Ginger Shortbread Biscuits and no Coffee…


“What fresh juices do you have?”

“We have mango”

“Great, we’ll take one mango juice, and do you have brewed coffee?”

“Yes, how many coffee?”

“Two please, do you have any vegetable samosas?” (A usual Kenyan ‘biting’ aka snack!)

“Ok, two coffees and I will check with the chef about the samosas”

We take a seat on the nice lawn outside the guesthouse, its lovely and so well kept.   This is the top rated accommodation in the area so we thought we’d check it out for an afternoon and have a breather before another busy week commences.

After running in the hot sun with Lucas, rolling the green ball down the hill and chasing the tractors over the tap, we certainly feel ready for a coffee and juice, we wonder where the order has gone.

55 minutes later, a waiter turns up with a pot of hot water, 2 sachets of Nescafe and a carton of juice. Not quite what we had in mind. We enquire about the samosas.

“Chef has made you pancakes”

“But we didn’t ask for pancakes… are they pancakes with vegetables inside?”

“No, they are fried pancakes, plain”

This conversation drags on whilst in the background, just across the fence, a boy is being continually beaten and is screaming. We try to block it out but it keeps on going. It is the neighbouring house and the parents are being so heavy handed it is making us nauseous.

We decide to cut our losses and head home for real coffee on the roof and some relative peace.

We have questioned many times, is it a communication problem? Are we asking anything too different from the norm here? We are the visitors (or aliens as immigration call us!)  But we have come to realise that poor service is everywhere and widely accepted.  We spent much of the first few months incredibly frustrated at scenarios like this, not because we didn’t get what we ordered but because Kenya has so much to give as a country, it has so many resources to produce incredible food, coffee!! and service.  Our view point has somewhat changed, not to one of acceptance, which seems to be the usual survival mechanism, nor anger, but a desire to demonstrate that things can work here and mediocrity need not be the norm. We find it encouraging that the poor service in so many places not only frustrates us but all our Kenyan friends.

We really hope that by modelling Jamii Bakery-Cafe as a place of excellent quality, service and courtesy, it will inspire other places around to raise their game. We have an important meeting at the end of this week regarding staffing and live in hope this is something that can be done.


Monday’s clinic is in a corrugated iron church, full of character and life. We connect a 50 meter extension cable to the local dispensary, the nearest electricity point and commence the days work as the queues grow.

We have recently employed local guides to help us find more people. So far this seems to be working really well. We give them the list of study patients a few days in advance and incentivise them with a reward for each study patient that is brought to the clinic and completes their examination.

I hear the roar of a motorbike outside. Stew the app designer has arrived to the GPS location I sent him. He observes the phone being used to test some patients and finds a dusty corner to whip out his laptop and make some modifications. A small crowd gathers to watch this mzungo man (whiter then me!) tapping away at a laptop. Within an hour an improved version of the app is working – some great progress is being made.


Recipe – Ginger Shortbread Biscuits

Ingredients: Makes about 20

200g unsalted butter softened

100g castor sugar

260g plain flour

40g rice flour or corn flour

½ tsp ground ginger

Pinch of salt

50g chopped crystallised ginger


  1. Beat the butter until it is very soft then beat in the sugar.  Best to use slightly softened butter that is not straight from the fridge.
  2. Add all the other ingredients and with your hand bring all the ingredients together to form a dough.
  3. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 30mins.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.  Slightly flour the surface, place the dough on the surface and slightly flour the top of the dough and rolling pin then roll out to 1cm thick and use what ever shape cutters you feel like to cut out.
  5. Place on baking parchment and bake for 12 mins ish.  They should be just showing the very first signs of browning as you take them out.  I was putting Lucas to bed whilst baking these ones…always a challenging combination but resulted in slightly darker biscuits, still yummy though!
  6. Let cool on the tin(approx 15mins) until firm enough to transfer to wire racks.

The corrugated iron church was today’s examination centre, a fair number were waiting when we arived


Inside the church we get the kit out and get going



One thought on “Ginger Shortbread Biscuits and no Coffee…

  1. Oh dear on the coffee and samosa front, it would be so amazing to get the bakery up and running! And go Stew with the app! Impressive stuff! Xx

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