Out and About: Entebbe Wildlife Sanctuary.

The Entebbe Wildlife Sanctuary, popularly know as the Entebbe Zoo, is one of the places one must visit when in Entebbe or Kampala.

It is located in Entebbe, but not that far from Kampala; about a hour’s drive, which makes it an excellent family outing option.

We have been there several times already, but this time round was more special to us as we had yet to see the two Bengal Tigers the zoo acquired sometime last year.

There is a lot to see at the zoo. From chimpanzees, to beautiful lions, cheetahs, giraffes, elephant, snakes, otters and even the elusive Shoebill stork, usually found at Mabamba Bay. I have already written about our visit there here.

There were a few changes we noticed while there. Obviously, there are standard Covid 19 prevention protocols to be observed, the zoo is now charging parking fees, and there is a small vehicle to drive those who do to want or are unable to walk around, (at a fee of course).

There is a big playground filled with different activities for children, a restaurant (that serves some awesome fish) and an area one can picnic at on the shores of Lake Victoria.

This time round though, we just wanted to see the animals. We began at the tiger enclosure. Such majestic creatures.

The lions, cheetah and leopard were all asleep though, I guess it was big cats nap time.

Can you spot the leopard?

They also have a caracal and a serval which I find so beautiful with its black spots, long neck and long legs which make it a great jumper.

The zoo has two rhinos too that are so good at minding their own business, just grazing peacefully.

The kids were fascinated by the tigers, the rhinos which we were lucky to get really close to, the chimpanzees as well as the otters.

It was also our first time to see the otters up close as most times they hide out in the water.

Other fascinating sections were the reptile section, with the snakes and crocodiles.

If you are an avid birdwatcher, you will be able to hear and spot a few birds in the trees as you walk around the zoo. We spotted other animals too that are not part of the captive ones such as vervet moneys frolicking in the trees and a monitor lizard.

How many monkeys can you spot?

There is a botanicals section too, that is very informative on indigenous plants and their healing properties. Sadly this time round the guide was not available and the garden looked a bit rundown but I was able to get a few photos and information. It is one of my favorite parts of the gardens as we get to learn how many plants and trees around us, including some we view as weeds, were actually used in olden times to heal and manage various diseases and disorders. Quite intriguing.

The zoo has many other animals, warthogs, giraffes, baboons, red tailed monkeys, crowned cranes, ostriches, buffalos, waterbucks, a zebra, elephant and many more.

Rothschild giraffes
Ostriches.

PS: I know there are people who do not like going to zoos as they do not want to see the animals in captivity. Well, for me, I see it is a learning opportunity. We get to see many animals and learn about them without having to travel to do so. Travelling to see animals in the wild is not within reach for many. Some of the animals are also rescued from the wild as they are at risk of being poached or endangered, so it is part of animal conservation efforts undertaken by those entrusted to care for them.

Many of the trees around the zoo had signs indicating their names, both local and scientific and if they are indigenous to the region or not.

Some also have installations around them to promote conservation and how to reuse plastics that are a menace to the environment.

These used water bottles are being used as planters for tree seedlings.
These tree base has been reinforced with used soda bottles in the concrete and plastic bottle caps on top.

We all enjoyed ourselves despite being a hot day and the place being quite busy than all the other times we have been there.

When you decide to visit the zoo, wear comfortable shoes and clothing, sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses will not hurt too as there is quite a bit of walking around to do to see the animals.

Definitely worth a visit.

Coconut Pineapple Pancakes.

These cocopine pancakes are insanely delicious, decadent and made with so much love, each bite is just heaven on your tongue. Don’t believe me? Try them and see.

There is something about coconut and pineapple that reminds one of slow lazy days, sunshine, clear skies and love. Make these for yourself or your loved ones and treat yourselves.

The basic pancake batter is an adaption for a fluffy pancake recipe shared by @nyaranyango on Instagram. I changed it up a bit and made the pancakes Kenyan style, more like thickish crepes than fluffy American style. Then filled them with a simple pineapple and coconut compote that is wickedly delicious.

