Family Happenings

Yes, we’re still here…just haven’t made time to blog. And I find that once I’ve been away from this space for a while, it’s hard to know how to get back into it. So I’ll just jump in with a few things by way of update.

We’ve been busy on the mission front, as usual, and hope to begin  updating the Kingdom Driven Ministries blog more regularly. If you hop on over there, you’ll see that we recently hosted a regional women’s meeting that was a real blessing, and we separated our overly-large home fellowship into three smaller congregations. (Exciting!)

We’ve leased a property a few kilometers from our current home, which is eventually going to house some livestock (cows, chickens, rabbits) as well as  additional crops (bananas, maize, and I don’t know what else). Milk and eggs are often hard to come by and a little more meat in our diet is not a bad thing. The property will also be used in various ways to benefit the brothers in our local fellowships.  We were  able to enjoy a little more family time than usual at year’s end, which was very nice, so Marc and the boys built some nest boxes and a rabbit hutch for use at the new place.

My intermittent frustrations with homeschooling here in Kenya are no big secret, though things have gotten somewhat better this academic year. I still haven’t seemed to consistently find time for Circle Time, especially for my Littles…and there are definitely things I want to work on in terms of both spiritual instruction and practical training.

2015-01-21 11.37.35For a number of reasons, during this week I asked my oldest daughter, Rebekah (who will be 12 on Friday), if she wanted to take the week off of school and be my “Mother’s Helper.” On Monday she helped me move around the furniture in our sitting room/dining area in order to better accommodate another missionary family (the Nafzigers) who will be moving in with us as of next week. Yesterday, I asked Rebekah to do a short Circle Time with the Little ones, and she did such a good job that we talked about making it a more permanent daily arrangement. We have the rest of the week to see how she (and they) like it. Meanwhile, having a consistent second hand to assist with home management and homeschooling has been a real blessing to me…maybe that’s why I have finally found time to sit down and blog. 🙂

 

 

 

On Creativity and Supporting the Local Economy

This morning, I was busy canning French beans (regular ‘ol green beans, which they don’t really like here but which we weird wazungu not only eat, but put in jars to save for later). One of my near neighbors, who now helps me with wash, was watching the process intently and ended up just shaking her head and laughing, saying, “You are funny!”

The big boys had gone to the market for me, and most of the other children were busy helping Marc sort our dry bean harvest in the front yard. That left Hannah and Jubilee in the living room, happily playing–but I wanted to give them something productive to do that would capture their attention for a while. I remembered when Rebekah was young, introducing her to sewing with lacing cards like this (photo courtesy of Amazon.com):Product DetailsOn occasion, I had also made my own sewing cards by cutting various shapes out of colored paper and laminating them, punching holes with a hole puncher, attaching yarn, and threading it on a plastic needle.

With a burst of creative energy that I admit I’ve rarely experienced since we moved to Kenya, I decided to make the girls some lacing cards. Colored paper is hard to come by here, never mind contact paper, and I wanted something durable. Fortunately, someone had recently thrown a small box in the garbage can, so I retrieved it and cut a couple of pieces of cardboard from it. Hannah fetched our hole puncher and I found some yarn that one of the boys had left on the kitchen shelf (as we so often forget that there’s “a place for everything, and everything in its place”). Having no nifty plastic needles, I decided to improvise by putting some duct tape around the end of the yarn. I made a heart and a flower, and the girls colored and sewed them while I worked on the beans. Here’s Jubilee’s heart:

IMGA0777

So passed a busy but relatively quiet morning. When Rebekah was done with her morning’s work, I asked her if she wanted to make some sewing cards for our neighborhood little girls. She said, “Oh, they do sewing like this already. They use small sticks for needles, long grass or straw for thread, and leaves to sew together.” And I thought I was creative! The simplicity of life here and how much these folks can do with so little never ceases to amaze and challenge me.

