Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pic of the Week

On safari on the Maasai Mara.

Friday, July 1, 2011

2011 Expedition: Updates

Hello all! I only have a moment at an actual computer with actual Internet access, but I want to let everyone know that the team is safe and doing well on the project here in Nairobi. I do apologize for the lack of updates, but that is just one of the hardships of working on site in a third-world country: electricity is a luxury to come across and Internet outside of downtown is an outright miracle :)

We have been working on three main projects at two schools and one orphanage. At the first school we built up a wall so they can attach a security gate, installed a new roof, and hooked up and installed working flush toilets (such a miracle made possible because the school is only ten meters from the city sewer line). At the second school we also installed working flush toilets, and plastered several classrooms. Plastering is not only important for preserving the integrity of the stone and cement structures, it allows the classrooms to be a lot brighter, which is very important in a school with no lights and small windows (for safety). The work we are doing at the orphanage is relatively small, but important: we are building a library for the children. It is amazing to see the smiles on their little faces when they see the pretty yellow painted walls and shelves and shelves of books: they are outright giddy! I cannot wait to tell you all much more about these projects!

Aside from working so hard on these projects, the team has spent two days on safari on the Masai Mara and two days on the coast in Lamu. These were both beautiful and fantastic experiences that I am sure the team will treasure forever.

As for the request for photos, it is very difficult to transfer here, so it will have to wait until we are back state-side.

Before I sign off and return to hauling cement I want to tell Jamie that Mary says hello and happy birthday! Thank you to everyone for the good wishes, and we will have many more details and photos when we return home.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Recipe: Braised Chicken

Braising in a highly spiced aromatic liquid yields an exceptionally flavorful and tender result. Serve this adaptation of an East African dish with a bowl of plain low-fat yogurt and flatbreads or couscous.
  • 2 chicken breast halves (about 3/4 pound), skinned
  • 2 chicken thighs (about 1/2 pound), skinned
  • 2 chicken drumsticks (about 1/2 pound), skinned
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cups vertically sliced onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pitted dates
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins
Preheat oven to 350°. Sprinkle chicken with salt and black pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove the chicken from pan. Add the onion to pan; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the ginger and next 5 ingredients (ginger through garlic); cook for 1 minute. Stir in chicken, broth, and the remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil. Cover and bake at 350° for 1 hour.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pic of the Week

Hands down one of the most breath-taking sights you will ever see: a beautiful sunset on the Maasai Mara.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Recipe: Yam Stew

Make this stew with the following recipe:

  • 1 medium yam
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 cup cooked beans
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2 onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Wash peel and cube the yam. Scrape the carrots and cut into thin rounds. Peel and slice the onion and fry for a few minutes. Add curry powder and yams and fry gently then add carrots, beans and water and simmer until cooked.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pic of the Week

Team member Scott and a Maasai elder.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

2011 Expedition: Updates from Kenya

Some of the team making PB&Js for today's lunch

Jambo marafiki! I have more updates from Kenya for you! Early yesterday morning Team Leader JD and I met a very sleepy but happy team at the airport and brought everyone back to the Amani Center to drop off their bags. To help everyone adjust to Kenya time we forced them to stay awake the whole day - just because we are nice and helpful like that :) We loaded everyone back into the van for a tour of Nairobi. Here in the city ALL of the roads are under construction as they are trying to modernize the transportation system and create freeways. This will be so awesome when they are done in the next few years. However. For now this means a LOT of traffic! As such we took the extreme long way around the city on our adventures yesterday. These included a trip to the giraffe center where the team got to feed giraffes right out of their hands. We traveled next to the crocodile farm located on a beautiful property with a lake and picnic area.

Feeding giraffes

By this time everyone was pretty well traveled out so we headed back to the Amani Center for the night. The Amani Center is a Catholic Church which has a hostel that we stay at every year. Before dinner we all played Frisbee and volleyball and chatted with some locals staying at the center. I was very excited to see that they were serving Ugali and sukuma wiki for dinner last night! These are traditional dishes to the area, and I was glad the team could taste them on their first night here. After dinner we had our first official team meeting where Team Leaders JD and Pauline briefed all of us on what to expect while we are here. By about 8:30 we had to let the team crash back in their rooms for the night - one more minute would have just been too cruel! Most of them could barely keep their eyes open!

