Victoria Sponge (with potato) | Quite a day… | 8 to go

SONY DSC

Andrew gets off the phone from Dr Rono, the eye surgeon in the west of Kenya who will be taking the lead on several Peek projects over the coming years. He excitedly tells me that Rono is meeting a group in his region working on non-communicable diseases/NCDs (diabetes, heart disease etc, diseases that are non-infectious), going door to door doing blood pressure and diabetes checks and trying to find people early before the disease have a serious effect on their health. As these diseases all have eye related problems they are keen to see if Peek could help. This area is my passion and the ethos of the bakery is to provide healthy choices to people who are surrounded by processed food (high in fats, sugars and salts that contribute to NCDs). I’d love to do research in greater depth looking at new ways of challenging unhealthy environments which encourage the increase in these diseases.

A few hours later we have a conference call with a great guy in Peru who is leading several programs tackling issues around NCDs, who had heard about Peek and the possibilities it has for use in NCD diagnosis and monitoring, we too had been thinking how the same platform can be quite easily transferred for exactly these uses.  It’s been in the diary a while and given my love of Peru (I lived there for a year when I finished school) and I took Andrew there seven years ago to meet the family I had stayed with whilst on my medical school elective – Andrew was doing eye things. We spoke at length about the various projects in Peru and amazingly, it came to light that the team Rono was meeting in Kenya were partnered with the team in Peru – a small world! Both teams tackling similar issues we’ve written about previously.  Somewhat in shock at the possibilities this opens up the day was complete with a notification email from Oxford that I had been offered the job I really wanted and  had travelled back to the UK for! It is a fantastic post with a team that excel in primary care (general practice and health care in the community) and research in the areas I am passionate about.

The post in an incredible opportunity to continue work in this area for years to come so we are very thankful all that effort in travelling back with Lucas was well worth it!

EyeBakePeru? 😉

SONY DSC

Recipe – Victoria Sponge

Taken from Harry Eastwood’s “Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache”

Ingredients:

For the sponge:

3 medium eggs

150g caster sugar

200g peeled and finely grated potatoes

100g white rice flour

2 tsp baking soda

Pinch of salt

Tsp vanilla extract

For the filling:

150mls whipped cream (original recipe uses 40g margarine but I think it is tastier like this)

90g icing sugar, sieved

Tsp boiling water

Half tsp vanilla essence

Pinch of salt

150g blackcurrant jam (the original recipe uses strawberry)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.  Lightly oil the base and sides of two loose bottomed cake tins (18cm x 5cm).  Place a circle of baking parchment over each base and oil lightly.
  2. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale, fluffy and tripled in size.  Stir in the potato, flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla.  Stir well to ensure that everything is incorporated.
  3. Divide the mixture between the two tins and cook for 20 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before removing from the tins and transferring to a wire rack.
  4. For the filling, whisk the margarine then add in the icing sugar one tbsp at a time.  Add the boiling water and whisk to combine.  Add the vanilla and salt and beat again.
  5. Ice the bottom of one of the cold cakes covering the other one with jam.  Sandwich the cakes together.
  6. Lick the bowl…

SONY DSC

Onion and Bay leaf Loaf | Driving Blind… | 9 to go

SONY DSC

“Are you able to work?” The well dressed man points to his left eye and tells me he doesn’t see so well from this eye but it does not stop him working.

I look at the measurements of his vision. His left eye is blind and his right is also very poor. He can make out the top line of the vision chart only, effectively ten times below “normal” vision.

SONY DSC

He has cataracts (clouding of the natural lens) in both eyes, more so in the left.

This is not an uncommon finding in the older population in Kenya, what is surprising (and maybe not uncommon?) is that he works as a driver for a living and drove to the clinic!

In disbelief I asked him several times if he actually drives? He responds that he drives every day.

I ask if he’s ever been in a car accident? He responds that they are very few…

I explain at great length that he is a danger to himself and other road users and that we will urgently arrange surgery for him. Having seen the disasters on the road in Kenya I really beg him not to get behind the wheel until his surgery has been done. A friend has accompanied him to the clinic and so I also take the opportunity to press on his friend the dangers of driving with such poor vision and I ask that he ensure this man doesn’t drive until he has had treatment. They both smile and agree that they will stay off the road.

