Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Domestic Life Part I

This morning was my (j’s) turn to make breakfast. Anyone staying at the guest house for any length of time is put on rotation for breakfast. Lunch and dinner are made by our 2 guest house workers, who also clean and do laundry. They are amazing cooks and the food has been great. We have been eating sukuma (leafy green vegetable kind of like kale) almost every day, and frequently have ugali (very fine cornmeal cooked into a thick porridge).

So back to my breakfast….there is almost no dairy to speak of here. And since our family pretty much lives on greek yogurt, milk and cheese, I became determined to see if I could try to make some yogurt. The only dairy we have is powdered milk. I used the “More with Less” Mennonite cookbook recipe with some alterations based on what we have here, and would you believe it, it worked! I was actually really surprised. The part I was worried about was the fermentation. (t. kept asking, “Is the yogurt done rising mommy?”)

"hot pot" is on the right with the green lid
I put the ingredients in a small crock and lowered the crock into a “hot pot” (something we never use at home but they use them constantly here—it’s an insulated pot with a tight fitting lid to keep cooked food warm.) and then added boiling water around the crock. I put the whole thing outside in the sun, hoping that it would maintain its heat. It needs to stay around 120 f. for 5-8 hours. After 5 hours I checked it and it did NOT look promising. I was worried. It was starting to get cool outside so I brought it inside and put it in the oven (not turned on).

In the morning I was amazed to find perfect yogurt! Except it tastes like powdered milk. But that’s ok!! It’s better than no yogurt!

In addition, I made “granola” with the only ingredients I could find: oats (which tasted off-can they go sour?), vegetable oil, sugar, cinnamon. We do not have electricity here, so the stove/oven runs on propane. The stove is really leaky and inefficient so I was told to avoid baking. So I toasted the granola in a cast iron skillet and it worked fine.

It really is amazing how you can always figure out SOME way to do SOMEthing if you are willing to be creative and maybe adjust your expectations a bit.

I also used the leftover ugali from the night before to make “cornmeal pancakes” which T. loved and the other guest (Tanzanian) said was “very nice”. Of course everyone poured “maple” syrup on them so of course they tasted nice!!

The very best part of breakfast, however, was the coffee. We did splurge on some good beans when we were in Nairobi, and the only way to make coffee here is with a French press…so needless to say it was delicious.

Apparently, one can get green coffee beans here in the village. We are looking into getting some and roasting them. T. also suggested to the director that we (they) try to start a little enterprise of coffee roasting and selling the beans to the short term missions teams that come here in the summer time. He suggested $15-20 a pound for home-grown, on-site roasted beans, with all the proceeds going to the children’s home. The kids could participate in the process and also set up a store from which they are sold. They would learn about agriculture, the coffee trade, and business. Anyone want to pre-order?


  1. I will definitely order some of those beans. It sounds like a fabulous idea.

    It IS amazing how a little creativity can get things done even without the modern amenities we are used to.

    Hey, this could make for a new type of reality show.

  2. Way to go being creative and finding ways to make yogurt and granola. I LOVE the coffee idea, that would be an awesome fundraiser. You know short term mission trip folks would be into that, especially with the personal connection of local beans roasted right there on-site. Also super cool way for the kids in the home to learn!