Mint Tea


Everyone wanted to be associated with the royal wedding, in one way or another. So did I. Come on…I am human. God is supreme.

He granted my wish.

19th May 2018 is recorded as the day one of my beautiful daughters married her prince charming. Their love story is unmatched because it was not a blind date but a story of waiting patiently for the right time and right one and overcoming the consequent issues.

Heartbreak, tears of pain and joy, lost friendships and forging new ones, defining the relationship and consequently describing the future together.

This is the wedding I attended yesterday. The day was too beautiful for many photos. Its memories shall remain etched in a beautiful place. To be honest, I cried when the rings were exchanged. I rarely do that.

This royal wedding was special.

Dear Nairobians, the weather though. I was clad in a leso pencil skirt, white vest, a light sweater, heavily beaded necklace, stud earrings and heels. It was 19°C.

I was freezing to the spine. I wanted to head back to Mombasa but endured because of my endeared couple and their nuptials.

At the reception, my mind kept oscillating between tea and the keeping up with the wedding events. Mint tea to be specific. Honestly, I could even smell it. I visualised my kitchen clearly and in my mind’s eye saw where I had left the last few stems wrapped in a damp kitchen towel next to coriander packed similarly.

I remember seeing myself pluck a handful of mint leaves and placed them in a cooking pot filled with 3 cups of water. I let it boil till the water turned green then added my export quality tea leaves. Then, let it simmer for another 7 minutes before straining it, adding honey with a thin slice of lemon in a delicate glass cup as I stared at the rain pounding the window of my Mombasa apartment.

Served with sweet potatoes

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Tamarind Sauce


I had always wanted to step into Nyali Golf Club just to experience the ambience and understand its general setup. I am not yet a member of any golf clubs not because I don’t understand golf but just because.

Finally, the day came.

Dressed up, we showed up 10 minutes before time so as to create a good impression. 15 minutes past time, other attendees started trickling in and 15 minutes later the event started. Tea and snacks was served after the meeting and unlike usual, I opted to go last. Impression matters.

That decision did not disappoint.

At the end of the line, there he stood. Dark and rich with melanin yet humble and easily ignored.

I dished him out so dismally on my plate because I had already prejudged him thinking he will be just like these other guys we meet on the side of the road waiting to be served alongside viazi karai.

You were different. Elegant & maturely different. You were hot, sweet and tangy at the same time. Illicit. I chose to forsake all others and said ‘I do’ to you. At that point, I confidently marched up to the Chef whom, coincidentally, was serving. After general pleasantries, I asked for the recipe because I wanted this guy to be mine forever. The moment the question left my mouth, I could have sworn the Chef’s mood snapped. He gave very brief description of how I could capture you and walked back to the kitchen.

This hunk had become elusive. Again.

After chit chat here and there with a couple of people we bid our goodbyes and went back to the car but my unfaithful mind was already in an illicit affair.

So, I patiently retreated, regurgitated the brief memory I had of this dark elusive hunk of a sauce and re-strategized. With every and any opportunity to go out, I would look for him, call out his name, describe him to all and any that bothered to hear me out but everyone thought I was crazy. I never gave up hope. Never gave up.

Then I bumped into him. When I saw him again I vowed to ensure I grasped him, studied him and at least got to know his name if all else fails.

Luckily, I did. Now he’s mine and he’s here to stay.

Ingredients

100gms ukwaju/tamarind

2 cups water

Half a cup sugar

Half a teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon red chili

1 tablespoon cumin powder

1 tablespoon coriander powder

Add water to a pot and the ukwaju and bring to a boil for 15 minutes.

Using a potato masher or (ugali) cooking stick and stir with the aim of removing the paste from the seeds.

In a separate bowl, sieve.

Place the ukwaju extract in the cooking pot under medium heat on the cooking stove. Add the sugar and stir it in till it dissolves. Once it starts boiling, add the remaining ingredients and continue stirring. Taste to see if you have a hot, sweet and tangy taste. If not, add and adjust ingredients to desired taste.

Cook him down to desired thickness.

Once the desired thickness is achieved, turn off heat and transfer to serving bowl.

