Tuesday, November 29, 2016

First Friday

The main menu for First Friday.  More to come -- salads, sides, drinks and DESSERT.  Yummy.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Sunflower study (O) with canis interrupus

the photographs and the photographers

On this past camping trip we were all wielding cameras.  As we have been sharing photos, it was really fun to see that we were taking pictures of each other.  Here are a few photographer/photo combos.

Owen and the posse (O managed to get his paws on every camera, I think)

Me and the girls

Victor at the rapids

my favorite wildlife photo from Victor: amazing little Kingfisher.

Dave was too stealthy (and too busy watching for kids and crocs) to get a candid 
photo of, but here he is saying, "Dude, Owen?! Give me back my camera!!" 

I'm guessing this is Emily's photo with Dave relegated to bokeh.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Kaingu Safari Lodge, Kafue National Park


There is a break in the action every October: the kids have half-term holiday, there are two Zambian holidays and there is a momentary lull between the dry season and the rainy season.  It's the most obvious time to GO CAMPING. Once the rains start, planning a camping trip becomes exceedingly difficult.  Travel becomes difficult and sorting out 'what if' is so out of the question that after October, tent-camping is pretty much off the table.  The down side to camping in October is that it's exceeding warm, HOT even.  For our camping trip, the lodge weather station was registering 36 degrees and 24% humidity.  We were parched.  But parched is better than waterlogged. I'm from Seattle, so I speak with some authority about being cold and wet. 

We are lucky enough to be friends with PLANNERS and so they booked this amazing spot almost as soon as we all got back to Lusaka.  They booked and said "who's in?"  Five families later...the plans were in place and before we knew it, we were off and running. 

I'm in the middle of a little camera crisis....the scenery and the company allowed for hours on the the river (with ele- and croc-watchers!) to sort out some issues with my now-fussy kit.  It also allowed for some time with Thing 1 who has a keen interest in photography and was after some photos like the ones he admires on his instagram feed.  We had a nice time sorting out exposure and shutter speed, but the question of the health of my gear remains outstanding.   Here is one of the results from Owen's handiwork.  Nice, right?

The best photos from the trip, however are the ones that the kids took of each other.

Finn, pleased as punch with a weekend away from school and sports and time with his friends (including his big brother!) to goof around.

The wonderful girls, age 2-12.  

(@the_owen_jennings in case you want to follow him on instagram....)

"See any crocs?"

 TJ's arty photos of the highly poisonous eurporbia.

The littlest scene-stealer 

The whole gang

I set up the camera and tripod to keep the kids busy while we took down tests and tried to fit everything back into the cars.  The photos are hilarious. I have more than a few nose-smudges on my lens!

(yes, we made shirts for the trip!)

(at least I know whose nose print that is...)

There are about 100 more of these, but I'll spare you the full collection.  Except, maybe you need to see a few more....Note that the older, wiser girls (as opposed to the moms) elected not to participate in selfie-mania.  Smart.

Even Kebby got in on the action.  (This was long after the kids had left.)

This is a normal picture of Kebby.  He was our guide for fishing and hikes.  Awesome guy.

Did I really just do a blog post after almost a year of posting NOTHING?  Yup. 

Best for last.  The planner and the non-planner. She made this trip happen. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Uuni means Oven....but more importantly it means GREAT PIZZA!

I'm going to ignore the fact that I have not posted a singe thing since last February!  Life is happening at...well...at the "speed of life" and pausing to post just hasn't been in the cards.  I got hung up by computer problems and then got bogged down with wanting to properly process photos from our Parents and Brother's and Niece's most amazing visits....but clearly this is not happening.  We have three new computers in the house, all new operating systems and photo software that I remain uncomfortable with but that I PROMISE to get to know intimately so I can carry on.
"What's that you say? You are going to actually learn your new editing program?" 
So for now let's forget the amazing adventures, the wildlife encounters of which there have been many (exciting, frightening, harrowing, unbelievable) the many sporting accolades from the progeny, the antics from the pets, great parties and good fun we've been having at the case, the surprise visit to seattle (again, apologies to everyone for that -- it was an unexpected visit for us too!) and just dive back in with a post about FOOD.  My favorite topic.

