Sweet and Savoury Plantain Pancakes.

This is a tasty way to switch up your pancake game. Instead of the usual sweet fluffy breakfast fare, why not try a savoury pancake, served with baked beans, eggs and smashed avocado for a yummy brunch at home option?

Our ingredients for the pancakes are :-

  • 3 medium really ripe plantains.
  • Some coriander, a bit of onion, green pepper and garlic, all finely chopped.
  • 1 tsp mixed spices blend.
  • 2tbsp chia seeds soaked in 6 tbsp water ( as an egg substitute for 2 eggs).
  • 2 cups self raising flour.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  • 2 cups of natural yoghurt.
  • 1 full tablespoon Coconut oil.
  • A splash of Apple cider vinegar.

Method.

Peel and mash your plantain into a puree. You can use your blender.

Then add the chia “eggs”, yoghurt and oil into the plantain puree, as well as the chopped vegetables mix.

Add the flour, mix well then add the mixed spices and a pinch of salt then the ACV till it is a thickish mixture.

Let the batter rest a while, before making them just like regular pancakes, but a bit smaller, using a tablespoon to add the batter to the pan.

They are fluffy, delicious, smell and look so good.

They are fluffy, soft, smell so good and very delicious. The ripe plantains offer their natural sweetness, the vegetables are hard to see but coupled with the spice offer a wonderful savoury flavour, the chia seeds act as the binder but still offer a bit of crunch and the acv boosts the pancakes’ fluffiness.

The pancakes will go well with baked beans, avocado and eggs for a complete colourful, tasty and nutritious brunch dish.

We had them with smashed avocado.

Roughly mash a ripe but firm avocado add a squeeze of lemon to avoid it turning black as well as add a fresh tangy flavour, a pinch of salt, freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkle of paprika.

You can choose to have them with scrambled eggs…

… or a poached egg.

It is all up to you.

Yummy, colourful, healthy and filling. Try this for a delicious weekend breakfast option.

Puppy Love.

My daughter has a lot of affection for one of the dogs. Both kids love all the dogs but there seems to be an extra special bond when it comes to this specific dog. Anatalina is her name and she is a playful and delightful dog that loves human attention.

This girl knows all there is to know about this specific dog. She knows its age, what it likes and is able to tell whether it is feeling good or a bit low. What the different barks and whines mean, even how to calm the dog down sometimes. I have never seen such an intense bond between a child and an animal up close. It is something special to watch.

Growing up, not many people kept indoor pets where we lived. Even now, many people keep dogs as a security measure so they are usually built for kennels outside, and let out at night to deter intruders. Getting the kids indoor pets was not anything we took seriously. Back in Nairobi we lived in a homestead with cows, pigs, rabbits and chickens and they helped out in feeding and caring for them, but we do not have deep emotional attachments as compared to keeping a little chihuahua or pet parrot, nope.

We did have a pair of love birds once some years ago…for a day or two, then they disappeared and no, it was not my fault. LOL! Even cats are out of the question for us. Animals live outside, we live inside, that is my rule and I like it that way.

When we found out we would live with the dogs here, I was obviously apprehensive but the kids and the dogs get along just fine.

Anatalina always barks happily when she senses the kids leaving for school or when they are getting in back later in the day. She has this special whine she lets out that can be really insistent and only calms down when my daughter goes to her side of the garden and pats her down.

My daughter always checks to know when the Vet is coming to check on the dogs and watches him treat the dogs as she asks why they are being given specific meds or vitamins. There is a time she cried when Anatalina was not feeling well, and could not bear to see the dog being injected.

Seeing her interact with the dog has made me learn a few things too, and made me understand a bit on why kids love animals, in this case dogs, so much.

Dogs are known to be loyal, affectionate creatures. Probably why they are known as ‘man’s best friend.’ Dogs offer companionship, loyalty and understanding. No matter how lousy you are feeling, the sight of your dog’s delight to see you will lift your spirits. Dogs are no longer just helping us to keep safe, their presence in our lives has health benefits too. Playing with them, walking with them, stroking them helps keep us active and happy. Dog owners are actually more physically active than people who do not own dogs. If the kids are sad or had a bad day, they will sense it and try to cheer them up.

