Do you know what your neighbour is called? Do you know everyone that lives on your street? We rely so much on local knowledge when finding our study patients that we have taken for granted how well everyone knows each other. That was until we started working in the town. There isn’t the same community that we found in rural communities. I guess much like anywhere in the world, where populations are dense, people are busy, possibly too busy to get to know those they live next to. The effect on the study has been that we are finding much fewer people then we had hoped. Coupled to the mass displacement of communities in the post-election violence it is making for a challenging period in the study.
It is baking lesson time, with requests for bread courses to promote Jamii Bakery, we have decided to start some baking classes. Jedidah from the eye team who has a qualification in hospitality and Dorothy who helps clean three mornings a week (there is a lot of cleaning with all this baking!) have both expressed a real interest to bake. We had a really fun day plaiting loaves, rolling pizza bases and making flatbreads and Chelsea buns. It was really interesting learning about the common Kenyan bakes that share names of things I’m familiar with but are actually something different. “Scones” are like brioche, Queen cakes are like cup cakes and the frequent use of an ingredient called “croma” (an oily substance I haven’t quite worked out what this actually is, possibly engine oil?). We won’t be using any of that in the bakery!
What I hadn’t realised is five other eye team members were eagerly awaiting Jedidah’s baking lesson to be over so they could sample the results!
We are enjoying dinner, the rains are heavy outside and Lucas is snoozing. Out of the corner of my eye I see something fly down the corridor and crash land two feet from us. We take a closer look – is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s a BAT! Madeleine screams, “you’re the man, you deal with it!”, at which point, I look over at Kat and scream, “you’re the outdoor pursuits instructor – you deal with it!” We all freeze. I heroically suggest covering it with the washing up basket (the end of my very significant involvement, apart from taking a photo). Kat picks up the purple washing basket and drops in on top of the bat, trapping it in. Next problem. How do we get it out of the flat. We don’t have anything big enough to slide underneath it (you know the old spider in a glass trick) so decide we will slide it to the door. The door frame is not flush with the floor so we can’t simply slide it outside. The bat starts fluttering around inside the basket, our hearts are already pounding near max. Kat reminds us that she hasn’t had her rabies jab, but we remind her that she likes caving and thus will be fine! Impressively, in one swift move she whips the basket off the ground, out of the door and slams the door shut. We are safe and we have a new hero in our midst! Later that evening we go to lock the door, we open it to check the outside gate, in-between the door frames is a squashed bat! Poor Kat thought she had freed some Kenyan wildlife…
Madeleine follows our hero with anti-bacterial spray…
Recipe – Meringue
6 large eggs at room temperature
4 pinches cream tartar
350g caster sugar
Recipe as in chocolate tractor cake icing
Flaked almonds to decorate
1. Pre-heat the oven to 120°C
2. Put the egg whites in a very clean bowl and whisk for 20-30s or until the whites are foamy. Add the cream of tartar.
3. Whisk in half of the sugar a tablespoon at a time. Continue whisking for about one minute until the mixture is glossy and forms a stiff peak.
4. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over and fold in with a metal spoon.
5. Pipe swirls about 3cm wide onto baking parchment.
6. Repeat 24 times and then place in the oven for about 2 hours or until firm.
7. Make the filling.
8.Once the meringues are cold peel away from the baking parchment, spoon a teaspoon of icing onto the meringue and decorate with flaked almonds.