And totally unrelated to the morning’s activity, while I was looking for the yarn which I remember having last seen on the kitchen shelf, I also tried to count our mound of eggs:

IMGA0775

Each layer holds 30 eggs, so we have sixty, plus the additional eggs mounded on top…maybe 80? I am thankful, as for a long time after our arrival here, getting eggs was hard. We could usually only muster 3-4 eggs every few days, which was enough for miscellaneous baking, but never enough to have, say, scrambled eggs for breakfast. We got our own chickens not too long ago, but they’re certainly not American Leghorns that lay an egg every day. Out of our 7 (?) hens, we only get 1-3 eggs per day, and after they lay 5 or 6 eggs they want to go broody, so they’ll stop laying for quite a while, even if they’re not sitting on a nest. A good breakfast of eggs for us is a couple dozen at least, so left to our own devices that rarely (if ever) happens.

But lo and behold, it seems that word has spread far and wide in our small village that the wazungu like eggs. Almost every day (usually in the evening, as the Mamas are starting to prepare supper) we have someone come to the door with one precious egg, or maybe two…sometimes a half-dozen. Most always, they come with their bag of dry maize in hand as well. And as we give them their twelve shillings per egg, we watch them run next door to the mill, where they use 5 or 10 of those shillings to grind the maize to make their evening ugali. One older man comes frequently with larger numbers of eggs, though no one is quite sure where he manages to find them. Unfortunately,we’ve noticed that he doesn’t spend his egg earnings so wisely. Sometimes Marc shakes his head over spending so much money on eggs (a dozen eggs here is about the same price as its American equivalent, which tells you that they’re comparatively expensive), but we use them and are thankful for the protein, since we only eat meat once or twice a week. And we’re glad to be a small cog in the wheel of our local economy.

I Took Milk for Granted

I’ve always disliked milk. In small part, I blame my Mom, who for the sake of frugality made us drink powdered milk. I remember plugging my nose and chugging down my obligatory glass at supper time so I wouldn’t have to taste it. Once on my own, of course I switched to “real” milk, but never did particularly like drinking a glass straight. Marc, on the other hand, grew up on whole milk and lots of it; he’s always been a milk drinker.

While still in America, as our family size grew and dairy prices increased, I tried to be conscious of our milk intake. Everyone had a glass of milk with supper, though, and we got plenty of dairy in other ways: cereal a couple times a week, sour cream with our Mexican or in a casserole, and plenty of cheese. During our last year or so we also enjoyed homemade ice cream every Saturday night.

Since we’ve been in Africa, things have changed. Lacking refrigeration, we boil milk for our morning tea but otherwise don’t drink plain milk. And in our village, more often than not, “milk is hard,” as our neighboring shop-owner, Silas, frequently reports. If we get a liter a day, that’s good. We rarely can get more than that, and sometimes we can only get a two cups. Shared between 10 of us, that’s not a lot of calcium intake. Milk is available in 1/2 liter pasteurized-and-homogenized bags at the village market, but it’s more expensive that way and also not convenient, as we try to shop only a couple times a week. Butter is also expensive (about 500 shillings per half-kilo, which is about $6 per pound!) And, because of the refrigeration issue, it’s also hard to keep fresh. Recently we’ve begun using Ghee (shelf-stable, clarified butter) which has a decent price point–more expensive than margarine but also much less expensive than butter.

We miss sour cream, cold milk over cereal, and definitely cheese and ice cream. For us, both yogurt and ice cream are an occasional treat (for practical as well as financial reasons; with no refrigerator/freezer, they must be consumed right away and we’re pretty far from town to get ice cream home without melting!) We try to eat more greens (a natural source of calcium), but I just can’t get everyone to eat them in the quantity that would be needed to have a positive impact on overall health.

So unfortunately, while we’ve never experienced problems with cavities, some of the children (and Marc as well) have been complaining of tooth sensitivities and possible cavities. Marc sees a direct link between that and our calcium deficiency, since our dental hygiene practices haven’t changed.

