Bean Empanada

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Our alarm goes off and I can barely move. Madeleine peels herself out of bed and slips under the mosquito net. It’s 6am and she is heading out for her run. This weeks villages have been a long drive out (2 hours each way) and with lots of study and extra patients in each location I’ve been getting home in the dark, attempting conversation with Madeleine who is equally exhausted from juggling Lucas, baking and setting up a bakery.

The sun rises over Nakuru, it is a crisp morning and the mist is slowly dissipating. I am handed a box of empanadas and a thermos of hot coffee and head down to meet the team loading the van. Everyone has puffy eyes from the late finish the night before but I notice a spark in everyone, the team have relished the challenge and have impressed us so much these last few weeks.

 

The corrugated iron church is loaded with the kit

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Everything is put in place and tested before the patients start being seen

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Every patient has their vision tested 

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They are measured for glasses and their vision re-measured with tailored specs to see if it improves what they can see

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Patient’s wait patiently to go through ten different examinations

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Beans are big in the Kenyan diet and the filling of these empanadas are inspired by what we have tasted here.

Recipe – Bean Empanadas

Ingredients:

Bread:

250g white strong bread flour

250g wholemeal flour

330ml water

7g dried yeast

8g salt

Bean filling:

200g dried beans

1 green pepper thinly sliced

3 tomatoes finely chopped

1 medium red onion chopped

veg stock cube in 500ml boiling water

1tsp cumin

1tsp coriander

chilli if you like

tbsp lemon juice

1tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp salt and black pepper

Method:

1. Add all the ingredients(apart from the lemon) to the bean filling to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for a few hours until the beans are soft and the other ingredient are almost mushy around the beans then add the lemon juice. It made need topping up with water so it doesn’t become too dry.

2. To make the bread combine all the ingredients and knead for 8-10mins, fold into a round and place into a floured bowl and prove for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.

3. Roll out until about 3mm thick then use a saucer to cut circles out.  Place 2 desert spoon of filling on one semi-circle of the circle of dough and fold the other half over, seal by crimping with your fingers or using a fork.  If it does not seal well brush a small bit of water on the edge to seal.  Repeat for as many you would like to make.

4. Heat the oven to 200°C.  Place each shaped empanada on a floured silicone mat and leave for 20mins.

5. Just before placing in the oven brush with beaten egg and stamp fork holes through the top to allow the steam to escape.  Bake for 12-15mins until golden brown and crisp.

6. Eat warm if you can.  Also these would work very well with cheese inside and chilli in the bread dough but make sure you fold in after the first prove.

Scottish “Tablet”

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What would you do if you noticed your vision was getting blurred? Thankfully there are lots of options such as going to see your GP or an optician.

Last week we heard from a close friend of ours, Vickie or should I say Scottish Vackie, there is no doubting her lineage!  She had noticed a change in her vision so went for a check up at the opticians who spotted something unusual at he back of her eye. Within days she had undergone detailed examinations by ophthalmologists surrounded by high-tech equipment and was having the first round of injections in to her eye to save her sight.

This understandably has been a great shock to her and a very difficult and stressful time. The not knowing how things will turn can be the worst part and the sudden realisation that such a precious sense can be taken away is terrifying. The good news is she has started treatment promptly which has a much better prognosis. We are optimistic she will do very well.

Since our time in Kenya we have frequently been touched by peoples generosity and desire to give. No more so than Vickie, her husband Dave and their (and our) close friend Chris. Recognising how fortunate they were to live in a country with such an established health system and free access to expensive treatment  they felt inspired to help others who are not so fortunate. They asked if they could help raise funds to get Jamii Bakery up and running which we hope will soon be providing a long-term and sustainable source of funding to ensure those who can not afford eye treatment still get it. Dave and Chris are going to do the Marlow half-iron man triathlon on Sunday the 14th July and in doing so hope to raise money for the project here. Check out their site: http://www.justgiving.com/sustainableeyecare

With Vickie very much on our minds this week I decided to knock up one of her favourite Scottish recipes. For years we have heard about and tasted the famous “tablet” first made by her Gran, so here it is.  I have to say looking at the ingredients this only contributes to the Scottish reputation of not being the healthiest people on the planet. But the team loved it and apparently it was a welcome sugar hit midday as another record was broken and they saw 40 follow-up study patients!

Vickie and Dave

Vick and dave

Chris Frost

Chris Frost

A pair of 70 pence glasses can be the difference between being able to read and not. All our patients receive glasses to say thank you. This man was particularly happy…

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This chicken needs glasses! cock-eye-danoo.

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Recipe: Vickie’s Gran’s Scottish Tablet

Ingredients:

125g butter unsalted

1kg granulated sugar

1 cup of milk (semi-skimmed is fine)

397g tin of condensed milk (why are all the tins 397g and not 400g?)

Method:

 1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy bottomed pan over a low heat.

2. Gradually add the sugar and milk, stirring all the time.

3. Keep stirring all the time until the sugar dissolves.

4. Add the condensed milk, turn up the heat a wee bit and bring very slowly to the boil, stirring all the time.

5. Turn the heat down and let it simmer for 20 mins, again continually stirring (you have to work up an appetite!) actually I did this only for 17mins  but I thinks that is due to the altitude.

6. Test the consistency by dropping a wee bit of it from the spoon in to a bowl of cold water – if it turns in to a soft putty like consistency it is time to remove it from the heat.

