Category Archives: I love food

back to the search engines

More fun and games from the search engines. You will be amazed how people find me, or fall accidentally onto this page.

school boys squeezing in big boobs ladies

Oh dear. Really? You know nothing like this ever happens in Camp Hormone so I think you have stumbled onto the wrong page. You must be disappointed. But while you are here I must ask: why are the boys squeezing the big boobs inwards? Or maybe there is an apostrophe and a word missing? Could it be that you wanted to find school boys squeezing in big boobs ladies’ handbags?  An image I find sort of amusing in a Mr. Bean sort of way. Either way I suggest you turn left and find another place to play.

Drama on safari

Yes I have had drama on safari. You might be looking for this. It was a scary incident involving an overturned car, sad and scared children, a lot of money and a safari. If on the other had you were not so interested in my personal drama maybe you were hoping for a new TV Movie of a Week featuring the lives and loves of a group of expat school teachers on safari. Actually, I might need to write that one. Drama on Safari happens a lot here, whether it be broken hearts, flat tires, stampeding elephants or vomiting teenagers.

Bossy girls

Oh you came to the right place. I have two of these at home, bossy all the time. Most of their fights involve who is bossing whom. There are also bossy girls at Camp Hormone, bossy girls at the market, bossy girls on the football pitch. I can be quite bossy myself at time, most teachers are. There is also this funny blog I like called Bossy. Could you be looking for her?

Dog entrails

I have seen more dog entrails since moving to Uganda than I ever thought I would. I have also seen more than enough entrails of any kind to last me a life time. Vegetarian or not, entrails are unpleasant. Even the word is unpleasant. So why are you looking for them? Seriously! Are you ill? Get help.

Montreal-fripperies

Now you have made me think of my beloved and much missed Montreal.  Fripperies are second hand clothes shops and Montreal has a ton of them. They dot the Plateau area and much of the cool style of Montrealers comes from the lavish amount of shopping that takes place there. Real gems can be found, from 1960’s era faded blue jeans to lime green 80’s faux fur coats. I have never enjoyed the fripperies myself, having a very odd relationship to second hand clothes. Regrettably I am superstitious and feel the spirit of the original owner to still be living in the lining of the musty fabric. It’s a shame really ’cause there is plenty of potential for arty and original style.  Fripperies are like Fairmont Bagel, The Mirror and Schwartz’s. Very Montreal.

Funny comment on moving house

All humour here is unintentional. I am just trying to practice my stiff upper lip. Can’t you tell?

Did you hear about the teacher who

Who what? Was it me? I didn’t mean to! What exactly are you looking for? Well now that you are here I feel obliged to finish your sentence. Here we go:

Did you hear about the teacher who fell down the stairs and revealed her polka dotted undies?

Did you hear about the teacher who told a naughty and peskier than usual teen he needed a personality transplant?

Did you hear about the teacher who got the kids to stand up in front of the whole school and read out their poems?

Did you hear about the teacher who knew more than she should?

Did you hear about the teacher who told the students to sit down, be quiet and pull out their coxes?

I am not telling you which of the above is true. Your guess is as good as mine.

Montreal love city

( Fairmount Bakery, Montreal. August 2009)

It really is a love city. Except for those mornings when you wake up, look out of the window and the place previously known as your parking spot is now just a big white mound.  That mound will involve much vigorous digging with heavy snow shovels and a certainty that you will be late for everything. That mound leads you to the outrageous decision that maybe a sneaky and naughty stay at home-hookie- day  is needed. There is no way that anyone can start a day with that much digging. Montreal is only a love city when the skies are blue, the bus drivers are smiling, the people are happy, the bagels are warm, the grass is green and the pools are over flowing with blue joy.

Trinidad time

There once was a Trinidad Time. If you are looking for it here you will have to visit my memory section. Now we are most certainly living in a Uganda Time. Big differences? A Trinidad Time involves a wonderful shaggy dog, a best friend, liming, beach and an altogether different sort of Camp Hormone. It also involves Soca Music, often too loud, copious amounts of Rum and a fear of random violence. Uganda Time involves frequent trips into the Great Wild, rare animals, pool sized pot holes, scary driving, special Sundays with friends, Beauty and the Beast, a Shoebox and Villa, Camp Hormone and Camp Sweetness and the birth of Princess the Thespian.

Both good, both so different. Why not stay and visit for a while? You get a two for one here.

(Englishman’s Bay, Tobago. April 2009.)

So what did you pop into the search engines to find your self here? Glad you came.

