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Its a Good Day

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I’m excited about today.  I’ve not been feeling very well (probably because hubby and I have been working late and sleeping past midnight) but its still a good day. 

Hubby and I stayed awake last night talking about God and life and death and heaven and other interesting topics.  I know many people say that thinking about death is morbid but I find that contemplating the realities of life and death, God and humanity, heaven and hell gives me more purpose and passion to enjoy this life and make it worthwhile in my own way.

I’ve always had great dreams and ambitions but it rarely seems like I’m achieving much.  I have always tended to be the kind of person who is good at many things but great at few.  The over-achiever in me wants me to be great at them all.  I want to be a great wife, a great mom, a great Christian, a great writer, a great photographer, a great cook, a great mentor, a great knitter, a great friend, and the list goes on.  And you know what I kinda am great but when I fail to meet my expectations of myself in just one area I suddenly deem myself a failure. 

Ok well that took a twist I didn’t see coming 🙂 Where I was headed is that today is a good day.  I slept in after getting Benji up (he’s teething and very cranky) while hubby made oatmeal and toast for breakfast.  I straightened up the house (every room!), washed the dishes, swept the floor and mopped up some yucky spots on the floor.  I have a number of things I want to post here today.  I read something inspiring about photography (basically a call from one photographer to others for us to get our acts together :).  And I feel like I’m headed in the right direction.  I might not get there as fast as I like but I’m heading there. 

Our clients are happy with the work we deliver.  I might not meet some of my fellow photographers standards or know all the technical stuff that they know and you know what I may never reach there and that’s ok with me.  My goal with photography is this: show the world the way God sees it and provide my clients with reasonably priced photography while capturing their memories simply and beautifully.  Just that.  And that I can do well. 

I’m writing again.  I don’t think I can explain how amazing I felt while writing paragraphs 2 and 3 up there.  My favorite thing about writing is that I write from deep inside, from a place that I don’t even know is there until I start writing.  I don’t express myself very well verbally, but  give me a paper and pencil and I know I can make sense.  Every thing comes together in my mind when I start to write.  Its wonderful and I’ve missed it so much. 

I’m blogging about food…talk about random.  I would never have thought I would be one of “those” people! :D  But I love cooking and I’m getting better every day. I’ve had so many ladies ask me for cooking lessons but they never seem to work out…so now I can have virtual cooking lessons.  And its a wonderful way to combine my love for photography, writing and cooking. 

Well all that to say there are some fun things coming up later right here on Our African American Family.  Thanks for sharing the journey with us. 

Meal Plan

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After Benji started eating solid foods I started making meal plans for the family.  I made this nice worksheet with spots for Breakfast, Lunch and Supper 7 days a week for us and a separate spot for Benji, as well as a place to note what the activities for each day were and even the groceries needed.  I would make 2 or more weeks of meal plans at a time, trying to balance all three meals and make sure that our diet was balanced.

After a couple of months I didn’t have the motivation to sit down for an hour or more trying to figure out what to feed my family.  So I went back to the old way of figuring something out about 30 minutes before we wanted to eat.  Hubby ended up making a lot of meals because I didn’t feel like cooking since I didn’t know what to make.

Four week ago I decided we needed to go back to meal plans but I needed a new method that would work better for us.  I decided to make a weekly meal plan for supper only.  We figure out breakfast each morning unless I want to make something special and lunch is usually leftovers or something light and quick like sandwiches.  I usually don’t bother planning a meal for Sunday.  Either we do something fun like pancakes and popcorn or hubby figures out what to eat and makes it. 🙂

I usually make the plan on Saturday or Sunday for the following week.  The gives me a chance to see what’s already available in the kitchen so I can use it.  I also try to create the meal plan around one or two proteins.  One week we did chicken, another week pork and beans, last week I used beef and fish.  This week hubby suggested we do more veggies.

