Wednesday, October 31, 2012


South Sudan is a new country. A really new country. It just came about last year. July 9th, 2011 to be exact. Before this it belonged to Sudan. The northern and southern parts of Sudan fought from 1955 until 2005. They maintained a peace treaty for 6 years, and then took a vote. Over 98% of the people voted that South Sudan be separated from Sudan.
South Sudan has the second lowest level of school enrolment. Only 1 out of 50 kids complete primary school. Only one percent of girls complete grades 1-8. 85% of the people can't read or write. School is taught in English, but there is a severe shortage of English speaking teachers.
The standard of living in South Sudan is very low. 27% of the people don't have clean water, and only 15% of the people have access to proper sanitation. People are tortured for rebelling. In May of 2011, over 7,000 homes were burnt by the Sudan's People Liberation Army.
2 cups rye flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
water, as needed
Mix the rye flour and some water to form a thick paste. Cover and let it sit out for at least 24 hours. The next day, add in the whole wheat flour and enough water to make a thin batter. Spread the mixture out on a pan over medium heat. Spread it out really thin and cook until the edges start to lift. Flip and cook the other side until done. Repeat until all your batter has been used.
This was the consistency of my dough.

Nachos and Halloween

Taco Meat
serves 1
4 ounces of ground beef (I used 80% lean.)
1/3 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
salt, to taste
Cook the meat on a pan heated to medium. Once it is cooked, rinse and drain the meat under hot water. Add about 1 tbsp of water to the pan along with the rinsed meat and seasonings. Stir over low heat and serve.

I used my meat for nachos. My parents said to give some ideas for other toppings. They say I'm incredibly boring since I stick with just meat and cheese. I think everyone knows all the common nacho toppings, but I'll go ahead and give some suggestions.
  • black olives
  • red or green bell pepper
  • cheese
  • tomato
  • avocado
  • corn
  • jalapeno pepper
  • lettuce
  • sour cream
  • beans
  • rice
  • nacho dip (recipe follows)



Single Serving Nacho Cheese Dip

½ cup Monterey jack, American, or Colby jack cheese

¼ cup milk

1 tsp corn starch

Grate the cheese into a bowl. Add the milk and whisk in the cornstarch. Microwave for 30 seconds and whisk. Repeat this until the sauce is thick. It should be done in about 2 ½ minutes.

As today is Halloween, I'd like to share an idea with you for Jack-o-lantern peaches. I just drew a face on Harp's peach cup. She loved it.
Now that Halloween is over, do you need something to do with all that candy? I made an advent calendar for Harper. She put a piece of candy in every box. Each day leading up to Christmas she will get to open up a box and eat her candy. That way the candy lasts longer, and it gives her something to look forward to.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Niger Street Breakfast

Niger is a country in Western Africa. Here are some fast facts to give you a glimpse of its culture and environment.

·         Most of the 15 million people who live in Niger keep to the south and western parts of the nation. This is probably because 80% of the country is desert.

·         The climate is subtropical and very dry. (Most of it is desert.)

·         20% of the population is nomadic. 8% are slaves.

·         The official language of Niger is French. (Hence the French baguette used in the recipe.) They gained their independence from France in 1960.

·         The literacy rate is 29%.

·         Most of the population follows Islam.


This breakfast is commonly served from street side vendors in Niger. The green tea in Niger is boiled three times. This makes it very weak, but that's the way they like it.

Niger Street Breakfast
1 sandwich sized baguette
1 tsp butter
3 tbsp chopped onion
3 tbsp frozen spinach
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of salt

Saute the onion and spinach in the butter. Whisk the eggs and seasonings. Pour into the pan you sauteed the veggies in and scramble. Meanwhile, toast the baguette under the broiler. Stuff the eggs into the baguette and serve with green tea.

Chocolate Avocado Mousse and Another Bacon Card

Chocolate Avocado Mousse
½ banana
¼ cup boiling water
2 medjool dates, pits removed
3 tbsp cocoa powder
1 avocado
1 egg
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
2 tbsp coconut cream
Soak dates in water for at least 10 min. Blend all ingredients. Spread out on a baking stone and bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Chill 3 hours in the refrigerator.

