Almond and Raisin Sourdough

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We haven’t see her smile before, I guess when you’re in so much pain smiling is not high on the agenda. She is only seven and has been through a harrowing week. When we saw her in the clinic last week she was brought in kicking and screaming, her eye a mess having had an unfortunate encounter with friends playing with a machete.

Today, one of our team is helping her get transport back home having spent four days with them in the hospital ensuring she was adequately looked after. She is pain free, wearing an Arsenal beanie hat and a smile. She may never see again from that eye but at least now her risk of serious infection and loss of the eye all together has been drastically reduced. Cosmetically she may be unnoticeably different to the untrained eye – we hope.

We were delayed getting going this morning but once we hit the road (a good hour after the equipment van) we were all raring to go.

I was delighted when we arrived at the clinic site (a church) to see those who had gone ahead had already set up all the equipment perfectly and the the patients were already being attended to. We have a fragile optimism at present. Things are running really well but we are always aware  that challenges can be just around the corner. This is the land of the unexpected.

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“Two planes, I want two planes” Lucas runs around the flat, I sit down for a welcome coffee break and wonder how Andrew is doing. We hardly got any sleep last night, finally getting to bed at 12.30am but lay there awake with excitement. My cousin Matt, Donna (his wife) and their sons George and Jack (two of Lucas’ favourite people in the world) are all booked on to the same planes as us when we fly back to Kenya after Andrew’s sister’s wedding. We explained to Lucas this morning that we will be going on two planes with them via Dubai so he spent all morning asking to go on “two planes” with George and Jack, I think its very difficult understanding time when you are two!  I really cant wait to see all the boys excitement at the airport, never mind when they see all the animals!

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Bakery Update

We received a really positive email from the Ujima Foundation director and will be meeting next week to discuss how we might work together. Exciting times!

Recipe – Almond and Raisin Sourdough

Ingredients:

Pre-ferment:

100g strong white bread flour

125g water

10g starter

Final dough:

100g raisins

100g almonds

480g strong white bread flour

160g whole wheat flour

400g water

Add in all of the Pre-ferment

16g salt

3g dried yeast

Method:

  1. The night before making prepare the pre-ferment by simply mixing the ingredients together with a spoon and leaving in a warm area overnight.
  2. The next day first prepare the raisins by soaking them in boiling water for 30mins then drain.  Prepare the almonds by roasting them at 150°C for 10minutes.
  3. The next day to make the final dough, mix the flours, water, pre-ferment, yeast and salt together and either knead for 12 minutes or use a dough hook on a low speed for 10minutes, then add the almonds and raisins, followed by a little more kneading until all well combined.
  4. Bring the dough together into a round and leave or place in a bowl covered with cling film.  Leave to prove until doubled in size.
  5. When ready shape either by folding into a loaf and placing in a loaf tin, or use a proving basket, leave to prove for another hour or so until ready to bake.
  6. Place in the oven at 220°C for 30minutes with a tray of water at the bottom.
  7. When crisp and hollow sounding remove form the oven and cool on a wire rack.

This is one of my favourite breads I hope you enjoy it, its so yummy toasted with butter for breakfast!

Lucas enjoying some for breakfast

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Junior Masterchef in his awesome apron from Sarah and Rich – Thank you x

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Patients being registered at today’s eye clinic

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It was pretty cramped and hot in here but between us we did well over 150 examinations

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A patient’s granddaughter sits on an equipment box and happily chomps away on a chapati  

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Have a little Faith… Millionaire’s Shortbread

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I slide the tray of almonds in to the oven, eight minutes should do it. Baking them gently really brings out their flavour. I am preparing tomorrow’s bake whilst entertaining Lucas. I slide them out at bang on eight minutes, not quite there yet so back in they go for a couple more minutes.

Beep beep, my phone jumps to life and I am really excited as a close friend has just sent me some fantastic news. Excitedly I begin ‘whatsapping’ away as Lucas whizzes around on his toy car (you should see his hand break turns!). The almonds!! Oh no, they are all charred and useless… 200g wasted. On his way back from the field Andrew picks up some more, I find myself multi-tasking again this time when Lucas and Andrew are in bed and I’m waiting for the next bake to finish in the oven, clearly my communication and cooking skills don’t mix too well, I’m on Skype with some more great news and I forget to turn the oven down leading to a particularly crispy base!

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With an eye project or baking, you need a little faith. When I made today’s bake, the electricity went 10 minutes before it was due to come out of the oven. I just kept it in there for a further 20 minutes whilst the oven cooled and they came out perfectly!

As I was burning bakes, the report from the field was positive, the team were doing amazingly well today with 32 people found out of a possible 42 from 5 years ago, that’s over 75% follow-up which is really good.  Today is also one of the team members birthday.  Faith. She has been an invaluable member of the team and her name says it all. Having been involved in eye projects for 8 years and being a data clerk for the initial part of this study 5 years ago she has a real understanding of how things should run, a great eye for detail and a temperament to cope with the multiple challenges. So happy birthday Faith and thank you for all your hard work!