Dear Lord, I can’t seem to have enough of him.

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Chai Rangi or Lemon Mint?


Dear Mombasa beach,

I miss you. I know I don’t really visit you as much but when I do, I make it worthwhile by having a family breakfast picnic, morning walks with the kids or evening stroll with my trolley pusher.

Penthouse view at The Shaza in Shanzu

People say that you don’t know what you got until it’s lost but life says you know what you got but only value it when it’s gone. Beach, I am sorry. I know you have always been there have been enticing me with the kachiri, viazi karai,pweza or just letting the kids make memories.

Yet, I have been blowing you off with excuses thinking you ain’t going anywhere. I am ashamed of not visiting you enough. I really should and I will once this foul weather settles down because my sinuses seem to follow it every time it changes.

Let me drown in deep regret as I ponder between chai rangi or lemon mint juice to settle my nerves.

Sincerely,

Remorseful converted Coasterian.

Chicken biriani

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A Juicy Affair


I knew it.

You saw the title and quickly logged in to get the latest udaku. Sorry to disappoint you but here is a thought to ponder as you seek to renew your mind and not conform to such a way of living anymore.

Romance as we knew it in Mills & Boons would be ideal. Love at first sight or is it at first glance and then happily ever after. That would save us a lot of heart-break, disappointment, depression and all that comes with it.

Imagine you and this dude checking each other out ,are attracted to each other and you both know it. Your friends encourage you to go for it but both of you are too shy. Sounds familiar, right. So, of course, the man in his bravado makes the first move and as the script follows, the girl plays hard to get and eventually gives in.

A romance blooms and oops! A baby is on the way. The downside is but one. You are both Africans and you discovered you are related in such a manner that will not give you favor before either side of elders. Secondly, you are the daughter of the Chief and thirdly, your boyfriend is the son of the County Commissioner.

Dilemma here is the Chief has traditionally been the main man from the mashinani level and the County Commissioner is a political appointee with a vague job description almost similar with the chief. Tension and rivalry has been the ever-present third-party in this relationship between the Chief and the County Commissioner. What would be the ideal resolution of this situation; culture or politics?

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Mango ginger juice

Truth is it is bitter-sweet kinda situation just like the mango ginger juice.

It is 26°C on average here in Mombasa in the rainy season. This is cold for us. We wear sweaters, jackets and jumpers. Na hatuogi!!!!

Don’t get me wrong, we don’t stink coz we shower 4 to 6 times on average on a normal day. A normal day’s temperature is 29°C upwards to 34°C. At 26°C, our sweat glands have not yet been activated.Dear Nairobians, take back this weather.

We had chapatis with maharagwe wa nazi for dinner tonight and after dinner, tea is my custom. I had a change of heart today and opted for juice, rather i was craving this juice despite the cold. The good thing is that ginger warms you up. So touchè.

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Back in primary school, i loved these mangoes because you would purchase it with masala (chilli mixed with salt to a perfect balance) for three bob. A mere three shillings. I loved those days coz i would bargain with a 5 bob for two of them such that i would eat one on my way home for lunch and the second one on my way back to class. Don’t ask me where the money came from. Childhood rites of passage applied at this point in my life.

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Fast forward to today, to make the juice ensure you have mangoes that are semi-ripe and should be more than the ginger. The measure of ginger is up to your threshold. Sugar is as desired.

Ingredients

4 mangoes – 40/-

1/8 kg of ginger – 20/-

Sugar as desired

1.5 liters water

Peel mangoes & ginger.

Place in blender.Add sugar and water and blend.

Sieve and serve with ice or store in the fridge for later consumption.

A serving of 5 people will cost you 60/-

Another juice that is a quick fix requires mint, sugar and lemon. I so badly wanted to rephrase this statement but it would sound so dirty, so i won’t.

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Mint leaves. Courtesy: Google

lemon
Lemon. Courtesy: Google

A handful of mint leaves and half a lemon make a lovely pair aroma-wise and i never thought it possible that it would make a drink apart from Sprite. All you need is to wash your mint leaves and dry them in a kitchen towel. Place then in a spice grinder or blender together with sugar, a cup of sugar to be precise, & grind.