Here's another bacon card.

Monday, October 29, 2012


Uzbekistan is a relatively young country. Up until 1991 it was under the Soviet Union's control. (Its independence was actually completed on Christmas day of 1991.)

The Uzbeks make up about 80% of the population in Uzbekistan. They are predominately Islamic, speak Uzbek, and have golden teeth. Yeah. It's not uncommon to see a mouth of gold when one of the Uzbeks smile. It's not like the crowns you have on some teeth if you have a cavity. The entire row of teeth is golden. I can't imagine that tastes good. (Does gold have a taste? I've never had a cavity or anything, but I have had braces. I don't remember them tasting at all. Except the glue. Man, that stuff is awful.)

serves 5
4 cups water
4 cups milk
1 cup diced pumpkin
1 cup white rice
1 tbsp butter

Bring the water to a boil. Add the rice and pumpkin. Turn down the heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 20 minutes. Drain all of the water but 1/2 a cup. Add the milk and heat it on the stove. Do not let the milk boil. You are only heating it enough to make the milk warm. Remove from the heat and add the butter.

National Oatmeal Day and a Pull-out Message Birthday Card

Did you know that it was National Oatmeal Day? I didn't until a few minutes ago. Now that I do know, I feel obligated to share one of my oatmeal recipes with you. (I have a ton.) Here's one for a yummy banana oatmeal that has a smooth, almost pudding like texture. If this recipe is not for you, I have a lot of other oatmeal recipes that you can choose from. Check them out here.
Twice Cooked Banana Oatmeal
serves 2
½ cup oatmeal
1 ½ cup water
¼ cup wheat germ
1 banana
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
Microwave the oatmeal, water and wheat germ for 2 minutes. Let the oatmeal cool completely. Blend all the ingredients together. Microwave for another 2 ½ minutes.

The card is made by making a sort of pocket out of a rectangle of card stock paper and a square of card stock paper. (Be sure not to glue the top or middle, or your message won't slip inside.)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Yerba Mate and Toast

Uruguay is the most urbanized country in South America. Almost 90% of the Uruguayans live in cities. In fact, almost half of the population lives in the capital city of Montevidea. European influence permeates through the lives of the Uruguayans. (This is represented in the very European- type breakfast of toast and tea with marmalade.) 88% of Uruguayans are Caucasian, 8% are Mestizo, and 4% are Black. The native Charruas that used to inhabit Uruguay died off a long time ago. Now the emulating of gauchos is the only native influence still alive.
I found two aspects of Uruguay especially interesting. One was that you can find cachilas all over the place. These are cars that are over 50 years old, but are still in great condition. The other fun fact was that the people who live on the border between Brazil and Uruguay speak Portunol. This is a mixture of Portuguese and Espanol (Spanish). It reminds me of the Spanglish a lot of Hispanics in the United States speak.
Yerba Mate
Seep the tea in hot, but not boiling, water for 5-10 minutes.

The meal part was just plain white bread toasted and topped with butter or marmalade. I never want to have marmalade again. It is nasty.

Pumpkin Carving and Peanut Butter Banana Fudge

Today we all carved our pumpkins. It's a family tradition, and we all have fun doing it. My dad slept through the whole thing. He's usually the one who carves the pumpkins (at least Harper's), so we had to do it ourselves this year. I really think they turned out well. Maybe not professional, but the imperfections give them personality.
Seeing Harper holding a knife is a scary sight.
My pumpkin had a bump in it that looked just like a nose. That's why I picked it. I thought it was cute.

Syd etched the teeth into her pumpkin. The weird expression is all Sydney.

Harper finally decided on this design after mom told her all the swirls weren't going to work. Thank goodness for fingernail polish remover. (If you didn't know, fingernail polish remover will take the permanent marker off the pumpkin.)
Peanut Butter and Cinnamon Banana Fudge
1 banana
¼ cup peanut butter
½ cup oatmeal
1/3 cup milk
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp cinnamon
Blend the oatmeal to make oat flour. Add all the other ingredients to the blender. Blend until all combined. Pour out into a dish and freeze 1-2 hours until hardened.