I also did away with the fancy worksheet and decided to go basic.  My new method looks like this:

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A whiteboard (which I think is actually a leftover for my college days 🙂 hung in the kitchen with a dry erase marker and eraser.  I have my meals for the week on top and my grocery list and to do list on the bottom.   I’ve seen very nice meal plan boards on Pinterest and would love to try one but for now this is working great.

The meal plan for this week is:

  • Monday: Rice and Cabbage
  • Tuesday: Pasta with Stir Fried Veggies
  • Wednesday: Beans and Chapatti (traditional Kenyan flat bread similar to tortillas)
  • Thursday: Beef Stew and Ugali (traditional Kenyan food made with maize flour)
  • Friday: Cheese and Spinach Calzones
  • Saturday: Meat Loaf, Mash Potatoes and Veggies.

I’m loving the fact that my grocery list is almost entirely veggies.  Hubby will have to pick those up at the market – I don’t bother buying anything at the market since I’d be charged 2 or 3 times as much as hubby is.

My favorite thing about meal plans is that the whole day I know what I’m making for supper, what I need to do to make it and when I need to get started.  I end up being much more motivated to cook than when I spend 15 minutes or more trying to figure out what I can make with the cook already available in house.  I also love the fact that I know the ingredients I need for the whole week and can make sure I have them when I need them.

What’s For Dinner: Homemade Mac N’ Cheese

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Since I’ve started dong meal plans we’ve tried a number of new recipes.  One of our favorites was Pasta Primavera from Taste of Home.  Its a simple pasta dish with veggies and a yummy sauce.  On the meal plan yesterday was Mac n’ Cheese was sausage.  Since I’m out of the Mac and Cheese powder sachets from the states (not so healthy but so, so easy) I had to come up with a alternative easy Mac n’ Cheese.  Hubby has a problem with white sauce (apparently the flour doesn’t get cooked enough and he usually gets a tummyache)  so a white sauce based cheese mix was out.  Then I thought I should just modify the yummy sauce from the Pasta Primavera and that’s just what I did.  And it was super yummy.  So here we go (an copy and paste friendly version is at the bottom).

Step 1: Gather your ingredients.  Put pasta to boil.  I use about 250gm of Penne Pasta.  Be sure to salt the water.

Chop 1 small onion.

Chop 3 sausages (our sausages are very similar to hot dogs in the states so you could substitute 2 hot dogs here) into small pieces.

Prepare one chicken bullion cube (or use any other chicken stock…canned/homemade etc…I used chicken broth left from boiling part of a chicken when I made the sauce for the Pasta Primavera).

Shred the cheese.  I used Gouda because it is our favorite.  I used a little over a cup of shredded cheese, use more or less depending on how cheesy you want the sauce.

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Step 2: Saute the onions in 1 Tablespoon of butter or margarine.  Once the onions are soft add sausages and cook for about 2 minutes. blog1 (576x1024)

Step 3:  Add chicken soup (I used about 1/2 a cup…use more of less depending on how think you want your soup.  You can always add more later to thin the sauce).   Cover and let simmer for 2 –3 minutes. Turn off heat and add cheese.  Stir until completely melted.  Add any desired seasonings.  If your chicken broth was salted you shouldn’t need to add any salt.

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Step 4: Drain pasta and return to pan.  Pour sauce over pasta and mix well.  Enjoy!

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Easy Homemade Mac N’ Cheese

  • Pasta of choice
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 sausages (I use Beef Smokies)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 – 2 cups thinly shredded cheese (I use Gouda but any favorite cheese should work)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter or margarine
  • Desired seasonings
  1. Cook pasta according to directions on package.
  2. Chop onion and sausage and shred cheese
  3. Saute onion in butter or margarine until tender.  Add sausages and cook for 2-3 more minutes
  4. Add chicken broth, stir well.  Cover and let simmer for 2-3 minutes
  5. Remove from heat and add cheese.  Stir until completely melted.
  6. Add seasonings as desired
  7. Drain pasta and return to pan.  Pour sauce over pasta and mix well
  8. Enjoy.