We’ve certainly learnt that despite multiple set backs, having faith is key to keep you going, along with having some amazing people like Faith around.

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We climb up in to our seats and each start our engines, ‘Mummy red one’ ‘Me blue tractor’ we are off, I run half squatted behind Lucas attempting to catch up with the blue tractor in front of me, finally I catch him and its tickle time!  Whilst Andrew is in the field with the van, Lucas and I travel in a real red tuk tuk and Lucas’ excitement when we see it arriving is endless! It’s lovely.

We spent the afternoon making 14 cardboard cars as thank you cards for all the lovely cards and poems from Kate and Jonny’s kids for Lucas’ birthday.

Here are some of the amazing cards Lucas received

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Recipe – Millionaire Shortbread

Ingredients:

Shortbread:

220g plain flour

175g butter cold and cubed

1 tsp vanilla extract

Caramel

150g soft brown sugar

150g butter

397g tin of condensed milk

Pinch of salt

200g plain chocolate to top

20cm by 20cm cake tin

Method:

  1. Rub the butter into the flour with the vanilla essence until it becomes a soft dough.  Press down into the cake tin and pierce all over with a fork.
  2. Place in the oven at 180°C for 5 minutes then reduce to 150°C for 35 minutes.
  3. Whilst in the oven make the caramel add the butter and sugar over a low heat, when the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved add the condensed milk, stir continuously and when you see the first bubbles as it begins to boil remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  4. When the shortbread base is room temperature pour the caramel over and flatten with the back of a spoon into the corners etc and place in the fridge and chill for 30mins.
  5. Melt the chocolate in a heat resistant bowl over simmering water then pour over the chilled caramel and shortbread base, cool to room temperature then place in the fridge to cool.
  6. When chocolate is firm cut into as many squares as desired, it’s very rich so they don’t need to be very big.

Faith sharing out her birthday “cake”

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Tractor in the Mud Butternut squash Chocolate Cake. Lucas is 2!

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With 20 villages finished, one-fifth of the journey completed, we marked the occasion with a very special day in our calendar. Lucas’ 2nd Birthday! Today we were tourists in Kenya. It genuinely felt like we were in a different place all together. We were picked up from our home and taken to the park gate, a ten minute drive from our flat. Although the journey to the park gate was a familiar one to us (we’ve spent several afternoons walking around the gates animal spotting), today we were actually going in, a completely different experience and all together for the first time since we’d moved here. We’d been asking Lucas what he’d like to do for his birthday for the last couple of weeks and the consistent response was “Ba-boons, park” so we packed a picnic (chocolate brioche and mango juice at Lucas’ request) and enjoyed an amazing day together.

Check out the video:

The following day we invited some of our close neighbour friends to the flat to celebrate with Lucas.  They all seemed to have a load of fun in a pile of duplo, Lucas certainly did!

There is knocking at the door, the door swings open and loads more kids pour in to the house. We are suddenly overrun with children who have heard a party is going on. I am standing there I actually don’t know what to do, I don’t want to say we didn’t invite you, they are just kids wanting to have fun! I stand up in an attempt to stop the erupting choas, I don’t know what to say, thankfully the words come we all sing happy birthday to Lucas and I remember the backup cake (thank God for cake!) We slice up the cake and pass it round to our surprise visitors who with a bit of encouragement then head out to play again and the general level of chaos reduces back down to manageable levels.

The following day we celebrated again, this time with Kate and Jonny’s family. We had so much fun, swimming and running around. We were so touched by the effort the girls had put in to making Lucas cards and the lovely messages in them. This has been a beautiful birthday to remember!

Lucas celebrating with his neighbours

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What chocolate cake?

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Lucas discussing his day at the safari park

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The sous-chef has a tractor apron! Thanks Auntie Azzie x

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Lucas on the swing at the poolside with his “big sisters” – We all went for a birthday swim with Kate, Jonny and the 14 kids

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Cake and singing Happy Birthday with all the kids

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They all handmade Lucas a card with some really heart warming messages in them, such as “Lucas, you are our new baby brother, we love you”

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He loved opening them all, “more cards!”

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More blowing out of the candles – he’s a pro now

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Lucas dishes out the thank you hugs

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Recipe – Butternut Squash Chocolate Cake (Tractor and candles optional)

Ingredients:

3 large free range eggs

160g castor sugar

200g grated butternut squash

80g ground almonds

120g flour (you can use rice flour if you want to make gluten free)

3 tbsp cocoa

1tsp bicarbonate soda

1tsp baking powder

125ml yogurt

Icing:

50g softened butter

200g icing sugar

20g ground almonds

30g yogurt

4tsp cocoa

Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line two 20cm half cake tins.