Half an hour later I see the almost blind man and his friend climbing in to an old Toyota and driving out of the car park…

Recipe – Onion and Bay Leaf Loaf

Taken from Dan Lepard’s “The Handmade Loaf”

Ingredients

For the onions:

140g white onions, diced into 1cm pieces

350g whole milk

3 bay leaves

For the dough:

100g strong wholewheat flour

475g strong white flour

1.5 tsp fine sea salt

1 tsp (6-7g) dried yeast, crumbled

325g milk from the onions

280g cooked onions

Methods

Place chopped onions, milk and bay leaves in a saucepan and bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to cool for about 30 minutes. Pour through a strainer to separate the onions and bay leaves from the milk. Reserve the milk for use in the dough

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. In another bowl, whisk the yeast 325g milk from the milk in which the onions were cooked. Beat in the leaven until the mixture is smooth, then finally add the onions and stir. Pour the wet ingredients in with the flour, and stir until you have a soft sticky dough. Scrape any dough from your fingers in to the bowl, then cover and leave for 10 minutes.

Rub one tsp of olive oil on the work surface and knead the dough on the oiled surface for 10 seconds, ending with the dough in a smooth, round ball. Clean and dry the bowl, then rub with a tsp of oil. return the dough to the bowl and leave for a further 10 minutes. Remove the dough and knead once more on the oiled surface, returning the shape of the dough to a smooth round ball. Place it back in the bowl, cover and leave for 1 hour in a warm (21-25ºC) place.

Line a deep 20cm diameter bowl with a flour-rubbed tea towel. Lightly flour the work surface and shape the dough in to a ball. Place the ball of dough seam-sided-upwards in the cloth, then cover with exposed corners of the tea-towel. Leave the bowl in a warm  (21-25ºC) place for 1.5 hours, or until the loaf has doubled in height.

Preheat the oven to 210ºC. Upturn the loaf on to a semolina dusted baking tray. Spray the upper surface of the dough with a fine mist of water, then place the tray in the centre of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 190ºC and bake for a further 30 minutes, until the loaf is a golden colour. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Dan Lepard recommends eating this loaf toasted to serve with a good smoked kipper, grilled field mushroom and melted butter (not likely in Kenya but sounds delicious!)

SONY DSC

Chocolate Eclairs | 90 down, 10 to go…

SONY DSC

We’ve reached the final two months of our time in Kenya and before we know it the time will have come to pack up the eye equipment and Mixer and prepare to move home and country once again. There is little time to sit back and think about all that has been, as so much is still going on. We need to keep focussed in these final stages to ensure it all runs smoothly and that we have done all we can to ensure our team will go on to bigger and better things beyond this project. There are three further eye projects planned for Kenya, one of which is the schools one and the others we will explain later. The bakery is also looking promising. The right people are in place, the Ujima board have responded positively and once the paperwork goes through we can start renovations and sourcing equipment. We are no longer working on English timelines and deadlines but have moved in to a middle ground of pushing where we can and learning to wait. Certain things will happen in their own time, regardless of how much we rush or push.

Amazingly, while we have been debating the pros and cons of importing refurbished equipment from the UK or buying locally (there isn’t much choice in Kenya and the prices are really high) we were sent an email explaining a local bakery in the West of Kenya is closing down and selling its baking equipment! Pretty much all the items we need… This could be perfect but we will need to check on the quality and condition of them as well as seeing if we can get them within our budget.

To celebrate reaching a once inconceivable target of 90 we asked the team how they would like to celebrate. The usual roast goat or something a bit different? They deliberated and got back to us that they would like to go somewhere where they could order food from a menu. We thought this was a really sweet idea so booked a place at one of the top hotels in the town centre and enjoyed a meal together. One of our team (who has a brilliant sense of humour) commented on the security/metal detector you have to walk through at the main entrance – he thought the beeping meant he had malaria!

The amazing team enjoying a la carte…

20140221_202120

Next week a film crew from the US will be with us all week making a documentary on the eye project in affiliation with TED so we will be flat out doing our usual combo of baking, eye work and the usual things that fill our days – we will try our best to keep up with the blog.