You can store this mixture in the fridge for later use or you can consume immediately. If you do not dry your leaves completely before grinding, this is the consistency you get but it will still work.

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Looks yuck but the aroma is from another planet or maybe heaven

Take 1 – 2 tablespoons of this mix, place in a glass, squeeze your lemon, add water and stir. Save yourself the burden of consuming commercially produced soft drinks at the expense of nutrients and your health.

The yellow (imported) lemons taste better than the green ones. However, that is just my opinion but to each his own.

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Voila!!

See you soon with tamarind at hand.

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Dear Nairobians….


Now I have your attention.

Listen to me, no hard feelings. Keep your feelings out of this post and just go through these words from the wearer of the shoe and not the admirer. You, dear Nairobian, are the admirer of the beach, Swahili food, destination holiday and laid back way of life over here. The indigenous coastal flock and we the fellow convertees are the wearers of the shoe.

From one to another, I have been on both sides and the coasterians are right.

Respect the local culture.

You look fly in your hot pants and minis and even the locals wear them but in the right context. You look more fly in the photos posted in your various accounts on social media. I will double tap on most of them.However.

Dear Nairobian, mwanamke ni kujisitiri sio kujiuza. Stop staring at me and stop judging me. I write this because today I was at Naivas Nyali shopping with my fellow mum and faithful trolly assistant aka hubby and we felt odd staring at you strutting around in your brief garments.

When my fellow mum and I relocated to Mombasa, we were like you. We wore spaghetti tops with short skirts, shorts and sometimes just our swimming costumes with a leso around our waists. That was our error. Now yours.

We stare at you because we were also stared at. Not because we are jealous of your long legs or dainty figure, but because we learned that the locals have preserved their culture. Greet, do not wait to be greeted. It is our culture.Spiced food is the norm, watch your weight at home and pack your eeuws in your suitcase. It is disrespectful. There is an opinion about everything especially when it is not asked, tolerate it (only the healthy bit of it). How you give is more important than what you give. Some ladies will not shake a man’s hand because that is in their belief system and not because of you. Nothing personal. Siesta after lunch is the norm of the day, don’t get angry. It is our culture.

In summary dear Nairobian, they are right. We are right.

One final thing….we love tea, spiced tea. Any time, all the time.

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cardamom, cinnamon, ginger powder and cloves

These are the ingredients of a standard black spiced tea. Bring these ingredients to a boil and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add your tea leaves. Let it simmer for another 5-7 minutes before straining.

NB. These amount of ingredients make 2 standard cups of black tea i.e. chai rangi as we the locals call it.

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Serve with a squeeze of lemon and honey or sugar.

This is way better than the hot ginger craze from Java.

Dear Nairobian, since at times you order for tea with a snorty attitude, you get served snorty strong tea as we know it in bara. Be polite, you will be surprised at how much more the locals over here can offer you. The same applies to when you feign allergy to tea when we inform you that dawa ya moto ni moto. Mombasa has a juicy affair. The types and variety of juices here will leave you amazed and stupified at the same time. Be courteous.

Spices are courtesy of Marikiti.

Sincerely,

Former Nairobian (aka converted Coasterian)

Now back to what I wanted to post about today. Eggplants.

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Nairobians, at this point, if you want to log off, please don’t. You ain’t the only ones who hate this purple useless plants. Bear with me. I will make it short.

This short. Yeap.

All these are eggplants.

Ingredients

2 eggplants. 1kilo goes for 60-120/- which is roughly 3 average-sized eggplants.

1 large onion. Chopped.

3 large tomatoes. Chopped.

Half teaspoon cayenne pepper or paprika or both

Half teaspoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon mango powder. Indian shops sell it as amchur powder. (Nairobian, if pronunciation is an issue, state it in English or Swahili)

Dania. Half a cup.

2-3 cloves. Those black things in the tea ingredients at the end of the spoon.

2 green chilies

Half a lemon

Garlic ginger paste. More garlic than ginger, please.

