Thursday, February 23, 2012

Not exactly the Co-Op...

Hello Everyone,

   The last week has been pretty good. We celebrated Shane's 27th birthday with some chocolate cake and we were joined by some of our Basotho friends. Shane's counterpart helped find the perfect gift - the tradtional fighting/walking stick for Basotho men. It has been storming quite a bit. We had a very big one last Sunday night that sounded practically apocolyptic! Since we've been here we've seen roofs blown off by wind, struck by lightening and even a trees falling on houses during a storm - the tin roofs are only so resilliant. It definitely gives us something to think about during the very big storms. Shane 's Ju Jit Su classes are off to a good start, and I've been spending some time in the field helping with the weigh-ins for the beneficiaries.

I'd like to wrap up the section on how we eat here. I thought it would be fun to include pictures of one of our main grocery stores. This one is Pakastani owned, the other main one in town is owned by Chinease (pretty common for businesses in Lesotho) and looks pretty similar but a bit bigger. The pictures aren't that great - it was a little bit akward busting out my camera but hopefully they give you a feel of the place.
As far as our diet - most of you know that we pretty actively try to eat a balanced diet as a lifestyle. We try to keep up with eating our veggies, usually that is chard, carrots, cabbage, winter squash, onions, potatoes and tomatoes. I am running out of ideas with the cabbage so if anyone has anything interesting to cook with it, let me know. We've been successfully bringing a constant supply of brown rice from Maseru, we also eat regular pasta, two minute noodles - like ramen, papa (the corn grits stuff), sorghum meal, oatmeal, bread and also we've been making tortillas/chapatis and even sometimes pita bread. Also, fruits are available - mostly bananas and apples. Sometimes we get lucky and a stray red pepper will find its way into the district, or beets/peas/etc... will be available in season. Right now the fruit has been getting ripe so we've had apricots, nectarines, grapes and now peaches and apples. That's been nice but, the sharing culture really seems to apply to fruit trees too and since the custom seems to be to eat most of it before it is ripe, our waiting for the fruit to ripen isn't advantageous to our getting very much.

The weather has been a bit crazy and our soil is terrible, so our garden isn't producing much. We are enjoying green beans right now and have had a couple zucchini. The tomatoes are mostly still green but I saw the first one turning red on Monday - yay! It is always fun for me to find something that is a bit different than usual to use, it is really good inspiration.
Culturally, Basotho don’t expect that much variety in what they eat – I am not built that way, I always love to try new things from my favorite cooking blog or my new favorite cookbook it keeps me entertained. So, as you saw from the pictures we do try to make some special dishes on the weekends especially. Usually we’ve been baking on Sunday. We don’t bake much because gas is pretty expensive, so that is another thing I miss from the states is using the oven freely. The baking then, becomes a real treat and often we bake three things at once to economize. We’ve got a real gas oven, but a lot of other volunteers have had good success using a dutch oven. Regardless, it is fun to eat treats for the first half of the week, be it lemon cookies or chocolate cake, even zucchini bread.

A normal day for us can start with oatmeal, eggs or the more traditional sorghum porridge.  For lunch we usually have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (or 3 in Shane’s case) and a piece of fruit. I find myself in the bakery most days for a snack of the granola bar crunch too. Then, dinner can be anything from tuna pasta salad to red lentils with butternut squash over brown rice.  It is also amazing how many things you can make with basic wheat flour and eggs, milk, yeast whatever. I’ve made Asian dumplings filled with yellow peas, for New Year’s one of our neighboring volunteers made butternut squash ravioli with rosemary cream sauce. Not having a refrig does change things though, we really have to use things up quickly. It’s not very hot here so we can squeak by a little bit with a few things, but we usually have to commit to using most of the cabbage in one sitting or all of the squash within two days, it is interesting to see how many different ways we can reincarnate the same basic things though. Sometimes it is a struggle to come up with what we are going to eat, but for the most part it is a fun, creative challenge. As always, I enjoy looking up recipes on the internet for inspiration. We are also thinking about trying to do a bit of food preservation like sauerkraut.

That pretty much does it for our general diet  -but I might still keep posting a pic now and then if we come up with something particularly interesting.

Hope you all are doing well, staying warm and looking forward to the next post which looks like it will be mostly based on our projects.
Hugs from Lesotho,

Shane and Carol

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