Ingredients:-

  • 2 1/2 cups self raising flour.
  • 1 heaped tablespoon custard powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk
  • 1 cup natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • A pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup fresh pineapple juice.

For the compote;

  • 1/2 a medium sized ripe pineapple, diced. (Ugandan pineapples are the sweetest and go in so well in this recipe).
  • 1 big lemon, juiced.
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • A small pinch of ground cloves and ground nutmeg.
  • 2 tablespoons Ugandan honey
  • 1 heaped tablespoon coconut flakes, dessicated coconut will work too.
  • A small splash of vanilla.
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water.

Begin with the pancake batter. In a large bowl, add the coconut milk and sugar and whisk together, then add the coconut oil.

Next all the rest of the wet ingredients, the yoghurt, vanilla, egg and whisk well.

Follow this with the custard powder and flour and mix to a smooth thickish batter. The juice and cinnamon go in last. Set aside for a while.

For the compote, aka the pineapple sauce. Keep the heat low as you make it, to avoid burning.

Heat your small sauce pan and add the coconut flakes. Toast them till they start browning a bit, remove and set aside.

In the same pan, add the butter and as it melts, add the honey, lemon juice, and mix well. When it starts simmering, add the diced pineapple and the ground spices, mix well and cover. Let it cook for 15 minutes on low. The pineapples will remove their juice, soften and absorb the spices and lemon and honey slowly.

Once 15 minutes are up, if the compote is too runny for your liking, add the cornstarch and mix well, finish off with the toasted flakes and vanilla and switch off heat.

Let us now get back to our pancakes. I use a non stick pan and do not add oil as I already added it in the batter.

Heat your pan on medium flame, wipe with a kitchen towel and ladle some batter, then swirl it round. When it gets bubbles on the surface, flip and let cook on the other side. I like mine this golden brown colour. Remove from heat with a spatula and keep on a plate lined with kitchen towel. Repeat the same process until all the batter is done.

Now assemble and serve. I usually put the compote in the middle and fold the pancakes into a triangle shape as seen below.

The pancakes are perfect with a cup of ginger tea. Yum!

If you love coconuts and pineapple, these cocopine pancakes are definitely worth a try.

Terere in Peanut Sauce.

Terere is what we call amaranth leaves in my mothertongue. So this dish is amaranth leaves in peanut sauce.

This dish makes me nostalgic of my uni days when I’d scour through cookbooks filled with recipes, copy some and try them out at home over the weekend. Clearly I didn’t have an active social life back then. 😆

The first recipe I ever saw that called for peanut sauce in greens was from Southern Africa, using pumpkin leaves, which I just had to try out. Thankfully pumpkin leaves were available in our garden and I’ve never forgotten the creamy deliciousness I enjoyed when I attempted the dish.

I like making this as a side dish for ugali. But it can work with other mains as well.

I like amaranth as it’s one of those plants you can consume the grains and the leaves, the grains are ground into flour to make porridge, or puffed to make breakfast cereal, or pressed with honey into cereal bars that make a great snack for kids and adults too. It is easily available and affordable, there is no excuse to not include it in your diet.

Amaranth is not hard to grow and back home grows wild in the farm. They come in green and red varieties.

Terere aka “dodo” as it is known here in Kampala is a nutrient powerhouse, despite being viewed as a lowly vegetable by many. It is high in fiber and iron, rich in vitamin A, protein, calcium, lysine (which enables the body to absorb calcium among other benefits), as well as rich in various vitamins and minerals.

In this recipe, I used two bunches of green amaranth leaves and one bunch of Swiss chard. One onion, three cloves garlic minced, one sliced tomato, and 1and a half heaped tbsp peanut sauce mixed with a bit of water to make a paste, salt and pepper to taste. Spices used were a pinch of paprika but this is optional.

Clean your greens, remove the thick stalks and chop them roughly. Set aside in a colander.

Mix the peanut butter and half a cup of water in a bowl. Till it’s like a smooth porridge.

