Wholemeal Spelt Bread, Glaucoma, the silent thief…


“Siwezi kuona”, I can not see, says the gentle looking 68 year old father of four and grandfather to many. Baba Jacob’s vision has been declining for the last ten years and so has his ability to look after his family and farm. One of his grandchildren, whose voice he knows well but has never seen his face, guides him back from the examination centre. The news this time is not good. Baba Jacob is blind in both eyes from glaucoma.

Glaucoma is known as the “silent thief”, people slowly lose their vision with no pain and no symptoms. Only when their vision tunnels in and they find they are unable to cope do they become aware of their sight loss.  Unlike some other eye conditions, glaucoma is not reversible. Once the damage has been done there is little that can be done to help.

It is a painful truth that if this man lived in different circumstances, there is a good chance he would still have his sight now and would not be walking back to his home having had his hopes of sight restoration dashed.

It is the worst part of this job, looking in to someone’s eyes and knowing that in the next few moments you are going to deliver the words that will break his heart.  Seeing the loving family stood by his side as though on trial, awaiting the verdict, one they hope will be the news the Baba Jacob will get to see what his youngest grandchildren look like.

If Baba Jacob had been examined whilst his sight was still good and the glaucoma detected, he would have had a fighting chance of keeping his vision till the end of his life. As things are he will spend the rest of his life in the dark. If there had been a way of everyone in rural communities having access to a simple affordable eye tests, then maybe Baba Jacob would have been playing games with his grandchild rather than being guided home by him.

We hope through the development of this new mobile phone technology that health care workers with minimal training will be able to examine hundreds of people in a day and pick up those with signs of eye disease at an early stage. Community workers are using the phone to measure vision, eye pressure, the field of vision and take photos at the back of the eye. Experts are able to give feedback remotely and everyone with a problem will be locatable on a map. For Baba Jacob we came too late, but hopefully his children and grandchildren will not now suffer the same fate. The dream is, that simple, low-cost eye disease detection will make it possible to one day ensure that needless blindness is something we once wrote about.

The Portable Eye Examination Kit (Peek) being used in the field





We’ve just left Kenya and are really thankful for a positive 3 months on all fronts and are now looking forward to catching up with friends and family and especially celebrating Maz and Dan’s wedding

Recipe – Wholemeal Spelt Bread

Adapted from a Dove’s Farm recipe


500g Wholegrain Spelt Flour

1/2 tsp Salt

1tsp yeast

1tsp sugar

300ml water

1tbsp vegetable oil


  1. In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, quick yeast and sugar.
  2. Add the water and roughly mix it into the flour.
  3. While the dough is still lumpy add the oil and knead well until it feels smooth and pliable.
  4. Leave the dough covered with a tea towel, in a draught free place, for it to double in size. (This should take about an hour).
  5. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead the dough firmly for several minutes.
  6. Shape the dough and place in to a floured proving basket (gives it the nice shape and lined texture)
  7. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave dough to rise for about 25 minutes in a warm place.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven 35/40 minutes.


p.s. Look out for BBC coverage on the phone project in the week commencing 22nd July…

Jiko bread, 40 down, 60 to go…


Wherever you go in Kenya, the smell of food cooking over coals will greet you.  They call them “Jiko’s”, they are essentially mini barbeque stoves that cost a little over £1. You will find one of these in every Kenyan home, including the wealthy.  Despite our apartments being very middle class for Kenya, more people are comfortable cooking with one of these than a gas or electric oven.  As the plans for Jamii Bakery progress, we have regularly pondered how the outreach aspect of teaching nutrition and delivering cooking workshops in the community would look. If techniques are to be replicated then the means available to do it must be easily available to all.  And so the experiments of Jiko bread have started.

Dorothy picked us up a Jiko, coals and a suffria (handless pan) and we lit the coals on the roof and patiently waited for them to turn grey. Before getting the coals on I prepared the dough as I would for a standard loaf and left it to rise.

Once the coals were ready in the base of the Jiko, we greased the inside of the suffria with a bit of butter (oil would do) and rolled the dough in to seven evenly sized balls to fit the base of the pan, six dough balls surrounding a single central one. Leave the dough balls to rise for 45mins in the suffria till almost double the size and you can leave an indent if you press the dough.

We then placed a big pan (big enough to hold the whole suffria) on to the coals and slid the suffia inside it.  A lid is then placed on the suffria and a few hot coals placed on the lid.

We waited in great anticipation for about an hour. The finished result was beautiful soft, warm bread with a great crust and perfect for sharing!  Let the Jiko bread continue!

