Friday, May 30, 2008

Breastfeeding and Baby Food

Unlike when I had my first child, with my second, I have not used commercial baby foods. Mostly because living in Africa makes it difficult to acquire and very expensive. There are many ways to do it yourself at home with the foods you have available to you. One thing I have done before, which seems to be standard, is to use a "baby food grinder." These are very handy and I did use mine often with my son. I brought it to use for my daughter, but didn't use it as often as I thought I would.

One reason for less use is because with this baby I did extended nursing. That is, I nursed exclusively till she was about 9-10 months before introducing other foods. She is still nursing a few times a day and she just turned 2 a month ago. I intend to nurse her until after we move back (less than 3 months from now) for adjustment purposes. I might decide differently given other circumstances.

Moving to Ghana when my daughter was only 3 months old made us decide to do this helping to boost her immunity. She is the healthiest of all of us in this house. She rarely gets sick. Being in a hot climate and in Sub-Saharan Africa where malaria can be all too common, it was important to us to give her the best start possible. Breastfeeding is just plain convenient for me.

Of course, a very good option and something I have done, is to puree in a blender (or baby food grinder) and freeze (in ice cube trays) foods for your baby to eat as needed. You can find many resources for this easily on the internet and in your local library. Often I just used my fork to mash up her foods right in her bowl or plate. With cooked foods, I would just make sure it was cooled and added water if needed.

Being a breastfeeding "advocate" of sorts, I can't say enough how important breastfeeding has been for this simple and frugal household of ours. Being in Africa just affirms my notions about how some formula companies will stop at nothing to get all cultures to stop breastfeeding their precious babies.

A few days ago I took a couple of photos of my daughter's breakfast. Baby bananas, papaya, and avocado. Here is her plate.

Besides this, she wanted two more baby bananas and she nursed as well. Sounds like a great tropical breakfast doesn't it?

Another view...

I welcome your comments and questions.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fahrenheit to Celsius

Living in Ghana, I needed to convert my oven recipes to reflect the change from Fahrenheit to Celsius. Here's a quick reference that I use:

200 F = 95 C

225 F = 110 C

250 F = 120 C

275 F = 135 C

300 F = 150 C

325 F = 160 C

350 F = 180 C

375 F = 190 C

400 F = 200 C

425 F = 220 C

450 F = 230 C

475 F = 250 C

500 F = 260 C

For more precise temperatures from Fahrenheit to Celsius (or visa versa) check this easy to use converter. Here's another one.

(The photo above was taken in the shade on our covered front porch today at 4 pm Ghana time. It's actually really cool here today. It feels like sweater weather, really! Usually it's at least 10 degrees warmer on this thermometer. And yes, I have seen this measuring past the 110 F (45 C). I decided it was time to take it in out of the sun.)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Creamy Baked Macaroni & Cheese

In my pre-vegetarian days, I worked in a camp kitchen during the summers before I was married. I loved being at camp, both as a camper when I was younger and then working there when I was old enough. I helped cook and gleaned many loved recipes while working there.

One was an ultimate comfort food for children. Macaroni and cheese, of course. Since becoming vegan, it was fun to try it out without dairy. I came up with my vegan version of the favorite recipe we used at the camp. This is not without calories, I'll warn you. It's good once in a while though.
This recipe is a little different than most. It calls for a long baking time and uncooked pasta. There is no water in the recipe either. These parts of the recipe are unchanged by me. I think this is why I love this so much. It is very creamy and oh, so good. And it's nice to know that you have it in the oven and can catch up on other things while it bakes. I have used wheat free pasta: brown rice pasta and corn pasta, with good success. In fact, corn pasta seems to make it "buttery" tasting.