7. Take if from the heat and beat it for 4-5 mins.

8. Pour in to a lightly greased baking tray and score in to fingers or cubes.

Drive through fruit and 5-seeded loaf…

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Lucas is tugging on my right hand, “monkey, monkey, monkey” he jumps in excitement with a striking resemblance to the animals he is observing.  We have just been watching the crowd of baboons wandering around a few feet from us. Baby baboons clinging onto their mothers, big daddy baboons with attitude and swagger and just beyond them pops up some vervet monkeys. The elegant monkey daintily hops onto the small wire fence and bounces up and down until he reaches the big tree over looking the flooded lake, it’s incredible balance and effortless movement makes it look as though it is dancing. A flash of red catches my eye and I see a pair of amazing small birds with red heads and light brown smooth bodies, they are beautiful.  Below them the yellow beaked stork gracefully lands on the water and the pelican has just taken a mouthful of fish, another incredible black and white bird with a red streak and a long elegant tail pops out of the tree. Incredibly this has become our weekend retreat and coffee spot by the national park entrance. For the cost of a drinkable coffee we have a few moments of quiet in stunning surroundings before another busy week commences. It is funny how “normal” can change.

After Lucas has his weekly driving lesson on Daddy’s in the car park we re-arrange seats and head home, it dawns upon me that there are parts of Kenya that are my dream, I’m addicted to fruit but how awesome is it that all along the roads home is one mkokoteni (cart) after another filled with beautifully ripe mangos, papaya (p, p, paya as Lucas says), squashy avocados, baby bananas, watermelon and pineapple, we pull over near our home and the lady brings us our 6 mangos, papaya, avocado and bananas in a small bag, no excess packaging and no queues, all for under £2, a fruit lovers dream! Certainly better for you than drive through McDonalds…

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We’ve taken the chance to have a little breather over the weekend as we prepare for a hectic week ahead. We are in our furthest villages so far and expect a high turn out. The team load the van, stocks have been replenished over the weekend, directions are in hand and we set off on a two hour journey down potholed roads with stunning views of magical landscapes all around.  We eventually arrive and quite a number of patients are awaiting us. We equal our record number of 37 study patients and work till it is dark and arrive home nauseated from the journey. Madeleine is working away on tomorrow’s bake (something Scottish) whilst juggling bakery plans and trying to get Lucas to sleep. All in all our reality has shifted a long way from this time a year ago.

 The long journey to today’s village

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Travelling Kenyan style…

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Patients waiting when we arrive

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A very happy guide receiving his certificate of appreciation

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Recipe – Five-Seeded Loaf

Ingredients:

For the seed soaker:

40g linseeds

40g sesame seeds

40g sunflower seeds

40g pumpkin seeds

40g rolled oats

130g water

Pre-ferment:

85g White bread flour

105g water

3g dried yeast

Final dough

255g white bread flour

130g whole wheat flour

45g rye flour

250g water

pre-ferment

2g dry yeast

10g salt

seed soaker

Method:

1. The night before making the final dough mix all the seeds together and cover with the water.  In a separate bowl mix together the preferment cover and place in a warm place.

2. For the final dough mix together all the ingredients for the final dough aside from the seed soaker.  Knead for 10mins, then fold in the seed soaker.

3. Shape into a round and prove for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.

4. To shape the final prove, shape into 2 rounds, place on a floured baking tray.

5. Lightly brush the top of each round with water.  Mix together a few of each seed and oats and sprinkle on each loaf to be.

6. Prove for 1 hour. If finger mark leaves n indent it is ready to bake. With a sharp knife score the top in a cross shape of whatever you desire to let the dough expand that little bit more.  Place in a pre-heated oven at 220°C oven.  Place a tray of water at the bottom for increased steam and better crust.  Bake for 30mins.  You may need to reduce the temperature after 10mins.

7. Remove from the oven and cool on a wired tray or the bottom will loose its crisp crust.

The soaked 5-seed mix

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A picture we tried to take but later saw Lucas was pinching a pumpkin seed!

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Cath Kidston in Kenya and Seeded Rye Cheese Biscuits….

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She’s an impressive looking lady with an air of authority about her. She comes very highly recommended as a dependable lawyer. We (Redempta, Madeleine, Andrew and Lucas) sit the other side of a large desk as we discuss registering Jamii Bakery as a legal entity in preparation for when the land clears. Next week we will get feedback on how to proceed and the paper work will begin!

We walk out of her office on to the main road. It is bustling with people and traffic, street sellers have ripe fruit, pad locks, watches and an assortment of random things. We feel so at home here now that these would have been the things we paid such attention to in our first months. As we traversed the busy street some kids come over asking to hold Lucas and I feel I’m getting nudged in all directions. They seem harmless enough and we walk on in pursuit of some fruit to take home. After buying a bag of apples Andrew notices my rucksack is open. I can’t believe it, my wallet has been lifted from my bag. Thankfully only bank cards and local ID (“Alien card”) were taken (all cancelled now). We let our guard down and were taken advantage of, to be fair it was my fault leaving it in the front pocket of my rucksack and its difficult keeping an eye on it when carrying Lucas.  We contemplated what drives kids to do such things. In many ways we can understand it, what would you do if you were 12, couldn’t pay to go to school, had no job prospects and had to survive?

busy street

We didn’t let the pickpocketing bring a downer on our day as we had met some wonderful people a few hours earlier…

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Great news!  I’ve found a Cath Kidston equivalent in Kenya! Beautifully made kitchen items, aprons, gloves, tea towels and more. I saw them in a shop near our home and they instantly caught my eye, I took their name “Mango Patch” and looked them up online, then got in touch. These guys are great and have an amazing vision. All the products are hand made by local women who would otherwise be unemployed, they run a crèche for the kids so the mothers can work without having to spend their wages on childcare and amongst other things they offer monthly medical care. What we love is their commitment to not fall in to the trap of “mediocre is good enough for Africa.” They make beautiful, quality products that people want. The founders are an English couple working at an international school 45mins from here, they have established a business which gives back to the community on various levels. It seems Mango Patch and Jamii Bakery could be a wonderful marriage! I’m already picturing beautiful hand-made uniforms and table decorations…

mangopatch

Check them out at mangopatch.net if you would like any of their products let us know and we can bring them back for you in July.  Just as nice as Cath Kidston but very ethical, handmade and Kenyan!