All of this to say, we were ecstatic the other day to have a traveling vendor introduce himself and show off four liters of fresh, strawberry yogurt. (Yogurt here is of the liquid variety and prices at about 200 KSH per 1/2 liter, which is…expensive.) The yogurt was fabulous and Marc bought all four liters for only 300 shillings! He talked to the man for a while and, as it turns out, he’s hoping to open a local dairy to sell milk, yogurt, ghee, and…cheese! I don’t know if it will actually happen, but I’m excited about the possibility of getting dairy products with greater ease–and at prices that seem affordable.

I confess: I took milk for granted. Funny how now I’m actually praying that this potential local dairy becomes a reality!

Amusing side note: as we consumed the four liters of yogurt (which didn’t take long!), we offered some to Silas, who happened to be over helping out with some work on our shamba (garden/farm). With a rather funny expression, he refused, saying, “I have never tried that and I will not,” or something to that effect. Later he told Marc that one should not buy food from persons that one does not know personally, as it is apparently not uncommon to be poisoned in Kenya. I had no doubt about the yogurt though, as after we emptied the man’s yogurt container, he immediately tipped it into his mouth to drink anything that might remain. I could be wrong, but if it were poisoned, I don’t think he would have done that.

Thanks to our Africa experience, I’ve become much more content to make more-with-less and I’ve learned to appreciate (and make do with) what is locally available. Sometimes it’s hard, particularly as we deal with potential health issues, but we’re trusting God with our health as with everything else. I’m not taking anything for granted.

 

Expectations

Lately I find that I have been battling against other people’s expectations. Sometimes I remain confident in what I’m doing, and in other moments I wonder if I need to adjust.

There’s the homeschooling expectations, which are residual from being in America. When we began the huge task of packing, housecleaning, and moving to Africa (not to mention the transition of the move itself), we only “officially” took about two weeks off of schooling, but we were pretty hit-or-miss when we did do academics. We consistently did math and language arts daily, but electives were…elective. Even now that we’ve been in Africa for just over three months, we have not done as much as I would normally expect for a day of schooling. It seems our day’s work is such “work” that schooling is secondary. I still consider it a day if we just accomplish language arts and math. I’m feeling slightly guilty about that, but…that’s been life. Frankly, I think moving to Africa, learning about a whole new culture and way of life, geography, language, and so on, is plenty of “social studies” for now.  Music and art have been virtually non-existent, with craft items in short supply (or unavailable) here, all of our books still in transit in a crate, and our Internet a challenge to use even for email, never mind surfing or video-watching (which is how we often integrated the arts into our school day). So, the expectation battles the reality.

Let’s move on to the garden…

We arrived right in time for planting season (which was a consideration in our plan, actually) but we discovered that without many of our American conveniences (such as rototillers, long-handled hoes, and so on) farming is hard work. Not to mention, we had to learn about a whole new way of doing things (what to plant when, what fertilizers to use, and what needs to be started in beds and transplanted). The learning curve is huge and Marc has been so busy and away so much that we’ve out-sourced a lot of the work (i.e., we’ve paid locals to do it). Not what we expected, but that’s been the reality. My challenge has been that here the work of farming is relegated to women–they are out in the fields hoeing, seeding, and weeding IN ADDITION TO doing wash, keeping house, and feeding the family. It’s a lot of work. I feel that many days I barely accomplish the necessities; gardening as well?? Not a chance! (Not to mention that Marc has always been much more gifted in that area anyway–I have a “black thumb.”) So when we’re hiring a local woman to till our garden, which she does in addition to her own and everything else, with her 13-month old daughter playing in the dirt beside her…I feel slightly guilty and inadequate.

And shopping?