Recipe – Chocolate Eclairs

Ingredients

For the choux pastry
  • 65g plain flour, sifted
  • pinch of salt
  • 50g butter, diced, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 eggs, beaten
For the filling
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 5 tablespoons castor sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoons corn flour
  • 3 tablespoons double cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50g unsalted butter
For the icing
  • 100g milk chocolate chopped
  • 50-75g yogurt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Generously grease a baking tray with butter.
  2. Sift the flour onto a sheet of greaseproof paper.
  3. Put 120ml/4fl oz water into a medium-sized pan with the salt and butter and heat gently until the butter has completely melted – don’t let the water boil and begin to evaporate. Quickly bring the mixture to the boil and tip in all the flour in one go. Remove the pan from the heat and beat furiously with a wooden spoon – don’t worry, the mixture will look messy at first but will soon come together to make a smooth heavy doughPut the pan back on a low heat and beat the dough for about a minute to slightly cook the dough – it should come away from the sides of the pan to make a smooth, glossy ball. Tip the dough into a large mixing bowl and leave to cool until tepid.
  4. Put the pan back on a low heat and beat the dough for about a minute to slightly cook the dough – it should come away from the sides of the pan to make a smooth, glossy ball. Tip the dough into a large mixing bowl and leave to cool until tepid.
  5. Beat the eggs in a bowl until combined, then gradually beat them into the dough with an electric whisk or mixer, or a wooden spoon, beating well after each addition. (You may not need all the egg.) The dough should be very shiny and paste-like, and fall from a spoon when lightly shaken.
  6. Spoon the pastry into a piping bag fitted with a 1.25cm/½in plain nozzle and pipe 12 x 10cm/4in lengths onto the greased baking tray.
  7. Sprinkle the tray, not the pastry, with a few drops of water, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Then, without opening the door, reduce the oven temperature to 170ºC and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden-brown and crisp.\
  8. Remove the tray from the oven and carefully make a small hole in the side of each éclair to allow steam to escape. Return to the oven and bake for a further five minutes, or until the pastry is completely crisp. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  9. For the filling, use a wooden spoon to beat the egg yolks with the sugar, corn flour and cream in a heatproof bowl until very smooth, add the 2 tsp vanilla extract.  Tip the mixture into a pan and heat until boiling stirring constantly until very smooth and thick, remove from the heat and add the butter stirring it in.  Cover to stop a skin forming and leave to cool.
  10. Once the éclairs have cooled, cut down the length of one side of each éclair and pipe in the filling.
  11. Melt the chocolate over a double boiler or a bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water (do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water) then mix in the yogurt to make the ganache. Use a palate knife dipped in hot water to spread the chocolate ganache.

Beetroot Cake | A Healthy Hospital…

SONY DSC

The bag is very heavy, big lush green – red leaves poke their heads out of the bag, there is nothing better than a bag of freshly picked fruit or veg and when they are twice the size of what I would generally achieve in our garden back in England and they are certainly more appetising.  They are a very generous gift from a friend at the hospital and picked from their “Shamba” /allotment close to St Mary’s Hospital.

We have come to St Mary’s Hospital to deliver a retinal camera.  Antony our guest carried it all the way from England (we never actually told him how much it was worth so it wouldn’t stress him out).  St Mary’s is the hospital we send all our eye patients to for treatment such as cataract surgery and they have been a fantastic example of high-quality with minimal means.

After having sorted all the wires and attached them in the right order we only felt the carrier of the camera should be the first to have his retinal images taken, thankfully no surprises at the back of his eyes. Next, the local eye surgeon had a go with great success.