Yummy to the last bite.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sesame Seed Bread

Bulgaria is bordered by Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, and the Black Sea. That's a lot to be next to considering Bulgaria only is 42,823 square miles. A little over 7 million people live here, and about 85% of them are Bulgarian. Other ethnic groups are Turks, Romani, Russians, Armenians, Vlachs, and Sarakatsanis. The population is actually shrinking. (This has a lot to do with the economic crisis in the 90s. Almost 1 million people left the country because of it.)

Bulgaria adopted Christianity in 865. It was the first of the Slavic nations to be converted. Most Bulgarians are Orthodox Christians. The Turks living in Bulgaria practice Islam, and Bulgaria has a lot of religious tolerance to them. Unlike Yugoslavia, Bulgaria has not experienced much religious tension.

The first Bulgarian Empire was founded in 681 AD. They developed the Cyrillic script during the First Bulgarian Empire. It was during this empire that Christianity was introduced, so many churches were built. They reflect the beautiful architecture of the period.

My sesame seed bread did not turn out the way it was supposed to. It was too dry. I guess the recipe did not call for enough water. It still tasted decent. I ate it with soft cheese and jam.

Sesame Seed Bread
2 cups semolina flour
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp poppy seeds
2 cups warm water
2 1/2 tbsp yeast
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt

Mix the yeast, sugar, and 1/4 cup warm water together. Let sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the flours, and salt together in a large bowl. Add in the yeast mixture and 1 3/4 cup warm water (you may need more). Stir well. Once mixed, knead for ten minutes. Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

BIG LOAF: Roll out the dough into a rectangle. The rectangle should be 1/2 inch thick and 9 inches wide. Roll up the dough like a jelly roll. Put it into a greased loaf pan, brush the top with water, and sprinkle the poppy seeds and sesame seeds over the top. Bake at 375 for 35 minutes.

MINI LOAVES: Divide the dough into 4 equal parts. Roll out into rectangles that are 5 1/2 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. Roll up the rectangles like a jelly roll, place them into individual greased mini loaf pans, and brush the tops with water. Sprinkle poppy and sesame seeds over the tops. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes.

Waterfall Birthday Card and Cilantro Split Pea Burgers

I made this card for my neighbor's 2nd birthday. It's probably not a good idea to give a two year old such a fragile card, but I love waterfall cards. (Who cares if its her birthday? I should get to make the card that I want to. I was one of those kids who used to give my friends the Barbie that I wanted, so that I could later play with it.)

At least I managed to get a picture of the card before Nora, her 4 year old brother, and her 6 year old sister could get a hold of it.
I had a bunch of split peas left over from dhal puri, so I decided to experiment with them. This is what I came up with. They were really good. The fresh cilantro gave them a good taste.

Cilantro Split Pea Burgers

makes 10

1 cup dry yellow split peas

1 cup oatmeal

2 eggs

4 garlic cloves

handful of fresh cilantro

1 carrot

1 onion

1 tsp salt


Put the peas in a microwave safe bowl, cover with water, and microwave for 25 minutes. Take out, drain, and rinse well until cooled.  Peel the carrot, garlic, and onion. Combine the vegetables, peas (save out about 3 tbsp), seasonings, and egg into a food processor. Process. Combine the mixture with the oats and the rest of the peas. Mix well. Pat out into burgers, and bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Make sure to spray your pan with Pam or oil it.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Syria is part of the middle east, and has been inhabited for a long time. The capital, Damascus, is said to have been inhabited as early as 9000 BC. It has been permanently inhabited since 2000 BC. This makes it the world's largest city that has been continuously inhabited. If you read the story of Saul's conversion in the Bible, you will find that he was on his way to Damascus when he was struck by a vision from God. This led to his becoming a Christian and changing his name to Paul. Today 1.7 million people live in Damascus. The whole metropolitan area has 5 million people.
Many of the homes in Syria are hundreds of years old. They have been passed down through the generations. The general layout is the living quarters surrounding a courtyard in the center. In these courtyards are trees and fountains. These homes are beautiful. They are also full of history and show the rich culture of the Syrians.
1 cup semolina flour
1/4 cup butter
4 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
cinnamon, to taste
Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour. Saute the semolina in the butter over medium low heat, stirring constantly until it's lightly browned. This takes about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and cover.
In a separate pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil along with the sugar. Remove from the heat and stir the water in with the semolina. Cover and let sit 5 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed. Serve with cinnamon mixed in with it.