1 teaspoon cumin

Oil – 5 tablespoons.

Ensure that the eggplants are fresh i.e. the skin is shiny and bright purple. Any signs of frailty will not give you the desired outcome.

First, take your eggplants, make small incisions around them. Apply fat and place on top of the medium flame. Let it roast until charred but not burned all around.

You can do this a day before. Make sure it looks deflated like this.

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Roasted eggplants. Source: Google images

Let it cool.

Heat oil until smoky in a cooking pan.

Add cumin for a second and then the onions and cloves. Mix. Allow the onions to change color but not burn.

Add ginger garlic, turmeric, chili, (paprika) and tomatoes and cook for about 5-7 minutes. Your kitchen should be fragrant at this point.

As it cooks, peel the now cooled eggplants and mash them gently to a pulp before adding to the cooking pan. Stir well.

Add your Dania, green chilies, mango powder, and salt.

Stir well and let everything cook on low heat for another 5 minutes.

Squeeze juice from half a lemon, mix well and remove from heat.

Serve with fried rice, pasta, nachos or leftover bread.

If you do not like chilies, feel free to omit.

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For the love of bread


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Homemade yogurt with raisins and honey served with homemade white bread

Today was one of those days the devil was out with shining swords after my joy and my happiness.

Today, I would have spoken to my husband the last time when he called me just before 8am to say ‘i love you’ and shortly after a bigger bus almost forced the smaller bus I was in veer off Mombasa highway at Kibarani.

Today, I got into a disagreement with 2 of my colleagues separately because certain boundaries had been crossed.

Today, I chose the higher road and transparently informed my supervisor the details that led to the disagreement and let her decide the truth.

Today, my son told me these 2 things after I returned home in the evening;

  1. Mum, you are a very good cook.
  2. Mum, your mother taught you how to cook (i see where you’re going with this)

I smiled in agreement. I nodded and wished my mum would have been in my kitchen to hear the compliment…….to hear the high standard that my son is setting for his sister. Well, that thought slapped the smile off my tired head.

Today, I made brown bread because that is what is on our meal plan for breakfast.

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Ingredients

1 tablespoon dry yeast

2 – 3 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons olive oil (coconut oil etc)

2 cups flour

1/2 half cup milk

In a warm bowl…….yes!!! a warm bowl……add yeast, sugar and 2 tablespoons of milk or water. Mix until it forms a brown liquid. Once this is achieved, it means the yeast is activated.

The photo shows instant yeast and this still works.

Should look something like this

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Now, mix the flour and milk in turns to get a sticky yet somehow firm dough. If you are Kenyan and reading this, a chapati like dough would have gone too hard a dough for bread. It needs to be slightly softer.

Knead this very soft chapati dough for some 5-7 minutes thereabout until the dough breaks. How? The texture/grain of the dough will change.

I had made a video of before and after dough breaking but it won’t load, so just utilize your imagination on this one time.

After kneading, apply some oil and let the dough rest for an hour or so until it rises and doubles in size.

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This is before it rises. It should be at least double the size when risen.

While the dough is resting, clean your bread tin and line it with margarine, fat or butter. In my case, I used Cowboy cooking fat. For butter, the prices are still sky high at $8 for half a kg (in Kenya only ) so I took a rain check on that one. On a separate note though, do these dairies know I can actually make my own butter and it is cheaper than the market price. I digress.

After lining the bread tin, dust it with flour so that the melted fat does not stick to the bread dough instead the flour combination is aimed at giving you a non-stick option during the baking process.

After the dough has risen, beat it down to get all the air out of and knead for another 10 minutes.

At this stage, you can either shape it into medium sized balls that can be baked into buns or roll the entire dough into the shape and length of your bread tin and let it rise.

As it rises, the dough will take the shape of the bread tin and let it rise again. Like this……

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After half an hour, as the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 170C.

When the oven is ready, add your now raised bread dough into the warm oven and let it bake for 20 minutes.