That’s something else that a woman here accomplishes with ease, no matter how far the walk to market or how many children she has. Thing is, homeschooling is unheard of here, so a woman has her independence all day while her children are at school, to accomplish whatever needs to be done. And even if the children are at home, there’s not a thought in her mind against leaving them to fend for themselves while she attends to immediate needs like food-fetching. We have no one that we would leave our children with, nor do we necessarily feel comfortable with leaving all eight of them home alone (for various reasons). Not to mention, it would take me some time to feel confident about traveling into town and shopping solo, anyway. For all these reasons, Marc usually picks up a few things when he goes into town for other reasons, or the boys bike to market and get some stuff. Before we felt comfortable allowing the boys to go on their own, we were paying our neighbor, Jane, to do the shopping for us. This is yet another area where I know that the locals have certain expectations about how things are done, and we’re just not the norm. And again, I feel slightly inadequate. Just being real here, folks–sometimes I just feel like a spoiled mzungu.

But what they don’t see is that I am usually up at 3:30 or 4:00 to feed the baby and have my quiet time (which is, quite frankly, the most important item on my “to-do” list). By 6:00 I’m dressed and ready to meet the day, having started the laundry and made sure we have something for breakfast. I get everyone going and we have our family devotions. Then we do our morning jobs (which require a lot of “management” on my part) so I might just be hanging out my wash at 10 AM, while the mamas next door have already put theirs out at 8:00. Makes me look lazy, but I feel anything but. The rest of the day is spent overseeing whatever we do manage to accomplish for schooling, doing the housekeeping (which has developed into an OK routine), visiting with unexpected guests, and working to prepare our daily bread. I don’t know how these African women “do it all,” but they  do!

I’m quite sure all the folks here have certain expectations of how things should be and what we should be doing, and lately I’ve been catching myself frequently wondering how we measure up. Then I have to remind myself that it doesn’t really matter. Other people’s expectations never really matter–only our faithfulness to what God has asked us to do. And on that score, I guess we’re doing just fine. So I’ve gotta keep pressing on, remembering that that is the most important thing.

 

Our First “Self-Sufficiency” Day

Marc and I have noticed that here in Kenya, children are very often left to themselves. Usually, this is by necessity, because work for daily bread (whether working in the fields and at home, or wage-earning work, when it is available) is typically so demanding that parents aren’t left with much choice. In America, we took things for granted, like having a vehicle to hop into and a supermarket a short trip away. Here, you walk. Sometimes far. We always chuckle when we ask Jane how far away a particular destination is. She often shrugs and says, “Not far.” But it could be several kilometers–“not far,” indeed! We don’t leave our children home alone, but a single mother with few resources (or mom at home with Dad at work) sometimes has little choice.

When Marc went to Nairobi with our 10 year-old son a couple of weeks ago, he came back more than once to the house where he was staying to find the three children (ages 9 and under) home alone. He remarked that they were very well-behaved: no bickering, faithful behaviors (for the most part), and younger children who respected the authority of their older siblings in the parents’ stead.

We agreed, this would probably not be the case if we left all of our children home alone. My 10 year-old noted, “Well, they probably didn’t bicker because they had no toys to fight over.” Good point. As well, I don’t think our children have had enough opportunity to prove themselves responsible in taking care of their own needs for any extended period of time. They’ve only been apart from both of us a handful of times (usually when we go out to dinner to celebrate a birthday or anniversary), and the longest has been for the weekend, when they stayed with some friends of ours. Although we teach and train them in all things vital to home management, and they generally know our routines and expectations, they certainly derive a level of comfort in having an adult to fall back on. Unfortunately, I was sure that if left to their own devices, there are some things that they take for granted that would fall through the cracks.

So, with Marc and our oldest (a take-charge kinda kid) off to Nairobi for a few days, I decided to call a “Self-Sufficiency Day” for the rest of our crew, with the 10 year-old in charge. I thought it would be a good exercise for all of them. We went over the expectations, and I even wrote them on the chalkboard for reference. Things like:

  • Do it God’s Way! Love and serve one another. Please God with your attitude and your behavior.
  • Keep yourselves clean (hair, faces, feet, teeth) and LOOK AROUND to see what needs to be picked up around the house.
  • Remember to change the baby’s diaper.
  • Big kids, supervise little kids even if you are doing something else. Little kids, respect the authority of your older brothers and sisters.