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Filed under Family Stuff, I love dogs, I love food, Trinidad & Tobago, Uganda

Thanksgiving Uganda Style

 

The leaves might not be turning and the ski is an equatorial blue rather than the crisp blue of a Canadian autumn but we still decided to honour and celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. I love this holiday; the fact that everyone celebrates it despite religion, race, creed or wherever you sit on the poverty/wealth scale.  Gathering loved ones together and giving pause to say thank you is a worthwhile tradition that is distinctly North American. With its connection to the harvest, the Canadian date is 6 weeks ahead of the US festivities since we are all so cold up there and the ground is turning to ice under our feet as we pluck the Turkeys.  It marks the fall and comes in a comfortable point between Labour Day and its celebratory sadness of the last of summer days and the roar and giggle of Halloween eve where children wrapped in coats that cover their cleverly chosen costumes chase the promise of pillow cases filled with candy.

Of course traditions being what they are a Turkey is expected on one’s Thanksgiving table. Last year there was no Thanksgiving celebration given that the shoe box was too small to accommodate our little foursome plus friends and so there were no worried glances and thoughts over where to find a Turkey in Kampala. I told Handsome Husband that this was one for his capable hands with me being a vegetarian and all.

First stop, the butcher favoured by French expats and other picky meat eaters. It turns out they do not stock Turkey until November (for the Americans) through December (for Christmas.) This is when he came up with one of his, shall we say, special ideas. With a look of boyish glee and over ripe enthusiasm he presented the idea to me one afternoon as we drove home from one of my rare hair appointments.

“So, I have a plan!”

“Really? What is it?” I have to admit I had thoughts of a great date night, maybe dinner, drinks, and a chance to show off my new coiffed hair. I had no idea what was coming.

“Since it is impossible to buy a dead turkey we are going to buy a live one, let it walk around the garden for a few days and then on Sunday morning we’ll kill it! Steve (our gardener and guard) will help!’

Silence.

“Princess is so excited. She says she is going to give it a name.”

Silence. Shocked, stunned silence.

“So what do you think?” he asked, a little nervously, this time, obviously sort of worried by my silence and the aghast look of shock on my face.

“I think that is the stupidest idea I have ever heard. So let me get this right. We are going to have PET turkey for a few days, name her, ( how does Gertrude sound?) and then come Sunday we are going to all sit down and carve and eat her? Really? Have you forgotten that you have one vegetarian wife and one vegetarian daughter?”

“Well that is the way it is done in Africa. That is real life! I thought it would be a great lesson for the girls.”

Maybe not.

Taking his beautiful idea away with him and hiding it well beneath his pride, Handsome Husband came up with plan 2. We were going to have Roast Chicken for Thanksgiving. When one of our invited Canadian guests got wind of that idea she promptly came up with a revelation. She has a Turkey guy! She offered to call him and sort us out a turkey once and for all. A turkey with no name.

The turkey was delivered in 4 bags. Heavy bags dripping with blood. How can one turkey come in 4 bags? What went wrong? Alarmed phone calls were dispatched; the Turkey Guy was called and promptly reprimanded and within two hours a new turkey in one bag was sitting in our fridge.

Handsome Husband attended to this Turkey like a new born baby, checking on it, basting it and eventually dousing it with Bourbon. Five hours later the turkey came out, crispy and golden in all its glory. Being a vegetarian I cannot attest to its succulent delights but I hear that it was very good. I am just so grateful that I never got to know her.

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Hammocks, Muzak and a little joke.

Here is my current favourite spot.

Busy weekend here cooking and entertaining. Now that we finally have a kitchen I am thrilled to be back in the swing of cooking and happily cooked for people two nights in a row. One night was happily spent in the company of a good friend, Pims ( yes, I found it here) and the music of Stevie Ray Vaughan.  Much to Handsome Husband’s despair  I am busy planning two parties in the near future; one being a sleepover for 7 kids. Having space has simply made me want to fill it up with friendship, good food and laughter. Just the other evening, walking around my house I welled up with the sadness that comes from being too far away from the friends and family I love. I had an all dressed up and no where to go sort of feeling, and found inviting people over to be quite the tonic.

I am very spoiled. Two men came over today to dig a hole, pour cement and plant a pole from which I will hang two hammocks.  The concrete has yet to dry but there will be a time very soon when I will lie under a tree, in my very own garden, in my hammock listening to birds. Or if I am very unlucky my Chinese neighbours, who have a strong fondness for Muzak and Karaoke, will be blasting some rare treat from the Commodores 1977. As I groaned into my pillow at 8am this morning trying to block out the sound of an instrumental version of “You don’t bring me flowers”, Handsome Husband said “ well, they are Chinese.” Not sure that excuses them.