My oven timer is not working and my oven is now weary from baking many cakes and loaves of bread but I will know that the bread is ready first from the color, the dough will be dark brown at the top and a bit more raised from how it got into the oven, the aroma of fresh bread is heavenly and third when you hit the top of the bread, it makes a deep hollow sound.

Once ready, immediately remove the bread from the tin and place on a rack and let it cool down before slicing it. This is so that the heat generated from the hot bread does not make the bottom part soggy and eventually gets stuck in the tin or make slicing a torturous experience.

Enjoy your bread.

Today, you have avoided the many non-existent and non-functional ingredients from commercially produced bread.

Today you have found a healthier bread option because you can flavor the bread as you wish e.g. you can add lemon zest (shavings) while mixing the dough, replace the milk with water or freshly squeezed juice or whatever comes to mind to achieve a desired flavor or taste to your liking.

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Lemon zest flavored white bread.

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This is cardamon flavored wholemeal bread whose story I posted on Facebook a while back.

Enjoy reading.

Adios. See you in the next post.

Nb. This post was meant to go out on 20th July 2017.

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Who doesnt love yogurt?


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Plain yogurt sweetened with honey and raisins. No sugar needed

Every time I go to the supermarket with the kids, I avoid the dairy section and the till because of yogurt and candy respectively. I get so worked up that I would normally ask my husband to take the kids and go ahead or I just ignore all the insistent requests with a pan face.

I am living on a tight budget. Excuse me!

One day a random thought occurred to me; why can’t I just make my own yogurt for once and for all. Unfortunately, I took no notice till when I was in the same dilemma in the supermarket. This time, I  placed 6 half liter yogurt containers in the trolley because my dear husband was paying. There is a certain level of Godly wickedness allowed. Ecclesiastes 7:16-17.

Caveat emptor: Don’t try this without counting your costs first.  😉

My girlfriend Mimo makes yogurt and all kinds of soap for her family. So, I called her up and she taught me over the phone how to do it and then the psyche went away as quickly as it came.  Then, Mimo came to visit me with her family and asked how my yogurt venture had gone, I was blank.

I promised to follow through but again…..lip service 😦

A few months later which turns out to be 1 month ago, out of the blue, I made up my mind and bought the milk and yogurt and tried it secretly without mentioning it to Mimo.

It flopped so badly, I did not even tell my husband.

It looked like mala (sour milk) even after 24hrs.

After watching several YouTube videos, I convinced myself that I can do this. So purchased 1 liter of milk and 250 ml plain yogurt.

But before I made another attempt, I called Mimo and confessed my sins. Oh, the laughter…Mimo laughed at me and made me feel like a child asking where is my lollipop yet it is in my mouth at that very moment.

We went through all the detail of what could have possibly gone wrong. Luckily all was in check except that the milk was too warm. That was my error.

Mimo asked me to save her a sample of the spoilt yogurt for her review. She never came. I sieved it and used the whey (yellow liquid) on mandazi and the white stuff on bread. Heavenly !!!

Bread recipe will be posted after this one, I promise.

I made it a second time and it worked. My family loved it and I will brag because it is not something I love to do i.e. trying out new recipes, but also it is awesome to have a friend who does not give up on you on the simple things.

So, if you love taking yogurt or your babies are addicted to it so as mine, are using it for your beauty regime, including it in your recipes or are on a diet that needs yogurt once in a while, here is how to make it.

Ingredients

100 ml plain yogurt

1-liter milk or more

Heat milk in a pan till it begins to rise.

Remove immediately. Do not let the milk rise completely.

Let the milk cool down till it is warm to the touch when placed at the back of your hand. Like when you are preparing baby milk..but just a bit warmer than that.

Place the plain yogurt in a container and add a little bit of the warm milk. Mix and ensure that the plain yogurt has blended into the milk.

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Blending the plain yogurt with a little milk first

Then, add the rest of the milk and cover with a lid.

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I used 1.5 liters of milk with 100 ml plain yogurt.

Since I do not have a yogurt maker, I wrapped the milk-yogurt mixture in two blankets and then placed it in a fireless oven.

 

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NB. The cover for my fireless oven was destroyed by rodents a few years back. Long story for another post.

