Mikumi National Park

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Nothing fancy

Madeline studied Iraq in home school last week. As it so happens, several of Laurence's co-workers actually re-built the power infrastructure in Iraq DURING the insurgency. I HAD to have them over and let her (us) ask them questions and see pictures.So I said, "Come over and I will feed you, nothing fancy." My first choice was pizza but when their schedule got delayed we ate the pizza and I made something else, BLT's and roasted potatoes.  Nothing fancy. But living in Africa nothing is ever easy so here is what it takes to make BLT's in Africa.

First, the bread. Now you could go to the local store and buy bread. Heck, you could pick up a loaf from a table in town. Just a guy, sitting on a bucket, with a table-like structure selling loaves of bread. I have had that bread. It is good for bread crumbs. -----dramatic pause------ I make my own bread. I have been making my own bread since about a year before we moved to Africa so this is not out of the norm for me. Mix, rise, punch down, shape, rise, bake, cool. I'm used to it.

Second, bacon. You would think that in a country so populated by Muslims that bacon, or any pork product for that matter, would be hard to come by. Not so much. There are actually several kinds of bacon-like product to choose from. After trial and error we have found the one that most resembles that which we are accustomed. Streaky bacon. Good stuff. The thing is it is sold frozen...in 1Kg packages. That is a lot of bacon even if you are having guests. It takes about a day or so for 1kg of bacon to thaw. After all of that is thawed you have to cook the whole package. I only have one 12' skillet. But in the end I am left with some good bacon grease to make cabbage and even enough for milk gravy to slather all over some southern biscuits - not to be confused with British biscuits (ie. cookies) (to go with all of the left-over bacon).

Third LT, lettuce and tomato. The produce here is abundant and small, small. BIG BUGS. Small produce. Still it is abundant and cheap. We are thankful, not only for ourselves but for the locals. The only concern is ...well...the doodoos. That is what they call bugs. At almost 6 months my kids are just now not laughing every time we say it. All of the produce has to take a bath in bleach water. When we first arrived I even skinned the tomatoes. Too much work. Just let it sit in the bleachie water a little longer. (Many words in Swahili just have "ie" added to them - cabbagie, saladie, OK maybe just a few). I have to actually inspect every leaf of lettuce to clean the dirt off and check for doodoos. As I drain the water there is a crust of black dirt in the sink and a few beetles scurrying about. "Bugs, Bugs, get it Mommy" says my little helper.

Roasted potatoes. Have you ever gotten potatoes from anywhere besides the grocery store? They grow in the ground. They are caked with dirt. I used to get irritated when I would buy a large piece of meat with the bone and wonder how much I was paying for that I was throwing away. I wonder how much dirt I pay for and wash down the sink? Potatoes take two washings. First you run a sink of water and scrub, and I mean SCRUB, the potatoes to get most of the dirt off. Then I run another sink of bleach water  and let them sit. I still peel them. Maybe I don't need the second rinse. Hhhmmm...I'll think about that. I go to the garden and get some rosemary - I just love rosemary. The lady who built our home was Italian and she had a garden in the back with my favorite. (Ahhhh...just being thankful for creature comforts.)

Drinks: I set out some bottled drinks, cokes, Kool-Aid (thanks NanNan), iced tea (thanks Emily who packed it and Sandra who brought it over) and milk for the kids. Milk. So thankful for milk. We have fresh (and I mean still warm from the cow fresh) milk delivered (in a used water bottle, we upgraded from the used juice concentrate bottle) to our door three times a week. Fresh. That means it has to be pasteurized. All that really means is that it has to be heated to a certain temperature and put into a sterilized container. SO! (I really use that work too much. Better than LIKE.) I clean a glass jar. ( I have broken three since we have been here.) I boil a pot of tap water on the stove, boil it extra long because it is tap water. I pour it over my milk container, lid and the spoon I am going to stir it with. Drain off all of the water. I then pour my milk into the pot and let it come to a boil while carefully stirring it - "Mommy, i have to go Poooottyyyyyyy." -- turn off the fire, put lid on so no doodooos fly in. Take potty trained but still not self-sufficient child to the bathroom. Re-light the stove, Yay!! It only took three matches this time :) Now, get milk to boiling for the prescribed two minutes. Place glass pitcher into sink and carefully pour it in. There is a little left so I pour that into a jar to make flavored creamer. (I haven't skimmed the cream off lately since I have been making flavored creamer. That is a whole other set of sterilizing and boiling but oh, soo good.) I won't go into detail about LT not using oven mitts and burning his hand or the time I was almost finished with this whole procedure and a FLY FLEW INTO THE MILK!!!! Ugghhh.

We have fresh milk and we are thankful. But even if I do skim the cream off the top it doesn't get all of it. When you don't get all of it it clumps in the pitcher. Clumpy milk. Chunks in your milk. Each time I pour a glass of this labor intensive milk I then have to pour it through a strainer for my lovely little darlings. My friend Joselyn told her kids to just get over it and they did.  Good missionary kids. Not my precious little chickens. My friend Shonnas kids have to have their milk strained too. Thank-you for redeeming me my other missionary friend.

Desert. Are you kidding? I offered ice cream but the only takers where my kids and husband.

Tonight Katie and Andrew are coming over. We are having hamburgers.