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The week ended with roast goat (every part of it) which we enjoyed with the team, well deserved for all their hard work these last weeks. Intestines and goat’s head broth were served up. Madeleine mistook the broth for tea and almost vomited. The broth was aptly described as smelling like rotten damp dog. Not one to have with a nice biscuit…Madeleine: In my defence! The soup was served in a tea cup! The team loved it which is the most important thing.

Goat’s head broth served in tea cups, an easy mistake to make…

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Recipe Seeded Rye Cheese biscuits:

Ingredients:

500g Rye flour

250g Wholemeal bread flour

425g water

75g milk

25g honey

15g salt

7g dried yeast

4g bicarbonate soda

Pumpkin seeds, linseeds, sesame seed, semolina and salt flakes for decorating.  I also sprinkle on cayenne pepper for a good hot hit.

Method:

1. Knead all the ingredients together for 8 minutes.

2. Leave to prove for 1 hour.

3. Roll out to 1-2mm thick, brush lightly with water sprinkle accordingly with toppings, then use cutters to cut into individual biscuits and place on a non-stick baking parchment or silicone mat sprinkled with semolina or rye flour.  Leave for 30mins before baking.  Turn the oven on to 170°C.

4. Bake in the oven for 20mins, keep an eye and remove when they are just beginning to darken, they should be crispy when cooled.

5. Cool on wire racks.  Enjoy with cheese and pickle…yummy!

Goat on the barbecue (plus intestines, mmmm)

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A plate full of intestines, I’ll give it a miss thanks

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Clever… how to travel with a kid on a motorbike-taxi

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Muffin madness and the Kindness of Strangers…

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As most of you know I like a good challenge! Whether this is a good thing or not I’m not always sure but once it is set in my head there is no turning back…

Java coffee house is the Nairobi equivalent of Starbucks, personally I find the coffee a bit bitter and I’m not overly impressed with the baked goods but it is the most popular place in town. The baked products are all made in a factory in Nairobi (180 km away) they taste processed and not fresh, but unusually for Nakuru the service is good, the cafe/restaurant is well finished and clean and has the feel of a decent coffee chain in the UK. Java opened in Nakuru in early February this year, the first of its kind and we’ve been watching its popularity with interest as we work on Jamii bakery. There is clearly a market for good service!

A very close friend said his favourite thing in Java was the muffins, I tried one at the weekend (market research!), it was a Wholemeal and Saltana muffin. It wasn’t bad but not something that would bring me back for more. The gauntlet had been laid down and I decided to experiment with a variety of flavours for the next bake challenge.

Lucas and I spent the morning preparing all the grated carrot, butternut squash, orange rind and blitzing the almonds.

I would love you to try them but instead I thought maybe it would be more fun to introduce some blog voting! Which would you choose on a menu?

1. Banana and Sultana. A breakfast wholemeal and oat muffin, made with bananas, sultanas and roasted cashew nuts. This muffin contains minimal dark sugar, small amount of vegetable oil and is spiced with cinnamon and vanilla extract.

2. Mango and Cardamon. A breakfast muffin of wholemeal and oats with fresh cubes of mango and roasted cashew nuts inside, spiced with cardamom and finished with dried mango on top.

3. Lemon and Lavender. A day time muffin made with butternut squash and honey (no added fat). Also has some ground almonds in and a mix of wholemeal and white flour, very light.

4.Carrot and Orange. A daytime or evening muffin made with roasted cashews, sultanas soaked in orange juice and  muscovado dark sugar. This muffin is made with no added fat but has some ground almonds and the sugar content is higher than the others above.

Once the voting is in we will let you know which we took to the field and then I can make the winner for another bake soon.

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It’s midday and we are making good progress. We are working in an area called Gilgil in a local village church. The pastor’s wife invites all the team to her home (just next to the church) for tea and bread. We take in in two shifts to enjoy the generous hospitality. We squeeze together on a sofa and armchair as she washes our hands with hot water from a jug and squeezes soap on to our wet hands. She then offers us each tea, coffee and bread.  Madeleine was on a muffin making fest last night, sometimes she gets an idea in her head and despite exhaustion she has to see it through. Some would call it stubbornness  we prefer to call it “strong-mindedness”. As a consequence, we have plenty for the team to enjoy today so we offer one the pastor’s wife. She is overjoyed that her visitors have brought her something. She takes one bite then runs outside shouting. At first I’m not sure if I’ve just poisoned her or somehow offended her. She calls for the pastor to come immediately. He arrives and is force fed a bite of the muffin. It transpired that she enjoyed it so much she wanted her husband to try it. Photos were taken with a promise to email them to a distant relative who has a computer with an email address and we went back to work with a full stomach and smile on our faces.

The Pastor and his wife’s family home taken from the church next door

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We enjoy hot milky tea and bread in their home

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Madeleine’s muffins reach new parts of Kenya….