Heat one tablespoon of oil in a pan. Fry the onion and garlic till soft.

Add the tomatoes and spice and mix well with a pinch of salt.

Once tomatoes are soft, add the greens and mix well.

Once wilted, add the sauce.

Simmer for about 10 minutes. The vegetables will release their water and mix with the peanut sauce into a thick sauce and be tender.

Note: The younger the veggies, the shorter the cooking time as you do not want to overcook them. I like them with some bit of bite left.

Use good quality peanut butter preferably with no added sugar. I like using a local brand that mixes in sesame seeds to them that makes it darker in colour but also adds more flavour.

Serve your vegetables hot with your main of choice. I like having them with ugali and avocado slices on the side. Yum!

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.

Delicious Homemade Breakfast Ideas.

Breakfast time is one of my favorite meal times, and I am a firm believer in having a proper breakfast.

It is the first meal of the day, so why not make it special. Yes, I know we are all rushing out to go to work or school but even plain old cereal or oats do not take a lot time to assemble, can be prepared in advance and adding different toppings makes them more visually appealing, tastier and healthier if the toppings have added benefits. Toppings such as nuts, seeds, baobab powder and fruits, fresh or dried, add to both flavour, texture and nutrients that are essential to having a healthy body.

Traditional breakfasts were heavier and filling to provide the body with adequate fuel to farm or do labor intensive chores. They could be leftover dinner, steamed or roasted yams or porridge. These days, a cup of coffee or tea with a muffin is all some will take before heading to the office. Breakfasts these days also include more fry ups than steamed or boiled foods that people would eat in the past. I am no food purist, I believe there is room for what one wants to eat, as long as your meet your daily nutritional requirements.

In our household we like having cereals during the week, and a wider spread over the weekend when there is no rush. A small leisurely homemade brunch. The kids like their Weetabix and Hubs likes oats or muesli, or smoothies and I like oats or porridge. This is had with milk/ yoghurt. Toppings differ according to individual preferences (and moods) but our usual ones (not all at the same time though), are chia seeds, sesame seeds, black seed powder, hibiscus powder, cocoa powder, baobab powder, peanut butter, raisins, coconut flakes, sprinkles, fruits, and honey. Beverages are Coffee, tea, cocoa for the kids and fresh juice.

I sometimes soak the oats overnight, other times cook them on the stovetop and even in the microwave if pressed for time. They are an ideal weekday breakfast as they are filling but do not give one a feeling of heaviness and go so well with any accompaniment you choose.

Oatmeal porridge smothered with a nectarine, coconut and pineapple sauce, with a drizzle of honey and a pinch of nutmeg.
Oatmeal porridge made with milk, and served with sesame seeds, peanut butter and chia seeds.
Oatmeal with crushed pineapple, coconut flakes and nuts, garnished with chia seeds and honey.

Weekends are for breakfast potatoes, pancakes, sausages or bacon, potato hash, fresh juice, eggs and fruits.

Maizemeal, besan and wheat flour pancakes.
Fluffy American style pancakes with an orange chia butter sauce.
Simple Kenyan style pancakes with fruits on the side and a homemade blueberry compote on top.

Breakfast potatoes either pan fried or baked with onions, peppers, sausage and tomatoes are an ideal weekend brunch dish.

Pan fried hash of cassava, capsicum, tomatoes, onion, garlic and crumbled sausage.

Traditional foods can be had at any time too right?

Simple boiled maize, just needs some salt and pepper, or butter if you please.
Roasted sweet potatoes, baked beans and cheesy scrambled eggs are tasty and filling.
Steamed arrow root, spicy slices sausage and baked beans with a fresh vegetable salad is a another great option for a breakfast that is tasty, healthy and filling.
And I cannot forget that Kenyan breakfast staple, the Mandazi. A tasty beignet that goes well with tea, coffee or hot cocoa.

Here are a few more tasty breakfast recipes already shared on the blog:-

What do you like having for breakfast?