2. Whisk the eggs and sugar for 4 minutes until light fluffy and quadrupled in volume.

3. Whisk in the grated butternut squash, then the ground almonds followed by the remaining dry ingredients.

4. Gently beat in the yogurt at the end.

5. Spoon evenly into both tins

6. Bake in the oven on middle shelf for 30mins, you can test with a knife if clean it is cooked.

7. Whilst baking make the icing, beat the butter with half the icing sugar until a fluffy paste then beat in the remaining ingredients for 5 minutes, make sure you scrape down the sides so all ingredients incorporated into the beating.

8. Let the cakes cool in their tins, when cool remove the baking parchment and spread a thin layer of icing on top of one cake, the base, then place the second cake on top and ice that.  For a ploughed field look just use the end of a fork!

This is a very simple birthday cake but by the end of the weekend I had made it 4 times! I admittedly was delighted when Lucas said ‘Tractor in mud’ when he saw it!!

Cluster 20. By the time we finished seeing the study patients, half the church was full (over 50 people waiting to be seen). We headed home in the dark with a long list of patients for surgery.

Church full

Cardamon and Mango Teacakes and tangawizi mbichi in my eyes

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Lucas is running up and down the steps around some grassy areas, he stops, scratches his bum, starts to run again  but stops and scratches further, ‘hurt mummy hurt’! I wip his trousers off and right in his crotch is the offending safari ant! These are BIG ants, they don’t bite but pinch! And ouch they hurt, from my experience doing the girly yelp seemed the best action to take when one pinched under my armpit so I fully empathise with Lucas!

The tangawizi mbichi (ginger) powder, well that was kind of my fault, Lucas loves to smell all the spices as they are being added to cooking. I got a bit excited and some lept up into his eyes, 10 minutes later, Lucas was taking after his Daddy and dipping his hands in his cup of water and washing his eyes!! If only Daddy could have seen this! A true mix of the 2 of us 🙂

It’s been a successful week in the field and project roof garden seems to be following suit, the chillies and tomatoes germinated in 48 hours!! Get that! I didn’t even have to explain to Lucas how we have to wait and wait to see any seedlings! Very exciting!

Last week, staffing the bakery was on my mind a lot. At the weekend we enquired further into staff training at our favourite get away, a really simple but beautiful lodge with views over the crater. We think the hospitality staff there are the best in Nakuru.  It turns out they are partnered with a foundation who offer an intense training programme for orphans aged 18-23 caring for two or more younger siblings, they run the on the job training and work hard to find them further work placements and secure them long term employment.  Their name, “Ujima” is Swahili and means “giving back to the community”, we have the directors details and hope to be in touch this week to discuss further and learn from them as well as looking at the possibility of partnering up. Watch this space…

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We eventually convince her to let me examine her on the slit lamp. She is only seven years old, clearly in desperate pain and intimidated by all the equipment and attention. She sits on her mother’s knees and holds the slit lamp as though it is a picky picky (motorbike). As I look at the magnified view of her left eye, I see something that no longer resembles an eye but a disrupted mess. The cornea (the front window) has a slice straight through it and has collapsed, there is blood inside the eye and because the capsule holding her lens has been penetrated, a white cataract has formed.

Six days earlier, playing with her friends, she was hit in the eye with a machete. The machete is used to cut the fields and many are in arms reach of children who find ways to entertain and fill their days. Sadly for this little girl, this game will undoubtedly change the course of her life.

We give her some anesthesia and medication to try and prevent infection. There is little hope the eye will be see again, realistically we can attempt to reform the eye, hope it will not cause pain, prevent it becoming infected (the infection can spread beyond the eye) and improve the long-term appearance. We have sent her to the local eye unit for a repair and covered the costs of treatment through the sponsorship.

What is hard to take in is that this will likely have a profoundly negative impact on her education, self-confidence, appearance, chances of marriage and employment in the future.

The village chief and parents of the injured child and parents of the child who swung the machete later approach our team. They want retribution and want to know how the family should be compensated. I explain that monetary compensation will not help and that they should do everything in their power to prevent kids getting these types of injuries from now on.

Interestingly, in the course of the day we saw five other elderly patients who were blind in one eye from injury. Don’t do DIY without safety glasses on!

Recipe – Mini Cardamon and Mango Teacakes

Recipe as on Tea cake blog.

Additions:

Add half tsp cardamom to the biscuits

Chopped up dried mango

Silicone cake pop tray – makes 20

Method:

I made these in just the same way as the original tea cakes but with cardamom added to the dry ingredients in the biscuit base and I rolled them out to 2-3mm thick.  After I had piped the marshmallow into the cool chocolate frame I added 2 small pieces of dried mango, being careful not to over fill.

There was a lot of marshmallow left over so you could either half the ingredients or use it in pancakes or as icing on cupcakes, whatever you feel like.  I also found the marshmallow worked with two tbsp honey rather than syrup, its not quite so set but fine for this use!

Enjoy with a cuppa so nice just a biteful and not too overpoweringly sweet.

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This lady’s right eye has had cataract surgery and her left needs it 

cataract and pseudophakia

A field being worked on just next to our clinic

gardening

Italian Focaccia, Kenyan Police and a Roof Garden…

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“Dr Andrew, we have a problem…..” I wait to hear more. The line is not great and I’m sat with the team on our matatu (minibus) driving towards today’s examination center.