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Recipes:

Breakfast muffins – Banana and Sultana:

Ingredients:

100g plain flour

100g wholemeal flour

200g rolled oat

75g brown sugar

3 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

2 bananas mashed

2 large eggs, separated

3 tbsp sunflower oil

250ml milk

125g saltanas

Half tsp vanilla extract

 

Method:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the plain flour, wholemeal flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  2. Create a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the mashed bananas, egg yolks, milk and sunflower oil. Mix together gently with a wooden spoon until a wet batter forms but do not overmix.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.
  4. Gently fold the egg whites into the muffin batter along with the sultanas until everything is mixed through evenly.
  5. Divide the muffin mixture between 12 individual muffin cases and place in a preheated oven at 180°C for 25 minutes until well risen and golden brown on top.
  6. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Breakfast muffins – Mango and Cardamom:

Ingredients:

100g plain flour

100g wholemeal flour

200g rolled oat

75g brown sugar

3 tsp baking powder

1tsp cardamon

1 tsp salt

one large mango cut into 1cm cubes or slightly smaller

3 large eggs, separated

3 tbsp sunflower oil

250ml milk

80g roasted cashew nuts

Half tsp vanilla extract

Method:

As the banana an sultana muffins.

 

Lemon and Lavender muffins:

Ingredients:

200g grated butternut squash

120g clear honey

2 medium free range eggs

Finely grated zest of one lemon

60g of plin and wholemeal flour mixed

60g ground almonds

2tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

¼-1/2 tsp of lavender oil

50g roasted almonds

Top with fresh lavender and chopped almonds

 

Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Whisk the eggs and the honey together until at least doubles in volume and light coloured.

2. Beat in the grated butternut squash, lemon rind, then beat in the remaining ingredients leaving the almonds until last, stir these in.

3. Divide into 9 muffin cases and bake for 20-25mins.

4. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire tray, these are best eaten when cool as the texture of the muffin holds better.

 

Carrot and Orange muffins:

Ingredients:

One orange

150g sultanas

80g roasted cashew nuts chopped

3 medium free range eggs

160g muscovado sugar

280g scrubbed and finely grated carrot

75g rice flour

75g wholemeal flour

80g ground almonds

2tsp cinnamon

2tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ tsp salt

Top with chopped cashew nuts

 

Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.  Grated the orange and squeeze the juice, then gently heat.  Remove from the heat and soak the sultanas or raisins in the range juice and out to one side.

2. Whisk the sugar and the eggs together until tripled in volume and light coloured.

3. Beat in the grated carrot and orange rind.  Then beat in the dry ingredients followed by stirring in the raisins and juice, cashew nuts and vanilla extract.

4. Divide into 12 muffin cases in a muffin tin and bake for 20-25mins.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

 

Crumpets, miscommunication and frog season…

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“He wants to eat the goat’s second hand clothes?”

I am confused

“Are you sure this is what he asked for?”

I reply, “Yes, he said make sure they keep the MUTUMBA”

Everyone in the van rolls around laughing at me. We’ve just completed 30 villages which means the team get their Nyama Choma reward, our roast goat every ten completed.

It seems my swahilli is not quite there yet. Apparently MUTUMBA is “second hand clothes” and MATUMBO is “intestines”. Frankly I think I’d rather eat second hand clothes than intestines but non the less it seems I’m an unintentional comedian.

I’ve also had strange looks from patient’s to whom I thought I was asking them to place their foreheads on the slit lamp head rest, when in fact I was telling them I was going to come “close to them with MY forehead”.  No wonder they didn’t move as I was expecting.

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I sit and listen, the room is still, the flies have gone, their season over. The odd mosquito passes by. The heavy rain has passed so I slide open the window, It is not quiet out there, a chorus of  croaks can be heard in the middle distance, it’s how I always imagined them to sound in a big group but I’ve never been close enough to this many to really know. The croaks continue all night, it is the second rainy season.  Our washing has been hung out for 4 days, it’s still wet, we will have to wait again for those days when it dries crisp in 2 hours! This could make reaching some of the remote villages an extra challenge.

Recipe – Crumpets

Taken from: http://www.britishfood.com 

Ingredients: Makes 24

  • 350ml semi-skimmed milk, warmed but not boiling
  • 450g all purpose or plain flour
  • 5g dried yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 350ml finger-warm water (approx)
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • Vegetable oil for cooking

Method:

  • Whisk together the milk, flour, yeast and sugar. Once combined add half the water and beat into the batter, continue to add more water until the batter is thick and smooth. Stop adding water once it reaches the consistency of thick cream. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm draft free place until foaming – about 1, up to 2 hours.
  • Whisk the salt and baking powder into the batter then heat a heavy based frying pan on the stove to hot but not smoking.
  • Dampen kitchen paper with a little oil and grease the base of the pan and a crumpet (or pastry) rings measuring 3″x 1 ½” (8 X 3.75cm) approx. If you don’t have any pastry or crumpet rings then use a small, washed food can to the same measurements.
  • Place one ring in the heated pan, add enough batter to fill just below the top of the ring. Cook for five minutes when there should be many tiny holes on the surface and the crumpet is setting. Flip the crumpet over and cook for another two – three minutes.
  • Repeat with the remaining batter until used up. Rest the crumpets on a wire rack until cool and reheat in a toaster or under the grill before serving. Serve with lots of butter and/or jam.
  • NOTE: If the batter seeps from under the ring it is too thin, whisk in more flour. If the crumpet is heavy and without holes, the batter is too thick, add more water.

