Monday, February 4, 2013

What's Up in the Kitchen

Today as I write, I'm sitting wrapped in a blanket on the couch. I don't want to close the windows, which weren't exactly designed to keep out cool air anyway. They are more for keeping wandering bugs out at night since there are no screens on windows here. It's raining outside, and I love the sound of it falling on the leaves mixed with the songs of birds and rolls of thunder. Yes, it does get cool enough here to need a blanket, even in the middle of the day. It hasn't been common during our time here, but on the afternoons when the sun is hidden by heavy rain clouds, it gets a bit chilly. I know, it's nothing like home, which I've heard is more frigid right now than chilly, but it's all relative. Many parts of Kenya get extremely hot. Fortunately, this is not one of those places. We are at about 6,500 feet here, which brings cooler air and, best of all, keeps most of the bugs away. We have mosquitos and a few flies, but that's all I've seen so far. And I'm okay with that.

I'm kind of hoping it rains all afternoon. It's a nice excuse to stay tucked inside reading books and coloring, a break from the constant running that Ella has grown accustom to. She's funny. The moment she gets out the door, she's off, yelling for the other kids to chase her. That girl is going to be a runner, I tell you. She just doesn't stop. I suppose Kenya is the place to be to learn how to run! 

I've been thinking a lot about the questions some of you asked after my last post. I love hearing them, so please continue to ask away!

fresh eggs delivered to the door
 Obviously, daily life is very different here. I had been told before arriving that life just takes longer. Chores aren't as quickly completed and meals take lots of preparation. Because of this, we're fortunate to have Stella as our house help. She comes every day to help clean and cook. Yes, I could surely do the work myself. We didn't bring much with us and our apartment is pretty small, but having her help does allow me to have the time to take care of the kids and explore our surroundings. Having house help is very common here. In fact, I've come to understand that it's practically expected if you're able to afford it. Hiring someone provides a job, and I'm all for that. 

local produce - all for less than $3.50
 Stella is wonderful. She is about my age, has a four-year-old daughter, and her English is fantastic. I've enjoyed having conversations with her and laughing about funny things Ella does during the day. Stella is also an amazing cook. She prepares lunch for us every day, and most days Pete gets to join us. The four of us sit at the table together and talk about the day. Sam is usually sleeping. We've had traditional Kenyan meals, everyday meals like baked chicken & potatoes or brown rice & beef stew, and healthy recipes I've found online. I've really enjoyed having Stella's help during the day. Ella adores her and always mentions her during our prayers. She is certainly my closest Kenyan friend so far.
making bread & drinking chai
Ella's loaf of fresh bread. We make this almost daily.
Meals take quite a bit more time here than in the States. Nearly everything is made from scratch. Nothing is canned and very little is packaged. Yes, it is possible to buy things canned and packaged, but they are generally more expensive (sometimes quite a bit more expensive) and not everything is available out where we live.  One example: butter. We can only purchase butter in Nairobi, the capitol. Other things that cannot be found in our town of Boment: yogurt, cheese, chips. And I've been told a few things that can't be found in Kenya at all are chocolate chips, decaf coffee or tea, nuts for baking (almonds, pecans), pudding, Crystal Light, pepperoni. That's what we've discovered at this point. We have plenty of fresh produce, though, and can get many other goods in town. Usually, Stella does our shopping for food. We make a list together and she walks to "the dukas," stands nearby where food, jewelry, baskets, phone cards, and other simple good are sold. The dukas are an easy walk from our house, on the road right in front of the hospital. 

whole wheat
ground into flour
 I love the way we eat here. Never in my life has all of my food been so fresh. On Thursday, Pete came home from work with a bulging bag of pineapple, mango, and bananas, while Stella bought a couple pounds of fresh beef at the dukas. Friday we bought tomatoes and carrots, and Stella made beef stew for lunch. Yum. Friday night I had three big avocados to use, so I made avocado bread (kind of like zucchini bread), an avocado dessert (mixed with milk and honey), and a big bowl of guacamole. I had a couple flour tortillas left from lunch the day before, so I baked those and made them into chips. I really do enjoy baking and cooking here, which I do nearly every night.

boiling fresh milk that is delivered daily for about 35 cents a quart

fresh chips & guacamole, fruit smoothie, whole wheat bread is one of my favorite resources right now. That's where I've found most of the recipes I'm using here. I've also been using quite a few from the Sugar-Free Mom blog, which I've mentioned before. I'm such a fan of her site for healthy meal and snack options. I can't get everything here, but I've figured out ways to work around that. I'm kind of surprising myself with all this cooking. I never cook at home! We either eat simple meals or eat food at or from the hospital. Being in residency, Pete has been getting free food for the last 2 1/2 years. I feel like a new mom part of me is coming out with each new meal I make. I'm definitely doing more of this when we get home!

homemade pizza margherita
I'm putting a post together with photos and explanations of the local dishes we've been eating. We thinks most of it is really good. 

This is our friend, Betsy. She is such a sweet girl. She comes over quite often to play with Ella and adores Sam. She's seven and goes to one of the local primary schools. Her mom is a teacher at a nearby high school and they live in the building right next to us. The building is for hospital staff, so I'm thinking her dad works at the hospital. I guess that's a question I'll ask today.

And this little (pudgy, actually) man loves his baths in the kitchen sink. It's a little easier for me to do them there rather than in the tub, but he's not going to fit much longer. Look at him! Man oh man, do I love that boy.


  1. I am SO glad you're enjoying cooking so much! We learned so much about cooking in Africa, but alas, it is still one of my least favorite things to do. Perhaps we'll have to cook together when we're all in Africa'll make the task bearable for me :)

    1. Absolutely! Or you can watch the kids while I cook. Then we'll all eat together. I'm glad we're thinking ahead. ;)

  2. Loved this post - it was fun reading how your daily life is and all the stuff you've been cooking. I like the simplicity of your days and that even though it takes longer to make food, you have the time to do it and are enjoying it. I'm glad things are going well!

    1. I really do enjoy the simplicity of life here. That's one thing I was looking forward to the most. I don't make time for cooking at home, but I'm planning to do much more of it when we get back. Life here is wonderful, even if we've only been here for 4 weeks.


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