Pink Day!

Today was our last day before Matt comes home, so we girls were very girlie today.

We fell in love with 8 little puppies at our friend Alicia’s house. 💕

It was difficult to pull ourselves away from such cuteness! I appreciated that Alicia enjoyed the puppies – her puppies – as much as Abigail and Naomi did!

Alicia joined us for lunch out, and since it is winter here in Malawi, the girls had hot chocolate – with white and pink marshmallows!

Since the girlie thing was working out so well for us, we had pink pancakes for dinner. A little bit of beetroot goes a long way… healthy and girlie!

The Pancake Princess highly recommends vanilla yogurt and sliced bananas.

Matt comes home tomorrow! We have enjoyed these days of fun girl time, but we will be so glad to have him home!

Boerewors

One new food I had to learn to cook when we moved to Malawi was boerewors. Boerewors, literally “farmer’s sausage,” is a South African favorite. A+ Geography students will know that Malawi is not in South Africa, but it is in southern Africa, and we do have a lot of South Africans who live here. And where you have South Africans, you have boerewors.

The most common way to cook boerewors is on the grill, or braai as South Africans call it. Lay your sausage out on the braai and use large tongs to flip the whole thing. Pretty easy.

Before we had a braai, my sweet friend Igna taught me a second way to cook it. I still use this method when I’m cooking boerewors that I know has a lower fat content. My friend Shannon made a batch of low-fat boerewors and it was so great that I bought it all from her! But if I’m not careful it gets dry very quickly… thus the stove-top method.

First, I sear the sausage on both sides. The picture above is of the lovely sear marks it develops. Then I add about 1 cup of water to the pan and quickly clap on the lid to keep the steam inside. After about 10 minutes the boerewors is cooked through, moist, and perfect. How do I know it’s done? When I bend the sausage with tongs, it breaks off cleanly. All done!

On to the table it goes! We had this sausage with some baked beans and fresh sweet corn on the cob. Smiles all around!

Local Favorites #2

Hot sauce from India, marketed under a Chinese name, eaten with Mexican food by Americans in Malawi. Geography is irrelevant when it comes to good food.

Food for Six Months

Martha told me a great story today: About 7 or 8 months ago, I had asked her if she wanted to plant the seeds leftover from a watermelon we had eaten. We both knew that her son, Chancy (16), had a green thumb, and we both thought it was a great idea. From those few seeds, Chancy raised 12 plants. He took the plants to Salima and planted them on Martha’s property, where her mother now lives. The plants grew and produced lots of fruit. The maize fields were empty for Martha and many in Salima, but the watermelon patch did great!

In March, there was a funeral in the village, and one of the men attending the funeral told Martha’s mom that the restaurant at Livingstonia hotel needed watermelons! He took 2 truckloads of watermelons and paid her enough to buy 3 large bags of maize. I asked Martha how long those bags would feed her mom and the grandkids she cares for: 6 months.

Six months of food from a few seeds. Three bags of maize when the maize fields were empty this year. We are thanking the Lord for his provision! And we are passing along some more seeds!

Around the Kitchen

A good portion of my day is spent in the kitchen. Here are some of the things happening around the kitchen these days…

Don’t be jealous, but wow isn’t that beautiful?!? Our avocado tree produced some fantastic fruit this year. We had bucket-loads of guacamole!

Yep, still hauling water! But thankfully only from one side of the kitchen to the other. Some friends of mine have had their city water off for weeks at a time and must haul their water from the local well. It makes me thankful for our water tower!

Pork meatballs with sweet and sour sauce in lettuce wraps… yum! I’ve been cooking my way through a fantastic “better than take-out” Chinese e-cookbook, and we are loving it!

Our friends Chris and Ashley brought us wild raspberries after their recent trip to the Zomba plateau – the only place in Malawi that grows them! Naomi in particular loves the raspberries from Zomba (especially the yellow ones that are in season around her birthday!).

We made quick work of the raspberries and enjoyed every bite!

I loved hanging noodles as a kid. We can buy pasta here, but we can’t get egg noodles, so when we made chicken noodle soup the other night, the girls helped me make and hang noodles. And they loved it! 💕

And since mom hangs out in the kitchen, so do mom’s little friends. All kinds of new skills are learned here, including this current favorite. She’s actually pretty good. She just needs a little more height!

Thankful

We don’t always celebrate Thanksgiving with a big meal, but we did this year! We have a couple visiting CAPA professors, Aaron Johnson and Myral Watson, staying with us, and Chris and Ashley Mullins joined us too.

We have already established that I’m a kitchen nerd, so I’m ok showing you my detailed schedule.

I found myself a couple of helpers, and they did a fantastic job!

Sweet potatoes! Secret: I could only find white sweet potatoes, so I used food coloring!

After a while, I had so many dishes that I started stacking them on the floor. And then Martha called to say she had stayed in Salima (1.5 hour drive away) and would be late for work. Oh boy, if I ever needed someone to wash dishes for me it’s on Thanksgiving day! Hurry back, Martha!

And then she came and rescued the day! Whew! I was using toddler forks to whip eggs! No time to wash dishes on Thanksgiving day!

In the late afternoon Matt, Aaron, and Myral set up the outdoor lights and moved our table and chairs onto the lawn. We love eating outdoors, and it felt fitting to do so on a holiday! Matt read a devotional for us on God-centered rather than self-centered thankfulness. It was a good reminder for us all!