The first night in the Amani Center can seem a bit rough for a first timer. They are definitely not fancy accommodations! A typical room is two cots with mosquito nets and a small bathroom, and the entire bathroom is the shower! However, after the team experiences the slums and sees the meager conditions of the people we work with, the Amani Center quickly transforms into luxury suites!

Each morning at breakfast our team leaders brief us on the days schedule, and one team member is invited to share "one good thing" from the day before, that is, a meaningful moment he or she experienced. Today Scott was asked to share his "good thing". This is Scott's third year here in Kenya with World of Difference and he told us that he had been asked by several Kenyans what it is that keeps bringing him back. His reply was that, among other things, it is his personal relationships with the people he has met here that brings him back year after year. He treasures the bonds he has formed with his friends here, and cannot wait to get back and see them and catch up. I definitely relate to what Scott has shared. I keep in touch through email with several of my Kenyan friends, and am so excited to spend time with them while I am here.

This afternoon, as per World of Difference tradition, the team will travel to Shangalia Orphanage. This will be a very powerful experience as the orphanage is the the center of one of the worst slums in the city. For many of the teams it will their first time traveling to a slum and experiencing the conditions there. Click here to read about my personal experience with traveling to a slum for the first time. I anticipate this afternoon's adventure will be a very emotional journey for a lot of the team, and I know that they would appreciate any strength you can send them. One of the greatest experiences about visiting Shangalia is seeing how happy and smiling the children are - despite the conditions that surround them. It is such a powerful lesson for us all.

Tomorrow we will start our first day on the project. In the past few years World of Difference has constructed two different schools for our friends headmistresses Grace and Eunice, and this year we are working on additions at each of their schools. We will begin at Grace's school tomorrow by building bathrooms and desks for the students. The team will rise early, eat a quick breakfast of oatmeal and eggs and then load into the vans for a hard day of work. We will come back each night dirty and exhausted but full of accomplishment and contentment, eat our ugali and sukuma wiki before crashing out for the night.

Before I sign off I have a message for Hopscotch and Crazy Legs: Daddy loves you!!

Good bye for now!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Recipe: Dengu

Make this great Kenyan side dish with the following recipe:
  • cupful mung beans
  • cupfuls milk
  • medium sized onions
  • spoonfuls ghee or butter
  • 1/2 cupful cooking oil
  • salt and curry powder to taste

Clean and wash mung beans. Place in pot, cover with water and boil until very tender. If more water needed, add only boiling water. Remove from heat and beat until smooth. It will turn into a paste. Put mung bean paste into a bowl and heat cooking oil in same pot. Clean and dice onions. Add onion to oil and fry until cooked and nicely brown. Return the mung bean paste to the pot and mix with onion. Add curry powder, salt and milk and simmer for 10 minutes. Add butter or ghee and simmer for another 5 minutes.

2011 Expedition: Updates from Kenya

Jambo! Team leader JD and I have arrived safely to Nairobi. It was a very long journey here, and we are so happy to have finally arrived.

Today we met up with our friends Grace and Eunice who each run a school outside the city, and we finalized the details of the projects World of Difference will complete at their schools this year. We still have a few more errands to run today in order to have everything ready for the team's arrival on Saturday morning...then we are going to drop because this jet lag is knocking us out!

Much love to everyone, and I/we will update next as soon as possible :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Pic of the Week

This endangered baby was adopted by the elephant orphanage in Nairobi.

Monday, June 13, 2011

2011 Expedition: Follow Us!

Jambo marafiki! The 2011 Expeditions is here! Team Leader JD and I are off today for Nairobi, Kenya, and the rest of the team will meet us there this weekend. I am so filled with excitement that I am a little ball of giggling energy at this keyboard right now :)

However the truly exciting thing to tell you all is that I will be blogging the expedition as much as possible on our journey, so check back for updates! Please feel free to ask any questions you may have for us, or relay any messages to the team members in the comments section, and I/we will address them as much as time (and Internet access) permits.

