Cooking from scratch: From anxiety to anxiously awaiting

While we were still in the States, people would ask me what I was most afraid of in relation to moving to Africa.  I would honestly respond, “Cooking three meals a day from scratch.” Having to come up with 3 healthy meals every day, prepare them, convince people to eat their veggies (Nate included), clean them up and do it again day after day…that terrified me. For the past three weeks, every meal has been prepared for us as we stayed first in a guesthouse and now in a lodge. It’s really been a great way to ease into life in Africa. With just one week left of our orientation, we will finally be heading to our new home in Kijabe, where I will begin the task of shopping for food and making meals for our family. The funny thing is, after 3 weeks of eating Kenyan food, which is fresh and delicious, but a bit monotonous, I’m actually excited to cook! I’m sure I’ll change my tune soon enough, but for now I’m just happy that the Lord has once again seen fit to answer my prayers and not only reduce my fears, but also increase my excitement over providing meals for my family.

Now for a few photos of the foods we’ve been enjoying. First are the snack foods we get at chai time. I should note, we have chai at 10:30 every morning and 3:30 every afternoon. I love this part of the culture, but I’m not sure about the chai just yet. The problem is, I fell in love with soy chai lattes in the States, which are nothing like chai here. I’m working through this mental block and trying to convince myself to love hot tea, with milk and sugar…that’s chai. Either way, it’s fun to take a break, sip a warm drink and enjoy both a yummy snack and a chat with friends. The first photo is of a mandazi (or andazi, not really sure about singular and plural). It’s pretty much a sopapilla without the cinnamon sugar or honey. Or if you’re not familiar with sapopillas, it’s like a huge, airy doughnut. They’re served warm and are delicious. IMG_1680

Next are samosas. It’s minced meat with spices and onions, wrapped in a thin dough/pastry and fried. They also serve sausage rolls which are ham/sausage wrapped in a pastry and fried, but I don’t have a photo of those. A variety of fruits are also served as well as baked sweet potatoes (that are yellow in color), served cool and in thick slices. The next two photos are samosas.
IMG_3916IMG_3915Breakfast: For breakfast we usually start with one of a variety of fruits. There’s watermelon (pale and not very sweet, but still watermelon), papaya, oranges (also pale compared to the oranges we’re used to and taste like a hybrid between an orange and a lemon), mango and some of the most delicious pineapple I’ve ever tasted. Then they have cereal and toast. They also serve either “sausage” or fried eggs. Sometimes they replace the dry cereal for warm porridge. Some people call it millet, some sorghum. It has the consistency of cream of wheat and following the advice of Mary Poppins, adding just a spoonful of sugar really helps the millet go down.

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Lunch and Dinner: The only real difference between lunch and dinner is that meat is never served during the dinner meal. Other than that, both meals follow the following menu. We start with a chopped “salad” of some sort. Usually avocado/onion/tomato, peppers/cukes/onions, corn/peppers/cabbage, cabbage/carrots/tomato, etc. Only every now and then they’ll through a few bits of sweet pickle or boiled eggs in there to keep your tastebuds on their toes. Then there’s ALWAYS rice, and sometimes potatoes or ougali (still not sure what it is, but it looks like a mound of mashed potatoes, but tastes nothing like mashed potatoes). If we’re lucky there’s naan or chapati (like a tortilla, only thicker and definitely more lard or butter). Then there’s cabbage or spinach. And finally, the main course, which consists of a meat (goat, pork, mutton, or chicken) at lunch or a vegetable stew or
variety of beans at night. The end of the buffet line always ends with one of the aforementioned fruits. No dessert, unless you’ve gone to town and found cookies…which we know the Papa of this family has not overlooked.IMG_3914IMG_3901IMG_2186

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The lifesaver for most of these meals, for our kids, has been the neon ketchup! It’s not Heinz or Hunt’s, but thankfully, they love it. And honestly, after cabbage and rice at every single meal, and quite a bit of spices they aren’t used to, the kids have been troopers when it comes to meal time. Their reward? A little PB&J from the room every now and then. IMG_3903Two happy boys eating their PBJ pre-meal one night.IMG_3906I also just wanted to include a photo of the incredible avocados they have here in Kenya! I LOVE avocado, so I was pretty excited to find these in the stores for approximately 10 cents each! IMG_3832

To conclude this post on food and eating in Kenya, I thought it only appropriate to include a photo of the beverages we occasionally get to enjoy after our meals. Where there’s coke and sweet tea (which I will be able to make as soon as we get into our own home), I’m a happy camper. And we all know, if mama ain’t happy…IMG_3891