“We have been stopped by the police and they are going to take us to the station.”

Each day, three guys go ahead of us in the equipment van, they have to take the pot-holed tarmacked roads slowly and the non-tarmacked ones even slower.  In the van is one of the our two team drivers, the maintenance engineer and one of the advance team who knows where we are going. The van is precisely packed with all our equipment! No equipment, no project. My heart starts to pound as the news sinks in. It turns out there was no valid reason for pulling them over, it is in fact, pretty standard that people get pulled over and generally are made to pay a bribe before moving on. This police officer is asking for a few thousand shillings or threatening to impound the van and all that is in it.

20 minutes later we catch them up and two of our team go and negotiate. I’m advised to stay in the van, if the police see me, a muzungo (foreigner) they will quadruple the fine. After what seems like hours, two of the team return smiling, the other guys have been released, seconds later, the brown van with tinted windows and the equipment drives off ahead to get set up. My heart settles and I stop imagining how on earth I might get the van out of the police station. I was thinking of something along the lines of the A-Team…

We arrived not long after at our examination center. Today, a lady had kindly let us use her home, the only building in the area with electricity. Her front room was soon converted in to a high-tech eye clinic and a queue of study patients awaited us. Along with goats and other animals hanging around.

Patients are collected whilst we set up

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Vision being tested 

vision test at 1m

Eight hours later we were done and on our way home, the sun disappeared and air cool as we ventured back to base having managed to see 28 study patients, around 30 others and found 7 people in need of surgery and many more needing more basic treatment.

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‘Tractor in the mud’ ‘Tractor digging” Lucas remarks. I get a text from Andrew, the equipment van has been stopped by the Police, this is not the first time we have been stopped.  Lucas is less concerned, “My plant carrots”.  Today is project roof garden, I think we have all been missing a garden so we decided to make a little one on the roof. A friend gave us some soil to fill up some old 10 litre drinking bottles and Lucas and I set to work. It’s only small but Lucas and I had a great time under the table with the pots of soil (They are under the table so they have a chance against the heavy rains) Lucas is pushing the two green tractors and ploughing the mud like ‘Tractor Ted’ whilst I hang out the washing we then began our task in planting carrots, chilies and tomatoes… I hope they grow!

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Recipe – Focaccia

Ingredients:

500g Strong white bread flour

5g dried yeast

10g salt

345ml water

1tbsp olive oil and extra for drizzling

Chopped fresh rosemary

Seat salt granules

Method:

  1. Mix the flour, yeast, salt and water in a bowel into a sticky dough then add in the olive oil.  Either knead with your hands in the bowl or use a dough hook on a mixer on a low setting for 10 minutes.
  2. Roll into a round and place in an oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size for about 1 hour.
  3. Brush a 26cm x 36cm tin with olive oil and flatten the dough into the tin, leave to prove for 30mins.  Pre-heat the oven to 230°C.
  4. When the dough looks like its airy and risen use your fingers to poke holes throughout the dough, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle on the rosemary and sea salt.
  5. Place in the oven for 10mins then turn down to 200°C and cook for a further 10minutes until golden brown and crispy.
  6. Let cool for 10mins before serving or prepare the night before for the eye project team!

The explorer enjoys the lush green on a weekend walk

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He seems to have mastered the self-sitting position

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Butternut Squash & Orange Cake with Caramelised Choux Pastry Balls – Happy Birthday Grandma!

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Have you noticed where you buy your cut flowers from? I noticed for a while back in the UK the small bunches of fair trade flowers were nearly always from Kenya.  The three clusters this week have all been by lake Naivasha. From miles away you can see huge expanses of poly tunnels, the flower trade is certainly big in Kenya.  Unfortunalely for the workers and the project, a few years a go in todays cluster, the new owner of the neighbouring flower farm sacked all their staff over the age of 60. They all lived in the farm as housing was provided as part of their contract.  They were forced to move away to find other work which meant that after driving 4 hours there and back the team were only able to find 5 study patients out of 50, disappointing but at least the team saw many other non-study locals and were able to enjoy and celebrate Mum’s birthday ( see video below)

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She walked into the lounge to find flour, eggs and spoons all over the new sofa, when she asked what I was doing, I replied ‘making a cake’. I was two at the time, and Mum loves telling the story of how I made so much mess but how she didn’t shout at me when she realised what I was doing!  Well it looks like my ability to create mess has been passed on to the next generation and as Mum nurtured my mess making/cooking we hope to do the same for Lucas. We are just thankful for the tiled floor in our flat!

Dear “Gan-ma”, Mum, Mother-in-law – Thank you x

This is a birthday gift (video) to you from us and the eye team – click to play

I don’t know if you noticed in the video but there are two duplo people who ‘look’ like Grandma and Grandad helping blow the candles out, Lucas loves them. They drive the bus, rescue the sheep from the farm road, go in his bath, help draw chalk tractors on the roof, they are very good a putting their arms over their heads and diving into buckets of water, you name it Grandma and Grandad can do anything!