I heard this joke at school the other day and laughed when I saw how long it took different kids to get it. You could see the punchline working its way from ear to brain and while some laughed, others creased their brow with a concerned and confused look.

“What is the difference between roast beef and pea soup?”

“Well, anybody can roast beef!”

I am off to watch season 3 of Gavin and Stacy. From Kampala to Wales with the push of a button.

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Photo # 12 A heavenly moment in a shop

There is a very special shop in London known to many a tourist called Fortnum & Mason. They happen to have the best champagne truffles in the world. When we approached the Truffle Counter we noticed some divine chocolates laid out for tasting. It was a moment akin to heaven.

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Filed under Great Big Shiny West, I love food, I miss shopping.

Shoebox cooking

I have been cooking. All sorts of delectable treats have come out of the shoebox kitchen and it just goes to show what can be produced with limited ingredients in a tiny kitchen without any of my fancy appliances. However I did have to purchase a blender and an electric whisk.

Gazpacho: Terribly delicious and easy. Only problem was when my blender broke and I had to buy a new one. I added tons of fresh dill and a splash of vodka but I didn’t have any red wine vinegar so I used balsamic and added the juice of one lemon.

Tuna Pasta Salad: The trick here is in the sauce. I combined Dijon mustard with Mayonnaise, tons of fresh dill and plenty of salt and pepper. Toss a red onion, finely chopped, the mayo mustard mix and a tin of tuna with a bag of penne. Easy, delicious and something good to bring to a BBQ.

Homemade ice-cream: Basically it is chocolate mousse frozen. But that is my secret. Everybody adores this. Back in the great shiny west I used Lindt, here I used Bournville cooking chocolate. Still divine.

The best chocolate cookies: Chocolate chips do not exist here so I made my own. My oven is gas and I have had the worst luck, finding it constantly too hot. This time I stood over the batches of cookies like a hawk and they came out perfectly. I only burnt myself once; must get oven gloves. These cookies went marvelously with the ice cream.

Butternut squash and carrot soup: I add red lentils to this; they cook the quickest and a tin of tomatoes. I also use a few bay leaves. Once everything is cooked I blend it. It is thick and creamy and makes you feel all warm and nurtured. Best served with a soft, warm white bun.

Vegetable curry: I am giving all my secrets away here; the secret is the Patak curry sauce in a jar. Now that I have found it here I am in heaven. Lots of chopped veggies, anything at hand but I find cauliflower and carrots work very well, a handful of red lentils, fresh chopped ginger and a red onion, lots of garlic and a few good tablespoons of Patak. I also add a tin of tomatoes and a tin of water, or two.

Fresh Pesto: Pine nuts are a real rarity so I use cashews instead. I blend them with two good handfuls of basil, four-five cloves of garlic, fresh grated Parmesan and olive oil. Toss with pasta. For an added twist I like to add some finely chopped sun dried tomatoes before serving but I am in the only one in the family who likes this.

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The food situation

Tuesday evening here in the little box and half the family is singing about Maria. I am leafing through cook books having finally got back to cooking after a very long hiatus. Why the exodus from the kitchen, the self imposed exile? A combination of not having my beloved kitchen utensils, pots and pans, machines and toys with me; ( they are sitting cosily wrapped up in a Montreal warehouse) and hating the grocery stores here.

Shopping here is such a sad experience that it leaves me wanting. On the one hand there are things that were hard to find in Trinidad, such as a few good French cheeses ( although very pricey, think how far they have come), but on the other hand there are fewer gourmet shops with imported goodies than in Trinidad. Compared to Montreal, well, let’s just not go there. So with the optimistic intent of staying positive let us take a look at the grocery store situation here in Kampala. First, I must confess, I thought it would be far worse, and in the first few weeks here I kept finding things that amazed me, simply by their very presence on the shelves.

These are the things I find on a regular basis:

Chickpeas

tins of tomatoes

pasta

wonderful passion fruit, mango, pineapple

South African wine

Macadamia nuts

dried fruit

Quaker oatmeal

pita bread

green beans

eggplant

red peppers

plenty of herbs and spices, many fresh

potatoes

red onions

garlic ( from China!)

local yogurt

butternut squash

lentils

Tilapia and Nile Perch ( these are the only two fish available and they quickly become boring.)

