We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Cheesecake, Banana Bread and Beans on Toast

Why have I not done this before?! Yesterday I set my yogurt in a tea towel in a sieve in a bowl in the fridge (...in a hole in the bottom of the sea). And today I had wonderful fresh cream cheese! Cravings for cheese can be quite strong here, so understand the level of excitement. So now I have made my first cheesecake in two years (but not on the jiko... yet). It looks good, I just hope it lives up to expectations tonight. And this is only the beginning of the cheese adventures...!
300g of fresh cream cheese
Also cookin' in Tanzania this week has been banana bread, banana bread ... and some banana bread! Yuda (the stoves group chairman) has asked me to teach the women to make this on the jiko, so experimenting began. I need a very basic recipe, without baking soda (or anything too exciting!), which will rise enough but not so much that it takes too long to cook. A common problem is that it is not fully cooked in the middle before all the charcoal from the firewood cools down. Thus bringing me to my knees in soot with frantic blowing and fanning, resulting in excessive smoke inhalation! Sorry, no photos, as all the banana cakes of various types, heights and doneness have been devoured before I thought of the camera. So although, not perfect, they have all be more than edible and actually quite tasty! But you can have too much of a good thing!
Cooking method for Banana Bread
Staying with the food theme, we enjoyed beans on toast on Shrove Tuesday, before our pancakes. This seemed worthy of a photo, so here it is. The cheese isn't homemade here - it came all the way from Asda in England for us! And another food treat arrived in a parcel... breakfast cereal! We enjoyed cheerios and cocoa pops and crunchy nut cornflakes for the first time in at least a year. So much excitement!
Beans on Toast
Now, before you think all I do is cook or drool over food, we have been busy with other things too. I have been doing some translating and visual aids for the kitchen gardens project. New units are starting at school, so I have been brushing up on my limited knowledge of rocks and soils. Tim has been preparing things for the arrival of our Canadian visitors and also preparing a 10-week course on Introduction to Mission for pastors at the Mafinga Bible College. While in Magozi this week, Tim visited Pastor Joseph in a village about 20km away who is very keen to start a stoves project there one day. And we have enjoyed welcoming the Wingfields back to Iringa, and preparing to send off Andy and Angela. We are gathering here in a few hours for a farewell dinner... roast beef! And don't forget the cheesecake!
Lemon Cheesecake with strawberries fresh from the garden!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

What's Cooking in E.I.?

The EI Tanzania team is briefly all together again! The Wingfield family arrived on Friday evening and it has been lovely catching up with them and meeting little Bethany! But all too soon on Monday, Andy and Angela will be leaving us for three months in the UK. So there is a lot of handing over going on around here! Andy (when he isn't working on our vehicles or at the Diocese office) works on the water projects. He has been working on a number of rain-water harvesting water projects for schools in villages. It is wonderful to see these schools finally get clean running water! Andrew and Miriam then can go to these schools to teach on sanitation and hygiene to ensure that the clean water really does help the students! Andy also works on other water supplies for villages; there is lots going on! Angela (when she isn't cooking up treats in the kitchen) teaches English at Amani Bible College and keeps us all in order with the administration in the office. We are going to miss them!

While Andrew was in the UK, he put this short presentation together to show how EI can help churches help the poor. Take a look here! If you can't see it here, check it out on YouTube.

Tim is in Magozi on his own this week and the girls and I will wait and go with him next week. It has just all been rather a busy time recently and the girls and I have been struggling to stay on top of schoolwork, amongst other things (like jiko cakes and kitchen gardens!) We are working hard at it (Amisadai was blogging a bit about it today) as we know school time will be limited soon with our visitors arriving! We are getting very excited about the school team from Langley, Canada coming in a few weeks and then our friends from the UK, the Lirianos, coming in April! Please pray we find a car by then!

We enjoyed our English-style pancakes on Shrove Tuesday - with the treat of fine WHITE sugar! The girls were a bit confused though, as they assumed it was salt! To celebrate the occasion we also enjoyed a tin of Heinz Baked Beans! And with the cheese that Andrew and Miriam brought back for us grated on top, it was a real treat! You'd think with all the beans we eat here, we wouldn't get so excited about a rare tin of baked beans, but it's something else altogether!

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Not Quite Nigella

The cake was decadently aromatic, gorgeously both aesthetically and gastronomically desirable with a resonant tang ... so this time I was thinking of Nigella Lawson, domestic goddess, as I made my cakes. No, the cake wasn't at all as described and I was about as far as one can get from a glamorous Nigella and as for the stylish, well-equipped kitchen ...! Actually the one "Nigella" element I would have liked would be the non-live element; a "CUT" and "... which I prepared earlier" would have been much appreciated! But it was good fun and although the cake was not as good as the practise cakes it tasted good and the women (and also the men and children who came to have a taste) were all happy! I think my problem must be down to the serious lack of measuring or putting too much of the charcoal on the top or maybe I can just blame extreme humid and hot temperatures (it is incredibly hot there now and especially at night very uncomfortable!) Now they are keen to learn to make things with the bananas and oranges so we will do that next time, along with more wedding cakes as there are some women who missed the morning and want to try.


