14 Children, 3 dogs, 3 tortoises, a few frogs, chickens, ducks, geese and unreliable minibus! Meet Kate, Jonny and their family.
Every so often you meet someone who challenges you in a way that proves the seemingly impossible is possible.
We are so inspired, I really hoped of meeting a family here, particularly someone with a young child with whom I could relate as it can be quite isolating in a 3rd floor apartment with a young child, especially when Daddy will be out in the field. Jonny and Kate moved here from the States 8 years ago with three small children, they now have 5 biological children and 9 orphaned girls (some abandoned, others their parents were unable to look after them and some who’s parents have died) as part of their family all living together under one roof. The youngest Éowyn is 2 and a half and together with Lucas are so cute, the oldest is nearly 18.
When we met them a week a go at their house, Lucas exploded with excitment as he ran (now very quick) to the chickens, rolled around the floor with the three dogs, and had a genuine “jaw drop” moment when his milk chocolate brown eyes first clocked the giant tortoise! He spent the rest of the afternoon chasing the dogs, ducks and chickens having loads of fun with the other kids.
If having 14 children is not enough work on its own (one at times feels overwhelming), they also run an orphaned boys home, provide education in some of the local slums and home school half of the children. Jonny is the chilled one (like Andrew) and Kate is fizzing with energy and creativity, each day she has a new activity or idea from teaching crochet, designing fashion items from cheap men’s shirts, teaching flute, zumba classes, the washing up “game” and what’s more, she’s a baker with a passion for healthy food and children’s health! I think I’m going to learn a lot from her. As if there isn’t enough for us to bond on she is getting back into running after 14 years of non-stop breastfeeding. I have a running buddy! We are blessed with a car so I can drive over with my boys (on a non-work day) and run with her at 6.30 in the morning whilst the boys chill or run around with the kids. Jonny describes Kate as having “vomit mouth”, I guess the equivalent of the verbal diarrhoea I’m known for and have just shared with you all.
We met them after finding their blog…. and had them over for dinner last night. Andrew made his roasted tomato and red onion soup for starters which we enjoyed with some fresh out of the oven, warm sourdough (next blog!). For mains we had okra, mchicha (spinach) and smoked paprika tart with sweet potato cubes in a crispy ugali crumb.
Here is the recipe for the tart:
5og unsalted butter
80g plain flour and 30g millet flour (If you only have plain that’s fine)
25g strong cheddar
pinch of salt
teaspoon smoked paprika
300g mix of chopped okra and shredded spinach (mchicha) (admittedly this is an estimate as I didn’t weigh it all (sorry) so make enough to fill the tart)
0ne small onion
knob of butter
50g strong cheddar (you can add parmesan too but its really expensive here like all imported stuff)
4 large eggs, beaten
75-100ml single cream depending if you like it creamy or not
tsp smoked paprika
salt and pepper as required
1. First make the pastry. Using chilled butter cut into cubes and add to the flour and rub in with your finger tips, try do just use your finger tips and not to let the butter melt, it helps to lift your fingers up high out of the bowl to prevent warming the mixture. Mix in the grated cheddar, salt and paprika, add 3 tsp of cold water and using a knife cut it into the dough, with your hands bring the dough together (you may need another tsp or 2 of water) and wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30mins.
2. Finely chop the onion and sauté in the butter on a low heat until soft. Add the chopped okra and shredded spinach, smoked paprika, salt and pepper and cook on a low heat for 15mins (ish) until the greens are not too wet. I actually dried the okra and spinach with kitchen roll after washing it so it wasn’t too wet before cooking.
3. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
4. Using a fork beat together the 4 eggs, cream and grated cheese and set aside.
5. Take the chilled pastry dough out of the fridge and roll out in-between two pieces of baking parchment. Grease the 23cm flan tin and place the rolled out pastry in the tin. Prick the base all over with a fork, then place a couple of small pieces of baking parchment over the base with either baking balls on top or I just used dried butter beans. Place in the oven for 20mins, take out, remove the baking sheet and butter beans and glaze with some of the egg/cream mix and place back in the oven for a further 5 mins.
6. Add the okra/spinach mix to the pastry case followed by the egg/cream mix and place back in the oven for a further 30mins until the centre is firm. If the edges become too dark you can just cover with tinfoil and continue cooking.
7. Eat and enjoy with friends or family who really inspire you! Great for lunch the next day and Lucas loves it too!