Dogs are great protectors, they will alert you when something is not right in or around your home. Their behaviour and the sounds they make will let you know of anything suspicious.

Which reminds me, I have a bit of a mystery I have been unable to solve in the neighbour hood. Almost everyone around us keeps dogs and these guys (the dogs, that is), always bark and howl insistently when one of our neighbours drives back in the evening. I do not understand why it is always that specific neighbour. At first it was a bit amusing but it has never stopped, and it has been over a year now since we moved in here. Every night this guy comes home just before 9.00 pm, ALL the dogs in our immediate area howl and bark like crazy for 3-5 minutes. I wonder why?

Anyway, back to why kids love dogs. I have also read that playing with dogs can calm down hyperactive kids, helps kids with special needs, and also teach kids a few skills. By caring for the dogs, the children learn responsibility and commitment. Knowing that there is another living being they care for will also boost their self confidence, teach them kindness and to be trustworthy.

I may have not liked dogs in the past, but I am definitely developing puppy love vibes recently. Watching my kids play with the dogs so gleefully and interact with them so freely, has taught me to also loosen up a bit, let go of my inhibitions a bit and have some fun too. What’s a little dog fur on my clothes in return for doleful eyes watching me, tail wagging crazily as I rub Anatalina behind her ears?

She is also an amazing listener. I can rave and rant and she will lie down and watch me as I vent out all my frustrations. With a few whines thrown in here and there, that I am pretty sure mean she agrees with me. She will watch me exercise or jog in the garden even dance with no judgment at all. And she keeps me company when I cook. Always at the kitchen window trying to keep up with whatever is going on with me. She is obviously begging for some kitchen scrapes but i will go with my delightful company as the reason she is always there. She is such a delightful dog.

George Graham Vest said, “The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world—the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous—is his dog.” Every time I watch how my daughter bonds and plays with Anatalina, I am reminded of how special dogs are. In this crazy world, who would not want a loyal, non judgement and playful companion by their side? Will we get a dog when we leave here? You bet we will.

(You can read on the other dogs’ escapades here and here. )

I will also be back soon with an update once I solve the mystery of the dogs’ reactions to our neighbour. Keep it locked.

Love,

Wanjoro.

Red Cabbage Slaw.

Here is another simple side side recipe that goes well with grilled meats, wraps, plantain, roast potatoes and many more dishes.

I love red cabbage because of its colour, obviously, given my love for colourful food. But also because of its numerous health benefits. It has vitamins C, K, A, B6. Minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium, zinc among others. It is colourful hence heavy on antioxidants that help protect our cells, helps fight inflammations and contains fibre too. Cabbage often gets a bad rap but once you know how to prepare it and the health benefits, it will make a worthy addition to your meals.

Red aka purple cabbage is great for your gut health.

The best thing about red cabbage is you can have it cooked as I did here as a stir fry, you can include it in your vegetable manchurian or raw like in this salad.

To get started, you will need:-

  • Half a red cabbage, shredded or sliced thinly.
  • 2 grated carrots.
  • 1 sliced onion.
  • Dressing is 1 tablespoon low fat mayo, 1 tablespoon mustard, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tsp mixed herbs and some lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

To begin, slice your onion and soak in warm salted water to reduce bitterness.

Red cabbage “bleeds” a lot and it may colour all the other vegetables. I read that sprinkling some vinegar helps so decided to try it in this recipe and it kinda worked.
In a bowl, mix the salad dressing ingredients and taste to ensure it is seasoned well and to your liking.
Add the carrot to the shredded cabbage.
Rinse and squeeze the onions dry and add to the bowl, then add the dressing and mix well.
Colourful, refreshing and tasty!
Had mine with some grilled plantain and baked chicken.

I like the crunch of the cabbage against the tang of the mustard and lemon coupled with the sweetness of the carrots and honey in the dressing. The dressing is just enough to coat the vegetables well without overpowering it. The sweetness of the plantains and the lemon marinade in the chicken match the salad well, a perfect burst of flavour in each bite. The kids love it and so do I.

How do you prepare your red cabbage? Please share any red cabbage recipes I can try out.