After setting up the retinal camera we were shown the hospitals allotment by the main entrance. Cows were walking around near the entrance and not far the other side are rows of poly tunnels and green spaces filled with growing crops. I couldn’t help think what an example this hospital is. The hospital grows a lot of its own food and it is one of the most beautiful hospital’s I’ve seen. What an example to hospitals the world over: growing their own fruit and veg is not just more economically effective but it means the food served to patients and staff is not processed, highly nutritious and fresh.  Being able to offer the best food for their patients must have an impact on their recovery.  The contrast to the UK is stark. I remember vividly one evening when I was on call: the massive TVs were showing the news that NHS staff were very unhealthy, at the very same time I looked over at the coronary care ward to see a man who had unfortunately just had a massive heart attack, had already had two limbs amputated due to vessel disease, tucking into a plate of deep fried battered fish and chips! We are just upside down. How can a man be in a highly sophisticated unit with experts who have spent years training surrounding him, be served the very food that contributed to him to be in this position in the first place. One day we would love to instil a consistent message of health across the National HEALTH Service that promotes health at all levels. As we left at the gate, instead of a tuck shop the man was selling bananas, water melon and apples! Now thats what I call a hospital!

—————————————————-

This retinal camera (the same one we use in our study) is the only one available for literally millions of people in the surrounding counties. We hope this will help the hospital prevent many people becoming blind over the years to come and it may also act as an income generating project for the eye unit providing a high-quality service to those who can afford it and subsidising treatment for those who can’t. We are delighted to be able to support such a good department and thank you to all of you who helped us raise funds for this.

—————————————————-

So with all these lovely beetroot I was fully inspired to make this Harry Eastwood beetroot cake…

Recipe – Beetroot Cake

Ingredients

For the sponge
3 medium eggs
180g caster sugar
200g topped, tailed, peeled and finely grated beetroot

1 vanilla pod, scraped out
180g white flour
180g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
284ml buttermilk or yogurt
1 tsp red food colouring (I use a natural one)

For the filling
The original recipe uses Nutella, I used:

150g plain chocolate melted over hot water

150 mls yogurt stirred in

For the snow meringue icing
170g icing sugar
2 tbsp water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
white of 1 egg
pinch of salt
1 squirt of vanilla extract

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 160ºc and grease three 18cm loose bottomed sandwich tins. Line the bottoms with baking parchment and grease again.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together for 4 minutes until fluffy. Next beat in the grated beetroot, as well as the vanilla.

Add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt, and whisk until well combined.

Finally add the buttermilk/yogurt and red food colouring. Whisk well and make sure everything is well combined.

Divide the mixture ‘evenly’ between three cake tins and place them in the oven for 30 minutes. They probably wont all fit in the middle of the oven, so make sure you rotate their positions in the oven.

When the cakes are cooked, remove from the oven, unmould and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Whilst the cakes are cooling make the snow meringue.

Place all of the ingredients in a big mixing bowl over a pan of boiling water.

stir for exactly two minutes to dissolve the sugar.

When the mixture is warm and the two minutes are up, remove the bowl from the heat and whisk for nine minutes until cool. You really won’t want to do this by hand! It should be fairly rigid in stiff glossy peaks.

When the cakes are cold, spread three tbsp of Chocolate-yogurt ganache between the first and second tiers.

Cover the whole cake with snow meringue icing.

A delicious cholesterol free cake!

 

St Mary’s Hospital

P1010796

Strawberry Mousse Cake | Who is TED?

SONY DSC

“Andrew is a TED Fellow for this year”, that’s nice, who is Ted? Andrew’s mother asks. Lucas chips in, “Tractor Ted, he’s got a cab on, he’s not a Kenyan tractor” The excitement of sharing this news soon dissipates in to confusion about who Ted is and why Andrew is visiting him in Canada in March. It is a fantastic opportunity and we are so excited that Andrew will be giving a TED Talk and meeting some really inspirational people. It is the 30th Anniversary of TED and many of the best speakers from the past 30 years will be attending. It is a chance to raise the profile of eye health in Africa and who knows what might come from what is described by the TED organisers as a “Spa for the mind”.

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 18.16.50

We potentially have a film crew from TED coming out next week to shoot a documentary on the eye project and we are planning on taking them to the site of the (hopefully) bakery at Maili Saba Camp on their final evening.