Lucas with a yoghurt goatie

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A goat in 2nd hand clothes?…

Got Clothes Wearing Animals

Stollen and Running with Marathon Champions…


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After a busy week of eye work, baking and bakery planning we decide to have a two day break in Iten, the capital of world distance running.

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2 hours 17 minutes and 28 seconds marathon time, 62 minutes half-marathon.  I am running in awe at the discipline, hard work and unassuming passion that the multitude of runners have that train daily or twice daily in Iten.  2400m above sea level, 500m higher than Nakuru, the air feels that much fresher and the temperature is cool and perfect for running. We are with our running guide Timot who’s marathon time is a cool 1 hour 20 minutes faster than mine (1 hour 30 faster than Andrew’s…), beneath our feet is the soft, red, clay tracks. A thin layer or red dust kicks up as we pace through many farms with maize and greens either side of us, children run behind us shouting, “How are you?” In front of us is an incredible view into the Kerio Valley, it plateaus 500m below us then again 500m below that to a lake and valley home to Elephants and Crocodiles (thankfully no crocs up by us!) We are all flying on our feet in admiration to the dedication and hard work of many world class champions, David Rudisha (800m World and Olympic Champion), Wilson Kipketer and of course Mo Farah. We are over taken by local athletes in 20 efficient strides, they look to be  barely breathing, calm, relaxed and with clear focus on their faces, we are running (or being overtaken!) with the Kenyans.  Their running style is just beautiful, poetry in motion. After 14Km we come round the corner to a 400m track, with some simple well used stadium seating, Timot calmly mentions the names of some of the people who train here.  We run a few laps, what a privilege to run where so many have trained for incredible sporting achievements and the most beautiful part, it is just a track next to some farms, simple and so unassuming.

The view from our accommodation

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I know that look, I’ve seen it many times before. It is an endorphin high. Madeleine is so excited, she has just returned from a 75 minute run with Stew and a local running guide who makes running look like an effortless art. “You have to go for a run with him!”

It is hard to say no to Madeleine at any time but near impossible when she is this excited. Vineeth, Chris and I set of with Timot (he can run 21km in 62 minutes – I’m not sure I can drive that fast) in to the cool, thin air. We are running the paths some of the worlds most celebrated distance athletes have spent years training. Timot springs on his toes and despite the fact he has already run 15km with Mads this morning he looks like he is barely trying. He takes us on a 17km circuit that loops back to the incredibly understated Kamariny Stadium. This is the 400 meter running track that has seen world record breakers practice their trade. at 8,000ft above sea level, the rusted iron gate and shabby stand on a grassy bank has seen world record runners in the making year after year.

My competitive side comes to life and I ask Timot if we can run a lap together. He sets off setting the pace and I try to stay with him round the first bend. In my head, we are racing, I’m pretty sure the race is in my head only but the pace he is moving at makes me think he’s up for a sprint too. We pass the 200 meter mark and I recall beating Madeleine in a swimming race (again, possibly only in my head), she was 9 months pregnant, had already completed 70 lengths and I decided to race her over one length, I won! Just. I got the usual, “you are such a child” look Mum used to give me as I kicked a soft ball around the living room pretending to be Gary Lineker at the Italia 90 world cup. We hit the final bend and he starts to pull away so I up my pace a little more to hang of his right shoulder. As we come off the bend I move outside him and give it all I have down the home straight. He instantly responds and goes in to a sprint (he still doesn’t look like he is trying mind), he edges ahead but with a final lunge and dip at the line I take the victory in a photo finish (again in my head, there was no photo but there is video evidence!). Gasping for air I look up and he gives me a slightly quizzical look as he continues to cruise round the track and I almost collapse desperate for more oxygen.

Video evidence of the world record being broken by Andrew (ahem…)

Kamariny Stadium, the most understated “theatre of dreams”

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The sign on the way out of Iten

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Andrew with Geoffrey Ruti, future Olympic Champion? – Geoffrey that is…

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From Left: Vineeth, Timot, Stew, Madeleine, Lucas and Andrew at Kerio View after the run. (Taken by Chris who shocked us all at how good at running he was)

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The fastest of them all…

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Stollen

Ingredients:

Soaker:

175g dark raisins

175g golden raisins

140g sugared orange and lemon peel

70g dark rum

5g mix of 3 parts cardamom, 1 part nutmeg and 1 part black pepper

Sponge:

90g milk

16g dried yeast

140g white all purpose flour

Final dough:

280g all purpose flour

45g sugar

70g milk

The above sponge

4g salt

40g unsalted butter

The above soaker

70g whole almonds

70g flaked almonds

Method:

  1. Prepare the soaker the night before by combining all together and covering.
  2. On the day of baking prepare the sponge by combining altogether and set aside for 30 minutes.
  3. To make the final dough combine the flour with the sugar, milk, sponge and salt, add half of the butter and mix on a low speed until blended, gradually add the remaining butter and continue to mix until all the butter is well incorporated.
  4. Stop the mixer and add the soaker along with the almonds and mix until incorporated let the mixture stand for 15minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into three 500g pieces, shape into a round then into an oval shape and place on prepared baking sheets.
  6. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 191°C for 35minutes until the crust is golden brown.
  7. When removed from the oven let cool for 30minutes on a wire rack.
  8. When cool sprinkle with icing sugar.

