cream cheese, butter, icing sugar, vanilla and salt together until smooth. Immediately after the cinnamon rolls are done, spread the icing over the top so it can melt into the rolls. They should be completely covered. Allow to cool, then separate. Serve and enjoy!

All the best till next month
Tersia Fouché

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