Creamy Baked Macaroni and (Vegan) Cheese

3 Tablespoons oil
2 1/2 cups uncooked macaroni, or 3 1/2 cups uncooked rotini
1 teaspoon homemade seasoned salt
dash cayenne
2 cups vegan cheese, shredded (1/2 pound)
1 quart unsweetened soy milk
liquid lecithin

Use the liquid lecithin to grease a 3 quart* casserole dish well (this works the best, but oil can be substituted - just a warning, this does tend to stick). Using the baking dish, mix oil, pasta, and seasonings until coated. Add cheese and milk. Stir and bake at 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) for 1 1/2 hours. Do not cover or stir during baking time. Turn off oven, but leave in an additional 1/2 hour, keeping oven door closed (total in oven time: 2 hours). Stir before serving.

*Note about size and shape of casserole dish. We used round and deep 3 quart casseroles (we served family style at all 10-12 tables). I find this to be a good thing, because there is less surface area at the top of the cooking food and less liquid evaporates. Remember, you are cooking the pasta in the oven and it will need to stay submerged as long as possible. I have made this in a 9x13 rectangular pan, but it dries out more quickly. Not really a problem per say, it's just better if you have a deeper dish.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Meatless Burgers - Universal Recipe

Today I have a recipe and a tip, for everyone who has ever thought you must buy your veggie burgers from the frozen section of your grocery store.

I wanted to make them at home...enter a universal recipe for "One of a Kind Loaf" meat analog (a vegetarian meat alternative that looks/tastes similar to meat) and a tip on shaping burgers and I was on track to make it homemade.

It is much cheaper... (have you seen the prices for those things in the store?!) and you can control what goes into it. When my husband had wheat/gluten sensitivity issues, I could barely find a veggie burger (in a store) that didn't have wheat or wheat gluten.

I use a wide mouth canning lid and ring to achieve the burger size I like. There are many burger shapers on the market these days. If you don't have one, never fear... you can use what you might already have in your kitchen.

The recipe was from a borrowed vegan cookbook (can't remember the name of the book though, sorry) that gave me great ideas. This universal recipe intrigued me.

Universal Meatless Burger (aka: One of a Kind Loaf)
(Choose your ingredients, following the suggested amount for each category. You can mix and match within categories - for example, liquids: you could have more than one of the suggested liquids, but totaling only 1 to 1 1/2 cups.)
Legumes: 2 cups cooked legumes of any variety: lentils, kidney beans, chick peas (garbanzos), pinto beans, soy beans, black beans, tofu, etc.

Grains: 1-2 cups: whole grain bread crumbs, rolled or quick oats, cooked brown rice or millet, grape nuts prepared cereal, crushed whole grain cereal, whole grain cracker crumbs, whole grain croutons, etc.

Nuts/Seeds: 1/2 cup, chopped or ground: almonds, cashews, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, etc.

Liquid: 1 - 1 1/2 cups: vegetable broth, plain soy, nut, or grain milk, tomato juice or sauce, etc.

Binder: one of the following: 2 Tbsp. soy flour, 2 Tbsp. whole wheat flour, 2-3 Tbsp. gluten flour, 3 Tbsp. potato flour, 3 Tbsp. minute tapioca, 1/2 cup cooked oatmeal, 1/2 cup cooked cream of wheat cereal, 2 Tbsp. soaked mung beans, blended, etc.

Seasonings: 1/2 -1 teaspoon of one or several as desired: cumin, basil, Italian seasoning, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, seasoned salt, celery salt, garlic or onion salt or powder, nutritional yeast, salt, Liquid Aminos, etc.

Vegetable Seasonings: 1 or more: 1 onion, chopped, 1-2 cloves garlic, minced, 2-3 Tbsp. chopped pimento, 2 Tbsp. sweet corn, 2-3 Tbsp. shredded carrots, 3-4 chopped mushrooms, etc.

Mix all selected ingredients together. See below for shaping and cooking options.