Kenyan Choma Pie and Happy Birthday Redempta

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I place the cling film over the muffin tray, each of the twelve wells are filled with a mixture of sweet potato flour, okra pulp, yeast, salt and water. I am experimenting with a gluten free recipe.  I have been mulling over in my mind for a while whether okra, which when cut produces a very sticky like substance that is used to thicken sauces, could be a substitute for gluten. Gluten holds the gas produced by yeast and forms the bubbly like bread texture.  I pulled back the cover after the first prove to see a lovely mesh of bubbles, a little apprehensive whether it would hold in a full loaf tin I opted to make mini loaves in a muffin tray, I’m fairy pleased with the result, soft and moist but they could do with some work on texture so I decide not to make it as the bake for the team. I get on the phone and ask Andrew to pick up some ingredients on his way home from the field.

After the success of the pork pies I decided to make something using some of Kenya’s favourite ingredients. The choma (nyoma choma – roast meat, I used chicken), ugali (cornmeal) and sukumi wiki (kale) pies nick named “Kenyan on the inside English on the outside” hit the spot and were good enough for this clusters bake! Basically I wanted to make a Kenyan version of pork pie.  This idea had been on my mind for a little while too, and it seemd like the ideal time to give it a try for Redemptas birthday. Redemptas husband has always joked that a pie is a Muzungo (white mans) dish so I tweaked it to what I hope is a marriage of cultures.

Redempta is our amazing eye project manager, incredibly efficient, hardworking, honest and organised with a wonderful giving heart, a cornerstone in making the project work, we are incredibly blessed she is part of it all. Lucas had lots of fun blowing out the candles and we loved the cake, it is also both my sisters birthdays this week so we blew out some candles for them too. Happy birthday Auntie Celi and Auntie Azzie!

Birthday dinner at our place

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“We found 37 and they will all come”

The advance team return confident from the field, Vineeth has been with them as they go door to door finding as many of the study patient’s from 5 years ago as possible.  With the help of a motivated guide they visit them one by one, explain the study and also examining them on the phone. With no training the guys followed the instructions on the phone and were so excited to see the response they were getting from the patients. A lady with a double amputation was examined on the ground at her eye level, the next day at the clinic site it took three people to lift her on to a stool and hold her in place on the multiple pieces of equipment that we use to measure the phone against. Taking expertise to the patient, rather than the patient having to come to a hospital or clinic could really have a huge impact.

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Recipe – Choma Pies

Ingredients:

To make the pie pastry please use the pork pie crust recipe and for the bread please use my simple bread recipe.

Chicken Filling:

400g boneless chicken thighs

tbsp fresh rosemary

tbsp white wine vinegar

1 vegetable stock cube (low salt)

pinch caynee pepper

medium red onion

2 cloves garlic

 

Sukumi wiki

1 medium red onion finely chopped

tbsp olive oil

bunch kale leaves finely shredded

2 finely chopped medium ripe tomatoes

seasoning

 

Ugali

Half cup cornmeal

1/3 cup water

Method:

1. Make the pie crust as for pork pies, cut out 12 and their lids and leave to prove in the tins with the lids aside.  Before placing in the tin sprinkle flour in the base and on the sides of each muffin hole to prevent the dough sticking.

2. Make the Chicken filling by adding all the ingredients of the filling o a good food processor or blender and press the button until it becomes very squashy with a few small piece of chicken.

3. Make the sukumi wiki by sautéing the the finely chopped onions in the olive oil for two  minutes then add the kale cover and cook with occassional stiring until it is reduced in size, add salt and blck pepepr to taste and the finely chopped tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes.

4. To make the Ugali the Kenyan way,when it is eaten it should be like the texture of marzipan so very paleable.  Add the cornmeal and water to the pan and just keep stiring for 5 minutes until its cooked and at a consistency to mold.

5. Take a small piece of ugali squash it between your finger tips and put half a teaspoon of sukumi wiki onto the squashe ugali then fold the ugali around it to make a ball about 1.5cm diameter, repeat twelve times and set aside.

6. To fill the pies cover the bottom of each pie with chicken filling followed by a ugali and sukumi wiki ball followed by filling it to the top with the chicken filling, with a slight dome.

7. Use beaten egg pasted around the lid of each pie, then stick each lid on and seal with a fork sticking the lid to the base, poke a fork through the top of each lid to allow steam to escape.

8. Brush the lids each with egg wash then  place in a pre-heated oven at 190°C for 35 minutes, if they seem to brown too quickly as with my oven just place a silicone matt over the tops and continue cooking to make sure all the piec cooked through and a crisp base on the pie bottom.

9. These are very yummy hot as well as cold and a fat free pie! bonus! (If you use the bread dough recipe not the hot pastry recipe!)

The advance team examine patient’s at their homes

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The school next door to today’s examination clinic

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37 study patient’s turn up, a new record…

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Chris examines patients refractive error (spectacle prescription)

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Andrew ends the day with a victory drum beat, going back to his Egyptian roots…

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Five blokes and Pink Fondant Fancies

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Racing cars, phone apps, eye gadgets, techno talk… This week it is me and five boys as we welcome our two guests Vineeth and Chris both fellow ophthalmologists.  It also means I have a choice of running partners to pace up the hill with at 6.15 in the mornings so at least I relate on some level!

Vineeth has just run the Edinburgh marathon for the eye care and bakery raising a very impressive £4000 so far, amazing! Chris was out in the field with the advance team on Friday testing the finished visual acuity app for the first time in hands of people with no ophthalmology experience, not bad for arriving at 10pm then leaving by 7am the next morning, got to keep these boys on their toes! Apparently it was a huge success.

Lucas is loving having lots of male company and he certainly takes after his grandad in his love of cars, I think Vineeth was an instant buddy as he arrived with a little racing car!