Then to dinner! Ashley brought yummy salad, rolls, and pumpkin pie, and the girls helped me make the rest. It was quite a feast!

With pie, ice cream, and stories, we enjoyed a special time of thanksgiving long into the night. We are very blessed to share this holiday with friends and family, near and far. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Season(ing)s

It’s spring here in Malawi, and things are starting to grow! It’s also harvest time too. I know, I’m confused too. I grew up in Kansas where harvest time and most growing things were ripe mid-late summer or in the fall. I thought that when I moved to the Southern Hemisphere that I could just flip the calendar to know the seasonal foods schedule. Not so. I’ve had to relearn seasonal foods. I’m not an expert, but I’m starting to figure it out. The step after figuring it out is taking advantage of fruits and vegetables when they are available. So that’s what I’m trying to do.

Lemon juice and zest from Shannon’s lemons will become lemon bread this afternoon.

Leftover lemon/lime rinds…

became lemon vinegar for cleaning.

Great celery is a rarity here, so when I find it I buy it. We’ll eat some this week, but I’m stocking up in the freezer for soups and such throughout the year.

Our friends the Misomalis have a farm north of town, and they grow enormous zucchinis! I’m making most of what I get into zucchini noodles (“zoodles”) with a spiralizer, but I’m also freezing some and making zucchini breads and muffins – to eat and freeze. Looks like it’s about time to make some more…

The Misomalis also have great cucumbers, so we’re enjoying them in salads but also pickling some.

The MacPhersons sell eggs year round, so they’re not seasonal so to speak, but they are really great eggs. Especially soft boiled – yum!

And those tomatoes are from the Lloyd’s little garden, which is languishing in their furlough-absence, but producing wonderful “baby tomatoes” that the girls enjoy picking after ballet class!

That’s enough stockpiling for this week. Next week I’m in search of rhubarb to add to our freezer stock, and I might look into freezing broccoli too because it’s so good right now. Anyone know: do I need to blanch it first?

UCLA Team

For the last week and a half we have had 6 of the 15 member team from Grace Community Church staying at our house. They’re all part of the Grace on Campus Bible study at UCLA, and this is the 4th time that group has sent a team to Malawi. They come every year now for the first module of CAPA (Central African Preaching Academy) to help with student registration and to interview the students.

Tuesday night was our turn to have the whole group over for dinner, so we hauled everything outside and had a great time enjoying the cool evening with this team!

Rachael brought over some sugar cane, so Matt taught everyone how to “eat” it.

Eat isn’t really the word, because you chew up the pulp to suck out the juices, then spit the pulp out. Just imagine liquid sugar… which is exactly what it is!

The texture is about like chewing on toothpicks, but that doesn’t stop anyone!

Though it does take a while to get the knack of things!

Dinner was a hit, and I won the game. Anyone else play “the game”? It’s when you estimate food for a group, and you hit it perfectly. We had 20 people for dinner, at 2 tables, and we had 4 1/2 pieces of chicken left over – 2 at one table, 2.5 at the other. You don’t win the game if there’s no food left: you didn’t make enough. And you don’t win if you have lots leftover. You don’t even win it you have 1 piece leftover: that’s the “Christian piece” that no one wants to take because it’s the last piece. 😊 So 2 or 2 1/2 pieces of chicken per table is perfect. Everyone had enough and we didn’t run out! Yes, I’m a kitchen nerd.

It was fun to sit around and chat with this group, to hear what they’ve been learning and experiencing. Having interviewed some of the same students for multiple years, they are seeing growth in the lives of the CAPA students! They were also able to go to some of the students’ churches this weekend, and have been thinking through their experiences and pondering the ways in which they have seen God working – here in Malawi and in their own lives. You can check out the group’s blog here: http://malawi2017stm.wordpress.com.

As the sun set and dinner ended, the twinkle lights began to show in the trees. It’s hard to believe that there were no trees in the yard when we moved here! It’s such a nice space now!

No outdoor meal is complete without a bonfire, so we brought out the marshmallows and had some s’mores. We even had mice shaped marshmallows for the more Malawian s’mores experience!

We are thankful for the work this team is doing. They have conducted and transcribed 100+ interviews with the CAPA students this year. As the team finishes up the interviews and posts them online, you can get to know the students and hear their testimonies at: http://capa.prayformalawi.com/students

Going Out to Eat

There are a lot more restaurants here in Lilongwe than when we moved here years ago, so every once in a while we go out to eat as a family. Yesterday was a bit sad for our family, so Matt took us all out for dinner, to one of our favorite places.

Kortasia is a Korean restaurant with a decidedly African motif. We love their sesame chicken, their sweet and sour chicken, and their bibimbap. It does seem like an odd atmosphere in which to eat Korean food, but it’s fun – and the food is great!

The girls enjoy the adventure of going out to eat, but they especially enjoy the little goodies I keep in my purse for such times. A family of bunny finger puppets, some plastic lizards, a little tub of Play-dough, and the current favorite, which has been nicknamed “stencil and a pencil.” Abigail and Matt use the stencil to write codes to each other, and Naomi and I draw pictures for one another.

Pictures and a few letters. She thinks it’s so great that she can write “Omi” all on her own. Yep, a little bit of school, even on a night out!