And so on. They knew they would be responsible for their school work as well as home management, child care, and meal preparation. I would be closed in my bedroom and only available to receive meals or to feed the baby. (I also came out a couple of times to hook up the laptop and charge it on the inverter, but I told them to pretend I wasn’t there.)

My ten year-old spent part of the day before planning out AM and PM jobs for all the children, as well as meals. I have to admit, his choices were a little starchy (mandazi and tea for breakfast, beef broth with rice for lunch, and pasta for supper along with fried bananas and honey for dessert); however, I’m not sure how much better I would have done. The only fruit in the house was bananas and tomatoes. What can I say? We need to go to market! (That’s tomorrow…)

The morning went very well. My ten year-old kept everyone on-track and motivated in a very encouraging way. My oldest daughters teamed up to care for  the littles and did a super job, even when multi-tasking  to do their school work. My seven year-old did an admirable job with the laundry. (The only thing I had to return to the wash pile was a pair of jeans that needed a lot more elbow grease than she could muster. Ahhh, those boys of mine!)

The afternoon left something to be desired. The in-charge ten year-old got caught up in reading a new Thornton W. Burgess book that I had downloaded on the Kindle and before he knew it, it was 4:00 and everyone had far over-shot their afternoon “Free Time.” I actually had to prod them to move on with their afternoon responsibilities (including finishing their school work), which was a bit disappointing. I wondered what would have happened if I had not intervened? I guess I didn’t want to find out! However, after the reminder, things slipped back into gear. Jobs got done, supper got started, and school assignments got wrapped up.

I had given my 10 year-old a budget for the day of 200 shillings (roughly the equivalent of $2 and change, which buys quite a bit here). That would cover any supplies that we unexpectedly ran short of (such as laundry soap) or he could use it for some limited food items that could be purchased at the little shop/restaurant across the street (mostly staples like flour, oil, etc.). He considered buying the favorite “mandazi” from the restaurant at 50 shillings per bag of ten (and we’d need at least two bags); however, he did the math and realized that making them was much cheaper (and the recipe made a lot more–about 50!), so he was excited to make them himself. He ended up spending 18 shillings for 6 beef cubes, which he used to make broth for the lunch time rice, and he got a bag of sugar for 65 shillings to replenish our supply. Also, he ordered a litre of milk for 35 shillings to have tea for the next day. All in all, a total of 118 shillings spent for the day. Not bad. I had to chuckle, though, when I overheard him preparing breakfast in front of an audience of little people saying, “It’s almost ready! This is just taking a little longer than I thought!”

I sat down for supper with the crew and asked for their reactions. Over all, everyone was pleased with the day, though they admitted it was hard work.  Since this was the kids’ first “solo” day, I had made some suggestions for AM and PM jobs, but I’m hoping that after some repeats of this type of training they will be on the lookout for what needs to be done and will need less direction. A good first stab at self-sufficiency. We’ll keep practicing. My 9 year-old daughter can’t wait for the day she’s “in charge.” She’s pretty sure she can handle it.

 

More Like Home

I can’t help but be grateful for the oversized Rubbermaid bins and wheely-bags we’ve had to organize our clothes; certainly, we are blessed to have more changes of clothes than the average Kenyan, and their method of storage is typically a grocery sack. However, THIS has certainly made me feel a little more organized and at home:

Many thanks to my wonderful husband, who expended much sweat in this project and encountered no small frustration; for as he so aptly put it, doing such a job without adequate tools was like “slicing cheese with a spoon.”