Getting the coals going


We bring it in as the rains come







The team also make the most of the Jiko out in the field, enjoying the in season maize



As we write this we are awaiting our taxi (plus luggage) to return from the garage – the clutch went and we are still 25km from the airport, a great excuse to stop in Nairobi Artcaffe with real bread and coffee! We have the Jiko packed in our luggage, I couldn’t leave it behind.

Marble Cake, back to school…


Lucas and I are walking, well I’m walking and Lucas is in the rucksack with his feet dangling down each side. “I want see tuk tuk, tractor, cars, boo car, red car, geeen car”

I gently explain I’m sure we will see some on our way. As we come down from our flat, the road is dusty and the sun bright overhead.

“I want see llamas, camels, cows, mummy cow, daddy cow, baby calf, and sheeps and goats and chickens!”

I try to encourangingly explain we are unlikely to see camels, although there were a few by  the roadside last week giving rides at the Nakuru agricultural show just over the road.

Lucas imitates a spit, “I want see llamas and camels”

Again I explain we are unlikely to see camels and that I’m almost certain we won’t see llamas as they are from South America! Again he imitates llamas and camels spitting…the conversation continues with a lot of repetition.

“I  want see combine” he says, “I want see combine cut grass there” and points to a grassy area under a tree

I  explain that I don’t think it will fit under the tree but the combine conversation continues as though somehow I have the ability to make one out of thin air.

We stop by the mkokoteni cart to buy our fruit, the smily plump lady knows us now.”six mangos, ripe papaya, three bananas and a juicy avocado”

Lucas screams with excitement, “Tractor digger, tractor digger!”

The fruit lady and her fellow fruit sellers shout panicked in kiswahilli, I choose to leave without my change, the yellow road digger is coming straight for us, the fruit sellers are rapidly trying to move their livelihoods. We find ourselves moving quickly away from the road side, there was no warning at all as the road digger ripped up the side of the road where where the fruit sellers work.

The way things seem to happen here with little or no warning seems to be normal now.  The fruit sellers are all fine, I can’t go a day without fruit so I saw them all the next day and Lucas is still asking for combines and llamas!



Today’s examination centre was in a class room. It brought back memories for the team


When we returned in the dark we had a little surprise up our sleeves. Having celebrated Jedidiah’s birthday with Marble Cake there was also a very important birthday celebration to be had. Mama Lucas was brought over to the office under false pretences. The lights were off so I could test out some equipment on Madeleine. As she sat in position, facing the retinal camera the team all jumped out with a birthday cake and sang happy birthday. Priceless…


Madeleine: When Andrew arrived back from the field he seemed in a rush and wanted me to go over to the office so he could take more pictures of my retina (you get used to being a guinea pig with an ophthalmology geek husband!).  I sat there with my chin on the rest waiting, I couldn’t see the usual green light before my eyes.  “I cant see anything Andrew” I said “opps I left the lens cap on” replied Andrew, just then, suddenly, the whole team jumped out behind me (they had all been hiding in the spare room) and they were all singing happy birthday whilst holding a lovely strawberry and chocolate cake Redempta had made, it was soo sweet, lots of fun and I was totally got! Thank you guys!  My other surprise was a beautiful bunch of flours!! So we had spelt bread for breakfast.

The team made a cake for mama Lucas



Turns out Lucas is a dab hand with the camera


For Madeleine’s birthday we bought her a bunch of flours!


Recipe: Marble Cake – Happy Birthday Jedidah!


175g vegetable oil

200g caster sugar

3 large eggs

200g plain flour

2tsp baking powder

1tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp cocoa powder


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC.  Line a 20cm x 20cm cake tin.

2. Place all the ingredients except the cocoa powder in a bowl and beat until light in colour.

3. Dollop half of the mixture randomly in the prepared tin.

4. Mix the cocoa powder into the remaining half of the mixture and beat until well combined and dollop the chocolate mixture in he gaps from the vanilla mixture.

5. Use the handle of a spoon to swirl the mixture, not too much but enough to form the patterned marble effect.

6. Ensure the surface is flat and place in the oven for 25-30mins, test with the end of a knife, if mixture remains it needs longer.

7. Cool in the tin.

8. Once cool spread on the icing, I used the same as Lucas’ birthday cake.

Murray’s Championship Caramel Choux Pastry Balls!


We run in to the flat and flip open the laptop. The final is on, Murray is one match away from making history as the first Brit in 77 years to win Wimbledon. Having had the great opportunity to watch Murray on his way to winning Olympic gold at Wimbledon last year shortly before moving to Kenya, we feel an affinity to Andy and were desperate to see him win. We log on to stream the game, the internet eventually kicks in, the first set has just started, our hearts are racing… Everything blacks out! The power has gone and it seems to have taken the mobile mast out in the process. We try everything but all our lines of communication are cut. History could be in the making and we have no idea what is going on. We can’t even get text messages to send to find out the score.