No post about food today goes without a note about the complications we are facing regarding acquiring, storing and preparing food.  Zambia is experiencing some unwelcome excitement as of late -- has the dubious distinction of having the world WORST PERFORMING currency and an economy which is limping along due mainly to it's dependence on copper, the price of this raw commodity (is copper technically a 'commodity?" or is it a resource?) AND are newly suffering from Zambia's dependence on three small hydroelectric projects which are meant to 'power the nation' but which are operating at such dismally low levels that we are having power cuts/load-shedding 8-16 hours per day. Every day.  Since....June?  Every single day.  IT's a total drag.  There are only two nights per week where the power is back on in time to fix dinner at and eat with the lights on.  Otherwise we use solar lights, candles and our gas camping stove five nights a week.

the sunset view from our place.  the presence of the power lines is ironic.
This is fine when you are camping but really not fine when you are living like you are camping at home.  There is nothing "STAYCATION" about this.  It's NOT charming in any way, shape or form.  In fact, we found that if we actually GO camping, we are better equipped and organized.  I'll mention quickly that  to complicate things, our kitchen is presently being demolished and the collection of water pumps which supply our house with running water are broken so we don't even have a sink or running water presently.

outdoor kitchen
This is temporary, but like "one-month-temporary"not "well have this up and running tomorrow" temporary.  Yes we are hauling water from the swimming pool for baths and heating up pots of water to wash dishes in buckets.  And Yes, again, it's very Marie-Antoinette of us to say we must use the water from the 75,000 liter swimming pool because the taps are dry. The irony is not lost on me.  But man-oh-man would I love a hot shower right about now.)

When we came to Seattle for the summer break we had only a hint of what we would be coming back to in August.  To make a very long story short, I had an inkling that something to ease the 'pain' of no electricity would be to have a pizza oven.  Yes, this is VERY Marie Antoinette of me, very FWP (first world problem) and it seems silly.  However, I had been tracking two small startups, one in Finland and one in Zambia.  For my plan to work, I needed them both to 'take off.'  What was the plan?  Convince my family that we needed to spend what could have been silly amount of money on a 'portable pizza oven' that honestly looked all the world like the Easy-Bake Oven my best friend Janna had when we were seven....you know the kind with the incandescent bulb as the 'heating element' and the little tiny cake pans that could cook up a little tiny cake in 5 minutes?   It looks every bit like an award-winning Scandinavian-designed portable oven.  Because...IT IS!

So, the success of the pizza oven start up was one element but the other KEY element was the success of a company in Zambia which was proposing efficient energy solutions in the way of using waste from the timber mills to produce wood-pellets for cooking stoves.  The wood-pellets are sold as 'Clean Malasha" or clean-charcoal and are meant to replace the mainstay of Zambian household fuels, Charcoal.  The company and a second new offshoot company are well on their way and we have a readily availablee supply of these wood pellets.  The woodpellets are also required to fuel our brilliant little pizza oven!  YEAH!

Uuni + SupaMoto = SUCCESS!
In my little world the marriage of "Emerging Cooking Solutions" SupaMoto Clean Malasha and the Uuni 2 is a match made in heaven.  Now we face the problem of mozzarella sourcing. Nice cheese is not one of Africa's "Big Five" (Lion, Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Leopard and Rhino) but I propose that we shift Rhino over to the Protected and Endangered species list (remove it from the big game hunting list) and add CHEESE to Africa's Big Five.

hunting for pizza
The last thing I will say is that we thought ordered the oven in plenty of time to bring it back to Zambia with us but in fact it arrived after we left.  A wonderful pizza-loving friend who had a chance-visit to the Emerald City brought it back for us IN HIS SUITCASE.  Usually Pizza-Oven and Suitcase are not two things that go together and I"m certain TSA thought the very same thing as they scanned that black bag but...the selling point of this pizza oven is that unlike the others I looked at and the ones I considered building this sweet little things weighs 10kgs BOXED.  That's 22 pounds.  That's well-under the 23kg baggage weight limit.  This is just slightly less than the other one I was swooning over - it weighed-in at 270 pounds. I'd love to know the "overweight" charges on that.

i could not contain the awesomeness of the uuni in the photo-frame.
I'm CERTAIN the only reason you are still reading is to find out how the pizza was.  GREAT.  It 'performs' brilliantly.  Any faults have been the result of human error / failures of the baker/pizzalo and not the uuni.  It bakes up pizzas in no time flat.  Their crust recipe is amazing the Passata based sauce recipe is great and easy.  IF we could chill out and just have normal pizza toppings we could have the oven, sauce and dough ready in 20 minutes.  "we" cannot however, just make a simple pizza so I spend as much time as I have on pizza nights shredding salami and hunting down the sunflower seeds (a surprise favorite topping) making fresh ricotta, chopping herbs, washing greens, soaking sundried tomatoes, chopping veggies and spooning out pesto and white sauce for the line-cooks.

pikani pizzera is open for business.
At the present, we take local and international reservations at the pikani pop-up pizzeria.  We recommend routing your flight thru Amsterdam or Dubai.  Do not eat at the Dubai airport no matter how hungry you are; you WILL regret it. Please BYOC* when-ever possible. But please come.

(bring your own cheese / candles - or bring me some nice rennet and we can try to make the mozzarella)