————————————————————————–

This is a really pretty centrepiece, perfect to serve as a dessert for a summer party or special meal. It looked fantastic when I served it up ready to be taken to the field, however by the time it had been on a three hour journey in a hot van it resembled a strawberry mousse soup. Andrew explained to the team that it didn’t look this a few hours ago, the response from one of the team was to question if it tasted any different? Probably not and before we know it the plate was empty…

Recipe – Strawberry Mousse Cake

Ingredients

For the Génoise sponge base
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 15g unsalted butter melted, plus extra for greasing
  • 50g sifted plain flour
For the strawberry mousse
  • 1 x 135g packet strawberry jelly
  • 450g strawberries
  • 340g evaporated milk
To decorate
  • 50g dark chocolate (or milk, if you prefer), chopped
  • 5 strawberries

Method

  1. First make the sponge. Heat your oven to 180ºC. Grease and line the base of a 23cm/9in springform tin.
  2. Put the eggs and sugar in a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water (don’t let the bowl touch the water). Use an electric whisk to whisk them together until thick, pale and moussey and doubled in volume. The mixture should hold a trail when you lift the beaters out of the mixture. Take off the heat.
  3. Fold the melted butter gently into the egg mousse, then gently fold in the flour. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 15–20 minutes, or until cooked and lightly golden-brown. Leave to cool completely, then remove the sponge from the tin and peel off the parchment paper.
  4. Line the sides of the same tin with baking parchment, first snipping a line of little ‘feet’ along the base of the paper so it will fit snugly against the base. Put the sponge base back into the tin.
  5. To make the mousse, break up the jelly and put in a pan with a tablespoon of water. Melt gently over a low heat until smooth. Remove from the heat and set aside. Purée 200g of the strawberries in a blender until smooth and pass through a sieve to remove the seeds. Hull the remaining strawberries and cut in half top-to-toe (or slice into three if large).
  6. Using an electric whisk, or a free-standing mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the evaporated milk for at least five minutes, or until it is thick, bubbly and doubled in volume. Gently fold in the liquid jelly, then fold in the strawberry purée.
  7. Arrange the strawberry slices around the edge of the lined tin, cut side against the tin. Scatter any extra strawberries over the sponge.
  8. Pour the strawberry mousse into the tin, levelling the top. It doesn’t matter if the mousse doesn’t quite cover the strawberries. Place in the fridge for at least two hours to set.
  9. To decorate, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Dip a few strawberries in the melted chocolate and leave to set.
  10. Pour the remaining chocolate into a paper piping bag. Snip the end off the piping bag and drizzle lines of chocolate over the top of the mousse (alternatively use a piping bag with a fine plain nozzle attached). Place the chocolate dipped strawberries in the centre and serve.

Sticky Toffee Pudding | David Beckham in Kenya…

SONY DSC

Three hours later we arrive in a shanty town west of Naivasha. We are met by cheering and waving. Children amass around the minibus desperate for a glimpse of the superstar with us in the field today. As soon as he gets down from the minibus they flock towards him pushing each other forward till one of them has the courage to touch his arm. There is a moments pause to see how he will react. When he smiles the floodgates open and he is mobbed, everyone desperate to touch his white skin and play games with him. Our really good friend, Antony is visiting us this week. Admittedly not David Beckham, but it is hard to imagine a more welcoming response even if it were goldenballs himself. Antony had the pleasure of being sardined in to a twelve seater with twenty other passengers yesterday preparing the village for the examination team’s arrival today. His persuasive powers came in very handy when two ladies in their nineties, both in need of eye care took their chances on taking advantage of the kind looking stranger. One insisting on him buying her a  kilogram of sugar before she’d come to the clinic!

Antony and Richard (team driver) returned an hour or so later with more patients and helped them in to our temporary clinic. A tin roofed shack surrounded by litter and children peering in the door to get a glimpse of what must be a very alien site to them: shiny eye equipment, flashing lights and smartphones.

Cosmas, our team engineer fixing an electricity supply for the equipment

20140211_102055

The eye clinic

20140211_103627

 

P1080426

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Antony and the village guide

20140211_161817

 

An grandmother being guided by her grandson to the clinic. Blindness affects more than the individual…

P1080415

 

Recipe – Sticky Toffee Pudding

Ingredients

Pudding

  • 190g plain flour
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 120g soft brown sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 120ml milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Toffee sauce

  • 125g butter
  • 175g light muscovado sugar
  • 6 tbsp double cream

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170ºC
  2. In a large bowl sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the sugar and mix well.
  3. In another bowl add the milk, eggs, vanilla and melted butter. Whisk together until a light frothy foam forms on top.
  4. Add the milk mixture to the flour and mix together until smooth.
  5. Pour into greased baking dish and bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until cake is firm on top; start checking after 20 minutes.
  6. For the sauce, add the butter, sugar and cream to a large saucepan and simmer over medium high heat until sauce is smooth and dark brown, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes before serving with pudding.

