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Sylvan Rest: Ordinary kitchen, spectacular yield

The three tall, leafless trees right next to the house are barely noticed by anyone. Until Dihana Kloppers mentions, with a bright smile, that she gets the nuts for her exquisite pecan tartlets from them. Every morning begins with a quick pick-up of pecans that fell to the ground.

The story repeats itself for almost everything she sells. She takes simple produce from the farm – Sylvan Rest in the Nuy valley – and turns it into something spectacular.

“I can’t even remember everything I had at the first market. I do remember I had ripe figs,” she says, seven years after the very first Pure Boland Market day in 2009. The market is what inspired her to turn her love for jam-cooking into a business. She has only missed three market days since.

“I’ve always loved peddling. But about a year after the start of the Groenstoor, my husband passed away. Going to the market to sell what I’ve made became a way of going on with something normal,” she says.

Dihana's famous pecan nut tartlets.
Dihana’s famous pecan nut tartlets.

As nature dictates

Every month is different from the last. As the seasons change, so does the produce the farm has to offer. And so does the stock that she and her trusted colleague Hendriena McDonald prepare in their ordinary farmhouse kitchen.

“I started making quiches. Most of the vegetables are from my garden so the ingredients vary depending on what I can harvest. If I don’t have enough spinach I will ask around until I find some from around here. The supermarket is really a very last resort.”

Her vegetable garden has staples and rare finds: from spinach and cauliflower to red broccoli and purple peas. “It takes a bit of work keeping up a vegetable garden,” she admits, explaining that even the peels from the last harvest gets turned back into the compost heap. But Dihana’s work without this patch of produce is unimaginable.

So is her table without the famous pecan treats. “We have pecan trees on the farm and I thought I might be able to do something with them.” Little did she know that that “something” would turn out to be arguably the best pecan nut tartlets in the district.

Dihana has turned lemons into lemonade. She has picked, peeled, cooked and bottled fruit from all the trees on the family farm. She has made jam from ordinary apricot right through to rhubarb.

Dihana is proof that down-to-earth needn’t be ordinary. She has made herself an extraordinary Groenstoor favourite.

• For more information on the Pure Boland Market, click here.

Dihana in her vegetable garden.
Dihana in her vegetable garden.
Even Dihana's vegetable garden is something out of the ordinary.
The beginning of something great.
Dihana and her daughter Anthea van der Walt at a recent Pure Boland Market day.
Dihana and her daughter Anthea van der Walt at a recent Pure Boland Market day.
Hendriena McDonald has been working with Dihana for many years.
Hendriena McDonald has been working with Dihana for many years.
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