It started with a disconcerting noise. There I was in my office, minding my own business, quietly tapping away at my keyboard when a strange scratching and Merlot’s pointed study of my desk drew my attention. Now Merlot is a cat given to staring, but only at her food bowl. When it’s empty. Furniture doesn’t normally feature in her contemplations.

It didn’t take me long to figure out there must be some sort of creature behind the desk. And as I am quite clever in these matters, I also realised quickly that if it’s big enough to make a noise audible to the human ear, it’s not the kind of thing one wants to have behind one’s desk.

Much scratching was followed by much intent staring and finally some scurrying, which afforded me the chance to clap eyes on the not-so-little critter. Not a mouse or a rat. I’ve seen enough of those to tell.  Not a mole either, but about that size.

When stumped, I Google. “Images for rodents Western Cape” seemed a logical search parameter. So I was rather taken aback when an image of Western Cape premier, Helen Zille, popped up.

I thought this a bit harsh, but then I guess politics is a nasty business. Turns out the image links to an article about her being bitten on the toe… by a rat. Google search algorithms.  Go figure.

I finally managed to catch the furry little thing (there was some shrieking – on both sides) in an empty ice cream container and released it in the neighbour’s yard (sorry!), safely out of Merlot’s reach. It was a shrew, I think. Or maybe it was a vole. Google wasn’t terribly helpful.

Either way, clutching the now-empty ice cream container reminded me of my gran’s old-fashioned Ideal Milk ice cream. If anything can soothe being called a rodent, being chased by one, or being bitten by one, this is it.

All you need is…

1 tin of condensed milk

few drops vanilla extract

250ml fresh cream

1 tin of evaporated milk, seriously chilled

This is old-fashioned ice cream. The last thing my gran had on the farm 40 years ago, is an ice cream maker, so this recipe is old school all the way – no expensive ice cream machine required!

It’s so simple, my cat could make this with one paw tied behind her back. Just add the cream and vanilla to the condensed milk and stir through. Whip the ice cold evaporated milk until it’s seriously foamy. Fold this into the rest of the ingredients. Pour into a bowl and freeze for 3-4 hours. Stir twice during the first 90 minutes.

My gran used to freeze this in those old stainless steel ice cube trays and I think that’s just lovely, if you’re lucky enough to have some.  You can freeze it in anything that’s freezer-proof, but if you are serving this for a special occasion, why not freeze it in the bowl you intend to serve it in? I’ve even frozen it in a gorgeous, elaborate silver-plated bowl. Tie a French ribbon round the handle to make it fabulously festive!

A note of thanks: To my Aunt Merika, who moved heaven and earth to dig up this old recipe for me.




5 min


3-4 hrs


good to know

Ice cold treats for sizzling summer days

The December hols is the perfect time to experiment with freezing things. Think double cream Greek yoghurt, blitzed with ripe bananas, a squirt of lemon juice and lashings of honey for sweetness. Freeze it as individual yoghurt lollies or in a bowl.

Blitz summer berries with berry juice and freeze as ice lollies. The sky is the limit when it comes to flavour combinations, so grab the kids and have some fun in the kitchen.

enjoy with

I’m a fan of wine with any course, but I guess wine with ice cream could be a stretch for many. Here’s a thought… Soak some raisins in Muscadel for quite a few hours until they’re plump and gorgeous. Serve this ice cream with the boozy raisins and chopped nuts (hazelnut, brazil, almonds, pecans).

Some ice cold Muscadel on the side, and I’m happy. Try Nuy, they make white or red Muscadel. With this recipe, I would opt for the white.



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