Wishing the rest of the team safe travels, and I will see you all very soon :) Upendo kiasi!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Recipe: Coupe Mount Kenya

Make this tasty dessert with the following recipe:
  • 4 to 5 ripe mangos
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • 2 tablespoon lemon peel, cut in tiny ribbons
  • ½ cup condensed milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Peel, pit and mash the mangos. You should end up with about 2 cups. Whip the heavy cream with the Sugar until stiff. In a 2-quart bowl combine the 2 cups of mashed mangos, the lemon peel ribbons, condensed milk and salt. Fold in the whipped cream. Pour into freezer trays or a 6-cup mold and freeze.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pic of the Week

This picture is a cure for the blues!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Recipe: Uji

Make this breakfast porridge with the following recipe:
  • ½ cup maize meal or corn meal flour
  • ¼ cup millet flour
  • ¼ cup sorghum flour
  • Water
  • Sugar to taste

Put all of the flour into a plastic container and mix well. Pour enough water into the mixture to make a paste. Mix well, cover and leave the mixture at room temperature for 2 days so it can ferment. Skim out the froth that has formed on top of the water, stir the mixture and pour it into a cooking pan. Cook at medium to high heat, stirring continuously until it thickens. You can add more water as needed until the uji cooks into a smooth, runny consistency. Add sugar to taste.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pic of the Week

And me? And me? And me?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Recipe: Mataha

Make this super easy side dish with the following recipe:
  • ½ pound dried red beans
  • 1 pound dried maize (corn)
  • Salt
  • 8 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 10 pumpkin leaves(or spinach), coarsely chopped

Soak the beans and maize overnight in enough water to cover. Drain, cover again with water, add salt and boil for 2½ hours. Drain and set aside. Cover the potatoes with water and boil until soft. Add the pumpkin leaves and cook until tender. Drain. Add the mixture to the maize and beans and mash it all together. The mixture should be thick and firm.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pic of the Week

Maasai warriors demonstrating their dance - he is jumping, if you can believe it!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Recipe: Kachumbari Salad

Make this easy salad with the following recipe:
  • 4 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped, washed with salted water, and drained
  • ½ cup fresh squeezed lime or lemon juice
  • 1 cup finely chopped cilantro, Dhania or parsley
  • 3 grated carrots

Arrange the tomatoes on a serving platter with onions on top. Sprinkle the parsley over the top. Place the grated carrots to one side. Splash the lemon juice over all. Do not toss.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pic of the Week

We visited this school in Mombasa during the 2009 expedition. It is seeing schools like this that drive home the importance helping to build more secure and permanent schools in Kenya.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pic of the Week

Team member Scott working hard on the 2010 expedition.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Recipe: Biriani

Another dish that originated from the Kenya Coast. Make biriani with this recipe:
Peel pawpaw, remove seeds, and grate coarsely. Pound the garlic and ginger to a paste. Cut the meat into biggish pieces and put into a heavy saucepan with the pawpaw and garlic and ginger. Add the sour milk or yogurt, and the juice of the two limes. Set over a low heat and stir at intervals. While this is cooking, grind all the spices together and set aside. Slice the onions and fry in oil until brown and crisp. Remove from the fat. Peel and slice the potatoes and fry in the same oil until golden brown. Remove and keep on one side - apart from the onions. Check the meat to see if it is nearly ready, then add the spices and the skinned tomatoes together with 4-5 tablespoons of the fat used to fry the onions and potatoes. Mix together well, then add the tomato paste. Continue cooking over low heat until the meat is really tender and the sauce thick and creamy. It is almost certain you will have to add a little warm water before the meat is cooked. Cook for a final 15 - 20 minutes to make sure all the flavors have blended together.

Prepare and cook the rice. Put a good layer of the rice at the bottom of a fireproof dish or casserole. Pour over the meat mixture, and cover completely with another layer of rice. Now put in the fried onions, reserving a few for decoration, and cover them with the rest of the rice. Boil up the remaining oil and pour over. Take the sliced potatoes and tuck them at the edge of the dish, and across the top, pushing them into the rice. Sprinkle with the reserved onions about 30 minutes. Do not let it become dry. Biriani can be served at table in the casserole if it is decorative one, or else you will have to remove the meat and the vegetables keeping the layers as cooked and serve on a big platter.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pic of the Week

We encountered this amazing giant while on safari on the Maasai Mara.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Recipe: Vermicelli Bread