Cooking ... seriously hot and sweaty!

Seriously not "glam!"
We met with a number of the stoves group after the service on Sunday but first here is my confession .... during the service I was nudged by the lady next to me to as I was losing the battle to keep my eyes open! Tim and the girls won't let me forget it, but my excuse it is that it was extremely hot sitting there on my low piece of wood and I was not understanding a word of the sermon (it wasn't Tim!) and was actually quite tired ... good enough? Moving right along now, the good news is that we seem to be "cracking" the clay problem! The clay we have been using has been terribly difficult and the stoves cracking despite all kinds of attempts at mixing and finding other clay. We think we have found a better clay and have five new stoves that seem better. We talked about how to move the group to new levels and came up with some good ideas.

We had a great time on Monday evening with the guys meeting to study the Bible and go through leadership issues. They are so keen - it's fantastic! We met with several people and also visited the secondary school to talk about the kitchen gardens project that the Canada team will be starting in March. We talked about the possibilities and the potential problems and they are keen to go for it. We will need to work hard at communicating the importance of watering and using dirty water for the job. The water situation there is unfortunately still not good. The system is in the process of being sorted out but in the meantime the water supply is incredibly dirty. There is also a problem for the farms as the river is currently very low. The first rains finished and it has been dry for too long for the crops just planted. They are waiting for the next rains to come next month, but it is a worry and a struggle. We are trying to figure out how many litres of water we will need to take with us for the team when they come as we must take all our drinking and cooking water with us these days. But talking about water, it's not much better for us here in town. A shower has become rather a lovely surprise and you need to grab the moment when there is water to take it! And recently the water, when it does come out of the tap, has been an unsightly brown colour!

Corn green two weeks ago

What a difference two weeks makes! Corn is dead.

We are now preparing for and eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Wingfield family who arrive with their latest addition, Bethany, on Friday! And still eagerly awaiting a car ... which brings us to the car news this week ... the shock absorber bolt sheared off as I drove us home from Magozi!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Horserides and Ditchrides

Cooking trials are complete, health is restored and we are ready to go to Magozi early tomorrow morning. We will be having a stoves group meeting after the church service and then on Monday I am hoping a number of women will come over to learn how to make cakes and we will do some reading as well. We will also be talking with a few families about starting some kitchen gardens, something our team from Canada is going to start off when they come in March. On Tuesday, some of the stove group will be meeting to make stoves, they are rotating the work at the moment with working in the fields. So we are looking forward to a full and good few days!
Jiko Madeira Cake
Amisadai was very thankful to be feeling better this morning as it meant she could go horseback riding, something she has been eager to do here for a long time! A friend, Shera, who lives on a farm nearby, has horses and is starting a riding business. Tim took Amisadai today and she absolutely loved it! Louisa is now very keen to go riding as well!
Amisadai, Shera and Roundabout
But Louisa had her own ride this morning! Amisadai was having trouble shutting the big gates as they left this morning, and Tim had to get out the car to help her. Louisa had a panic as she was the only person in the car when it started rolling away! The handbrake has never been too good. Fortunately, the ditch the other side of the road stopped the car after 4 or 5 metres. But with the abrupt stop, she did say, "It was a good job I was wearing my seatbelt!" Amisadai's account to me was rather more exciting than Tim's as she said the car was all tipped up, good job it didn't tip over ....! But Tim said it was fine, and easy enough with 4-wheel drive to drive up out of!

This all increases our excitment for the new vehicle. Our friends in Dar are still looking for us and we hope any day now they will find a something suitable! We are even more keen as our our oats supply is dangerously low and we are seriously rationing porridge! A trip to Dar will solve that dilema too!

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Pineapple Upside-down Cake

Did you know that the first pineapple upside down cake recorded seems to be in a Seattle recipe book in 1925? This after the invention of a pineapple slicer by James Doles’ engineer and the invention of the maraschino cherry. Upside down cakes. The unexpected and delightful surprise enjoyed when things have been turned upside down.  I’ve been thinking a lot about cakes (particularly the kind that have for centuries been cooked upside down in a skillet on an open fire) as this week I was supposed to be practicing making lots of cakes on the jiko. Today we were supposed to be in Magozi where tomorrow I was supposed to be cooking wedding cakes with women in the village.
But things have been rather upside down around here. I had just two cake attempts. One was a complete disaster of uncooked goo with the fire gone out, darkness descending with no power and no water to wash our smoky selves … the other cake was merely burnt. Then I came down sick and have just emerged from three days in bed to rummage some food for the poor troopers here who are sick of stale bread … oh for some instant cuppa soup! They have all looked after me very well but things haven’t gone according to plan. But actually how often does it? But in making these cakes, the good stuff is always hidden on the bottom and it’s only through being turned upside down (or should that be right-side-up?) that it all turns out right. Our whole world is turned upside down, but we have a God who is turning it out. Looking sometimes at life or the world about us, often it’s hard to see things from that other-way-up perspective, but if we keep the finished cake in mind, we can keep cooking!
(No, I didn't make this cake!!)