Another option is to place the milk-yogurt mixture into the oven and leave the light on. The Kenya Power tariffs do not afford the majority of Kenyans this luxury.

Third option is if you stay in a warm place like Mombasa, Turkana, Wajir etc, place the milk-yogurt mixture in direct sunlight for 2-3 hours.

Whichever works for you.

Let this stand for 6-12 hours in the fireless oven to allow the active bacteria work through the milk and thicken it.

Once done, when you open the lid you will notice a thick white mass at the bottom and some light yellow liquid at the top (whey). No worries. Just place it in the fridge for the rest of the day to allow the yogurt to thicken a bit more.

Using a whisk, you can now mix the little liquid now left on top and the thick yogurt at the bottom. Check out my Facebook post which has the video of how it looks.

Voila, homemade plain yogurt!!!

Flavor it as desired.

I am trying to figure out why if i add sugar to the yogurt the consistency becomes lighter. If you do, please add it on to the comment section.

Serving suggest; add a little essence for flavor & sugar or honey to taste, food color to match the flavor desired e.g. red food color for strawberry and drinking chocolate for chocolate flavored yogurt for the kids, fruit pieces such as strawberry, bananas, mangoes, kiwi then freeze it to have frozen yogurt or serve it with your Weetabix .

For those who love Greek yogurt, you are in luck.

Get a large sieve and a muslin cloth or kitchen towel on top of a large enough kitchen basin or container. Place in the yogurt and let it stand till all the liquid has drained through to the bottom.

The whey can be used to make pancakes, donuts, mandazi etc.  Thick white mass on the muslin cloth or kitchen towel is your Greek yogurt.

Nothing goes to waste.

Serve as desired.

Save a little bit of your yogurt roughly 100 ml to start your next batch. So, you don’t need to buy yogurt at all. Now I just need to own a farm so that I milk my own cow.

 
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Black Magic Cake


If you are looking for black magic, you are in the wrong page.


However, this is a recipe on how to forget your child’s birthday. It is quite simple really.


Ingredients

  • Internal calendar or as mothers’ call it vague memory that should not be debated about. Reminds me, when growing up, of how mothers were always right even when it was dead wrong.
  • An actual desk calendar
  • Phone calendar
  • Family breakfast
  • Errand list in a new handbag

How to affirmatively forget your child’s birthday;

  1. Unknowingly design your own internal calendar.
  2. Insist that this internal calendar is correct without a doubt.
  3. On the actual day of the birthday, wake up late and enjoy the Saturday morning routine with your little ones.
  4. As you take breakfast, your little one insists it’s her birthday and you insist it is on Sunday i.e. the next day.
  5. Head out and shop for birthday cake ingredients, meet up with your Saturday pals, run errands and then pass by hubby’s office in the afternoon.
  6. One look at your hubby’s calendar tells you something is off about the date.
  7. Counter check with your phone calendar and realize that your brain tricked you and that your little one was right after all.
  8. Drop everything and head back home and make the cake with your little one as a way of apologizing ..
  9. Thank God for creating the genius who made Google because of this recipe.

She didn’t buy my apology but at least she loved the cake.

Ladies and gentlemen; The Black Magic Cake awaits

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk – i used 1 teaspoon of white vinegar mixed with milk, others suggest add lemon juice to milk. Others can get them off a supermarket shelf. Be the genius here.
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil – i used virgin coconut oil coz of the aroma.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans or one 9×13 inch pan. (I used 2 sufurias of the same size, measured with a tape measure and a toddler as my able & ever watchful assistant)
  2. In large bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center.
  3. Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Batter will be thin. – The batter was very thin. I triple checked this part while contemplating how to tell my toddler that mummy has ruined her cake and we have to start all over again. I bit my tongue & let it be. My next plan of action was tell her the oven is spoilt and i will take her out for lunch after church.
  4. Pour into prepared pans.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on a wire rack. Fill and frost as desired.