These are things that I hop up and down with glee when I find:

Nutella

Sun-dried Tomatoes

Pesto in a jar

pumpernickel bread

lemonade

imported yogurt

Heinz ketchup

Toblerone

parmesan ( in a solid form)

Broccoli

Boursin

good brie

good bread

baguette

These are the things I long for and can never find:

Refrigerated fresh pesto in a bag

Pine nuts

Flour that is not made from wheat

Philadelphia cream cheese

Challa bread

creme freche

cottage cheese ( to make lasagna)

Tubes of tomato puree

Hagaan Daaz

Chocolate chips

A good variety of decent cheddar and everyday cheese

frozen filo pastry

Rye bread

Chocolate that tastes like I remember it

Well, that is a snippet of my compartmentalized food brain. Moving on.

When it comes time to cook there is no simple opening of a cook book or perusing the nets. Instead it is an exercise in creativity and hope. When the fridge door is opened and the produce tray is pulled out the question is not what shall I run out and buy, but what shall I make with what I have.

I cook a lot of vegetables with chick peas, chili, curry and pasta. Soup is also quite easy, especially if it is butternut squash and lentil, we have made cookies, by making our very own chipped chocolate and now that I have found self raising flour, cake is possible. I have made a yummy sort of fish pie with sour cream and dill and if the potatoes are looking good they can be baked, scooped and mashed with cheese. Eggs here can be a bit anemic but if you find a non rubbery cheese, omelets are always good. The avocados are brilliant, so guacamole is a staple although it is impossible to find real corn chips. Rather than despair the trick is to throw together some imagination with a pinch of salt. We hardly eat meat but when the non vegetarian half of my family does it is normally chicken and it is easy to throw together a good marinade. Ginger and coconut milk are readily available and both can be life savers in the kitchen. And when all else fails and the fridge lends itself more to headaches than inspiration, the are excellent Indian restaurants to be found, one great Thai place and some lovely Pizza.

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Beauty, the Beast and a pocket full of sneezes.

I am sick as a sick dog that cannot stop sneezing. I have allergies and they are bad. I believe I am allergic to Kampala.

Last night at 7pm, after 3 pills I was still sneezing and rubbing my eyes and looking like a red eyed monster, yet it was our night out and I couldn’t face another Thursday evening brought to its knees. Last week, struck with a bad case of the sneezies I had to miss out on a rather glamorous evening out with some girls. This time I could not let it beat me.

I like going out on Thursday night more than any other night of the week, despite it being an early start the next morning. It tends to make the weekend feel a bit closer and it is a wonderful relief after my 8 period, no break in sight, day.

Kampala has a special little Italian restaurant that I am happy to call my favourite place in town. It is called Mambo Point, so called for sentimental reasons to recall the neighbourhood where the Italian owner and his wife met and lived in Liberia. It serves fresh, delicious food made with ingredients shipped directly from Italy. I find it to be a quiet corner in a hectic town and there is something quiet and tranquil about sitting on their terrace, not a child in sight, adults sipping wine and speaking softly. Kampala demands that you find places like this to escape to, where you can regain your sanity and regroup. Next weekend is half term and we are heading out of town, but in the meantime this little oasis of calm has soothed my sorry nerves.

The biggest news to hit our house this week is the sale of the Beast! The Beast has gone to a better home and good riddance I say. I always feared the engine would fall out of that car while careening over one pot hole too many. There were a few rocky days with no car; taxis and drivers were pulled into help and dear F had to hop on a few Bodas too many.

Then yesterday Beauty arrived, so called for her distinct contrast to the Beast. She is shiny, newish, purrs rather than grumbles and rides like a dream. We are all very content.

Now if I can only stop sneezing, I can begin to look forward to the weekend. Tomorrow is year number 18 for F and me. If you want to see how the love story began, read here.

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A simple list


I have not been feeling happy. So to knock the blues on the head I have decided to try the old fashioned approach and twist my head the other way.

Happiness is:

An excellent cup of coffee, not filter, not instant, real expresso.

A day at the beach. Any beach, even it is cold, windy and the waves are cross. But even better if it hot and empty.

Slowing waking up and realizing there is a soft princess in bed curled up beside me.

A breakfast buffet in a 5 star hotel.

New shoes.

Seeing a daughter looking beautiful and excited as she heads out to a party

Toblerone

Eating outside, al fresco

A good book and nothing else to do than read it.

Fresh, unopened juicy magazine filled to the brim with pictures, articles, stories. Think New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Oprah.

A snow day , everything closed, a guilt free day at home.

Bottle of chilled white wine, good friend, no work tomorrow.

Dark cinema, film that envelops, comfortable chairs, popcorn and M&Ms.

Sushi with my sisterhood

Taking a fantastic photo.

The smell of puppy paws, crushed digestives and milk.

Gelato.