Recipe

Butternut squash orange cakes

Ingredients:

3 free range eggs

240g castor sugar

300g finely grated butternut squash

Grated zest and juice of 1 half oranges

75g sweet potato flour

75g rice or plain flour

75g ground ground nuts

75g ground almonds

2tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

Icing:

75g unsalted butter

300g icing sugar

Finely grated zest and juice of one orange

Tbsp yogurt

Method:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C, line two 15cm cake tins
  2. Whisk eggs and sugar for 5 minutes until pale and fluffy and quadrupled in volume.  Add grated butternut squash and orange zest and whisk again.  Mix in four, ground nuts, baking powder and salt along with the orange juice.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the two cake tins, gently flatten with back of a spoon and place in oven for 30mins until slightly browned and knife is clean when poked in.  Cool in the tin.
  4. To make the icing cream the butter with 100g of the icing sugar then gradually add the remaining ingredients and beat.
  5. Ice when the cupcakes are cool.

Caramelised choux pastry puffs

Choux pastry

Ingredients:

100g plain flour

¼ teaspoon salt

75g unsalted butter

3 free-range eggs at room temperature.

Method:
  1. Sieve the flour into a bowl.  Put the salt, butter and salt into a pan heat gently until the butter has melted then quickly bring to the boil and tip the flour in all at once.
  2. Remove from the heat and beat strongly with a wooden spoon until it becomes a smooth heavy dough.  Put the pan back on the heat and beat for another two minutes to slightly cook the dough.
  3. Let the dough cool then gradually beat in the eggs again with a wooden spoon.  Add enough egg that the mixture just falls from a spoon.
  4. Place dough in a piping bag and pipe small blobs about 1.5cm wide and 1cm tall.
  5. Place in the oven for 10-12 minutes at 200°C, then open the door to remove the steam and bake for a further 5 minutes until crisp and golden.  Remove from the oven make a small hole in each one to remove the steam then bake for a further 3-4 minutes.

Caramel

Ingredients

125g castor sugar

50g water

Method:

  1. Heat until the caramel is just a shade lighter than a desired colour, remove and place pan in cool water.
  2. Using tongs dip each choux ball into the caramel and place on non-stick mat to dry.
  3. When all is cool assemble the cake.

Giraffes and Pane alle Patate

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Lucas’ legs are moving so quickly his body can barely keep up with them. “Chase birdies, chase birdies!” The dove leaps out of reach and then takes off. “More, more” Lucas demands. Lucas grabs hold of Rabbit and hugs him close to his chest.  As we walk home his hands do not leave his chest with Rabbit clenched closely, we climb the three flights of stairs one hand stays firm against his chest as he holds my hand and counts as he ascends the stairs, “1,2,3,4,6,4,6,4,6”, (wan, ton, tree, for, sik, for, sik, for, sik). We arrive at our door and Lucas hears something on the roof, “Baboons, baboons!” he yells. We climb the last flight of stairs and poke our heads out on to the roof, Lucas’s face lights up as he points, “baboon sit there”. I talk to the baboon as he munches on a banana in the corner, “baby baboon” is by the water tank and  “Mummy baboon” has baby baboon on her back. Lucas fearlessly runs over to the water tank and I follow close behind. Suddenly another baboon jumps over the wall. Lucas is giggling away!

A text comes through on my phone. Andrew and the eye team have had to stop on route to their examination centre two hours away as four giraffes were crossing the road!

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We are having loads of fun as Lucas’ imagination is rapidly expanding, he makes me loads of virtual cups of tea and even knocked up chicken and beans the other day. The baboons are particularly exciting, especially the one that regularly visits threatening to eat Lucas’ breakfast. The giraffes were real, or so Andrew tells me… It is actually very refreshing that life is not all about tractors and tuk tuks!

We have a pale yellow potato here, like in South America it’s not as watery and very yummy so I’ve been waiting to cook a sweet potato bread for a while and this Italian one with garlic and parsley turned out really yummy, I hope you like it.

Recipe – Pane alle Patate

Ingredients:

Biga (pre-ferment)

35g white bread flour

30g water

Pinch dried yeast

 

Final dough

475g white bread flour

240g water

Pre-ferment

16g salt

3g dried yeast

350g mashed potato

25g olive oil

20g finely chopped garlic

10g finely chopped flat leaf parsley

 

Method

1. Make the pre-ferment the night before baking, mix water flour and yeast together into a dough and leave covered overnight in a warm environment 20°C

2.To make the final dough, mix the bread flour and water until a dough and let rest for 15 mins.

3. Add the pre-ferment, salt, yeast and mix with a dough hook on low speed for 15mins or by hand, then add the potato, olive oil, garlic and parsley mix until well combined.

