12 Sep

Prayer Update 12th September 2013

Greetings one and all!

Rainy season is starting to ease off here, we are no longer having rain every day without fail and the sun is putting in more of an appearance. I like this time of year because after months of damp and cold (OK so at around 20oC I appreciate it is all relative!) the weather is warming up and drying up.

I am attempting a small vegetable growing area this year (hence at least part of my obsession with the weather!) and am currently having at least some success with radishes, broccoli, red bell peppers and butternut squash. Not so much with the beetroot sadly, only 2 of about 20 have germinated. Any suggestions from the experienced gardeners out there gratefully received!

Also on the domestic front, I had a Massively Meaty Saturday last weekend. I took a group of 9 ladies to the local Abattoir to buy beef and pork. We then returned to our house (where, in a rather embarrassing mishap, I had managed to lock us out!) and processed the meat, preparing most of the pork with curing salts to make ham and bacon. Looking forward to trying some of that in a few days once it has finished curing! I also made sausages using casings (for the uninitiated this is the outside bit that holds the sausage together) that I had brought from the UK. Last time I tried this I actually bought fresh intestines from the Abattoir, cleaned them and stripped them, but the smell and the amount of work was just too much, even considering the tastiness of the sausages! So this time I “cheated” and bought ready-made casings.After making about 5 kg of sausages our freezer is now full to bursting! 

Dan is enjoying fourth grade but does not seem to be quite himself at the moment. Some days he seems fine and is his usual cheery self but then the next day he will be easily upset and see even basic tasks as massive mountains that he can’t face. Please pray that we will have wisdom to know what the root issue is and how best to help him.

We have our Staff Conference coming up next week, Wednesday to Friday. Tim is involved in the logistics for this and will be helping to make sure that everything runs smoothly. I will be giving a brief presentation on one of the aspects of my job (REAP – Repository for Electronic Archiving and Publishing) to try and encourage people to use this resource to protect and share their work more widely. I am also hoping to run an after-hours hands-on session for people to come and get some help to get started on using it.

  • Praise Enjoying the improved weather Having fun in the garden and the kitchen!
  • Prayer Spiritual, emotional and physical heath for Dan Successful Staff Conference next week
22 Aug

Settling back in – sustainability

We’re been back for 2 weeks already – Dan is back in school, I’ve settled back at my desk, things are moving forward. We are starting to get supplies back in the house and re-finding our routines. Praise God for his faithfulness in this time!

 

 

 

Even better than just settling in – I’ve done a few very overdue jobs! I’ve fixed the screen door on the front which helps keep the bugs and mosquitoes out – meaning one less way to get sick! I got a friend in and we put up a bunch of shelving, paintings, and even a chin-up bar! I even managed a couple the other day – got to start somewhere 😉

 

 

 

We’ve been pondering near the end of our last term and while were in the UK what things we need to do in order to keep the stress down and increase our sustainability in N1geria. There are SO many little irritations in life – I won’t play down anyone’s annoyances – it doesn’t matter where you are or what they are – for any given person they are irritating. Reducing those annoyances as much as possible is a good way to increase sustainability. One of the not-so-small ones for us is the power situation out here. I took the plunge today and purchased batteries to create a better back-up power situation at our house. Over the next couple of days I’ll get them installed and hopefully even where there isn’t power we’ll be able to keep the fridge cold (so not having to throw out food – something that really winds me up), we’ll be able to have light in the evening and hopefully we won’t have to run the generator (noisy and expensive) as often

15 Sep

Foody Friday – Ham

I really enjoy Nigerian food, especially the street food (more on that another time ), but one thing I really miss from England is cured meat.  You know, ham and bacon and even sausages.  There is one place you can get ham and bacon, but it is over an hour’s drive away and not cheap when you get there.  Even I am not that desperate for them!

So I started to research (another of my pet hobbies, researching things on the internet.  Wow, I sound sad!).  I found out that making ham and bacon was remarkably simple, but to make it really safely you needed something variously called: pink salt, Prague powder, Instacure.  Nothing daunted, I asked Mum and Dad to bring some out with them.

Then last weekend I persuaded a friend of mine to come with me to the abattoir so we could buy the meat.  The abattoir is quite an experience, not for the squeamish or faint hearted.  We went on a Saturday morning which is the only time you can get pork.  All the meat is laid out on tables in the open air, it helps with the smell but not so much with the flies!  You can buy any part of the pig, from the whole head down to the trotters, not forgetting the lungs, intestines and stomach on the way.

