Food and Drink

Cooking for a Big Family

It all starts with 38 tomatoes.

38 tomatoes

If you learned to count tomatoes in kindergarten you might have noticed I have 31 tomatoes here, which if you carry the 2, subtract the square root, and estimate the x, you quickly realize that I am short 7 red juicy tomatoes. Which is fine. Cooking is not science, so fudging on the numbers is perfectly fine, even expected.

Next up we take the skins off the tomatoes. I first boil them in water, not milk.

tomatoes in pot

Why not just buy canned tomatoes? Canned food is expensive here in Kenya. Besides this way I get fresh and mostly organic produce.

While those are in the pot doing their business I cut up onions and mince garlic.

onions and garlic

If your onion has sprouted, teach it a lesson by chopping it up last. In the end the tears are worth it, and you have tasty onions and garlic ready to go in the pot.

chopped onion and garlic  

By now the skins on the tomatoes look loose and have started breaking. Take them out, drain the water, and peel away. I do this under running cold water, because let’s face it, tomatoes that have just been taken out of boiling hot water will burn your fingers, and possibly other body parts as well.

peeling the tomatoes

What kind of chili would it be without meat? Vegetarian chili you say? I say that chili without meat is not chili, it’s vegetable stew.

ground meat

The great thing about chili is that you can throw in leftovers. I cooked the meat in leftover garlic butter. Heaven.

While the meat is cooking I chop up the tomatoes.

chopping tomatoes

One of Kate’s friends sent this handy little machine. She has the best friends. Who am I kidding? She has all the friends.

At some point the onions and garlic need to be added to the cooking meat.

adding onions and garlic

Remember what I said about the leftovers? Well here are some beans, salsa, and pureed salsa to add.

leftovers

Perfect time to add the chopped up tomatoes and all the seasonings. I put in : cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper, tobassco sauce, sugar (which was skipped today cause I couldn’t find any,) and I think that’s it.  

seasonings

Stir till it looks like chili.

chili   

Simmer for 30 minutes.

timer

And that’s how you cook chili for 16 hungry people. Actually since 14 of those people are girls we need more food, so we will cook some rice to go with it.


Maize

For several years now we have been planting maize (white corn) and beans on a friends piece of land. I started out doing it as a way to help out this friend, John I. He had the land, 2 acres, but no way to cultivate it. So we worked out a deal. We buy the seed and labor, and he provides the farm land. We then share the harvest at the end of the season.

We do not eat much of the corn, instead we end up giving it away. Kate will be going out to Elementeita tomorrow to distribute some of the maize to needy families. Ali will be throwing a party for the community as well. Fun times.

Here are some photos of the harvesting:

john i and harvested maize

The guy in the blue shirt is John I. Yes that is hair under that blue turban/wrap,thing on his head. His dreads are several decades old.

loading maize into sacks

The maize is loaded into sacks.

 

sheller

It is then taken to a guy with a sheller. He removes the kernals from the cob, and the maize is ready to be ground and given away.


You're Hired

Our cook, who's been with us for almost five years, resigned. I don't think she could handle the work load nor our demands for honesty. Either way we now have a huge hole in our household which includes 14 children.

We actually could use the savings that having one less staff person brings. So, at least for the time being, I'm the new cook.

That's right. Johnny Brooks will be sweating over the stove for our huge family. I'm not sure how qualified I am. I mean I'm pretty good with main dishes. Take this evening for example. We will be dinning on a pork chop dish topped with mozzarella and tomatoes. Yet I have no clue as to what to serve with it. Plus I have to pick the children from school right at a crucial dinner prep time. We may have to rework our evening schedule and start having dinner an hour later than usual.

The more I think about it the less I like this idea of being the cook. Better stop before I hand in my resignation letter.