 

Tarte au Citron | Advance team adventures

SONY DSC

The seven seater van now has ten people squeezed in, three of them being the advance team and myself. We are heading to a village to prepare for next weeks clinic and I’m trying to get some insight in to how well Peek is working when they go door to door.

20140131_082000We pull over and thankfully let two people out, however before I have chance to get comfortable another five people squeeze in and we are literally layered on top of each other.

20140131_082018

20140131_082104Half an hour later we climb off one another after a far too intimate a journey to have spent with strangers. We find a couple of motorbike taxis and arrive at the village to meet our guide.

20140131_084356

Most houses were basic, single roomed homes made from mud or wood and in the corner would be some form of cooking apparatus. Usually a couple of bricks with a fire burning between them and an aluminium stove boiling up some water. The people we met were warm and generous and always wanting to share a cup of tea or cook us some vegetables. Time was tight however so we would have to pass, the usual time taken to prepare a cup of tea would be around half an hour and we had fifty people to find so had to decline.

SONY DSC

It was fantastic seeing patients being examined in their own homes with Peek

SONY DSC

One of the final homes we visited after ten hours in the blazing sun is one that will stick in my memory. A sweet old “sho-sho” or grandma in her late seventies was working away in her field and ran over to us with impressive athleticism to greet us with sturdy handshakes and hugs. She had a glint in her eye and a toothless smile that reminded me of my late grandmother in Egypt (my father’s mother) whom I had last seen as a teenager. We again would have loved to stay but were aware the last bus out of town was due to leave in half an hour and we had to get moving. Amazingly, above her head was a poster of Arnold Schwarzenegger brandishing a dangerous looking weapon with the text underneath, “Nothing makes a person more productive than the last minute” The last thing I expected to see in a rural village in Kenya, but then again, not much surprises us now.

SONY DSC

 

Recipe – Tarte au Citron

As Passion Fruit Tart with the following changes for the filling:

Instead of passion fruit use four lemons, the juice and zest and whisk in with the other ingredients as with the passion fruit but you don’t need to sieve.

Chocolate log and the poo explosion

SONY DSC

With two hours of the flight to go I recognised the familiar “poo face” on Lucas as he did his business somewhere over north Africa. Usually his deposits are pretty self contained and easily cleaned up but as irony would have it, with next to no space to move around, this was not so much a deposit but more an explosion that went all down his legs and up his back. I managed to squeeze in to the two foot square bathroom and commence a clean up operation that required flexibility, breath holding and a lot of wipes. At times my face was uncomfortably close to the toilet seat (you’ve seen the force at which the flush works…) and I may have smeared some poo on the walls (which I cleaned up) but thankfully I managed to complete the job and return to our seat. Usually I change Lucas on my knee when we are travelling, thankfully I did not get myself in to the inevitable trouble that would have come had I attempted to.

It is 2.30in the morning, Andrew, Lucas and I are all eating Weetabix with UHT milk, all the sofa cushions are already on the floor and being used as jumping mats, tractors are parked everywhere and Lucas’ toy car is just taking a break from being rushed around the flat! Finally after what has seemed a long 10 days we are home and together again and it feels so good. It’s the middle of the night and we are wide awake, we landed at 10pm where we were met by Andrew who said he had nearly been arrested at the arrivals lounge for being over excited, and we drove straight to Nakuru. Unfortunately we had a puncture on route in an area you don’t want to get out of the car, at the same time it started raining (for the first time in weeks), I think it was actually a blessing it was raining and hopefully kept anyone away that might have caused us trouble. Four hours later we were home, adrenalin still pumping around our bodies from the hair raising journey. Lucas, with only 90 minutes sleep in his system since leaving London and oblivious to the dramas on the journey was brimming with excitement to be home. We finally all got to sleep at 3am and were unable to drag ourselves out of a sleep coma when Lucas decided that he’d spring out of bed and demand an involved session of tractor racing at 6am!!

