This week we had the temporary (nearly 48 hours) inconvenience of having no water at home. The tank dried up and due to various unfathomable complexities we were left with out any running water. Fortunately we use large bottles of drinking water, although it is a very expensive alternative, we got by.
This has happened several times before and usually last hours to on occasion a full day. Imagine what would happen in your home without water for the next 2 days… Well this is what happened in ours. The kitchen became backlogged with dirty plates and cutlery which started attracting flies. None of us could bath or shower so we didn’t attract anyone! The toilets began to fill with the inevitable and the stench was unpleasant to put it very mildly.
When eventually the noise of the roof tanks being filled could be heard and the air pockets worked their way out of the system we were dancing around celebrating having water.
Just over 40 million people live in Kenya
17 million do not have access to safe water
28 million have no sanitation services
Our 2 day inconvenience is the reality for almost half of Kenya all year round, with out the luxury of picking up a bottle of Keringet drinking water from a local supermarket.
As you might expect, a lack of water and sanitation very quickly results in disease and early mortality. We occasionally see patients with a horrible eye condition known as Trachoma. It is the leading cause of infectious blindness in the world. Basically, flies carrying the responsible bug multiply rapidly in an environment that is dry, dirty and faecal matter is wide spread. They fly from person to person, often sitting on kids faces and eyelids, transmitting the bug (Chlamydia Trachomatis – for those of you who want to know). The result is the eyes become sore and inflamed. The lining of the inner eyelids becomes raw and angry, eventually scarring and turning the upper eye lid inwards. The result is that the eyelashes rub continually against the eye. Ever had an eye lash or bit of grit in your eye? It can be seriously painful and eventually, other than driving the person crazy, leads to the cornea (the clear front window of the eye) become scarred and leaving the person blind.
With various methods this disease can be eradicated and we are really excited that Peek could well be part of the solution, contributing to existing heroic efforts to eliminate this painful blinding disease.
Lucas, John (Master Baker from Canada), Kat, Redempta and I jump into Redempta’s pick up truck. Lucas is so excited as he knows we are going to a farm and he will get to see some tractors. The farm named Kembu, Kiswahili for chameleon is our destination in the hunt for wheat suppliers. We already have some contacts for smaller wheat producers and millers but were given a lead to a place not far down the road called Kari. Amazingly there happens to be a wheat research institute there with samples of every type of wheat ever grown in Kenya! Being at an altitude of 2000-2500m, the area is very conducive for wheat growing. The biggest threat to wheat is something called stem rust first discovered across the boarder in Uganda around 1999. Now they are working hard with varieties sent from all round the world to produce a variety resistant to this disease. Generally for bread making the best results come from a hard wheat, which can be grown here, we learnt the flour sold in the supermarkets is all blended with flour grown in Kenya and imported flour. Unfortunately for bread making much of the imported flour is likely to be the lower quality overspill from countries like the UK. The farmers have agreed to let us have some freshly harvested and milled samples to test. To be continued…
Recipe – Sukuma wiki spelt courone bread
200g spelt flour
300g white flour
1 dessert spoon of olive oil
1 finely chopped small red onion
Big bunch of kale – finely shredded
3 tomatoes – diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of nutmeg
1 Kallo vegetable stock cube
100g cubed cheddar cheese
50g cashew nuts roughly chopped
1. Mix all the bread ingredients together and knead for 8 minutes until smooth
2. Leave to prove for an hour
3. Knock back and prove for a further hour
4. Whilst proving make filling: Saute onions in olive oil and add the kale. Cover with lid and fry for five minutes, stirring occasionally
5. Add chopped tomatoes and seasoning
6. Cook for a further 10 minutes (if watery pat between kitchen roll)
7. Shape and fill as in apricot courone sprinkling the cheese and cashew nuts on top of the kale filling before rolling
8. Bake for 20 minutes at 220ºC
9. Cover with tin foil and bake for a further 10-15 minutes
The wheat institute
Some tips from the master baker