Make Vermicelli Bread for with this recipe:
  • ½ pound vermicelli
  • 4 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Coat a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with butter or cooking spray. Prepare the vermicelli according to the package direction and drain. Heat the coconut milk and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Add the vermicelli and ginger. Beat the egg in a small bowl. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of the coconut milk mixture to the beaten egg, and then stir the egg mixture into the pan with the vermicelli. Whisk in the flour and pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 1 hour or until soft and spongy. You can cut it into squares or whatever way suits you.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pic of the Week

One of the children at Shangalia orphanage shares his skills.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Recipe: Plantains in Coconut Milk

The wonderful thing about plantains is that they truly are a versatile food. As a plantain ripens, its high starch content changes to sugar. Plantains are good at any stage; it just depends on what you want to make. Green or "unripe" plantains contain a lot of starch and very little sweetness. Their starchy flesh is used more as a vegetable than a fruit. When buying ripe plantains, they should be firm and not mushy or cracked. Make plaintains in coconut milk for yourself with this recipe:
  • 3-4 plantains, sliced in rounds
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1-2 cups of coconut milk

When peeling plantains or green bananas, moisten hands and rub with salt to prevent the juices from sticking to your hands. Cut off about 1 inch from both ends of the plantain. Using a sharp knife, make 2 lengthwise cuts at opposite ends of the plantain. While holding the plantain steady with your left hand, use your right hand to slide the tip of the knife under the skin and begin to pull it away, going from top to bottom. Soak the peeled plantains in salted water. Drain on a paper towel to use in your recipe.

Combine all ingredients, except the coconut milk, in a heavy saucepan and stir. Pour in 1 cup of coconut milk and simmer over low heat until the plantains absorbed the milk and are very tender. It takes a while for them to get soft; give them about the same time you would need for cooking potatoes. You can add more coconut milk if you desire. Serve hot and try with fish or curries.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pic of the Week

Believe it or not, but you can see these little cuties while driving down the road in Nairobi!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Music Video of the Week

This is a video by the Ogopa DJs, and East African Urban group from Kenya. Happy Friday friends!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Recipe: Githeri

Githeri is a simple yet nourishing dish originated with Kikuyu tribe. In modern times it has become popular throughout Kenya. The combination of beans and corn supplies a full complement of protein for the often protein-poor diet of many Kenyans. Make githeri with this simple recipe:
  • Corn, cut fresh off the cob or frozen -- 3 to 4 ears, or 2 cups
  • Cooked beans, any type -- 2 cups
  • Water -- to cover
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste
Add the corn and beans to a large pot with enough water just to cover. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Feelings & Opinions, Part 1: Feelings



Do you feel…



I feel…



I don’t feel…





















Mixed feelings

A little



I’m a little sad.

Nasikitika kidogo.

Na-see-kee-tee-ka kee-doh-goh




I’m very happy

Nafurahi sana.

Na-foo-ra-hee sa-na




I feel just OK.

Nasikia nzuri tu

Na-see-kee-a n-zoo-ree too

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Pic of the Week

A colorful dance performance from some of the students.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Recipe: Irio

Originally a dish of the Kikuyu people, irio is a hearty and nutritious accompaniment to meals that has become popular throughout Kenya. It has many variations, but potatoes and peas are the staple ingredients with corn the most common addition. Irio is famously paired with grilled steak in the combination known as nyama na irio. Make irio for yourself with this recipe:
  • Green peas -- 2 cups
  • Potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks -- 1 1/2 pounds
  • Water -- to cover
  • Salt -- 2 teaspoons
  • Corn, fresh or frozen -- 2 cups
Place the peas and potatoes in a large saucepan and add water to cover. Stir in the salt and place over medium flame. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are cooked through. Drain, reserving the liquid. Simmer the corn with a little salted water in a separate saucepan for a few minutes while the potatoes and peas are cooking. Mash the potatoes and peas together with a potato masher to form a pale green puree. Stir in the corn with a little of the reserved liquid and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Interests, Part 3: Cinema & Theatre

Cinema & Theatre

Sinema na tamthilia

I feel like going to a…

Nataka kwenda…

Na-ta-ka kwayn da…

Did you like the…?












What’s showing at the cinema/theatre tonight?