This recipe makes 4 medium sized servings.

Matt 6:34

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So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own.  Sufficient for each day is its own trouble

One Day At A Time

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I’ve realized something lately. 

Sometime in the past (almost) 27 years I learned an important lesson.  I really don’t know how or when or even why I learned this lesson but it might actually be the most important of my life. 

It is simple: Live One Day At A Time.  Just as the Bible says: Do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own.  Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.  (Matt 6:34 Amp)

I love reminiscing about the past and I love dreaming about the future, but most of the time I’m right here in the present.  I know I haven’t always been this way.  I know because hubby has mentioned it more than once.   But even though I’ve not always been one to live “in the moment,” I’ve never made a big deal out of things. 

I’m the type of person who will cry it out over something and once I’m done it’s over, I move on.  I can’t stay mad at hubby for long because I would rather enjoy him and our marriage.  I dream big and then go cook supper. 

But in as much as I love the fact that I live one day at a time, I also know that if some of those big dreams are going to come true I need to do something about them TODAY.  So today I’m writing this, because one of my big dreams is to write…alot…and very well. 

Good night. I leave you with a photo of our adorable Benji.DSC_3636 (1024x681)

Check back tomorrow for a yummy Mac-n-Cheese recipe

What’s For Dinner: Fish and chips

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I’ve been wanting to try a fried fish in batter for a while so I put it on the meal plan for this week.  It turned out pretty yummy.  Hubby and I really enjoyed it although I felt like it needed more salt.  Benji cried through the first half of the meal, spit out the crusty part of the fist and refused to eat chips (french fries) with tomato sauce (ketchup). 

A couple of weeks ago we discovered a great way to make oven roasted potatoes.  It also works well for making chips (french fries) in the oven instead of deep frying them. Since I’m always looking for ways to make yummy food healthier and easier I fell in love with this way of making chips right away.

So here goes.  I’ll give the step-by-step with pictures and a easy to copy and paste version at the end. 

Step 1: Peel potatoes, wash and cut into desired size. (I used about 12 small potatoes for the 3 of us and we had leftovers).  Put in a bowl or pan and cover with hot water (hot tap water works fine although I used boiling water from my electric water jug). Soak the potatoes for 15 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 220 C (450 F)

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Step 2: Prepare the pan.  Either use a non-stick baking pan or line the pan with foil.  Add enough oil to just coat the bottom of the pan (this keeps the potatoes from sticking as they cook). 

Step 3:Drain water from potatoes and pat dry.   Return to bowl and add oil.  I used about 1 1/2 tablespoons which was more than enough.  Season to taste with salt and any other seasonings you like.  I added onion powder since hubby loves it. Stir well to ensure all that potatoes are coated. 

Step 4: Put the potatoes in the prepared pan.  DO NOT STIR, just spread the potatoes so that they are even. 

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Step 5: Cover the pan with foil and seal the edges. Pop them in the oven.

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Step 6: Cook for approximately 20 minutes. The time will vary depending on the size of your potato pieces.  If you want them to get crispy uncover them for the last 5 or so minutes. 

While your chips are baking you can make the fish.  Actually I would suggest you start preparing the fish while the potatoes are soaking. 

Step 1: Cut your fish into small pieces (I used 2 large fillets and cut them each into 4 pieces)

Step 2: Prepare the batter.  First mix 3/4-1 cup of water, 1/4 cup of oil and 1 egg.  Then add 1 cup of flour, 4 teaspoons of cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. (I didn’t think the salt was enough, next time I think I’ll rub a little salt and onion powder directly onto the fish to ensure they are well seasoned).  Mix well.New folder4 (683x1024)

Step 3:  Dip fish in batter and fry in hot oil (about a 1/4 inch of oil in a frying pan, add as necessary).  Let each side cook until golden brown (about 3-4 minutes).

