The greatest influence on Evelyne Olifant’s life and cooking came from being born and raised on a Karoo farm, not far from Nieu Bethesda.
She remembers the clear mountain streams, chasing river crabs and fish, and the fact that all their delicious food came from the farm. This is where she learnt how to cook true Karoo farmstyle food.
After school, she found work at a guesthouse in Nieu Bethesda, where she worked for many years. It was there that people tasted her cooking talents. But when the guesthouse owner got sick and closed her doors in 2000, Evelyne had to envision a new life for herself.
Fortunately the regular visitors to the guesthouse sought her out and asked her to cook for them. In fact a former guest unexpectedly sent her boxes of kitchenware – everything from tablecloths to salt and pepper sets, plates and cutlery. She transformed the outside of her simple township house into a sheltered eating spot.
Auntie Evelyne’s Eet Plek had begun, and has become a notable tourism success story in Nieu Bethesda.
“That’s why I say, you must lift yourself up. You mustn’t wait for Government to sort things out for you.”
This is a place where you come hungry, to find a true Karoo ‘bord kos’ with homecooked goodness. Antie Evelyne cooks what’s in season and available. No preservatives, no processed food.
You might find chicken pie, a plate full of delicious Karoo chops, or slow-cooked bredie, plus caramelised pumpkin, crispy roast potatoes, cabbage slow-cooked in tomato smoor, plus two salads. Maybe soup to start, and something your granny may have served for pudding too.
Antie Evelyne also runs a soup kitchen for hungry children next door called the God Sal Voorsien Sopkombuis (God Will Provide Soup Kitchen), and no meal is complete without a plaintive song by the children she pulls under her protective wing. She also runs a small B+B.
For more information, call her on 083 873 5526.
RECIPE: Auntie Evelyne’s Lamb Bredie
4kg lamb (from the ribs, shoulder, leg)
4 chopped onions
Half a cup chopped garlic
A cup of beef stock
6 peeled potatoes, chopped into chunks
4 carrots, sliced
2 cups of green beans
Red and green peppers
Cube the meat, then brown it in a little oil. Take it out and replace with the chopped up onions and garlic. Once this is golden and soft (don’t allow to burn), replace the meat and cook with the lid on.
Add a little stock (add more than a cup of needed) then the cubed potatoes and carrots.
Simmer on a low heat until the meat becomes tender. Shortly before serving, add the green beans and red and green peppers and replace the lid. You could also add a some maizena to thicken, and chutney or a little vinegar for taste.
Serve with barley or pearled wheat. Feeds many.