Love,

Wanjoro.

Out and About: Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Formerly known as the Kazinga National Park, the Queen Elizabeth National Park is one of Uganda’s oldest national parks. It spans over 1,900 square kilometres of savanna grassland, riparian wetland and bush that is home to a wide variety of animals. From mammals to birdlife, the diverse array of flora and fauna will please any nature lover who visits the park.

It is located in Western Uganda, about 400Km outside Kampala, on a winding scenic route towards the peak of the Western Rift Valley spotted with various crater lakes and tea plantations.

Fun Fact: The Albertine Rift Valley (as the Rift Valley branch in Uganda is called), is actually longer than the Kenyan Rift Valley.

The park has several key attractions. There are tree climbing lions found in the Ishasa sector (only two kinds of lions are known to do this in the entire world), the beautiful Kazinga Channel that I have posted about here , Lake Katwe, one of the region’s oldest salt mines, the beautiful but foul smelling (due to sulphur deposits) Lake Nyamunuka, as well as other crater lakes and volcanic features present in the area. Another plus is its location at the back of the majestic Ruwenzori range and the presence of chimpanzees too.

The best time to visit the park is well, any time, as the park is open throughout the year. However, the roads may be impassable during the rainy season and this is Uganda, when it rains it pours in the wet seasons of April/May and September/ October. The dry seasons in Jan/Feb and June/August are said to be better to watch the wildlife though as the animals are more visible as they search for water.

You know you are nearing the park when you begin to spot the wildlife right off the highway.

Some of the wildlife you will spot in the park are buffaloes, Ugandan Kob, leopards, waterbucks, lion, elephants, Nile Monitor lizards, Nile crocodiles, warthogs, colobus monkeys, baboon giant forest hogs, serval cats. There are however no cheetahs, rhinos, zebras or giraffes.

These antelopes were a bit camera shy.

QENP, as the park is more commonly known, is a favorite for bird watchers too. There are over 600 bird species in this park that is a world registered Important Birding Area (IBA) and the bird variety found here is the biggest of any East African National Park! Amazing, right? If you visit during the wet season, you can be lucky to spot some migratory birds too.

The location of the park and adjacency of the area to the deep Congo forest, its diverse flora, water features among other factors attract various bird species. Some of the birds you are lucky to spot here include the African green broadbill, African Skimmer, pink backed pelican, flamingos (on the crater lakes), ring necked pigeon, red chested warbler, various sunbirds, lapwings, grey herons, marsh harriers, African jacana, cisticolas, crakes, African palm nut vulture, African Kestrel, various sandpiper, oxpecker, woodpecker, bee eater and kingfisher species, the list goes on and on. The bird life is amazing and diverse from one part of the park to another. Just carry your binoculars though spotting them is not that difficult.

We did not get to see the leopards, but spotted a lot of birds, elephants, hippos, buffaloes, antelopes and a couple of lions.

We stayed at Buffalo Springs Lodge within the park, they have a pavilion that looks out onto this watering hole favoured by warthogs, baboons, buffaloes and elephants.
The park has over 1000 buffalos, you will spot them in huge herds or grazing alone.
With an elephant population estimated to be about 3000, these gentle giants may be the biggest but not easiest animals to spot as they graze or head into the water.
The famous cactus climbing lions.
See how well hidden this fellow is?
We spotted these elephants while on the path in the lodge. Exciting!
The total hippo population in the park is said to be the largest in the East African region, at around 5000 hippos found in the various water bodies in the park. The Kazinga Channel is the main water body in the park and is host to many schools of hippos such as these ones in the picture.

There are people living within the park and around it. It is not uncommon to hear of attacks by crocodiles when someone is fetching water, bumping into hippos and even find young boys shooing away elephants coming to graze too close to their compounds. But the existence is generally peaceful.

QENP is a must visit when one is in Uganda, the diversity of both flora and fauna, the crater lakes, the Kazinga Channel and other geographical features will excite any curious visitor. There are various hotel within and around the park that favour different budgets, and of course do not forget your sunscreen, hat, binoculars, and spirit of adventure when you set out to experience the “Medley of Wonders” that is the Kazinga National Park.