4. Cover and prove for 1 hour in a warm environment

5. Uncover and divide the dough in two, shape into two rounds, sprinkle with flour and cover with cling film for 1 half hours

6.Uncover score a leaf shape with a mid-line score and 4 small diagonal scores either side of the mid-line and place n the oven at 230°C for 30 -40 mins until the loaf is a reddish brown

7. Remove from the oven and transfer to wire racks to cool

 

Cluster number 16 – a man is being examined at the slit-lamp

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Here we go? with Fougasse aux Olives

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“5 have died, 7 moved away, 18 are confirmed coming and the rest are unknown” I receive the report for our next examination site.  We drive for over an hour and arrive at our examination center. We are to set up in a local hospital. We only have a tiny room so have to be creative with space, babies are screaming from the clinic next door.  An hour in and only two have turned up. Our advance team goes through the list calling everyone and the reply is consistently “we are on the way” Another hour passes and still no one else turns up. This is very strange.  It approached midday and having had only three people turn up we do some detective work. It turns out the hospital warden who stands by the gate has been telling our patients that there is no eye clinic here and has sent them on their way! What a nightmare. After much effort and our team driver making several trips we eventually see nine patients plus nearly 40 others who were not part of the study but heard we were in town.  Our next two examination sites are nearby so we hope to pick up the others on the way. The joys of fieldwork, my hair is thinning and greying in equal measure. I tuck in to some awesome olive bread Madeleine has whipped up over night and think to myself, at least something makes sense here!

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Here we go…….8 weeks until we fly back for Maz’s Wedding (Andrew’s sister), the new look team are all ready, 3 clusters a week have been prepared, that’s going to be a lot of baking and blog posts! so get ready!

My phone rings, its Andrew, it seems things are not going to plan today, it’s so deflating but with all the set backs its how we respond that matters.

Lucas has just gone for his nap after a morning of pouring blue and green water with lots of bubbles from one container to the next, then making hand prints on the stone walls on the roof with the water and watching them evaporate in the sun.  His Duplo “Gand-ma” and “Gan-dad” did a lot of swimming, we had fun!  I am reflecting on our day yesterday, we visited nearby to the potential site for the bakery, it is a great site, so we really hope all the paperwork continues to go well.

 

Recipe – Fougasse aux Olives

Ingredients:

Liquid levain (pre-ferment) prepare the night before.

35g strong bread flour

45g water

5g sour dough starter (or 2g dried yeast)

Final Dough

100g pitted olives washed and dried

375g strong bread flour

40g Rye flour

280g water

Pre-ferment as above

10g olive oil

8g salt

Pinch dried yeast

Fresh rosemary or thyme leave,  chopped finely

Method:

  1. The night before preparing the final dough mix the pre-ferment ingredients together until well combined, cover and leave out over night.
  2. Mix the white bread flour and rye flour with the water, bring together and let sit for 15minutes.
  3. Add the pre-ferment, olive oil, salt and yeast then knead for 15 minutes by hand or 12 using a dough hook on minimum speed, once well kneaded mix in the olives and chopped herbs.
  4. Cover and leave to prove until doubled in size for about 1 hour in a warm environment.
  5. Take out of the bowl, divide in two and on a lightly floured surface flatten the two pieces of dough into rough circles about 1-1.5cm thick.
  6. To shape make a cut with a sharp knife or dough scraper down the centre of the flattened dough, leaving about 2cm each end uncut, then cut two lines on the diagonal on each side of the centre cut.  Use your floured finger tips to gently pull the dough out into the leaf/fan pattern.
  7. Gently transfer onto parchment lined baking sheet, sprinkle with rye flour and leave to rise for about 1 hour in a warm place until a finger indent keeps its shape in the dough.
  8. When you anticipate the dough to be ready, pre-heat the oven to 220°C.
  9. Cook for 20-25mins until a good crust develops, to encourage a good crust place water in a tray at the bottom of the oven to create steam.

Work in progress (That’s my concentrating face!)

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Lucas being tickled by his friends

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Monkey staring at baboon

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Bara Brith, Flymageddon and back in the flow…

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“Eeeeek!. What is it? There’s loads of them!!” Madeleine screams from the other room.

I bravely charge in to the living room, like a scene from an action movie, pointing to Madeleine and Lucas to hide in the bedroom. I see their faces staring at me as the door closes, a hero in the making. Huge flying insects are pouring in through the window making a terrifying noise. Armed with Doom spray in one hand, a kitchen towel in the other I spray and swipe, spray and swipe till they are all dead. My work is done. Well, I may have exaggerated slightly, it turns out they were flying ants with 1 inch wings, completely harmless but I wasn’t to know.  Actually we have since found out they are often dried out and eaten as a snack!

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Madeleine: I am sitting on our brown, fake, leather sofa, it is though everything around me is moving, there is movement in front of me on the glass coffee table.  There is buzzing, more buzzing, I feel something tickling my face, my hand swipes across as my frustration levels rise.  I go to pick up my coffee, there are two flies crawling around the rim of my mug.  Lucas waves his hands saying ‘no fly, no fly’. I walk into the kitchen to make another coffee as I turn the kettle on there appears to be three on the toaster in front of me, actually there are five, four are mating and buzzing. That’s the final straw with mating flies everywhere we decide its time for the spray!…..extermination!

