African outfits

African outfits
Our crazy family

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Experimental Cooking

I have had so much on my mind lately that I just shut down and do nothing.  My house is a mess because I have started projects and then got distracted and never finished them.  We have one more week of our Homeschool Co-op.  I teach a Critical Thinking class so there are papers to be graded and I need to come up with a final grade for the 14 students in my class.  Thankfully, Drew has decided that helping me grade papers would keep me sane.  Last week I was stressing out trying to get all of our visa applications organized, it was not an easy task.  The visa application is sent, along with our passports, so now we just wait for them to return.  I have had numerous blogs fly through my mind but have not had time to capture them, so unfortunately most of them are gone forever.  With 4 weeks to go until our departure, I am attempting to take one day at a time.  That being said,  I am very distracted by thoughts of Africa and preparations that need to be made.  My brain is divided by what needs to happen to function today and my daydreaming about my future reality.

One of the great unknowns about our trip has to do with what happens once our team heads home.  Usually when you are with a team, a cook is provided and you are well cared for.  I was anticipating that I will feed my family as I do here in Minnesota.  At first I was getting a little distressed about what this would look like and thinking I might want to hire a cook for our family.  It could have to do with the fact that Kerry Bender has been to Ndu and told me about buying a lamb at the market, walking it home, feeding it for a few days and his daughter naming it.  Then one day, they (the locals) slaughtered the lamb and that was supper.  I love to cook from scratch but I have never gone that far back to the "natural".  The thought of killing my supper does freak me out a little.  I dealt with it by assuming there will be no way they could possibly expect me to cook under such conditions, so they must be providing a cook.  That would not be an unusual thing at all in Africa and it would actually help whoever we hired to earn some money for their family.

About a week ago, in the same email that gave the wonderful news that our housing would be half of what we had expected, there was a short note about me "not needing a cook".  Those words left me trembling.  I was talking to my computer even - "What do you mean, I don't need a cook?"  When I had finally composed myself, I simply replied that I couldn't possible kill my supper.  The answer I received left me somewhat relieved when I was advised that indeed I would not have to kill my supper.  After breathing a sigh of relief, I started wondering exactly what that means.  I envisioned how my cat leaves his "treasures" on our door step and wondered if I would find a carcass of some kind waiting for me to skin it and make stew.  I'm guessing not, but that is how my imagination goes.

Once I got over myself (again),  I started thinking about how our full house has been preparing me for this all along.  I would say most of the meals I make are what I call "experimental cooking".  I love to throw things together and use my favorite spices.  My family is very encouraging and most meals get the thumbs up.  Their biggest complaint is that I can't usually make the same meal twice.  Kyle keeps telling me to make my own cookbook.  I haven't had that same response from people outside of my home but I'm thankful my kids will eat anything I put before them.  I've been flipping through magazines and cookbooks feeling very inspired and excited to try my hand at African cooking.

As with most things concerning our upcoming trip to Cameroon, I have had to process and in the end I've come to a point of embracing that which I feared.  I think at this point I will be very disappointed if I am not cooking at least for my immediate family.  I look forward to finding unique treasures of local vegetables and fruits and creating some amazing meals.  The best part is, I will have my family surrounding me, hopefully with double "thumbs up".

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