Spinach & Walnut Quiche… Lucas has the car key!

Cow Quiche

Madeleine: A wave of panic spreads through me.  The front door is shut.  I walk around the back of the car in anticipation the passenger door will be open, it’s locked, every door is locked and the windows shut. I peer through the tinted rain covered windows, Lucas is unstrapped balancing on his car seat, gleefully playing with the car key.  I reach for my phone, then realise it’s with Lucas.  Thankfully we have just arrived home and the apartment window, three floors up is open, I shout ‘Baz’. Trying to stay calm, smiling, making funny faces at Lucas through the window so as not to panic him. I am hoping Andrew will appear with a spare car key.  ‘There isn’t one”.  I have actually just locked Lucas in the car, I can not believe it! I pray he doesn’t fall off the car seat as its high up on the front seat of the van and he looks close to falling head first into the foot space.  As Andrew attempts to force open a window, we remember one of his previous games, playing with the lock! …

Andrew: “Baz… Andrew, ANDREW!!” I hear shouting from 3 floors down. It is Madeleine and she has just returned from her friend’s house. I’m sure she wants me to trek down all those stairs and lug up something heavy.

“Andrew!!” This time she sounds slightly panicked, I make my way to the window, peering through the bars I look down. Madeleine has a peculiar grin on her face whilst sounding very stressed. She urges me to come down immediately. 30 seconds later I arrive with a look that clearly says, “this had better be important”. She points to Lucas sat, seat belt off, in his car seat grinning. With an insane grin on her face she explains that Lucas has the car key in his hand and the doors are all locked. Oh…

No, we don’t have a spare and all the other doors and boot are locked. Madeleine tries to look relaxed so as to not stress out Lucas who is now on the verge of falling head first into the foot well. This is not good. I pull on the windows to see if I can force one down, they don’t budge. I look around for a brick to smash a window should Lucas fall and bang his head. Lucas, oblivious to stress he is putting us both under, taps the car window with the key and repeatedly says “car key, car key”.

We decide to play a game and try to convince Lucas to unlock the door by pulling up the knob. He is more intent on ramming the key in to various parts of the doors interior. We will him to pull the lock up and as he nearly rocks backwards in to the drivers side foot well.

Madeleine: The rain starts to fall, our heart rates now nearing maximum. We begin to play the “unlock the car door, NOW game”  joking and tapping on the window desperate for Lucas to pull the lock up….he does it!  We grab our opportunity to open the door before he locks it again and stand ready to catch him as he falls out whilst leaning on the door.  Thank God. With the key still clutched tightly in his hand, he is safe and and our heart rates slowly return to normal.

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Aside from being locked in the car, Lucas is doing really well and talking loads. I am really enjoying having conversations with him, generally they are about green and purple tractors, he loves drawing them on the roof (in chalk) above our apartment, painting them, playing with them, pretending to be them, singing about them, his favourite (‘Old McCutcheon had a tractor ei ei o’). He would even eat them although I haven’t managed to find a tractor cutter yet! We do however have a cow cutter which inspired a cow in a green field quiche, Lucas was also very excited and amazingly able to crack open 5 eggs for the mix!

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The eye project gets back on the road next week after an unexpected delay. We have several new team members coming out to the field for the first time. All have shown a capacity to learn quickly and an enthusiasm for the project.

Hannah, Andrew’s supervisor has just arrived in Kenya and will be joining us tomorrow, along with her husband and two young kids. It is great time to oversee some changes in the team and ensure everything runs smoothly.

Earlier in the week we met the new County Governer for Nakuru. He had a good grasp of the projects and their challenges (both eye and bakery), and was very supportive.

We hope in the next week or two to be full steam ahead.

As of today, the equipment van has new wheels to tackle the many off-road locations we will visit in the coming weeks.

 

Spinach Tart/Cow quiche Recipe

Ingredients: (makes 6 small or one large tart)

For the pastry

100g wholemeal flour

100g white plain flour

1tsp baking powder

80g cheddar cheese

1tsp caynne pepper

100g butter (cut into to cubes straight from the fridge)

Approx 2 tbsp ice cold water

For the filling:

300g fresh spinach

2 small red onions

2 garlic cloves

1tablespoon olive oil

Generous half tsp cayenne pepper, half of turmeric and small half of nutmeg and a pinch of salt.