Two hours later the power comes back on, we crowd around the lap top. Unbelievably, Murray is 2 sets up and a break up in the third! Then, as often happens when we watch Murray, he loses 4 games in a row and we seriously contemplate cutting the power again to stop this bad run. In disbelief we watch Murray plough it back to move 5-4 up and serving for the match. Lucas starts shouting, it appears he appreciates the importance of what could be happening. He moves in front of the laptop screen stepping from foot to foot in what has become his familiar “poo coming dance”. His timing is impeccable! As Murray moves 30-0 up, Lucas squeezes one out with his back to the screen. Hopefully no one will ask him where he was when Murray won Wimbledon! As the game reaches an immense climax we jump around in celebration.

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If Andy Murray can win Wimbledon then we can make crème pâtissière,and the team have been asking for more choux pastry balls with caramel so these seemed an obvious choice to celebrate with Andy Murray.  Awesome game!

Recipe – Murray’s Championship Choux Pastry Balls


Choux pastry: See previous blog.

Crème pâtissière:

6 egg yolks

140g castor sugar

50g plain flour sieved

500g milk

1tsp vanilla extract


1. Whisk the egg yolks, half the sugar and flour in a mixing bowl.

2. Into a saucepan put the remaining flour, milk and vanilla, heat gently until the first bubbles appear and remove from the heat.

3. Whisk 1/3 of the milk mixture into the egg mixture, then add the remaining 2/3 and whisk again.

4. Pour all of the mixture into the pan and bring to the boil stirring constantly, the reduce the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes to cook the flour, continue to stir constantly.  Pour into a dish to cool.

Tennis ball assembly:

1. Make a small cut in the side of each choux ball with a caramel base and either use a piping bag or teaspoon to fill with crème pâtissière.

2. Stick the caramel sides together and use masking tape to make a tennis court on any green material!

3. I made the net part by accident  whilst playing with the left over caramel whilst it was still hot!

Teachers are on strike so we have plenty of visitors at today’s examination centre


Sous chef extraordinaire prepares some tomatoes 


Lucas playing tractor with his friend


A night away with our close friends


Vegetable Bread Pie


I still can’t get it around my head that we practically live on the equator but the swimming pools are so cold. During the Kenyan winter (top temps 25ºC) they are really cold and I can only manage 60 lengths before I get that dizzy light headed feeling and my body surface area has increased two fold with the number of goose pimples, still every week I go back for more! The only pool in town that is 25 meters is unfortunately so green you can’t see the floor. Every morning the attendants insist on changing the pools colour by sweeping the crud on the bottom of the pool and effectively mixing it with the pools water, apparently this allows the non-working filters to clean it up…

Speaking of green things that change colour, we saw our first camelion at the weekend, it was chilling out on the fence overlooking a field of cows at nearby dairy farm, I think Lucas thought it was normal but I neally jumped out of my skin with excitement.  We visited a campsite which is within a dairy farm, clearly the farm has been run with an English influence and with the recent rains it was vibrant green. We could have been in England if it weren’t for the beautiful cranes flying over us and perching on the “savannah trees”, incredible bugs that I’ve never seen before wiz around our faces, mouse tailed birds fly form tree to tree in a variety of colours,  we remember we are not in England.

We are now beginning the process of establishing a Non-governmental Organisation (NGO) for the bakery. Although we plan for Jamii bakery to be self funding there will be significant start up costs and it is much easier if we are established as a charity/NGO to raise those funds, not much to write about here just lots of paper work, business plans and budgeting!…

We are delighted that John Bradford, a Bakery consultant from Canada has incredibly volunteered to help with the project, this week he booked his flights and is coming out for three weeks in October to help with developing recipes for the bakery combining traditional European breads with the local ingredients, he will be helping us with sourcing the ingredients and the equipment needed as well as imparting his years of experience of baking all over the world!


Pies have been very popular with the team so despite the request for any kind of meat pie (see the video below) I tried a veggie pie  as Roselyn, one of our team members gave us some lovely green peppers from her shamba (allotment/farm). Apparently it tasted so good it was “like meat”. I’ll take that as a compliment.