I bought two big chunks of pork loin (thighs of the back legs as I now know) and half of the pig’s small intestine.  One chunk (with the leg bone still in and skin still on) was destined for a ham and the other (bone and skin removed) for making into sausage meat (more on that another time).  You can probably guess what the intestines were for, if not, I won’t spoil the surprise!

I dealt with the ham-to-be by mixing up a cure (½ cup salt, ½ cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon pink salt and enough water to cover the meat), sticking the meat and cure into a plastic tub and putting a small, heavy bowl on top of the meat to way it down.  For those who like science (which I most definitely do!), the salt and sugar content in the cure increases the density of the liquid so that it is actually more dense (a greater mass for the same volume) than the meat and as a result the meat will try to float unless you weigh it down with something like a bowl.

I put the ham into the fridge where it would lie for 5 days in its bed of brine.  Once well rested from its snooze I pulled it out and rinsed it off, soaking it in fresh water for a few hours.  The consistency of the meat was now much less squidgy (a good scientific term that!) but it still had a nice pink colour thanks to the Prague powder.

Next I boiled it for an hour and a half with some onion, cloves, peppercorns and a bay leaf, then pulled it out of the pan, poured a glaze (another random thing inherited with the house) over it and stuck it in the oven for half an hour.  Pulled it out, tasted a slice and got very excited!  Not only did it look like Ham and smell like Ham, it tasted like Ham!  We had ham sandwiches that night, deeeeelicious!

There is also a very similar process for Bacon – find a nice cut of meat, make up the cure – sure it – the slice it and cook it.  we have some with egg in English muffins the other morning they were AMAZING!  In a couple of weeks I’m going to get together with a few toher interested party and have a big ham making fest.

 

20 Jul

Foody Friday – Mango Sorbet

A more recent adventure in my search for a great sorbet came with mango season.  On the compound of our new house there are numerous mango trees that produce small, sweet, fairly stringy, mangos.  At the height of the season the floor under the tree was coated in mangos, we just couldn’t eat them fast enough!  My Mum and Dad were visiting and Mum (who I have decided is incapable of just sitting, always has to be doing something) suggested that we could make sorbet out of them.  She proceeded to peel and scrape the flesh of 10 or more mangoes off into a bowl, we added some sugar and lemon juice and stuck it in the freezer.  Delicious!

Ali peeling mangoes

Scraping the mangoes was quite a lot of effort, so for the next lot of mangoes Mum decided to try peeling and then simply grasping the stone in her hand and squeezing.  Messy, but surprisingly effective! We served some of the sorbet at our house-warming/meet the parents party and had lots of requests for the recipe.

Mum and Dad headed back to the UK and still the mangoes fell, so I decided to have a mango squishing party.  I invited several friends, told them to bring a cup of sugar and a plastic container each.  We sent the kids out with buckets to collect the mangoes and set up a production line with some people peeling, some squeezing.  An hour or so later we had two big basins of mango sludge and some very orange fingers.  Everyone went home with plenty of sorbet mixture (and still slightly orange fingers) ready to freeze it up.

13 Jul

Foody Friday – Hot and cold Sorbet.

As inspired by our friends over at thosewinklers.wordpress.org we are starting a Foody Friday spot on our blog.   Ali will probably be the main contributor so look out for some treats  — Tim

 

Since moving to Nigeria I have developed a passion for trying to make foods that I have only ever previously bought pre-made.  Some of this has come from the difficulty of buying some food-types here and some from a desire to do something that is both enjoyable and productive.

In the pursuit of new taste sensations I have made various sorbets from fresh fruit.  An early attempt involved squeezing oranges and adding a bit of sugar and some (what I thought was) powdered ginger.  Now to explain this, I actually have to back up a bit . . .

When we moved into our first house in Jos we inherited cupboards full of food, including various herbs and spices that I did not recognise.  Among them was a unlabelled jam jar full of a powdered substance that looked like ginger, smelled like ginger and which, shockingly, I assumed was ginger!  Turns out it was ginger, but mixed with cayenne pepper (or at least the Nigerian equivalent) to be used in spicy, savory dishes.

So, in blissful ignorance, I merrily added a good dose of it to my orange sorbet mixture.  The next day I served up my creation, anticipating sighs of delight.  The first taste was fresh, a little tangy, then the tang built and developed until the heat in our mouths demanded to be cooled with another mouthful.  So it continued, each mouthful cooling the heat of the previous mouthful, only to build into an inferno of its own. It was a weird, and not altogether unpleasant, sensation.  We christened it “Hot and Cold Sorbet” and decided that we quite liked it, but I must admit that I have not made any more since!

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