4 large/5 medium eggs

65g cheddar cheese grated

100g plain yogurt

20ml double cream or add 20g extra yogurt or 20g butter

50g walnuts crushed, if you particularly like walnuts you can double this.

Method

Start with the pastry.

  1. Mix the flours, baking powder , cayenne pepper and grated cheese together.
  2. Tip the cubed butter into the dry ingredients and rub in with your hands, lifting your hands as you do so until you have a breadcrumb consistency.
  3. Gradually add the ice cold water and mix in with a knife until you have a dough, bring together and wrap in cling film and place in the fridge.
  4. Move onto making the filling.
  5. Roughly chop the onions and garlic and sauté in the olive oil for 5 minutes in a non-stick pan.  Whilst in the pan, tear the spinach up a little if needed and add to the onions then continue to cook until all spinach wilted and turn off.
  6. Add the eggs, yogurt, spices, grated cheese together and mix.
  7. Add the spinach mix and egg mix together in a food processor and blend until fine consistency,  put the walnuts in a sealed bag and bash until all broken, then add the pieces to the blended mixture.
  8. Put aside.
  9. Roll out the pastry, either 6 small ones or one big one about 3-4mm thick.
  10. Place the quiche pastry in a silicon or greased tin and gently push down, place the animals on a non-stick tray.
  11. Place baking balls or dried beans on tin foil and poke holes in with a fork
  12. Place in the oven for 10minutes at 180ºC, take out, remove baking balls and glaze with egg wash place back in the oven for 5 minutes, take out and fill with the filling and place in the oven for 10minutes take out and place the half cooked animal pastry on the tops gently and place in the oven for a further 5 minutes.

A Zebra Crossing, no really….

zebra crossing

Getting new wheels for the van

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MasterChef Kenya… Sablées Animal Biscuits

The music blares from a parked car and fills our ears as we are greeted by many of the team. We catch up and share stories about the last few weeks, our time in England and there’s in Kenya. Kenya has a new president and Nakuru has a new Governor. There is optimism in the air, the elections passed peacefully and it seems people are happy to be able to return to normal life. The team is excited about returning to the field. We have had to do some restructuring and so will be taking on some new team members, this has been a blessing in disguise as we have had numerous people wanting to be involved with the project for some time now but we have not had enough work for them all. We start interviews this Monday as well as training up those we take on permanently. So far they all seem enthusiastic and we look forward to getting to know them better.

Our excellent field officer is making plans for the coming weeks so we can do our best to navigate around the heavy rains.  For now, some places will not be accessible until the worst of the wet season passes.

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The rain hammers down on the plastic roofing on top of our apartment block, the light is dim as the black clouds gather over Nakuru, it’s the rainy season so during the afternoon we try not to be caught outside. Thankfully we all love cooking so for our afternoon activity we headed to the kitchen. Lucas jumped in and was excited to make some biscuits.  We were so impressed at how he just got on with it, we filmed a little for you and got John and Greg to taste it….. 😉

Recipe: Sablées Hollandaise Animal Biscuits – made by Lucas

Ingredients

400g plain white flour

4g baking powder

5ml Vanilla extract

200g caster sugar

15ml water

4 egg yolks

200g soft butter

Method

1. Pre-heat oven to 180ºC

2. Sift the flour and baking powder together and make a central well

3. Add the water, yolks and vanilla to the well and work it all together slowly adding the sugar

4. Add the softened butter until well combined and kneaded in to a ball

5. Wrap in cling-film and chill in the fridge (makes it easier to roll and prevents butter melting)

6. Once chilled, roll to desired thickness (we made them just over half a cm) and cut animal shapes (or anything else)

7. Brush the biscuits with a wash of mixed milk and a beaten egg

8. Place in the oven for 12 minutes

9. Serve and if you are Lucas, try each one before presenting them for judging 😉

Welcome Home. Olive, Halloumi and Pumpkin Seed Spelt Bread Sticks

Olicve and hallumi spelt bread

“Welcome home”