Recipe – Vegetable Bread Pie

Make the bread dough in the same way as the empanada dough

Ingredients filling:

350g of a mix of green peppers, courgette and aubergine

75g red onion thinly sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

175g mushrooms, I used oyster as they are the cheapest here

1/2 tsp rosemary

125ml red wine or 25ml balsamic vinegar and 100ml vegetable stock

250g tomatoes chopped

1tbsp tomato puree

75g chopped paneer

100g lentils cooked


1. Prepare the bread dough

2. Saute the courgettes, aubergines and green peppers with the onion in the olive oil.

3. Add the rosemary and mushrooms and cook for further 2-3 mins.

4. Add the red wine or stock, tomatoes and puree, simmer for 15mins to allow the sauce to thicken and add the cooked lentils.

5.Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 3mm cut out circles to line 12 muffin tray holes and 12 circles for lids.  Ensure the filling is not watery and fill each pie until there is a slight bump at the top.

6. Make an egg wash by beating an egg, brush the tops of each lid and use to stick and crimp each lid to a base.  Brush each pie with egg wash and poke a fork through the top to let the steam out.

7. Place in the oven for 12-15mins until risen and golden brown.  Temp 200°C.

8. Cool on a wire tray, these are delicious hot too.






Chocolate Brownies with Tree Tomato and Kenyan Home Brew…


She is well dressed, wearing a pink, floral outfit and hat. She sits on the stacked stools ready to be examined on the slit-lamp. As I instruct her where to position her chin and forehead for examination she suddenly jerks back and accusingly remarks, “You are Japanese!”. Somewhat surprised by the remark I give her a quizzical look. She continues, “You eat dogs!, I have a dog, the meat is sweet, you can buy from me?”

I explain I’m English and don’t eat dogs to which she responds, “aaagh, from English, like Nelson Mandela?” I explain Mandela is South African and she apologies and corrects herself, “I mean Obama, he is also Kenyan you know!”

After this bizarre conversation I eventually manage to take a look at her eyes and get a strong whiff of alcohol…

The day continued in much the same fashion. Patients turning up inebriated or didn’t turn up at all because they were in no fit state. It turns out a recent law was passed prohibiting alcohol consumption in working hours. The particular area we were working in today is known for men and women of retirement age spending their days sipping home-brew and sleeping off its effects. To get around the law they wake up early, imbibe enough to anaethetise a cow and then pass out till the evening when the cycle repeats.


I put a little on my tongue, it tastes almost like raspberry and the puréed seeds are similar to raspberry seeds or maybe its the deep pinkish colour and the slight tangy-ness but it its followed by a slight tomato after taste, it’s at that moment it all makes sense that these plum tomato shaped fruits are known as tree tomatoes. After trying some with chocolate brownie last week I had to give this bake a go! I had lots of almonds in the cupboard so I added these and good chocolate is very expensive here so its made with just cocoa for its chocolate hit.  I have lots of honey too so I made one batch with sugar and one with honey both taste good however the honey one is just a little drier and the sweetness strength is a little less.


Lucas on phone 1

“Lucas speaking…”

Lucas on phone 2

“HELLO!!!”Lucas on phone 3

Recipe – Chocolate Brownies with Tree Tomato purée


Chocolate brownie:

125g butter

225g sugar or honey

3 medium eggs

225g flour

60g cocoa powder (Good quality gives a stronger choco taste)

1/2 tsp baking po5wder

1/4 tsp salt

75g roasted almonds moderately crushed with extra almonds for topping.

Tree tomato purée

5 Tree tomatoes with the insides scooped out or 200g raspberries!

Tbsp caster sugar


1. Turn the oven on to 160°C.  Weigh out the almonds and place on a baking tray roast for 5-7 mins until you just start smelling the lovely roasted almond smell and they are just beginning to change colour, then remove from the oven and slightly crush wither in a bag with a rolling pin, or cut each one in half with scissors.  Take care when roasting the almonds as they can burn quickly once they are sufficiently roasted.  Once the almonds are out of the oven increase the temperature to 180°C

2. Melt then butter and dissolve the sugar or honey into it, the remove from the heat.

3. Stir in the eggs, followed by the sieved flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and finally the crushed almonds.

4. Either place in a baking paper lined square 20cm x 20cm tray or for the small dainty look use a tiny muffin tray and you will make about 30 with this mixture.  Place in the oven for 20mins if in the big tray of 10-12mins for the tiny muffins.  Let the brownies cool in their trays, once the large tray is cool cut into as many squares as desired.

5. To make the tree tomato purée heat in a pan with a little water until soft, blend until a paste is formed and if too runny return to the heat to reduce a little further to lower the water content over a small heat, if you find it too tart ad a little more sugar or honey.

6. Once the brownies are cool put a spoon of tree tomato on the top of each one followed by an almond.