A class of kids that looks up at you, in silence, and you know that they are all there and they get it.

Seeing your kids smile and laugh in the company of really good friends.

Having a good friend where you can invite yourself over for tea and stay for dinner.

Getting 3 facebook messages from ex students on the day that Salinger died to say they were thinking of me.

A sunday with no rain.

Dancing to a little Bob.

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Filed under I love food, I miss shopping., Sisterhood, When the rose tint fades

Slow food in the Fast lane

Grocery shopping here is a frustrating and very expensive experience. Eating local food such as Roti and Doubles is a cheap and cheerful way to go but finding decent imported food is both costly and unreliable. Every now and then a container arrives filled with a new and exciting product and a few months later, when the container has emptied and run out, the shelves are bare. It’s best not to make too many decisions about dinner until the shopping is done as you never know what you will get. Many people cave and go headlong into the fast food option a few times a week.

The busiest KFC in the world is here in Trinidad on Independence Square. While that branch might be the busiest, I suspect that the other Trinidad branches are not far behind. I have never seen as many people eating fried chicken in my life as I see here on a daily basis. Many students rush to KFC during our 30 minute lunch hour, coming back to school with minutes to spare and licking chicken grease off their fingers for the remainder of the afternoon.
It is cheap, tasty and who cares about heart disease and long term health disasters when all that rum dissolves the probable effects?

In the rest of the world fast food consumption is on the rise. Has anyone seen those tv ads where the nice lady serves Mcnuggets on a banana leaf as a pseudo fancy appetizer? If that is not a woeful tale of recession optimism then I don’t know what it. Crowds of people march into the golden arches demanding their $1.00 meal, feeling puffed and victorious with their frugality, but what can a $1.00 actually give you? Is anyone thinking about the substances, rather than food, that is being ingested? When did people put money so far ahead of health?
McDonalds was one of only two companies to close 2008 with a 4.5% increase in their stock value. (The other is Walmart. Surprised?) Wholefoods is crawling through the tunnel of recession despair and the Big Mac rules. There is no MacDonalds down here but Burger King and KFC have line ups round the block. This has always been the way, recession woes have not really hit this corner of the Caribbean.

When I was very small, back in 1974, my family was living in Hong Kong. There was a MacDonald’s there, shiny, new and nonexistent in the UK from where we had recently been transplanted. So it was novel, yummy and there was an exciting replica of a pirate ship that we would crawl all over. A visit quickly became our Sunday night routine. I remember we weren’t allowed to drink our shake until we had finished our burger. Got to get those nutrients in first!
Once my parents realized what we were really ingesting, the visits to the glorious arches stopped and our fridge became filled with the freshest and best food we could buy. We weren’t an obsessed family but we were healthy, yet despite the guilt I sometimes felt, I loved the occasional fast food blitz.
Now I crave fine food, rather than the fast, squashy and wet food that comes wrapped in paper. I am dreaming of my summer in Montreal when I can gorge on gorgeous tomatoes, fabulous cheese, and fresh produce from the farmers market.

Right now I am dreaming of sushi.

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Bells, whistles, prunes and Chow.

Do you ever stand in front of the fridge in true contemplative stance, one hand on door, one hand on chin, knees bent; looking with all your might for something to magically appear that would satisfy every craving?
I have found that food. Sweet, spicy, soft but crunchy, touched with garlic and vinegar, sugar and chili peppers. That food is Chow. It can be made with mangos, plums, any fruit that is soft enough to absorb flavours but my personal favorite is pineapple chow. The fruit is cut into thick chunks and left to soak in a jar of marinade until it turns into Chow.
1 pineapple or 2 full half ripe mangoes, peeled, chunked
2 lemons/limes, juiced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt, pepper (or hot peppers) to taste
If you puree the Mango version it becomes mango chutney. I love the combination of sweet and salty. Speaking of which, the funniest thing occurred the other day.
When I was very small and living in Hong Kong I ate these, what I thought were, candies and I recall them being sweet, salty and chewy. I left Hong Kong when I was 9 and despite never eating those “candies” again, I often remembered the taste and wondered what they were. When I arrived in Trinidad I thought I might find that taste again but had no idea what to ask for or where to look. I thought that the land of Chow would certainly have that strange, memorable and tasty sweet.
The other day in class, a student offered me a dried sweet prune. It was like a shriveled ball, rolled in a dusting of white powder. I popped it in my mouth and bells, whistles, cymbles and alarms went off. This was it!! That strange tasty memory I had been searching for. They were sweet prunes. I was immediately transported back in time and I laughed out loud.

Sweet.

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