Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Christmas feast

I wish I had taken a picture of the food we prepared on Christmas day. Delicious vegetable skewers, succulent pork ribs and rare juicy steaks all chargrilled on the barbeque. Bacon and black olive polenta cakes, nshima* with a fragrant tomato relish. Followed up by the best banoffee pie known to mankind.

That was the plan anyway.

"We'll eat at 4" we say.

So the husband has charge of the braai. The barbeque. The meat and veg is cooked to perfection. I am in charge of the polenta cakes and the nshima. And the pudding. I am halfway through the polenta cakes when the baby starts to cry. Real proper oh-my-god-I've just witnessed-that-fat-boy-from-next-door-eat-my-hamster kind of crying. The grandparents try to console her but she's having nothing of it. So I go to her and leave a glutinous, lumpy pot of Matter on the stove. The husband tries to deal with it. "What must I do?" looking all distressed.
"Just, add the onions and the bacon that I cooked earlier and a bit more stock if you need to and then put it in the oven" I say
He looks at me like I've just asked him to diffuse a nuclear reactor. Or fly a plane solo with no prior experience.
He comes back a minute later. "It's all lumpy"
"Okay, I'll come and deal with it just now"
All of this shouted at top decibels over the baby's screaming.

Finally the baby settles and I come out of the bedroom to see a perplexed looking mother-in-law and husband standing over the pot of said Matter. It is indeed lumpy and shiny and glutinous and looks ab.so.lutely disgusting. No matter, I put it in the pan and whop it in the oven nonetheless.

Now to the nshima. Halfway through making it I'm thinking, "This isn't right. It shouldn't be so wobbly, so lumpy. It should be grainier than this" Now where I come from unga is mealie meal. Maize meal. Here, unga is flour, it is mealie meal, it is basically anything powdered. So the unga I was using was not mealie meal. It was flour. I had, on the stove a gloopy wrist deep pot of white sauce except without the milk and butter. And with A LOT more flour. It looked like a huge albino wad of wood glue, left out in the sun.

And in the stove I had... well... words can't really describe it. It smelled good. But who knew flour could get so shiny? We decided the best course of action was for husband had to take over the fragrant tomato relish action ("Will this tin of tomato and onion mix do?" "Hell yeah!") while I tried to salvage the nshima issue. Found the real proper mealie meal, made a burnt bottomed passable pot of nshima. The polenta cakes? Well, I didn't bother trying to salvage those. I scraped off the cooked top bits and the bottom bits, which were alarmingly jelly-like, and put them in a pretty dish on the table. I tasted a little. The dogs enjoyed the rest. With coaxing.

And the braai? Had you forgotten about the braai? Coz we had. You would be forgiven for thinking we were serving up pieces of tortoise shell and bits of tractor tyre cut up just so. The vegetable skewers were unrecognizable. Even by eating them you couldn't tell what was what.

The funniest thing though, is that no-one said a word. We all sat around in our paper hats and everyone was all "Hmmmm, this is good! Well done guys, great meal!" And I felt like standing up on the table and cackling manically and saying "REALLY? You reckon?" But we all so hungry (we'll eat at 4? Yeah, right!) that we gobbled it all down like it was the succulent meal we had originally intended.

Oh, the banoffee pie was good though. (HAha! Just caught a typo that said that banoffee pie was food though. Yes, well....)

Maybe next year we'll go out.


*Nshima - a stiff mealie meal porridge thingy. Sounds disgusting but (usually) delicious! Called Nshima in Malawi and Zambia, Ugali in this part of the world, Sadza in Zimbabwe and South Africa

The picture window last night

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Great Christmas Tree Heist

So the other day we went a-Christmas tree hunting. No firs or pines or whatever the traditional trees are in these parts. So we cut down a sisal stalk. On Wikipedia it says that Tanzania is a major producer of sisal (used to make rope and such). There's certainly a lot of them around. So we went down to the bottom of our hill and found a suitable one to cut.

There they are in situ - you can hardly see them really but they're there, two brothers looking out over the Maasai Steppes

So the father-in-law and I got chopping with the panga.

while the neighbour's cat looked on

And the parents-in-law and I carried it up the hill to our brave little pink house (the tree, not the cat!)

And we decortaed it with butterfly hair clips...

...and beaded stars bought from the Maasai market in town...

...that catch the sunlight...

...and make pretty shadows...

Merry Christmas y'all

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chinese Whispers

I have a friend who is trying to adopt. Let’s call her Jane. She has found the cutest little baby girl in an orphanage near here. The baby was left at a market stall by a woman asking directions to the toilet. She asked if the marketeer could please hold her baby while she went to the loo. And she never came back. So the baby was sent to the orphanage and my friend Jane is loooking to adopt this baby. Just to be clear here!

So yesterday I bumped into my neighbour at the butcher. As you do. And she said “what’s the story with Jane? I hear she went to the toilet in Usa and someone gave her a baby?”

That’s small towns for you!!


Picture window today

Two little monkeys peering in

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

On this day in history

The chapel


The picture window this morning. Misty, with neighbours cows trimming our lawn

Monday, December 14, 2009

what I did today

Inspired by PurestGreen I shall let you in on the exciting and rollercoaster life of one Ms. Miranda. What I did today:

- Read some blogs


- Googled my name with wants and laughed at the results (also inspired by PurestGreen)
Miranda wants me to stop also
Miranda wants us to drink shit
Miranda wants Taylor NOW
Miranda wants a horse to call her own
Miranda wants to sleep

- Ate some fudge. Made by my fair hand a few days ago (had opened a tin of condensed milk to satisfy a sugar craving and thought I'd better make something with it or I'd eat the whole tin in one sitting and wizz around the house and bounce off the furniture like a balloon that you've blown up and not tied a knot in and let go. (phew that's a long sentence). Or Tom Cruise)

- Coughed and spluttered and blew my nose 265 times and cursed the coldey fluey thing I have 482 times. Although I do like my new Tom Waits voice

- went out with the in-laws who are staying. A lunch of pasta salad and tamarind juice

- went to friends Maasai jewelry shop and watched as baby gal got passed from person to person and laughed at all the ladies with their jingly jangly Maasai jewelry (the baby did the laughing, not me). Persuaded the women that they didn't really want to keep her

- hid from the rain

- drove back on a road that had literally turned into a river

- took a picture of our picture window.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sundowners at Owani Lagoon (working title)

Okay, so the book. You really wanna know? Okay.

Its about a girl
a boy
a safari camp
a film crew
a bar
an ex fiance

You know the drill

It's unashamed chick lit. Not a literary masterpiece and I'm fine with that.

Here's an attempt at a synopsis/back cover thingy for ya'll

Unlucky in love Nell has grown up in the bush and works in a safari camp. Her boss Felicity is an aging It Girl from London and when Nell falls for the dishy cameraman filming a reality TV series on Felicity's new life, she feels her luck has finally changed. But will it last?

Quiet, witty Andrew, escaping a broken heart and ruined dreams has come to work a season in the safari industry. Will he be able to resist Nell's quirky charms? Or will his ex fiance Alice come and mess up everything?

Sundowners at Owani Lagoon explores the stereotypical differences between men and women in a hilarious and fresh new light.

(or something like that!)

I'll see if I can salvage an exerpt or two

Oh and suggestions for titles most welcome!