Saturday, March 23, 2013

JAMBA from Kenya!

                                                                                            map image from (edited by me in Picasa)

Meru, Kenya               

My friend Monica got a chance to volunteer for a trip to Kenya with a group of speech therapists to test children's hearing and train teachers at a School for the Deaf.
She shared some of her photos and told me about her trip. THANKS, MONICA!

Hearing test


 Painting the school

The town of Meru is about a three-hour bus ride northeast from Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. The roads were ok, but the driving was scary, she told me, with oncoming traffic narrowly escaping as the bus driver charged on.

 Children always ready for a photo op :-)

Open air market

When I asked what struck her the most about the area, she said it was the beautiful scenery in great contrast to people living in shacks. There were homeless children ("glue kids" they were called) wandering around with glassed-over eyes.

They met a lady who would walk six miles to get water and then walk six miles back!

The people were very friendly and put on dance performances in their visitors'  honor.

Monica went on a two-day safari to a Wild Animal Refuge and got to pet a tame rhino!

No big wild life ventured into the populated areas, but this little lizard seemed to feel at home with people!

A local way of "carpooling"

The meals consisted mostly of rice or banana potatoes (just what the name implies: banana-shaped potatoes) with broth and meat to go over it, and cooked carrots.
Lots of fresh fruit, especially bananas.
Monica's favorites: Wheatabix, chapatis, madas, and samosas.

Talking with Monica about her Kenya trip has put East Africa high on my wanderlust list!

Here's a picture of chapati, a flatbread that is used as both bread and "utensils" -you break off a piece and wipe your plate clean.

Samosas are savory pastries filled with potatoes and other vegetables and ground meat.

                                                                                                                   photo from wikipedia

I looked up a recipe from  -I want to try these!
Note: This recipe suggests deep frying, but in the interest of health, I'm going to try a baked version and mix in whole wheat flour. I'm also adding peas into the filling, as I noticed it was mentioned in a lot of the recipes I looked at. You can add cooked ground meat into the filling as well.

Samosas (makes 20)


1 cup all-purpose flour (or half whole wheat, half white)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 large potatoes, boiled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 green chilis, very finely chopped
3 Tbsp oil
1/2 tsp ginger, grated

1/2 tsp garlic, crushed
coriander seeds
1 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
juice of half lemon
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp garam masala*
1/2 tsp red chili powder
(peas, cooked ground meat)

1. Mix together flour, oil, and salt
2. Add a little water until mixture becomes crumbly 

3.Keep adding water, kneading the mixture till it becomes a soft pliable dough.
4. Cover with a moist cloth and set aside for 20 minutes.
5. Beat dough on a work surface and knead again.

6. Cover and set aside.
Heat 3 Tbsp oil
Add ginger, garlic, green chilis, and a few coriander seeds
Stir fry for 1 minute, add onions and saute till light brown.
Add cilantro (fresh coriander), lemon juice, turmeric, red chili, salt, garam masala* (or ground cumin)
Stir fry for 2 minutes.
Add potatoes and stir fry for 2 minutes.
Set aside and allow to cool.
(Add cooked ground meat)

Divide dough into 10 equal portions.
Use a rolling pin, roll a piece of dough into a 5" oval.
Cut into 2 halves.
Run a moist finger along the diameter.
Roll around finger to make a cone.
Place a tablespoon of the filling into the cone.
Seal the third side using a moist finger.
Deep fry the samosas on low to medium heat until light brown.

*garam masala, an Indian spice mix, can be omitted and replaced with a dash of  ground cumin 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Navy Pier, Chicago

An afternoon at the Pier! 

A photo fest by Mia K

On the shores of Lake Michigan, Navy Pier started in 1916 as a commercial pier and a public gathering place for picnics, with a dance hall, a playground, and an auditorium (complete with a radio station).
From 1941 to 1946 the grounds were used as a Navy Training Center.
The University of Illinois had its facilities there 1946-65.

Since then, the Pier has resumed a recreational function -conveniently close to downtown. Available from the dock are sightseeing tours, dinner cruises, and a taxi service; fireworks light up the sky Wednesdays and Saturdays on summer nights and Saturdays in the fall. There are festivals for Halloween and Christmas, and fairs throughout the year.

All ages can enjoy the Children's Museum, IMAX theater, and the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows!

at the entrance to Navy Pier Park

anchor from naval vessel USS Chicago

hot air balloon ride waiting to take off

up, up...

 and away!

sailor boy with brother and dad

pirates recruiting
-tempting, no?

swings surrounded by a "pond" with row boats

no pier is complete without a Ferris wheel!

skyline view from 150 ft (46m)

winding down 

... into the evening at Navy Pier

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Go away, winter blues

Spring is lurking around the corner, I know it is, and to get me through the last bit of "still-winter" I'm busying myself with designing new items for my etsy shop.

Posting about my grandparents' trip to Russia reminded me how as a child I would watch in fascination Russian folk dancers swooshing their brilliant costumes on stage. So I painted a pillow cover mimicking the vivid hues.

I've been reminiscing about my time in Paris with these .


Getting ready for Saint Patrick's Day :)

And this one's just cheery!


YAY for warm memories and vivid colors to chase away the blues!