Kuna filamu/tamthilia gani leo?

Koo-na fee-la-moo/tam-thee-lee-a ga-nee lay-oh

Is it in English?

Ni kwa Kiingereza?

Nee kwa kee-een-gay-ray-za

Does it have (English) subtitles?

Kuna maandishi (ya Kiingereza) chini?

Koo-na man-dee-shee (ya kee-enn-gay-ray-za) chee-nee

Have you seen..?



Who’s in it?

Kuna waigizaji gani?

Koo-na wa-ee-gee-za-jee ga-nee

It stars…

Mwigizaji mkuu ni…

Mwee-gee-za-jee m-koo nee…

I like…



I don’t like…



Action movies

Filamu zenye misisimko

Fee-la-moo zay-nyay mee-see-seem-koh

African cinema

Filamu za kiafrika

Fee-la-moo za kee-af-ree-ka

Animated films

Katuni hai

Ka-too-nee ha-ee


Filamu za kuchekesha

Fee-la-moo za koo-chay-kay-sha


Filamu za hali halisi

Fee-la-moo za ha-lee ha-lee-see


Hadithi kama riwaya

Ha-dee-thee ka-ma ree-wa-ya

Hindi cinema

Filamu za kihindi

Fee-la-moo za kee-heen-dee

Horror movies

Filamu za kutisha

Fee-la-moo za koo-tee-sha


Hadithi za kubuni za kisayansi

Ha-dee-thee za koo-boo-nee za kee-sa-yan-see

Short films

Filamu fupi

Fee-la-moo foo-pee

War movies

Filamu kuhusu vita

Fee-la-moo koo-hoo-soo vee-ta

Pic of the Week

Feeding time at the elephant orphanage in Nairobi.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Recipe: Kunde

In Kenya this eponymous stew is a popular way to cook kunde, Swahili for black-eyed peas. Served over rice, it makes often makes a full meal. Make kunde for yourself with this recipe:
  • Oil -- 2 tablespoons
  • Onion, minced -- 1
  • Tomatoes, seeded and diced -- 2 cups
  • Black-eyed peas, cooked -- 2 cups
  • Natural peanut butter -- 1/4 cup
  • Water -- 1/4 cup
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium flame. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the tomatoes and simmer about 5 minutes to cook them down. Stir in the remaining ingredients and lightly mash the peas with the back of a spoon. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water as needed to get a stew-like consistency. Adjust seasoning and serve over rice.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Interests, Part 2: Music



Do you…?




Hucheza densi

Hoo-chay-za dayn-see

Go to concerts

Huenda kuona muziki

Hoo-ayn-da koo-oh-na moo-zee-kee

Listen to music

Husikiliza muziki

Hoo-see-kee-lee-za moo-zee-kee

Play an instrument

Hucheza ala ya muziki

Hoo-chay-za a-la ya moo-zee-kee




Which…do you like?












Which African music videos do you like?

Unapenda video gani za muziki ya kiafrika?

oo-na-payn-da vee-day-oh ga-nee za moo-zee-kee ya kee-af-ree-ka

Where can I see music videos by local bands?

Niende wapi kuona video za muziki za vikundi vya hapa?

Nee-ayn-day wa-pee koo-oh-na vee-day-oh za moo-zee-kee za-vee-koon-dee vya ha-pa

















Muziki ya Marekani ya kusikitisha

Moo-zee-kee ya ma-ray-ka-nee ya koo-see-kee-tee-sha

Brass music

Muziki ya ngoma

Moo-zee-kee ya n-goh-ma

Classical music

Muziki ya Ulaya ya zamani

Moo-zee-kee ya oo-la-ya ya za-ma-nee

Electronic music

Muziki ya Ulaya ya kilabuni

Moo-zee-kee ya oo-la-ya ya kee-la-boo-nee




Kenyan dance music




Muziki ya kisasa

Moo-zee-kee ya kee-sa-sa




Popular music of Zanzibar



Traditional music

Muziki ya mila na desturi

Moo-zee-kee ya mee-la na day-stoo-ree

World music

Muziki ya sehemu mbalimbali za dunia

Moo-zee-kee ya say-hay-moo m-ba-lee-m-ba-le za doo-nee-a

Zairean jazz