Justin Bonello’s Cooked in the Karoo – A Review and GiveAway.

So I thought I would surprise you all with a fantastic GiveAway of Justin Bonello’s Latest book: Cooked in the Karoo written by Helena Lombard and published by Penguin Books South Africa. Like all of Justin Bonello’s books this one has a wonderful earthy feel to it. His books might be touted as cook books but they are always so much more than a cookbook. He produces books that are exquisite travel guides, not superficial travel, this travel to the very heart of a place… and then there are whole lot of recipes tossed in for good measure. This is the kind of “cook book” that leaves you freeing up your calendar, and blocking off chunks of time, just so that you can pack your bags and head out into the wilds.

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The Karoo

The dry and arid centre of our country is called the Karoo and for many folk it is a means to an ends and literally a desert that you drive through as fast as you can to cover the distance between Cape Town and anywhere else in South Africa. The truth is after reading this book you will be lingering a lot longer en-route…

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I noticed that I wasn’t the only person that had grabbed a notebook and plotted a potential route… Places with names like the Dwyka Gorge, Nieu-Bethesda, Steytlerville and Canarvon deserve a visit. This is a place full of nostalgia, The Swartberg Pass where my father took me as a child, and now I have a yen to take my own children there. Each spot on his road trip through the Karoo gets a chapter packed with details about the folk that live there and the life they lead. The book is packed with sites to see, where to count stars and where to go fossil hunting, where to stay and how to camp. There is a fabulous “Survival Guide”… and that alone is worth buying the book for… but lets go on to the food…


Justin Bonello’s cooking journey is well documented in his book collection and South African’s all over the world have been glued to his “Ultimate Braai” TV series… this book goes a little deeper and you will find it packed with recipes from the heart of your childhood. IF you are a South African on the far side of the world, I am sorry already because the recipes in this book will make you homesick: Biltong and frikkadelle, koffie and roosterkoek, melk tert and prickly pear ice-lollies, vetkoek and tamatiegemors, I could go on and on. I love how his recipes always take you back to the beginning, you can make these recipes with ingredients you are familiar with, and the directions are easy to follow… also he believes in family size recipes – there is no “serves one” in this book. I love that he doesn’t just say, this is the only way… often he will have three or more varieties of a recipe… would you like to make sweet mustard, hot mustard or wholegrain mustard from scratch, just for instance. So as usual we tried and tested Se7en+1 recipes… actually a whole lot more that we couldn’t resist and we still have a few more that we would like to try!!!

Se7en+1 Recipes we Tried

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  1. Apricot Jam: We are unlikely to ever buy jam again… so easy and so so so tasty.
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  3. Helena’s Mom’s Rice Krispie Treats: Can I mention just slightly life changing. Where o’ where have I been… I have always, always thought these were just too much effort and just too much work – had I known how easy they were and what a winner they were. Everybody, from all walks of life love these… we may well have been conquering the world’s supply of rice crisps since we discovered these… because one must!!! Justin bonello suggests that you hide these… I just smiled. they don’t last long enough to hide.
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  5. Olive Tapenade: I am stocking up on these supplies for drop in visitors… you can totally whip this up and impress your drop in guests with a tasty feast. Just add some fresh crusty bread and you have a winner…
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  7. Bottled Peaches: Basically if you know me, then you are getting baked peaches for every gift from now and evermore… Dad, did you here that… I have your birthday covered. Had I known that these were that easy to make… unfortunately they would not have made it into a jar if I had not stolen some. Literally eaten from the pot… I saved some and turned them into a crumble… divine.
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  9. Salted Caramel Popcorn: Because of this recipe we now have movie night. I never could stand popcorn flying everywhere… but now I am converted. Long may our teeth last… because this stuff is simply irresistible.
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  11. Hertzoggies: Now these are yummy little bites… for our overseas readers these are basically lemon meringue pies, except without the lemon… you use your apricot jam instead and then instead of plain meringue… you use coconut in your meringue… tweak, tweak and tweak again and really good to come home to after an evening amble!!!
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  13. The World’s Easiest Baked Potatoes: Who knew this was an art and I will never look back. I have made them this way since I read the recipe… but only ever have a couple left over to photograph.
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  15. Banana Bread Muffins: Why have we not made banana bread muffins before… quick and easy and gone in a flash.
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    And the Se7en + 1th… we actually had to add an extra recipe to the mix!!!

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  17. Whole Baked Pumpkin: Dinner for the whole family, stuffed inside a pumpkin – how incredibly wonderfully yummy is this… we constructed this one afternoon and spent the rest afternoon smelling these delicious aromas percolating through our home… and then we attacked it… and the following day we ate the leftovers for lunch!!! In a word “yummo.”
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Previously with Justin Bonello

The GiveAway

We have a copy of Justin Bonello’s Cooked in the Karoo by Helena Lombard to GiveAway to our readers.

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We would love lots and lots of comments from you all: Tell us the place in South Africa that you would really, really love to visit. For those of you who are following, we will plot your trips on our map… which is looking fantastic and worthy of it’s own post!!!

This GiveAway works in the usual way, leave a comment before the end of Sunday, 30 November 2014. We will draw and publish and contact the winners after that. I won’t respond to your comments as we do on our other posts because we don’t want to be included in our own giveaway. Our GiveAways are open to everyone: If you have won a GiveAway before never fear – enter away. If you live on the far side of the world – enter away. Postage takes forever from here but eventually it should get to you! Good luck and happy commenting!!!