For the frosting i used:

  1. 500ml whipping cream – I used Brookside. Bakers will understand when i say blame my choice of brand on the #60DaysOfJanuary
  2. 1 tablespoon Chocolate flavored essence
  3. Caster sugar
  4. Chilled/frozen glass bowl.
  • Using a hand held mixer, beat the whipping cream in the chilled glass bowl. I put my glass bowl in the freezer for 20 minutes. This helps in making the whipping cream hold together in the process of beating it.
  • When it starts becoming frothy, add in the chocolate essence and a bit of the sugar
  • Continue beating it for a minute or slightly longer.
  • When it becomes thicker, add a bit more sugar.
  • Continue mixing until a firm peak is formed.
  • After that, we had fun unprofessionally applying it on the cakes.

NB. Recipe is not my own. Original source in the links above.

No pictures are available because the kids slept on a sugar high resulting in too much fun on Saturday night with nothing to show for it but it looked like something like this; (image is still borrowed from google).

 

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Omena


Omena falls in the same family as anchovies and sardines and are considered a staple in some parts of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. In Kenya we call it “omena”, Uganda “mukene” and Tanzania “dagaa”. My search on google reminded me of biology lessons in high school which I do not miss at all. Why? Most of what was taught is not practical to my daily living more than 2 decades later or maybe it is just me.

I grew up silently loathing omena because I always associated it with dog food. Dog food in my mother’s house was ugali (either hurriedly prepared or leftover) and omena boiled in under 10 minutes. So, why did I loathe them with such a passion? Every time anyone attempted to make them for human consumption, they were either bitter, stiff & tasteless but most times it was a perfect cross breed of the 3 things. What we used to do instead was bite off their heads and eat it whole with some salt while hidden in the kitchen pantry. Ridiculously, they were a delight and a treat especially on those days that we would eat ugali and green veggies for days on end. Unknown to us, the month had taken the longest bend in our parents’ pockets……..

omena in the market.jpg

source: https://swahilivillage.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/omena-a-natural-way-to-get-your-calcium/

 

 

So, I grew up, left home and started my own home with my parents’ blessing and got to understand the value of omena on a tight budget. I have tried the recipe severally. The number of misses are more than the wins but it has been a journey. Details for another day but this is a simple recipe whose ingredients are in everyone’s kitchen.

With this particular attempt, I aimed at achieving a thick, gravy kinda sauce to go with the omena instead of the usual light soup is common place in many Kenyan households.

I achieved it!!! (bows to the imaginary cheering crowd who understand the omena struggle).

The picky eater in the house – not me -, cleared her omena and veggies in record time. Clearing her portion of ugali still is a fight as I type this.

Ingredients

¼ kg omena

1 medium sized onion finely sliced/chopped

1 (bulb/cylinder or whatever other definition befits…) leek

1 tomato, finely sliced

1 sachet tomato paste

Ginger and garlic paste, 1 teaspoon

1 medium sized chili

1 teaspoon Spanish paprika, leveled

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garam masala

500ml plain yoghurt

Oil for frying

Salt

 

Place the omena in a bowl and soak with water and a quarter cup of vinegar for 30 mins.

As it soaks, heat oil in a pan till very hot

Fry till slightly browned then add black pepper, paprika & garam masala. Fry them gently for half a minute to one-minute ensuring that the spices do not burn

Add onions & leeks and fry them till golden brown. To hasten the frying process, add a little bit of salt & cover…. trust me, it works J

Add the whole chili to the frying onion mixture to fry for a minute or two then add the ginger & garlic paste, tomato paste and sliced tomato.

In the meanwhile, gently remove the omena from the water & vinegar mixture & place in a colander such that there is minimal disturbance to the water-vinegar mixture, so that the sand particles do not float upwards and back into your omena. The water should look something like this

omena water.jpg

Source: my own

Thoroughly rinse the omena under running water through the colander to remove the taste of vinegar and any dirt/grit left in them.

Back to your pan, add yoghurt & let it come to a boil before adding the omena.

Add salt to desired taste.

Mix well and let it cook for 10-12 minutes.

Garnish as desired & serve.

I served my omena with ugali (Kenyan staple dish) and fried (may I add crunchy) cabbage. I am salivating afresh as I remember the meal that I have just devoured.