——————————-

We have the hardware engineers for the Peek project in Kenya (very big brains) this week who were treated to the chocolate log along with the team (one I’d prepared earlier). I thought it may be nice to make them some lovely sourdough ciabatta, and in all honestly I couldn’t wait to get back in the kitchen… however someone has been baking in the kitchen and not only that they have chucked away my go to sourdough pot but also my back-up one!

Andrew – oops. It looked like a pot of mould, sorry. 😐

The ‘how to’ on this blog is taken from Mary Berry’s Chocolate Roulade Recipe, she uses a cream filling but I like a chocolate cream cheesy one so I’ve adapted the recipe here.

Recipe – Chocolate Log

Ingredients

  • 175g good-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 6  eggs, separated
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp of cocoa for filling
  • 50g icing sugar (I think thats how much I used).

Methods

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Lightly grease a 33cm x 23cm/13in x 9in Swiss roll tin then line the base and sides of the tin with a large sheet of greaseproof paper, pushing it into the corners. Make a small diagonal snip in each corner of the paper; this helps to fit the paper snugly into the corners of the tin.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. (Do not let the base of the bowl touch the water.)
  3. Place the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until stiff but not dry. If you turn the bowl upside down, the whites should be stiff enough not to fall out.
  4. Put the egg yolks in a separate bowl with the sugar and whisk using the same whisk (no need to wash it) on high speed for 2-3 minutes or until thick and creamy and the mixture leaves a thick ribbon-like trail when the beaters are lifted. Pour in the cooled chocolate and gently fold together until well combined.
  5. Gently stir two large spoonfuls of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen the mix, then fold in the remaining egg whites using a large metal spoon (you don’t want to squash out the air you have just beaten in). Sift the cocoa over the top and lightly fold it in. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and gently move the tin around until the mixture is level.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes until risen and the top feels firm and slightly crisp. Remove from the oven, leave in the tin (expect the roulade to fall and crack a little) and set aside until cold.
  7. Prepare the filling by beating the cream cheese, cocoa and icing sugar. Lay a large piece of greaseproof paper on the work surface and dust it lightly with icing sugar. Turn the roulade out on to the paper so its lining paper is on top, then carefully peel off the paper. Spread the roulade with the filling, leaving a border of about 2cm/¾in all the way around the edges. With one of the shortest edges facing you, make a cut along it with a sharp knife, going about half way through the sponge. This will help to start the rolling up. Now roll this cut edge over tightly to start with and use the paper to help continue the tight rolling, by pulling it away from you as you roll. Don’t worry if the roulade cracks – that is quite normal and all part of its charm.
  8. Finish with the join underneath then lift the roulade onto a serving plate or board using a large wide spatula or two fish slices. Dust with icing sugar.

Beef and Olive Sausage Roll | Peek in Schools – Andrew’s baking again!

SONY DSC

My mother dragged me in to the opticians and insisted that I was going home with a pair of glasses. My teacher had told my parents that I was struggling to see the board even though I was sat at the front of the classroom. If I’m honest with myself I hadn’t been able to see the board for a couple of years but I got away with it by copying the guy sat next to me. Eventually I got to the point where I could not even see his book well enough from just a few centimetres away and conceded that I would need some help.

I will never forget that feeling, stepping out in to the car park with my new glasses. Looking up at the trees and seeing leaves, not the usual green smudge but individually defined leaves and branches. The journey home was incredible; car lights were no longer orbs but sharply focused red and white lights of different shapes and sizes. I no longer needed to sit at the front of the class and my schoolwork started to pick up.  Madeleine another specky had a similar experience and also experienced the revelation of leaves on trees!

This memory and experience has never left me and his been influential in shaping my passion for all things eye related.

  • 19 million children under the age of 15 classified as seriously visually impaired.
  • 1.4 million of which are blind.
  • Many children do not achieve their educational potential due to poor sight.
  • The chances of effectively treating children for many conditions decreases as they get older.