I’ve been enjoying the kitchen and for some reason thought it was a great idea to bake loads of croissants, the bread for lunch for the project team and fondant fancies all in one evening, although fun, all I can say is fondant fancies make croissants look easy. Admittedly I am not a fondant icing fan, they are a bit sweet for my palate and they don’t half make a mess. No wonder they got into such a mess as a bake off challenge in the last series!!

An unexpected bonus of the advance team using the phone has been the level of interest in the community and people crowding round to have a look and asking to have a go.

In an attempt to create a level of balance with all these men in the house the bake for today is Pink Fondant Fancies with edible glitter 😉

 

Recipe – Fondant Fancies

Taken from Merry Berry’s Bake Off Recipe

Ingredients

For the sponge

  • 225g/8oz self raising flour
  • 225g/8oz butter
  • 225g/8oz caster sugar
  • 1 lemon, grated rind only
  • 4 eggs

For the buttercream

  • 250g/9oz unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g/7oz icing sugar

For the marzipan topping

  • 3 tbsp apricot jam
  • 200g/7oz marzipan

For the icing and decoration

  • 1 kg/2lb 4oz white fondant icing
  • 150ml/5fl oz water
  • natural food colouring
  • natural flavouring (any flavouring)
  • 100g/3½oz dark chocolate

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3. Grease and line a 20cm/8in square tin with two strips of parchment paper.
  2. For the sponge, beat together all the sponge ingredients until smooth. Tip the cake mixture into the tin and tap lightly to level out.
  3. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a metal skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  4. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out and allow to cool completely on a wire rack, before putting in the fridge to chill (or alternatively place in the freezer for a few minutes until chilled but not frozen).
  5. While the cake is chilling, make the buttercream. Beat together the softened butter and icing sugar in a bowl until lighter in colour, and smooth.
  6. Place 100g/3½oz of the buttercream in a piping bag and allow to slightly firm up in the fridge. Keep the rest in a bowl for the cake sides.
  7. For the marzipan topping, heat the apricot jam in a small saucepan and sieve it into a bowl.
  8. Brush the top of the cake with the sieved apricot jam.
  9. Roll the marzipan out very thinly, cover the top of the cake and chill again.
  10. Cut the cake into 25 equal squares (each 4cm/1½in square). You may need to cut off the edges if they have rounded and pulled away from the sides of the tin – all the edges must be straight and neat.

11. Cover four sides of each square with buttercream (not the marzipan top or the base). Using the buttercream in the piping bag, pipe a blob in the centre of each square on top of the marzipan. Leave to set in the fridge for 20 minutes.

12. For the icing and decoration, cut the fondant icing into small cubes. Place in a sturdy free-standing mixer with a paddle. Churn the icing until it stars to break down, adding a splash of water if it’s too hard. Very gradually add the water – the icing will become smooth and more liquid.

13. Add flavouring and food colouring to taste – be careful not to add too much at once, you can always add more but can’t undo it!

14. Melt the chocolate either in the microwave or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water (do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water). Once melted, place the chocolate in piping bag and set aside.

15. Take the cakes out of the fridge and place one onto a fork.

16. Dip each square into the icing one at a time and carefully set onto a cooling rack, with parchment underneath to catch the drips. Try not to get finger prints on them – for this reason it is best to insert the fork at an angle so that you can slide the cake off onto the cooling rack easily.

17. Leave the fondant to set, but do not put in the fridge as the icing will lose its shine.

18. Using the piping bag of melted chocolate, drizzle the chocolate over each fancy in a zig-zag pattern.

Andrew and Chris

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Andrew and Vineeth

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Battenburg, Ujima and mission Nakuru

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“You will have to get out and walk”

The road ahead, well, I’m not sure if it can be called a road, the mud track ahead is peppered with deep cracks, holes and loose rocks.  The team mini-bus is stuck but we are only a couple of hundred meters from today’s clinic site. Miraculously, the equipment van has reached our destination and we set off on foot to join them and get started.

The day goes well and we get a good turn out of patients. As we are seeing the last patient of the day, the sky greys over and rain starts to fall. When it rains here it is not like the indecisive English rain that may trickle for a while, pretend to let the sun out and then down pour once you’ve built the confidence to go out. In Kenya when it rains, the clouds empty all they have and then the sky returns to brilliant blue.  So when the droplets of rain first hit the corrugated iron roof, everyone moved through the gears to load up the equipment van so we could get home and not be forced to sleep here overnight. The equipment van set off and the rest of us waited for the team minibus to return from dropping home some patients. Minutes later the inevitable phone call explaining it was stuck was received. Two of the guys ran to find it (thankfully the rain was over) and help get it moving. As is usually the case here, lots of locals will come out to help and with shared good will and energy applied in the right way we were free and heading home.

The clinic is packed when we arrive

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We are stuck…

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The short walk to the clinic site

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The rains are coming!

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Today is “Mission Thursday” I am explaining to Lucas the list of jobs we have to do in town, these often require a lot of waiting around so the bag is packed with entertainment. Andrew is not in the field today which means we have the van and a long list of jobs to accomplish.

We jump into the van, the three of us all in a row on the three front seats. We park up near the post office and I find the yellow slips to collect two parcels addressed to Lucas. You can wait for hours for a parcel and then frequently have to pay £1.25 for each parcel plus customs charges, plus service charges and taxes, all at different counters!

