And the adventure cooking that is

It's really less so an adventure and a need to not eat ugali and stew once again.  It's not the healthiest of options and while I love some Kenyan foods ugali is definitely not their claim to fame; it's a mixture of flour and water and bland. 

Today I scavenged through the pantry and decided to make a tuna salad.  There were some chopped peppers and a few slices of cucumbers left over and so I tossed those in with some chopped tomato, onion, garlic, and coriander.  Hopefully it will suffice for lunch tomorrow.  Save me from myself and give me some suggestions for more exciting *healthy* meal options!

And if you have some ideas for easy to make appetizers, do tell.  I am hosting a small home party for one of my favorite non-profits here in Nairobi in a few weeks and would like to serve some homemade bitings with drinks.

How to find a job in "Africa"

So I recently received an email from a friend of a friend asking what they could do to become an attractive prospective employee for potential NGO employers in Africa.  While I am by no means an expert on the topic as I have only had 3 positions here and have been here a little less than 3 years, I offered this advice:

Diet cooking is for the birds

In an attempt to lose some of the weight that I've put on traveling over the last 6-8 months I'm back to my standby Scarsdale Diet since apparently having regular bouts of Harvey (my imaginary intestinal worm) hasn't kept off the weight.  While I was hopeful the weight gain and other symptoms could be explained away by a potential thyroid problem I was depressed to learn that, in fact, my thyroid is working perfectly.  Therefore, evidently my weight gain is just a symptom of being in my 30s.

So, back to Scarsdale I go.  Yes, there are some off the wall remarks in the book that one should ignore about women and PMS; keep in mind it WAS written in the '70s.  However, as the overall diet is healthy and simple to stick to in theory, I am going to start the 2 week trial once again since my daily diet of home cooked Indian food is thickening under my belt. I even contemplated buying a cute new apron at Amani ya Juu yesterday to begin the quest.

Today I figured I would start with something simple, like a fresh garden salad.  With no dressing in the house and just me and my clumsy fingers for chopping, I think it's going to be more difficult than it sounds.

Rediscovering Kenya

I know I've been completely lame this year about blogging and I could use my hectic travel schedule as an excuse but I've been seconded to UNHCR Nairobi for a good month and a half now and I'm not doing any better on the writing front.  Granted they are definitely keeping me busy and while I'm happy to be in the same city as my friends for an extended period of time there is definitely not as much free time as one would expect.  Not that I'm complaining; I actually enjoy having work to do in the office and am not upset that this means a bit of after hours work during my weeknights and weekends.

That said, I think Nairobi has lost a bit of it's shine too, giving me less to write about as I am not one to use my blog as a ventfest.  While yes, I could write about the daily grind of matatu chicken and the guessing game of constantly changing roads, that's not really my style.  Therefore my goal is to try to reclaim that happy shiny feeling that Kenya gives so many people.  Granted, most of those people live in a bubble that doesn't involve torture stories and revolves around expat-centric Westlands or Gigiri, but still; I know the shininess is there, lurking somewhere just beneath the surface, and I'm determined to find it again.

Step one: I went to Castle Forest Lodge, a colonial weekend retreat near Mount Kenya, where elephants are known to traipse through the forest and past the bandas in the evenings.  It was scenic and relaxing.  I spent most of my time lounging by the fire reading and catching up with friends.  Then we spent Sunday in Nyeri getting massaged and relaxing in the steam room and sauna at Green Spa.  The sheen has brightened a bit.

What to do in a power outage

Well, first off, get an apartment that has a generator.  Or if you're Curry Delight, invest in a lot of rechargeable battery lamps and candles and let the good times roll.

1. Make sure your laptop battery is charged so even if you can't access the wireless you can plug up your dongle for some internet fun.  Or you can get a couple of hours of movie/tv watching in, depending on how long your computer battery lasts.

2. Keep a fully stocked bar.  Nothing says power outage like drinking a bottle of white wine before it gets warm or having a couple of glasses of scotch on the rocks before the ice melts.

3. If you're already in the shower, pray that your hot water heater pre-heats the tank and isn't heating the water as it comes out the tap. Doing your make up in the mirror by candle light makes you a better person.  Did I mention the perks of a fully stocked bar?

4. Keep a plethora of books on hand.  Flashback to childhood and read under your blanket with a flashlight after lights out. 

5. Order in.  Dinner under the stars is romantic and a much safer option than attempting to cook on the gas top stove in the dark. 

6. Board games!  I've yet to convince anyone to join in the fun with me.  I think my cardboard Kenyan Monopoly doesn't necessarily transcend the cultural divide with Curry Delight.  He just looks at me like I'm crazy when I point out that the backside is also a chess board.  Woo.

7. Tough it out at your favorite bar when the goin gets rough.  Hellllllo, Brew Bistro!

What fun things do you do when the lights go out?  As in good, clean fun, people.