We would like to thank Penguin Books South Africa who supplied us with a copy of this book to review and another copy to GiveAway. We were not paid for the review and the opinions expressed in it are as usual, entirely our own.

41 Replies to “Justin Bonello’s Cooked in the Karoo – A Review and GiveAway.”

  1. I would love to visit your area, right there in Cape Town. Your hiking post from yesterday (seeing all the animal pics-especially the whale!) made me wish to check out your coast. All your hikes looks so fun!

  2. I would love to visit Kruger National Park. As a South African, I would love to see the Big 5 in their natural habitat especially our beloved endangered Rhinos.

  3. Those recipes look so yummy and we would love to see all the photographs and learn more about SA’s Karoo!

  4. I would love to bring my family from the USA to Cape Town! I can only afford armchair travelling right now though. We have followed you for several years and have fallen in love with South Africa!
    God bless you!

  5. Definitely a trip back to Transkei , entering via pont over the Kei river mouth at high tide!

  6. I absolutely love the Karoo, recipes from those kitchens are so full of soul. I lived there and have explored it so much. Now living in St Francis Bay, I am exploring the EC and Natal. I would love to go to Hogsback

  7. I would like to visit place like Pofadder, Springbok, Mier….the history and people are fascinating!

  8. since we are talking about the Karoo… I would always want to go back to Graaff Reinett. beautiful little dorpie

  9. Clarens in the Free State .. the rustic scenery and peaceful romance in the sleepy town that everyone brags about has got me mesmerizing and longing for some quiet chill out time with my husband ..

  10. Oh my word – salted caramel popcorn – need to get that recipe. I have long long wanted to go to Sutherland and visit the telescopes and see all that. We love the Karoo and am spending a night in the Karoo when going down to PE in December

  11. Oh…I would love to visit the Cape. I studied in the Cape but haven’t been back in 17 years. What a lovely place.

  12. I would really like to try the recipes in this book ! As a family we would like to go to the Drakensberg and the Natal Midlands also looks very nice.

  13. I would love to win since most of his books are not available in the US, but the place I would most like to visit in SA is Cape Town. I havent been there since I was 6.

  14. I’d love to take my kids to the Northern KZN parks and the Drakensberg. Living in Cape Town now but my childhood holidays were in those places and I’d love to share them with my kids.

  15. Yum! Yum!! Yum!!!
    I can see myself trying out most of these recipes though if I make the popcorn it would be without the salt! I must be the only one who doesn’t like salted caramel.

    So my dream trip still remains US Route 66 or cape to Cairo. But closer home a trip to drakensberg would be nice

  16. Basically, I’m game for anywhere………..

    But I really want to get back to Cape Town with my whole family. I’ve had it on my list for about 4 years now and we keep popping off closer…..

    That pumpkin meal looks divine. I can just imagine the heavenly smell. YUMMMMMY!

  17. We want to come to Cape Town! It seems to be a common dream for all of us in the US to drop in and visit you!

  18. I have never been to south Africa and everything sounds just new and exciting. I hope I could travel there sometime

  19. Very hard to decide! But the Karoo National Park would be one of the places I would love to visit again! It has many unforgettable memories from our family’s one and only night we spent there on our way to Cape Town almost 10 years ago…..

  20. I have never been to the Karoo – a high school dream for our science class was to take a rustic camping trip to Sutherland to look at the stars at the SALT (Southern African Large Telescope) – maybe one day!

  21. The place I would love to visit or should I say revisit is the Garden Route .As a kid of ten my brother and I did this month long trip to CT stopping at awesome places like Knysna and George.I had a blast as a kid travelling But would love to visit these places again as an adult.


  22. I would love to see the Natal Midlands, I have never been to Natal before so it would be a whole new experience for me. I would also love to see Durban and visit the Spice Markets and UShaka Marine World.

  23. i would love to take my husband to the heart of the Karoo. the Tankwa Karoo. there where you can see millions of stars at night, while listening to the sounds of nature. true bliss.

  24. Hi! I am from very near to where this wonderful book came to being and would so love to bring it home to where it originated! 🙂
    I would love to visit the magical Wild Coast of the erstwhile Transkei and explore up and down, near Butterworth, around the Trennerys resort and experience the hidden gems of this magical landscape!

  25. As always, nothing beats a road trip to the awesome Wolverfontein Guest Farm where you and your crew will know exactly what I am talking about ;o)

    The best company from Andre & Ashley and there is always a gastronomic extraordinaire affair up the boys sleeves…


  26. As a Brit who is only new to South Africa, I have fallen head over heels in love with this lovely country! However, there is still so much to see and do: a highlight for me must be a visit to the Augrabies waterfalls: I am still struggling to pronounce the name but so want to see this amazing natural spectacle! And please let me win a copy: that’ll be just one more reason to love this magical country so much more!

  27. You can take the girl out of the Karoo, but never the Karoo out of the girl. I have been to many South African towns but I would love to introduce my children to Hogsback = time to start planning I think.

  28. Please enter us, sounds like a wonderful cookbook. I’d like to go somewhere really remote, quiet and beautiful. Not sure where that would be in SA. Maybe God’s Window?

  29. Love the Karoo. Spent many years traveling there with my dad as a child and would love to get back there sometime.

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