*A helpful tip using a blender. I have routinely used my Vita-Mix for blending together about half of the legumes (or more, depending how many whole ones you want), nuts, liquid, binder, and seasonings, including an onion (to get it chopped small for better flavor throughout). Basically, if you want to see it in the burger (pieces of black beans, mushrooms, carrot shreds, etc.), then put those aside they way you want to see them. With everything else (except the grains), blend it up. Make sure that you have enough liquid... so that when it's all mixed, you will be able to combine it all in a bowl and it will hold together well. If you're not sure, put it in your fridge to firm up a bit, before shaping. If it looks good, go ahead and shape into burgers, unless you are making a loaf.

For meat-less loaf: Press into oiled loaf pan and bake at 350°F for 45 minutes. Serve with light gravy, if desired. Can also be sliced and used as a sandwich filling. Freezes well.

For burgers: Form into burgers (see video for canning lid method) and chill for an hour or longer (you can even freeze at this point). Bake in oven or fry in an oiled skillet until done. For grilling: you may want to fry them for a few minutes on each side ("par-fry" - partial cooking before freezing or cooking further) in a skillet on your stove to help them stay together and to give them some added moisture. Then proceed with grilling them til they are done.

Yields about 12-15 burgers (using the wide mouth canning lid shaping method).

In case you wanted to know what's in the burgers in the photo...I used this recipe with the following ingredients: soybeans, quick oats, walnuts/sunflower seed mix, tomato paste/homemade ketchup/bean cooking liquid/water mix, gari (local item here, made from cassava root)/ground flax seed mix, sage, Liquid Aminos, a fresh onion and garlic. I blended up most of the soybeans with the liquids, nuts/seeds, onion/garlic and binder, then mixed it all together in a bowl. And they were good. Smelled oh, so yummy when I was pan frying them. I doubled the recipe and it made more than 25 burgers. I had some extra mix and browned it in a skillet to add to a bean dish the next day.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Carob Cake with Carob Fudge Frosting

Before I realized that food colorings should not be used, I had made red velvet cake for my husband on his birthday. Red velvet cake is a red chocolate cake. Seemed fitting for my sweetie who was born on February 14th. I have a fondness for this cake as I remember a wonderful aunt of mine (who reminds me of a professional "homemaker" I know) serving it along with other homemade cookies and treats she loves to serve at family gatherings. Ah, memories again related to food... (I have heard of a red velvet cake that uses, get this, beets to give it a red color instead of chemical food coloring.)

We have small birthday celebrations at our house. I make a family favorite cake. I found the recipe in a old edition of a La Leche League cookbook (compared to some cookbooks, this is actually very vegetarian friendly). Usually I find that I have to adjust recipes to make it without dairy or eggs, but this is pretty much straight out of their book. It's easy and I've been using it for years. These recipes are not changed to use carob instead of cocoa - the original recipes really do call for carob powder.

Carob Cake

3 cups whole wheat flour (I've used other whole grains)
2/3 cup honey (or 1 cup brown sugar-LLL option)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup carob powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons vinegar
2/3 cup oil
2 cups water
1 cup raisins, optional
1 cup chopped nuts, optional

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Combine dry ingredients in bowl. Add wet ingredients. Blend well. Stir in raisins and nuts, if you like. Pour into two oiled 8x8 inch pans (I use two round cake pans). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

The "frosting" I used this year was called...

Carob Fudge Frosting

Blend together in blender until very smooth:
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup chopped dates (I use whole pitted dates)
1/4 cup carob powder

Pour into bowl and add:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt

Stir well and chill. Yields: 1 1/2 cups

We all agreed that we love the combination of carob and peanut butter - Yum!

(You will notice that we use carob instead of chocolate. This is not because we do not like chocolate, but rather because it is a trigger for my husband's terrible migraine headaches. Yes, there is life without chocolate.)