 

Dirty…

Jonah was doing his math the other day and noticed something we all found amusing:


The front of the book, as viewed in profile, is obviously “paged through” and used, but is fairly clean. The bottom portion of the book is clearly unused. An in the middle? A very noticeable brown line. Those are the lessons he’s done since moving to Africa. Conclusion? Africa is dirtier than America! Other clues? My feet, which don’t get perfectly clean (especially on those stubborn callouses!), even with much strenuous scrubbing. And of course, the laundry–most especially the boys’ pants, all of which typically result in completely brown rinsing water when the day’s wash is done. (In case you missed it, see the related post, Clean is Relative.)

Isaiah’s Recipe for Sweet and Spicy Wraps

Everyone agreed these were yummy. Dad said, “I think this is the best thing I’ve eaten since we’ve been in Kenya!” Made from ingredients we have on-hand. Some suggested adding cabbage to make it more filling and more like a Chinese egg roll, but Isaiah is sticking with the original recipe.

 

 

Sweet and Spicy Wraps
Serves 4


Wraps:

1-1/2 c. wheat flour

3/4 c. water

2 T. oil

 

Filling:

1/2 small onion

2 spicy peppers (small, about 1-1/2″ long)

1 carrot

2 medium tomatoes

3 T. sugar

 

Dice the carrot, onion, peppers, and tomatoes. Mix together in a bowl, then pan fry until the onion is soft, adding oil to the pan as necessary. Remove from heat. Add sugar and mix. Set aside.

Mix the flour, water and oil in a bowl. Add more water or flour as needed to make a thick, non-sticky dough. Knead until it is uniform. Let it sit for 30 minutes under a damp towel. Separate into 8 equal parts. Roll out round until about 1/8″ to 3/16″ thick.

Evenly distribute filling in center of each wrap. Roll dough around filling like a burrito. Pan fry the rolls in a small amount of oil until the outside is crispy. Add oil to the pan as necessary.

Clean is Relative

The Martha in me cringes many times each day over home management. Because if I’ve learned anything in the past three weeks, it’s that clean is relative in Kenya.

It all started with waking up the day after we arrived and sitting on the couch, staring at the painted concrete floors. With all the work that had been done to the house and people going in and out, boy, they could use a cleaning. But I had no broom or mop. Patrick’s wife, Lois, graciously offered her services in cleaning the floors with me, and I jumped at the opportunity to get things spiffed up. I had my doubts, though, when she arrived without even a broom in hand.

She filled one big wash basin with soapy water and another with clean water. After realizing that I didn’t have a proper “cleaning rag,” she went home to fetch hers–which turned out to be an old, re-purposed sweater. With amazing dexterity and speed, she sopped the cleaning rag in soap, and (on hands and knees), mopped over the whole surface of one of the bedroom floors. Once the surface was done, she cleaned the rag in the rinse water and then went over the floor again with plain water, squeezing out the rag as needed during the process. In no time, both the soapy water and the rinsing water were filled with dirt and debris. But she kept going…room after room.

When we were done, there was indeed a great improvement in the looks of the floor. But I don’t think the Martha in me could call it “clean.”

This is my mopping towel. It rarely gets "clean," but it's good for sopping up water and debris.

I soon got a broom and mop, and realized that using mops on floors that were subject to so much dust and dirt was an exercise in futility. So I adopted the Kenyan method of just sloshing on a bunch of soap and water to make the floors…cleaner than they were before. (At least now I get to sweep first!) Marc bought a squeegee, which works wonderfully well to guide the water into a corner, where I soak up the excess in a dedicated “cleaning towel” and throw away the solid debris. Clean is relative.

These pants have been cleaned, but those stubborn stains where the pants drag in the dirt are just...impossible.

Same with laundry. The kids (and Marc) pick up so much dust and dirt that even with my best scrubbing, there are still some stubborn spots remaining after the clothes are washed. The wash water is brown halfway through the daily load, but I finish the remaining clothes in it. And they end up…cleaner than they were before. The sun-drying on the clothes line bleaches out an amazing number of stains, praise God! With the number of man-hours it takes to do laundry each day, we’re playing a new game; it’s called, “How many days can you wear the same shirt?”

