The Kids Cook Dinner

January 4, 2011 Leave a comment

During my last visit to Kenya, I was at a loose end, so thought it might be a good idea to introduce some of my cooking methods to my Kenyan friends.

Of  course, the first potential problem was to find the ingredients that I am used to. In the event, all but cheese was readily available and I found that Nakumatt has a cheese counter where they sell cheddar which is just about acceptable. So, macaroni cheese is was going to be. The second problem is that I am not used to cooking a meal for eight on a single gas ring.

Benta (8) and Esther (13) were to be the cooks and I would guide them, but everyone, kids and adults alike all crowded around the single burner gas stove to watch, and in the case of the children, sneak a few bits of cheese from the chopping board!

After cooking the macaroni and storing it in a hot pot, the sauce was made, with much fussing around (and dipping in of fingers to taste it).

When everything was ready, the meal was served, pasta first then the sauce over the top. I am happy to report that it was rather popular.

I also introduced some herbs/spices into the household, the first being ground black pepper. Unfortunately, this was carried up by the steam from the cooking and invariably straight up the nose of whoever was cooking, causing a sneezing fit!

I eventually found black peppercorns in a grinder, which solved that problem.

Goat meat tenderises nicely when marinated in Guinness for 30 or so minutes.

I showed the kids how to make rice crispies chocolate cakes. Unfortunately, these lasted only about 5 minutes.

Still, the kids were happy and I hope I helped with varying the usually diet a bit.


Other Benefits from Push-Pull Pest Control

December 21, 2010 2 comments

At the beginning of this year, I posted an article about Push-Pull Pest Control, where to protect a maize crop, a farmer plants other crops, particularly to prevent damage from stem borers,  the other crops being silverleaf desmodium (the push) and napier and Sudan grass (the pull).

I have since been reading accounts of Kenyan farmers having adopted this method to control stem borer moths and striga weed, reporting that their crop yield for 1/4 acre plot has increased up to six-fold.

But, there is a side-effect. The desmodium is good cattle fodder and these farmers find that they can acquire or increase their head of livestock.

I am happy to see that push-pull technology is slowly being adopted in areas of Kenya (particularly Western Province and Nyanza) that are afflicted with these pests, but it needs to be promoted more vigorously so that all farmers in Kenya, or Africa in general can use this very effective method of pest control.

Imagine if all maize farmers could increase their yield by a factor of six!

Push-Pull Technology Transforms Small Farms in Kenya

Here is another site, produced by icipe

On Anaerobic Digesters and CO2

December 20, 2010 3 comments

Regular readers will know that we built a prototype digester last year. It was relatively successful, but not very efficient due to the design, which was based around cost rather than gas production.

It was a proof-of-concept model.

Since then, I have designed, but not built models that should work a lot better, and I have also done some reading on the subject, since I can do little else with my wrist in plaster.

One thing that I found out recently – the gas produced is mainly methane [CH4], but there is a lot of carbon dioxide [CO2] in the mix. This could prove a bit of a problem as CO2 is, of course, inert and is even used in fire extinguishers, not the sort of gas one would want in the supply to a burner of some sort.

The answer, of course, is to clean the gas to remove at least most of the CO2

I believe that passing the CH4/CO2 mix through water does clear out the CO2, leaving a much purer gas fuel.

There is also the possibility of the fuel gas containing sulphur and passing the gas through a stainless steel scrubber will remove this.

However, anaerobic digester design, at personal/small community lever, is a very inexact science. Lots of people are building them, some are successful, others less so. There is a plethora of information on the web, some of it contradictory, so it is a very confusing field.

So, is there anyone out there with experience of building digesters who can verify (or otherwise) the necessity/efficiency of CO2 and sulphur removal?

You input would be most helpful and time saving.

Can’t Get Through the Snow!

December 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Due to an ongoing medical condition, my mother has to have an injection every day. As the procedure is quite complex, I am not allowed to do is so the community nurse calls round.

Yesterday, when the snow was quite thick on the roads, the nurse on duty managed to get someone with a 4×4 vehicle to take her around her calls, including us.

Today, when all main roads are clear (we live on a main road), the nurse telephoned to say that she could not get to us because of the weather, so could I take my mother to the local hospital to have the injection administered.

So, in other words, it is OK to put a frail old lady into my car (see previous posts) and take her the 6 miles to the hospital and back, but it is not alright for the community nurse to come to us – along the same roads.


Oh well, maybe it is a back-handed compliment to my ability to drive in adverse conditions, or it might have been if there had been any snow on the roads!

Categories: Cars, health, Weather Tags: , ,

My Little Scoobie

December 18, 2010 Leave a comment

We have snow! Not a lot of snow, but as the temperature has been hovering at or below 0°C all day and will plunge to -9°C tonight, getting about is not too easy.

But my little Scoobie, with its clever all-wheel-drive system is brilliant. I was a bit dubious at first, but it will get up inclines covered with compacted snow where other classier cars have failed. In fact the only problem I have is weaving through abandoned cars. Another advantage is that it is not too powerful, so it cannot put a lot of power to the wheels when pulling away.

The Subaru Justy, it goes where other cars fear to tread (except Land Rovers, Pajeros, Troopers, Discos, Hilux, etc).

Categories: Cars, Weather Tags: , ,

Smoking, but not as you know it …

December 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Having sustained a compound fracture of the wrist which was not showing any signs of wanting to knit back together, my consultant decided that an operation, involving a bone graft and a screw was necessary.

However, as I am a smoker, he explained that taking in carbon monoxide was inhibiting the healing process and asked if I could give up. If I could, he would perform the operation within  the week.

I have been meaning to switch to electronic cigarettes for a while and this seemed like the right time.

I ordered a kit and stopped smoking “proper” cigarettes. The operation was performed and I wandered around the corridors puffing on my electronic cigarette – no one objected!

A few days later, my mother was rushed into hospital with a blood clot in her lung. Immediately, she was told to stop smoking, not easy for an 88-year-old who has smoked for most of her life.

When she was discharged, I gave her one of my electronic cigarettes.

Mum has not smoked a “proper” cigarette since.

I did smoke one, and found it rather nasty!

And we are saving a small fortune!

And I feel healthier!

Should I plug the brand I am using?

What the heck:

If you are a smoker who wants to give up, or is even thinking about it, or if you are a smoker who wants to save some money, take a look.

Malaria and Hearing Loss

October 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Being somewhat limited in how I can occupy myself as I still have an arm in plaster, I decided to see what I could find out about hearing loss caused by malaria, or maybe caused by the treatment of malaria.

Two things I found out quickly; quinine can cause hearing loss, but this seems partial and only in certain frequencies, and cerebral malaria can cause a change to the inner ear and/or the bit of the brain that deals with hearing.

I have read papers where mice were used in experiments, others citing drugs used to cure the disease and the general consensus seems to be that certain forms of malaria can cause hearing loss.

But, nowhere can I find anything relating to the reversal of the problem. I will carry on reading the papers I find on the Web, when I can find the will – some of them are rather dry and also use scientific terminology that I also have to look up, not being a scientist.

So, if anyone reading this has any information to offer that may help in answering this question, please let me know.

But why am I interested in this particular subject? We have a child at the Twiga Children’s Centre who has been deaf since contracting malaria at 5 months and I want to know if there is any possibility of reversing the hearing loss, other than with hearing aids.

Thanks in advance for any information given.

Categories: health Tags: , , , ,