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Remove your chips from the oven and serve your fish and chips.  You might want to serve with tomato sauce (ketchup) and tartar sauce.  Enjoy your yummy meal. I know we did. 

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Oven Chips/French Fries:

  • – Potatoes (peeled and cut to desired size)( use 5-6 small potatoes per serving)
  • – Hot Water
  • – Oil
  • – Salt
  • – Any Other seasonings desired
  1. Place potatoes in a bowl or pan and cover with hot water. 
  2. Allow to soak for at least 15 minutes.  Prepare a baking pan by adding enough oil to cover the bottom. 
  3. Preheat oven to 220C/450F
  4. Drain potatoes and pat dry.  Add oil (1/2 Tablespoon per serving), salt and any other seasonings and stir well to ensure all the potatoes are coated with oil.
  5. Put potatoes in pan and spread evenly (it is ok if they overlap if the potatoes are cut thin, if they are cut thick use a baking pan large enough to allow you to spread them in one layer)
  6. Cover the pan with foil and seal tightly.  Bake for approximately 20 minutes.  If you want the potatoes to be crispy on the outside uncover for the last 5-10 minutes.

 

Fish in Batter: (Recipe adapted from The Newcomer’s Guide to Cooking in Africa)

  • 3/4 to 1 cup cold water
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup salad oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • Fish fillets cut into desired sizes
  1. Mix water, egg and oil in a bowl. 
  2. Add flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt and mix well
  3. Dip fish pieces in batter one at a time
  4. Fry in about 1/4 inch hot oil. 
  5. Fry each side until golden brown (about 3-4 minutes for each side)
  6. Remove from pan.

N/B This recipe made more than enough batter for 2 large fillets.  It should be enough to cook 4 medium fillets.  I used Tilapia but I assume that this recipe would work well with other types of fish.

As a last thing I think I should try to be as real as possible on this blog so here is a picture of what the other side of my kitchen looked like while I was cooking. :) 

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Where to begin

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This is not the first blog I’ve had but I believe that its going to be the most fun.  Let start with an introduction.  My name is Sarah.  I am an American.  My hubby’s name is Willie.  He’s a Kenyan.  Our son’s name is Benji.  He’s a dual citizen – American and Kenyan. Personally I’m a little jealous.  He gets to have two passports for two different countries at the same time.  So essentially our family is half African and half American. 

How far we've come
How far we’ve come

Currently we live in Nairobi, Kenya.  Willie grew up in Nairobi.  I lived in a rural part of Kenya from 2002 to 2008 with my parents who where missionaries here.  Then we moved to Nairobi and met the love of my life.  Mom and Dad moved back to the States but we decided to stay a little while longer.

Willie is a sound engineer by training and he loves repairing anything electronic.  He loves mentoring young men and hanging out with Benji.  He is a most amazing hubby and daddy. 

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I am not sure what I am by training :)  But I’m wifey, mommy, cook, baker, writer, and photographer all by practice.  

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We have a photography business and specialize in telling the stories of love.  My favorite kinds of photos are engagement, weddings, maternity, newborn, family and children.  We have also done quite a bit of pre-marital counseling and have a deep passion for nurturing strong marriages.  We believe that marriage can be fun, happy and successful. 

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Benji is busy trying to do everything we do.  He is especially fond of all things electronic and pretend cooking.  Peek-a-boo (or I SEE as he calls it) is his favorite pastime.  But that might be because he is not quite 1 1/2 years old 🙂

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My hope for this blog is to let it tell our story as it happens.  I have drifted away from writing over the past few years and this is one of the ways I hope to get back to it.  Certainly there will be lots of photos, plenty of cooking and baking and many posts about Benji.  I hope that it will also be a place of encouragement for those struggling in their marriages and hopefully it will be a blessing to a few other cross-cultural families. 

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