I have a sinking feeling, my mind races to when I last had it, my mind clears and a mental picture develops, it is too far away now. I feel annoyed with myself for not checking my bag before we left, out of the window is an incredible view of the rift valley being soaked by a dramatic rain cloud, we are over two hours from Nairobi on our way to Nakuru and the rains are coming and there is no chance of turning back…  The beloved little blue tractor is gone, sunk to the bottom of the toddler swimming pool, chugging away with no little Lucas to play with. 😦

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I feel for Lucas as he had so much fun with the Tractor, he asks again, “Kak-tor?” thankfully he continues to clutch ‘little pig’. Whilst I’m thinking of ‘blue tractor’ distractions I see Lucas’ little face light up with the familiar look of pure glee ‘Tuk tuk, blue tuk tuk”  he points excitedly at the rattling little engine outside of our car.  We are nearly home and I know life is going to be okay without the ‘little blue Tractor’.

Thankfully we had a great journey, no overweight bags or excessive amounts of eye equipment, check in was smooth. A really helpful BA customer service person moved our seats so we had the toddler seats with the more leg room! We managed a non-rushed breakfast at Carluccios and this time we got to drink our coffees.

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‘Karibu’, ‘Karibu’ There is another knock at the door, it’s Redempta the eye project manager, we hug and our smiles fill the room, we are already chatting with our friends Kate and Jonny, who surprised us by popping round.  Lucas is off playing with their daughter Eowyn, we are briefly updated on the past 7 weeks and we feel positive and excited about the months ahead. The sun is shining, although we are told the sun has not come out for a few weeks as it is the rainy season!  Apparently we have brought the sun, as if!!

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It has been at times busy but great being back in the UK. It has been productive, Andrew was interviewed by the BBC last Thursday, we’ll keep you posted with what comes of it. There has been meetings to organise the branding of the phone technology, in short the London Tropical School have been incredible to take on organising patents for the new gadgets involved to ensure it will always be accessible at a low price.

There have been some very exciting developments on another front….if we haven’t told you already! We have become close friends with an incredible family living in our compound. They are providing land and will purpose build  the bakery for free!….to be continued on a future blog!

We are overwhelmed at how generous YOU guys have all been. Once the generous donations from our talk in Cholsey (where we used to live) which were amazingly matched by an anonymous donor from St Mary’s church (in Cholsey) we will have exceeded our target of £10,000 to pay for all the eye care treatment of those people who are diagnosed as part of the study.  This is just incredible, thank you again  for your massive generosity! Whilst we’ve been away 29 more people have had surgery and their sight restored.

Recipe – Spelt Halloumi, Olive and Pumpkin Seed Bread Sticks

I made these for the talk in Cholsey

Ingredients

500g wholegrain spelt
400ml water
7g dried yeast
6g salt
200g olives
125g halloumi cheese chopped into small cubes
50g pumpkin seeds

Method:

1. In a bowl add the flour, yeast, salt (opposite side to the yeast) and water, bring together with your hands and knead in the bowl for 2-3minutes.  Its a very wet mixture and spelt is low in gluten so does not need much kneading.
2.Fold in the olives, halloumi and pumpkin seeds.
3. Leave to proove for about an hour with Clingflim over the bowl until about double in size.
4. Once prooved sprinkle a good amount of flour over the surface, tip the wet mixture onto the flour covered surface and stretch into a rectangle about 30-40cm by 20cm. Using a knife cut in half then quarters, eights and finally into 16 strips of dough.
5.With floured hands pick each lengh of doough up stretch a little or squash if fitting into a tray then place well spaced apart onto baking trays lined with greaseproof paper sprinkled with flour.
6. Leave to rise for 30mins to 1hour then place in the over at 220C for 10-15mins, depending on how crispy you like them.
7.On removing from the oven, place on a wired rack.
8.Eat ASAP…yummy!