We wait in the seemingly disorganised room with parcels on many shelves and hand over the yellow slips, they chat away in swahilli and we fully expect to camp out here for the rest of the morning. “Is there a problem?” I ask. 20 minutes later we walk out carrying a huge parcel from uncle Pete and auntie Danielle (thank you!) all the way from Malaysia, some early grey tea bags (thank you Lucie!) and a parcel from Holland (thank you Chris and Aline!), yep that’s three parcels. There was in fact no problem, amazingly the lady had remembered our name and knew we had a recent parcel for which we did not yet have a yellow card, also they didn’t charge us any customs charges or hidden extras. The whole process was only 45 minutes, and despite Andrew having a random conversation with one attendant about why the parcel was labelled to Lucas but Lucas wasn’t signing for it, “He is 2 and doesn’t know how to sign…” we did not have to stay all morning and we moved on to the next job.

Next stop is collecting our “alien” cards from immigration, fairly effortlessly we picked them up, they were already out of date mind, but the lady there was very helpful in supporting us getting our residency sorted which has been a very long process and we don’t quite understand the current hold up!

Lucas has been waiting all week for the next stop, it’s top secret as its the wedding table gifts for Andrew’s sister’s wedding, all I can say is, it’s been an incredible tool for teaching Lucas the days of the week as he knew he had to wait until Thursday and he was soo excited to pick them up!

Afterwards we drove a little out of town to the “Cheese Palace”. Red cow is a local cheese that is Dutch inspired and is half the price of the supermarkets! We loaded up with a month’s supply.

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Along the same road as “Cheese Palace” are rows and rows of plants for sale. Instead of what we might know as nurseries, here they have row upon row of incredible exciting looking flowers, plants, fruit trees all grown on the sides of the road in old cement sacks. “Operation Roof Garden” took on some expansion with two roses, hibiscus, and some beautiful green looking plants, don’t know what they are yet. Andrew of course had to bargain the prices down, you can take the boy out of Egypt but you can’t take the Egyptian out of the boy! We loaded up the van with our new plants and as Lucas would say “exciting” and I’m very happy with the improved roof garden!

With such a successful morning, minimal waiting, expectations surpassed and even the quality of the top secret wedding favours, it was time for Lucas to sleep and stopped in our favourite place for a spot of lunch and coffee before picking up all the week’s groceries, Lucas even woke up at lunch and ate loads! All in all a successful morning!

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Our meeting with the Ujima foundation director went incredibly well.  We are very encouraged at the amazing vision they have and what they are achieving. In a year they train 60 people in Nakuru and 150 in Kisumu, mainly girls aged 18-23 who are orphans caring for two or more younger siblings.  The training is for 6 months, 3 months theory, 3 months practical and whilst they are training the Ujima foundation pay the school fees and expenses of the younger siblings to allow the trainees to focus fully on their studies and not having to do menial tasks.  They have an impressive 80% who retain employment afterwards.

Areas we were particularly encouraged by are they focus on the trainees attitude, the program helps them to no longer see themselves as victims but as young people with potential.  They are keen to partner with Jamii Bakery and when the time comes we are excited to meet potential staff.

We discussed further issues such as business plans, forecasting and the legal elements.  One of our next steps we will be meeting with a lawyer here to outline the agreements of people involved, setting it up as an NGO (charity status) and how to do that so it is joint with Kenya and the UK. Overall it was very helpful and we are thankful the director is willing to advise and support us as the bakery comes together.

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I’ve made Battenburg before and I have to admit, it is so satisfying when you have the cake ready, marzipan waiting, buttercream waiting and it’s time to assemble it, I was equally excited to make my own marzipan I made a cooked one just as extra precaution rather than using raw eggs here, it came out well but a little dry and prone to cracking, I think maybe I should have used 3 large eggs, but it tasted good!  Also fact of the day: The original pink and white Battenburg cake was made to honor the marriage of queen Victoria’s granddaughter to prince Louis of Battenberg.

Battenburg with homemade Marzipan!

This is Mary Berry’s coffee and walnut recipe.

Ingredients:

100g unsalted butter

100g castor sugar

2 large free range eggs

100g self-raising flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

50g ground almonds

Few drops vanilla extract

3 tsp milk

1 1/2 tsp coffee granules

25g walnuts (I used cashew nuts, walnuts are very expensive)

 

For the coffee butter icing

100g icing sugar

40g unsalted butter

1/2 tsp coffee granules

11/2 tsp

To finish 225g marzipan

Methods:

1. Make the marzipan*

2. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC

3. Line a 20cm baking tin with parchment, it needs to be divided in half either double the recipe and make two one vanilla and one coffee or divide the tin using tinfoil covered with baking parchment so the divide stands in the middle of the tin.

4. Place all the ingredients (apart from the nuts) in a mixing bowl and beat together.

5. Split the mixture in half, to one half add the vanilla, to the other add coffee and walnuts

Add the walnuts (or alternative, I used cashews) at the end and mix in.

6. Add the mixture to the tin, half vanilla and half coffee and bake for 20 minutes.

7. Let it cool then turn it out and cut in to 4 even strips and trim edges so each strip is of equal length.

8. Make the buttercream (can be done whilst sponge is baking in the oven) by beating the butter, icing sugar and coffee together.

9. Stick a vanilla and coffee sponge strip together with buttercream then cover all sides with the buttercream and align the strips on top (opposite way round) and ensure all sides and edges are covered in the cream.

10. Roll out the marzipan to a 2-3mm thickness and wrap around the buttercream coasted sponge. Using your tumbs create a pattern on the top. Decorate with nuts.

* Please see the next blog.

We are having problems with local graffiti artists…

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Bed head…

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