A Knitted Hat and Chocolate Avocado Smoothies

I made this little green hat to go in an Operation Christmas Child box. It only took about a day, but it will give an impoverished child a nice Christmas. Have you ever heard of Operation Christmas Child? It's through Samaritan's Purse. All you have to do is pack up an old shoe box with small unused toys, hygiene items like combs and toothpaste, and any other new item that will fit in a shoe box. You pack it up and send it in to the nearest shoe box collection place. (They are everywhere.) The box will go to a child somewhere around the globe that would not otherwise receive any gifts. Along with the shoe box, they get the message of Christ. It really is an awesome program. You can even track your box to see what country it goes to. I encourage you to spend two hours knitting a hat, set aside a few dollars to buy things at the dollar store, and start stocking up on Happy Meal toys. You really can make a difference in a child's life.
For more information, check out the website:
Chocolate Avocado Smoothie
1 frozen banana
¼ c. avocado
¼ c. oatmeal
1 c. milk
3 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp honey
Blend everything all together. You may need to wait a little, so that the banana is not quite so frozen. That will make it easier on your blender.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Kenya is very diverse. A ton of different ethnic groups make up its population. I thought it would be cool to look into the different groups to see their separate cultures instead of looking at Kenya's culture as a whole.
Population: 903,000They make up 2.1% of the people in Kenya.
Cuisine: Cattle are the primary food source. Traditionally meat is eaten raw, and milk is drunk straight out of the cow. The cow blood is drunk also. Fruits and vegetables are rarely, if ever, eaten. Maize meal is cooked with milk to make ugali.
Religion: They are monotheistic. There god’s name is Engai, and he is represented in two forms: Engai Narok, a benevolent god, and Engai Nanyokie, a vengeful god. The laibon is the religious leader. Christianity is also common amongst the Maasai.
Language: Maa
Dress: Both men and women traditionally pierce their ears. They also stretch out their earlobes, using tools with different thicknesses to gradually make the holes bigger. They wear red shukas adorned with intricate bead work. These are wrapped around their bodies. Head shaving is common. Only warriors can have long hair. Women shave their heads before getting married.
Location in Kenya: Near game parks

Lifestyle: The Maasai are semi-nomadic. The “government” is run by elderly men. Law is passed down orally. Criminal offenses are punished by having to pay for your crime in cattle. Cattle are the main source of life. The average man has a herd of 50 cattle. The more kids and the more cows the better. Men and women take multiple partners.
Customs: Babies aren’t recognized until they are three months old. This is because a lot of babies die early on. Death is also not really recognized. Corpses are just left out. If you aren’t eaten by scavenging animals, they think there is something wrong with you. Young children often have their canine teeth removed. This is to prevent sickness, as the Maasai think that the canine teeth can cause illnesses.
Population:  988,000 people. This is 2.5% of Kenya’s population.

Cuisine: Wild fruits, beans, maize, goat, and whatever meat the men can hunt down are the primary sources of food. They also like honey. Eating fish is taboo.
Language: Turkana
Religion: Religion and the lives of the Turkana are basically one. They see every day life as full of blessings. Their god, Akuj, doesn’t interact with them. They believe that he created them and left. Ancestors are sacrificed to, but they are seen as kind of evil. The Turkana sacrifice to them, so that they will be appeased. Mad ancestors can be a bad thing.

Lifestyle: Turkanas raise camels and zebu. They are also skilled basket weavers.
Dress: Both men and women wear wraps. The men carry knives and stools. (Like the kind you sit on. I can’t imagine just walking around with a stool everywhere I go, but I guess it works for them.) Women wear necklaces. Men and women shave their heads.