It’s the wet season and it brings the flies, it must be spring judging by their activities!!We cover what we can and go out as we leave Andrew has the pleasure in spraying.  What a site when we return, flymageddon, all these black blobs on the floor, its very effective and satisfying stuff!!  We sit down that evening in stillness, it’s lovely!

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The biggest challenge has been finding the 50 individuals examined 5 years ago from each village, you can imagine, no addresses, mostly no phone numbers (although many more have them now they didn’t in 2007) and a time of great political instability which drove a lot of people from their homes makes this a challenge and a half.

This last week has been a time of planning for the forthcoming months. We will now aim to complete three villages every week (so expect lots of baking and lots of blogs coming your way).

A map of Kenya showing where we work – each red pin is one of the 100 locations

Kenya Cluster Map

Zoomed in

Nakuru cluster map

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“Daktari (doctor), please look at this girl.” I see a young girl, smaller than Lucas sat on an older lady’s lap. They explain to me her parents abandoned her shortly after birth and she now lives with her grandmother. She is smiling and is following my voice. I look closely and realise she can not see me, her pupils are not black but creamy white. Light can not penetrate through them and she lives in the dark. She has cataracts – a clouding of the lens in the eye. Although this is most often a disease of the elderly it can occasionally affect children. Treating children early is vital, if they are left for too long, a condition known as amblyopia takes effect. In our early years the pathways between the eyes and brain are laid down for life, carrying signals from our eyes to our brain to allow us to see. If these pathways are never established, then even if the eyes are fixed, the person will not see. Thankfully she is still young and it is not too late. We make a few phone calls and arrange for her to be treated the next week. Hopefully she will no longer be growing up in the dark.

A one year old girl blind in both eyes from cataract who will now be treated thanks to all your generous donations! If you look closely at her pupils they are both white.

bilateral cataract

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At the end of last week we completed our 14th village of 100. I made Bara Brith, a traditional Welsh fruit tea cake.

Running around with the three kids (Lucas and Hannah’s two) and having fun last week didn’t leave me with much time for baking for the team, when thinking of quick yummy recipes Bara Brith came to mind.  The traditional Welsh teabread  is what we were eating before Andrew proposed on a rainy, cosy, December evening in a cottage in the Welsh mountains, with Gabriel on in the background he got down on one knee with our engagement ring and popped the question, with the excitement I apparently forgot to say yes and he thought I was having an asthma attack! I eventually said yes through many happy tears. Anyway the traditional Bara Brith has beautiful memories for us!…Enjoy!

Recipe – Bara Brith

Ingredients:

175g currants

175g sultanas

225g light muscovado sugar

300ml strong tea

275g self raising flour

1 large egg

Method:

  1. The night before baking measure the fruit and sugar into a bowl then pour over 300ml strong hot tea and cover.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 150ºC, grease and line a 2lb loaf tin or grease muffin tray for mini ones (just cook for 45mins to one hour).
  3. Stir the flour and egg into the fruit mixture, mix thoroughly and turn out into the tin.
  4. Bake in the 2lb tin for 1 half hours until well risen and firm to touch, a skewer in the centre should come out clean.  Leave to cool in the tin for 10mins then turn out onto a wire rack.  Let cool and slice, it is traditionally served with buttered.

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On the way out for a swim at Kivu Lodge

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Oh, it seems they have an issue at the pool…

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Scones, Visitors and the Bakery Vision

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“Eveee, Eveeee?” Lucas stands at the door to his room, peering in at the two travel cots where Eve and Bea are sleeping. Hannah, Andrew’s supervisor is here for the week with her family and Lucas is enjoying having guests. Together they’ve had a Kenyan adventure: finding animals in the park, swimming, making animal breads, printing dinosaurs and reading the Apple Tree farm books, especially the one where the cow gets in the tent… Lucas woke every morning and went looking for Eve down the corridor, the days were filled with their boundless energy.

Bakery Update                                                        

Our incredible Kenyan friends who wish to remain anonymous have a vision to provide quality healthcare to those who are unable to afford it, they loved the bakery idea so much that they are purchasing land which on which they will purpose build a bakery. They welcome the opportunity to give something back to the community. The architect for the project has an excellent eye for detail and is leaving no stone unturned, this level of attention is much needed in purchasing land to check all the previous documents match and that somewhere down the line no one comes to reclaim their land.  The proposed location is perfect so we are hoping it all goes through smoothly.

Redempta the project coordinator for the eye project and her husband have years of business experience and a wonderful heart. They will run the business side of the bakery and carry out the market research to ensure we are providing the right products for the consumer population.