Likewise, doing dishes with cold water (and no running water) has also been an exercise in surrender. I use less soap than I normally would to minimize rinsing (since getting water is such a chore). And all the dishes get rinsed in the same sink full of clean water, rather than under a  running stream. So, like everything else, they end up…cleaner than they were before.

And then there’s bathing; several children share bath water and I try to wash at least three children’s hair in one sink full of hot water. Yeah, halfway through the process, the water is light brown in color. But they end up…cleaner than they were before.

The Martha in me protests, but I’m getting used to it. One of these days, I hope to vlog about cleaning the floors. I think you’d enjoy it. 🙂

 

 

Thoughts on What We’ve Been Eating

With the difficulty of getting water each day, I’ve been trying to economize on our water use, both in cooking and dish-washing. So typical breakfasts and lunches are low-maintenance, while dinners tend to be more extensive. If we can, we eat our meals on cloth napkins rather than plates, and usually, though Marc and I prefer our own plates, the children eat out of a communal pot or bowl (this is actually customary in Kenya). In order to economize, and secondarily for health reasons, we’ve continued to reduce our intake of meat as well and now have it only once or twice a week. Here, in no particular order, are some random meals we’ve recently enjoyed:

Breakfast

Stir-fried bananas, sweet potatoes and peanuts with a side of fresh fruit (something Jane gave us which I can’t remember the name of, but couldn’t find in the Swahili/English dictionary and have never seen before)

Pineapple breakfast cake

Cream of Wheat

Bread and butter with a side of mango

Whole wheat pancakes (no syrup, with a sprinkling of raw sugar–love being able to get cheap, raw sugar here!)

Lunch

For lunch, we use up any dinner leftovers from the previous night. Beans or greens get mixed into a big batch of rice, or we eat plain rice with some garlic and salt. A couple of days, lunch was popcorn, nuts and fruit. (I found it surprising that Kenyans consider popcorn a main course! Not that any of us are really complaining about adopting the practice…) Another day we added coleslaw as a side to our rice, which was a nice change from the usual.

Supper

Chili and cornbread

Tilapia with mashed potatoes and spinach

Tortillas with refried beans, salsa, and guacamole and a salad of mixed greens with homemade dressing, accompanied by wheat bread with butter

Beef stew with cabbage and carrots, a side of fried potatoes, and ugali

Sweet and Sour Beans with cornbread and a side of boiled greens

Dessert

We only have dessert a couple of nights a week, and for our first couple of weeks we had cookies, which had been given to us as a treat when we first arrived. The other day, I made made a modified “Shoofly pie.” It calls for molasses but that is not to be found here, so I substituted thick sugar-water and it turned out to be a pretty good “sugar pie.”

Miscellaneous Thoughts…

One of our neighbors recently gave us a large bag of avocados, which will likely all be ready to eat in a couple of weeks (and all at the same time). So I’ll be looking for recipes with few ingredients that include avocado (besides guacamole, of course!)

Even though we *think* we’re eating relatively simply, we’re still pretty American in our cooking. Kenyans eat for function. They typically cook over a single (wood-fired) burner, so their options are, by default, a little more limited than ours. (I have to admit, though, that I love having an oven!) For the average Kenyan, most things are boiled in a single pot and eaten with very little (if any) seasoning. Plain roasted squash, plain mashed sweet potatoes with corn, bean and corn mix. We, however, still like “taste,” and prefer deep fried and salted. We even make our greens “fancy” by cooking them with onion, garlic, salt, and lemon juice. So, in the overall scheme of things, we still have a ways to go if, while in Kenya, we’re going to do as the Kenyans do.

What’s been on your menu lately? Have any ideas for simple meals that we might try?

 

 

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