Location in Kenya: Turkana District in northwest Kenya
Customs: Men take wives by paying a dowry. The form of payment is livestock, so the more livestock you have, the more wives you can take.
Population: 5,300,000 (23% of the people in Kenya)
Cuisine: Mukimo and githeri are common dishes. Potatoes, maize, and beans are main staples. So are roasted goat and cooked green vegetables.
Language: Gikuyu, a Bantu language
Religion: Their god’s name is Ngai. He was the one who first brought Gikuyu to Kirinyaga. Ngai gave Gikuyu a wife, and he had nine daughters who became the Kikuyu clans.
Lifestyle: They farm many foods such as bananas, millet, maize, beans, and sugarcane. Livestock is also raised.
Location in Kenya: The Kirinyaga mountain region.
Customs: The first son is named after the father’s father, and the second is named after the mother’s father. The daughters are named the same way. The first daughter is named after the dad’s mom and the second takes the mom’s mother’s name.
Religion: Most are now Christians. It was introduced to the Avaluhya people in the early 1900s by Christian missionaries.
Lifestyle: 10 to 15 families make up a village. The leader is called an Omukasa. They are very much an agricultural society, although some of them fish. What types of plants they grow depends on their location. Cassava, sugarcane, and wheat are a few prominent crops.
Population: 6.1 million (16% of Kenya’s population)
Language: Luhya (There are 18 tribes, and each has its own dialect of Luhya.)
Location in Kenya: the western province of Kenya
Customs: Traditionally marriages are arranged. Dowry is 12 heads of cattle paid to the girl’s family. Widows are inherited by the deceased husband’s brother.
Population: 3,960,000 (11%)
Religion: Most are Christians now, but some still hold traditional beliefs. Ngai Mulungu was their god. The creation story sounds a lot like ours. Their god made a married couple who would live forever, but a deceptive chameleon ruined this. There is an invisible world after death, and deceased ancestors are very important to the people. Magic and witchcraft were also prevalent.
Lifestyle: The man is the head of the family. He herds the animals while the wife stays home to farm. She provides most of the food and raises the kids. Extended family is very important. Grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins play a big role in the lives of the Kamba people.
Cuisine: Cassava, peas, beans, yam, potatoes, pumpkins, millet, and maize are commonly grown.  They get meat from hunting and raising livestock.
Language: Kikamba, a Bantu language
Dress: Men traditionally wear kilts made out of bark or animal hides. Women wear skirts made out of the same materials. Sandals and jewelry are also worn.
Location in Kenya: the Eastern province
Population: 4,600,000 (13%)
Cuisine: fish and ugali
Language: Dholuo
Location in Kenya: Luoland
Customs: Traditionally kids had their 6 lower front teeth removed at a ceremonial initiation. Marriages were arranged by matchmakers. The husband paid the dowry first to the mother of the bride, and then to the father.
Religion: Most are now Christians, but a few still hold on to traditional beliefs.
Lifestyle: The Joluo are animal herders, farmers, and fishermen.
Population: 4,900,000 (13%)
Language: Kalenjin
Lifestyle: They are livestock herders like many of the other ethnic groups.
Population: 2.2 million (6%)
Language: Kisii
Religion: Witchcraft is prevalent. Recently there was a massive witch burning where many elderly were killed.
Location in Kenya: Nyanza Province
Customs: The parents of the groom traditionally arranged the marriage. They found and kidnapped the bride and brought her to marry their son.
Population: 2,200,000 (6%)
Language: Kimiiru
Location in Kenya: north and eastern slopes of Mount Kenya
Customs: Sons live in a separate house away from their mother after being circumcised.
Religion: Mugwes were the traditional spiritual leaders. Now they are mostly Chrisitans.
Lifestyle: They are mainly farmers, but they have some animals.

Population: 5% of Kenya’s total
Lifestyle: There are 9 tribes. Each group has its own forest, or Kaya. These are sacred to them.
Religion: Elders hold prayers in the Kayas. These are their sacred forests.
Location in Kenya: along the coast
Customs: Each of the nine tribes have their own customs and languages
Wow. That took a long time to type and research. I hope someone can learn from it.

serves 4
1/2 cup millet flour
1 1/2 cup corn flour
2 cups water
6 cups boiling water
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 banana
salt and sugar to taste

Mix 2 cups of water with the flours. Bring the 6 cups of water to a boil in a covered pot. Add the wet flour to the boiling water. Stir well, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon, salt, and sugar. Top with sliced bananas.