Madeleine: I am sitting in the passenger seat of a very rugged Peugeot 406 powdered in red African dust. I have been reassured it has a good engine and is a strong car. Lucas is on my lap with my arms and the seat belt clutched around him, I focus on every bicycle, matato, tuktuk, juggernaught, car or passer-by weaving in and out of the traffic, I feel nervous and alert. I am also singing ‘Old MacDonald had a farm’ not concentrating on the words but the world around me. This farm has lots of cats and sheep on the farm as I repeat myself over and over. Lucas wriggles and wriggles but is settled by my singing as we approach the roundabout, Old MacDonald stops and we take a right turn, we are relieved to be on the road home. We are also thankful, very thankful we have been given a car, I am thankful Andrew is driving on our first drive, however I have never before seen him nervous behind the wheel!
I am sitting in a booth in a mobile phone store with Lucas cradled in my arms, waiting. The rain is pouring down outside, I look around and see teenage girls discussing the latest phone, men and women in suits, a woman with threads dangling from her skirt and wearing a fleece jacket, the staff in green shirts with black tank tops, a young girl with an old dress holding the hand of her mother looks up and I smile, she shyly smiles back, I feel comforted by the rain outside. We are all waiting, waiting for credit to be activated on our mobile phones.
I gently unzip the netted canopy over our bed so as not to wake Lucas and climb in, I zip it back again and lie down, refreshed by my shower I listen, the little chorus of our 6 legged friends lets me know home is a very different place.
I am sitting on the toilet…again….I’m not telling you the rest!
Settling in to our new environment we remind ourselves to take things one step at a time…just driving our first 5 miles was hard! I’m sure it will all gets easier. It is the short rainy season and on a few occasions now I have felt very comforted by the familiarity of rain.
I am also comforted by the process of baking, I do not however have the ingredients I am used to and so have started to experiment! Inspired by a home favourite, banana bread, and wanting to try the ugali (corn meal) and wimbi (millet) I picked up this week, this is what I came up with. I was quite surprised how tasty is was for a first attempt! We were joined by three Kenyans for a cup of tea this evening and they seemed to really like it, they all had seconds which made me happy! I hope you guys like it too. I think you can get corn meal and millet flour from most health food shops. This is actually a very health cake given as there is no added fat. It is also gluten free.
Andrew: We have wheels! A 2002 Peugeot 406 with a lot of character. It has in its 10 year life covered 170,000 miles. The gear stick is broken and comes loose in my hand if I change gear too quickly, the drivers side window only goes up if the engine isn’t running, the front window mists up to near zero visibility, the front lights are bright enough to see only a few inches in front of the car, all the windows are heavily tinted, no one can see in, and we can just about see out. The petrol tank reads empty even when it is not, you just “have to know” when it needs refilling. I do not mean to sound ungrateful, in fact we are extremely grateful to have a car. It was very kindly loaned to us completely free of charge by the office manager for the project and has given us independence we would not otherwise have. For now, until we get to know one another (us and the car) a little better we will stick to short journeys close to home.
Home is starting to feel more real now. The constant pumping of adrenaline preparing us to leave leave England has subsided and has been replaced with a deep exhaustion. Lucas however never seems to get tired and so we have little opportunity for rest and little time to contemplate the idea of rest. The project starts next week…
Madeleine has yet again been a willing guinea pig as I start testing all the equipment survived the journey. This time I haven’t left her temporarily visually impaired for which she is grateful as she whips out a new recipe for our guests to try (who have all had photos taken of the back of their eyes on the dining room table before getting their cup of tea). Unfortunately for me, they all love the new recipe. I was banking on the left overs for a late night snack but they all went back for more…
2 medium/large eggs
I used 70g of granulated brown sugar and 70g caster sugar (The most common sugar here is a brown coarse granulated sugar, as it is quite coarse and the final bake may not be as soft so I combined it with the local caster sugar which is somewhere in-between the UK version of icing sugar and caster sugar)
140g of ripe bananas mashed
150g of mashed mango (I couldn’t decide whether to use sweet ripe mango or a tangy unripe one. As I was using it for cooking I opted for an unripe tangy one and it actually added a lovely zingy hit to the final bake (if you make this back at home its probably easier to find an unripe one!) To mash it I cut it into cubes then used a fork on a chopping board, I’m sure a blender would be fine too I just didn’t want more washing up!
75g of corn meal (Ugali) this is from the maize plant like a bigger, less sweet sweet corn and is the staple food here…so I had to get it in. The corn meal I used is a texture between flour and polenta . The corn flour we know is a much finer powder starch from the maize plant.
75g of millet (Wimbi) another staple grain and I believe is also gluten free!
2 tsp baking powder
half tsp ground cinnamon (You may want to use a whole tsp, I only used half as it smelt amazing and I didn’t want to over power the other ingredients so just do what feels best).
50g of raw peanuts (ground nuts) another staple here and so cheap! I used ones that were straight from the shell not altered in any way. Crush them in a bag with a rolling pin before adding.
- Turn the oven on to 180°C and brush the inside of a loaf tin with a little vegetable oil. (I used a 1kg loaf tin about 20 x 12 x 8cm
- Whisk preferably using a Kenwood or similar mixer at high speed for 4 minutes until all the sugar and eggs are very light and fluffly. (This is a really important step as this is where the rise comes from and keeps the bread/cake airy).
- Whisk in the mashed bananas until followed by the mashed mango. Add the flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and whisk until completely blended.
- Using a wooden spoon fold in the crushed raw peanuts until well incorporated and pour the mixture into the greased loaf tin. Place in the oven on the middle shelf for approx 45mins until it is almost quiet (it stops hissing or “singing” if you listen closely – this means it is cooked) and the edges have started to come away from the sides of the tin.
- The cake will probably not rise much more and mine actually sank a little but I think that may have been because I turned the oven down as my oven thermometer said it was actually 210 not 180! Leave in the tin to cool for 10mins before turning upside down onto a wire tray. If it doesn’t look like it will come out of the tin gently run the blunt side of a knife around the tin to help remove.
Here are some pictures from our exploring…