Back in the UK we have had a good number of offers of support and help from professional bakers through the Real bread campaign, Suzannah was head baker of Bedale bakery and now runs her own bread making classes, amazingly she has arranged to come out for a 3-4 months to run the training of the bakery staff.  Jonathan, a hygiene consultant has designed and set up several bakeries has been incredibly helpful providing all the specifications for the highest hygiene standards and advice on building the wood fired stone oven.

As you can imagine there is lots to be done.  We are wanting to set this up as a trust with a board of directors who can ensure the bakery continually meets its aims and for ongoing transparency.  We would like to set it up as a charitable company limited by guarantee, this means a company where all its profits go directly back into community/charitable work, i.e for the bakery to support local eye care.  If we make £40 a day that’s over 300 cataract operations per year.  We are aware careful planning will be needed to ensure sustainability in the future. If anyone reading this has experience of setting up a trust/charity and would be willing to lead  this process for the community bakery here in Kenya it would be very gratefully received.

Here is the vision for the bakery:

The vision

A bakery-café-college with an ethos of transparency, quality, sustainability and giving.

Quality

Food products will be home cooked, not processed and reduce risk to long-term health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Each item’s nutritional benefit will be clearly marked.

For food to sell, it primarily must be tasty and suitable for the local palette.

For high quality to be maintained the ingredients will be carefully sourced and as far as possible will come from ethical producers.

The highest levels of hygiene will be carried throughout with regular checks and retraining of staff.

Staff training will encourage creativity and autonomy with out a reliance on stringent protocols that do not allow staff members to think for themselves and adapt to new scenarios.

Transparency

The kitchens will be visible to customers in the café area and therefore poor standards of hygiene will not be tolerable. The visibility of the kitchen will be educational to customers who will be able to witness the preparation and cooking processes.

This is a not-for-profit venture and money generated will be clearly visible in how it is used for staff training, community education and eye care (see below).

Sustainability

For a business of any description to work the model must be sustainable and the local market must be well understood through targeted research.

Local Kenyan business people with a strong track-record for successful business and whom share the vision of the project will be sought to run the bakery at a business level, allowing the business to give.

Giving

We wish to encourage giving within the Kenyan community. The decades of aid coming in to the country has hampered the will to give to one another.

Giving through this venture will be multi-faceted.

  • Giving of new skills to the bakery staff. Staff will be carefully selected to develop their abilities.
  • An emphasis on training unskilled mothers who otherwise would have little opportunity
  • Healthy, nutritious alternative to processed baked goods that is affordable
  • Through the transparent labelling of food products with simplified nutritional advice this will provide ongoing education
  • Classes will be provided at the bakery across a range of ages and abilities to develop skills in baking high quality, healthy artisan products
  • Part of the job description of a full-time employee will be to provide community outreach nutritional workshops one day a week.
  • When the bakery is up and running a percentage of the profits will go directly towards eyecare in the local community

Our plan

Our Kenyan friends keep telling us how much they’ve really enjoyed eating Real Bread and other baked goodies we’ve made in our kitchen, this inspired the idea of setting up a social enterprise bakery-café.

Our range of delicious Real Breads and baked goods will be unlike (and better than!) anything else available in the area. The café will be designed to be attractive to tourists and local Kenyans.

We will invest profits from this unique business to provide training and employment to local mothers who are eager to learn. This will not only help them to feed their families but also to share with them and other people in their communities the benefits of eating healthy food. A crèche facility would allow baking mothers to bring their young children to a happy working environment and allow older children to pursue an education.

We aim to establish a sustainable business model that will not be reliant on donor money to succeed and can be passed on to local people to run by the time we leave.

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We enjoyed a feast of Roast Goat to welcome all the new team members last week and I made scones for their first cluster.  The scones generally came out fine..aside from me thinking I could use two shelves in the random temperature generator at once…a little burnt! The passion fruit jam is not so English but yummy! I have learnt my lesson to stay away from using fresh cream, it had gone off 5 days early in our fridge, we picked some up on the way, and I whisked it using two forks (that worked well!) but then that cream was a bit sour too!….the team seamed to love it  and ate it with the goat? Sour milk is very popular here!

Recipe – Scones with Passion Fruit Jam

Passion fruit jam recipe 

Scone Recipe:

Ingredients:

450g self raising flour

2 tsp baking powder

75g butter

50g castor sugar (exciting they now sell this in the supermarket!)

2 large eggs

225ml whole milk

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 220C
  2. Rub the butter into the flour and baking powder until a breadcrumb consistency
  3. Stir the sugar in.
  4. Separately beat the eggs and milk together, put two tablespoons aside for the glaze.
  5. Gradually mix in the eggs and milk
  6. Roll out onto a floured surface, this is a very wet mixture but it will help the scones to rise better.
  7. Roll to 1.5cm thick and use small round cutter to cut out and place on a lined baking tray.
  8. Glaze with egg mixture and place in the oven for 10-12 minutes until golden brown.
  9. Spread with jam and wipped double cream or if you have the luxury the lovely clotted cream!

The explorer enjoys this lush time of year

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The eye project is back on the road…

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