There are 700 times fewer trained optometrists in Kenya than in the UK therefore detecting children with sight problems a huge challenge.

A trial has been officially launched today in Kitale, in the west of Kenya: Schools teachers have been trained to use Peek to assess their class and notify the local eye hospital of any children with a sight problem. If the kids don’t come after a certain time the hospital can chase them up to ensure they are seen and treated. If the pilot project proves a success it has the potential to be rolled out across the region and then nationwide.

Featured on the BBC today

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 20.40.32

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Recipe – Beef and Olive Sausage Roll

Ingredients

Filling:

  • 1kg lean beef mince
  • 3 small onions finely chopped
  • 1 chilli pepper finely chopped (optional)
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 150 g sliced green olives
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • Mixed herbs
  • 1 x egg

Pastry:

As the Chicken pie recipe  (yes I’m crazy enough to do it again)

Method

For the filling, put all the ingredients in a bowl and get your hands stuck in – not one for the vegetarians. Mix all the ingredients together till they start to knit together.

Take a piece of clingfilm, lay it out on the surface and spoon the contents on to the cling film. Roll it in to a sausage and twists the end tight.

Place in the fridge for 30-60 mins.

Roll the pastry between two baking sheets with a little flour on it (a tip from the boss – it worked a charm). Roll so it is the right size for the sausage. I folded it several times to get nice neat edges.

Line up the sausage on the pastry and using the baking parchment fold the pastry over the meat and tuck the edges together.

Glaze with a beaten egg

Cook at 180-200ºC for 45 mins

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Double Chocolate Biscotti | What about those we can’t help?

SONY DSC

Her husband carefully guides her to where I am sat. I’ve just seen the last of our study patients and the long queue of people who have heard an eye team is running a clinic are now welcomed in for an assessment and treatment.

She is 24 and her husband looks younger, he is gentle and caring and full of hope that his wife can be helped. Before examining her closely I see she has a familiar appearance. One eye pointing outwards and her stare is one of someone who is in near complete darkness. Despite this there is overlaying those blind eyes the familiar look of hope.

They have been married just two years and have a daughter. Shortly after delivering their child she became seriously unwell and during her recovery her vision went. I examined her closely and found the back of her eyes were badly scarred and in that instant knew that nothing could be done. It is heart wrenching to bring hope to someone then take it away. A recent discussion last time I was in the UK was enlightening, why are eye surgeons, generally speaking, focusing their attention on people who are visually impaired and can’t be “fixed”. We concluded that is makes us feel small and not as great as we’d like to think we are. We see people like the young lady with her whole life in front of her, as our failures and so cope with it by passing the responsibility elsewhere. Fortunately in the UK, there is an “elsewhere”. Social services, groups for the blind, low vision aid clinics and more. In a UK hospital clinic I can walk down the corridor or write a referral letter knowing that this patient will be looked after and supported to manage as best they can with what they have.  Here, support is minimal and although a few pioneers have established low vision centers, for most these are unreachable.

Feeling completely deflated at the end of a hard day with a definite lump in my throat I started to write down some ideas. Maybe we will be in a position not so far away from now to extend the services of Peek to not just those whom can have their blindness prevented or cured but as a “vision assistant” to those who will have to cope with poor vision for the rest of their days.

Recipe – Double Chocolate Biscotti

Ingredients:

  • 100g butter, softened
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped
  • 125g chocolate chips

Method

  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in cocoa and baking powder. Beat for 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in flour by hand. Mix in white chocolate and chocolate chips. Cover dough, and chill for about 10 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 190ºC. Divide dough into two parts, and roll each part into a 23cm long log. Place logs on lightly greased baking tray, about 10cm apart. Flatten slightly.
  3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until skewer inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool on tray for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool for one hour.
  4. Cut each loaf into 2cm wide diagonal slices. Place slices on an ungreased baking tray, and bake at 160ºC for 9 minutes. Turn biscuits over, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes. Cool completely, then store in an airtight container.

The clinic getting ready to see all the patients

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

Imagine the scandal if one of these were in an NHS hospital roaming around the eye clinic…

SONY DSC