Over the last two years living in Mundri, I have learned a whole new rhythm for preparing food and many new skills. I learned the art of the substitution. I learned to improvise based on what is available on any particular day in the market. I learned how to make yogurt and then how to use yogurt as a replacement for cream cheese, sour cream, buttermilk, and various other ingredients. I learned how to grind meat by hand and then decided that I never want to grind meat again. I also learned that I will grind meat and put extra effort in to preparing special birthday and holiday meals for our team.
When we arrived back in Mundri in June, our propane supply was very low, so we all learned to cook dinner over a charcoal burner. We still used our limited propane for breakfast and lunch though. A few weeks we got another large tank of propane from Juba which allowed us to go back to cooking all our meals on our propane stove. Cooking with charcoal takes a lot of extra time and planing. The whole process of lighting the coals alone takes me about 30-45 minutes. Hopefully as I pick up more pointers from my Sudanese friends, the lighting of the coals at least will happen more quickly.
Well yesterday, on Gaby's 9th birthday we ran out of propane completely. It was a sad moment. We all knew it meant a complete shift in the way live life in Mundri daily. By God's mercy, I had already finished cooking Gaby's birthday dinner when the propane ran out. His request was sushi (with no raw fish of course), so I cooked earlier in the day so that I could put the food in the refrigerator to get cool before dinner. Karen had also already prepared a dessert to enjoy while our team watched Avatar: The Last Airbender to prepare for today's Avatar themed birthday party. Karen was going to make peppermint patty's but after a few necessary modifications because of the empty propane tank we had ended up having peppermint patty filling in a bowl topped with chocolate chips. It was DELICIOUS!!! Who knew you could make homemade peppermint patty filling using potatoes. =)
It rained last night cooling things down in Mundri so I slept in sweat pants and a hoodie as well as under a fleece blanket. This morning it was still cool so many of us took advantage of the cool weather on a Saturday morning to sleep in. Once I got up, the cooking started. The first task of the day would now be to light two charcoal burners. We got a tea kettle on one burner for coffee and on the other I made up some oatmeal. After I ate my breakfast, I decide to make some pancakes that we could eat for breakfast cold over the next few days in the hopes we could keep water hot in a thermos overnight for coffee. We still had some left over hot water, so we took advantage and made some more yogurt which is now sitting in the warmer. Then Karen started the process of making brownies for Gaby's party today. Michael borrowed back the charcoal stove we had given the Bishop last year when we got the new propane stove, and he got more coals started. Our team practice to use coals while they are hot, so while the brownies were baking, Liana joined me in the kitchen to make gingerbread. Not the morning I had planned, but I enjoyed making gingerbread with Liana as well as reading while flipping pancakes and drinking my morning coffee.
In about 45 minutes we will be having Gaby's birthday party. I am thankful that despite the empty propane tank, we were able to make the foods that make him happy.
- Please pray for God to provide propane for our team. Also pray for us as we adjust to a new rhythm of cooking with out propane which will be far more time consuming and require more planning.
On a side note, just thought I would also share a funny propane related language confusion moment from last week. I heard while I was in the market practicing my Juba Arabic that there might be propane in another market a little farther down the road. I walked down to the next market not knowing exactly where the shop that had propane was located. I started asking around to see if anyone knew where I could buy propane. Well I was having trouble communicating "propane" since I didn't knew the Arabic word, so after several attempts when people brought me kerosene and matches, I finally drew a picture of a propane tank and told them they are usually red tanks. Well one shop keeper very enthusiastically told me he had what I wanted and went to get one for me while I waited at the front the of the store. I was so excited that I had found propane in Mundri! Well, when he came around, he was holding a fire extinguisher. I had to laugh. It did sort of look like my picture (my drawing skills aren't great).