PS: Did you know that desserts is "stressed" spelled backwards. So now I can remember how to spell desserts (sweet things to eat) and deserts (as in the Sahara Desert). I've always had trouble figuring that out. So a sweet treat could be just the thing to share with someone you love to help alleviate stress!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

My Girl

My second child, Francesca, is a beautiful daughter. The following photo shows her the Sunday before we moved to Ghana. It was taken after a church service when we dedicated her to the Lord. When the pastor was talking and we were standing there in the front with him, she smiled at him. You can even see it from the back of the sanctuary where the video camera was. It is so cute. This is her at about 3 1/2 months.

This next photo was taken on her first birthday. I think she looks like one of my cousins on my dad's side of the family. That's me tickling her. I just love the look on her face.

And this is her at two years old. A real little girl. And like her shirt...she is our little sunflower. Being in Ghana, a blue eyed, blonde hair child gets lots of attention when we are out. Everyone knows her as "Afia" since she is Friday born.

Since my husband teaches at a Bible school here, the students know our family. They all love her and she has gotten many handshakes and proposals for marriage. No kidding. We said that they'll have to wait about 30 years! ;-)

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Humble Sewing Kit

I have a humble sewing kit. Humble because I am not a seamstress. Never sewn a thing. OK, once I hand sewed my first (and last) hem for my women's choir black skirt. And that was hardly a hem at that. But when you're in college and you have no money, you are more resourceful (do I hear a resounding, YES?!). Sure I've sewn buttons back on shirts and hand stitched seams that were coming apart, but I have never sewn a piece of clothing from start to finish. Ever.

Since we buy most of our clothes from second hand sources (thrift stores, garage sales, hand-me-downs, gifts, etc.), being able to repair small things to make things wearable again and look nicer is important to me. So I have some basic tips on how those of you (who might be like me) can put together one of your own. Use it for everyday and when you are away, take it along. It will prove useful.

My sewing kit is a very basic one right now. It contains: 3 spools of different colored thread, elastic, and sewing needles. With the addition of the scissors, which doesn't fit into the container, I'm set to do buttons and repair seams.

My thread is black, tan/brown and cream/off white. I picked these because for us, these are the least number of colors that will do the job for almost everything we wear. If you have a lot of red in your closet, for example, then you might have some red thread. You get the idea.

The reason I have elastic in it is because I was keeping some for my daughter's hats. When you live where the sun is hot all year round, shade is essential for this fair skinned blondie of mine. I sew it on opposite sides to go under her chin so the wind won't carry it away.
Another thing I do is to keep all three colors with a threaded needle wrapped around the spool. That way it's always ready to go. Have you ever been in a hurry and were ready to go out the door and...oops...your shirt has a button missing and there's nothing else to wear? Well, as long as you have the button, you can just get your handy dandy sewing kit out. It'll take just a couple of minutes and will save you some embarrassment. No need to thread a needle with the appropriate color thread, knot it and all. I always keep the needle threaded and knotted at the end for the next time.
When I move back to the states, I will have access to my small scissors again that fit into the kit and a thimble is handy. Right now I keep extra buttons in a drawer nearby, but 3-4 different ones in there would be good as well, for the times when the button is nowhere to be found. If you have a needle threader from an old purchased sewing kit, you can put that in there too (It took me a while to realize what the thin round aluminum metal thing with bent wires were for! To thread needles! LOL).

I have found that garage sales and thrift stores are good places to find everything I need for a sewing kit. When my grandmother died, she left lots of thread and misc. sewing items as she was a wonderful quilter and paid seamstress. I picked some out that would be useful to me and left most to my aunts that were seamstresses in their own right. (I think I didn't get the sewing gene, because it was my father's mother. Since my father never took up sewing...Oh, well.=)
I have another tip for a travel size sewing kit. You know those matchbook type you can buy in stores? Well, why not make your own?
Things you'll need: Thin cardboard that can be folded (not corrugated), some scrap paper, tape, sewing needles, 2-3 different colors of thread (not on the spool). However many colors you need, have that number needles threaded with your different colored threads. The other option is to have 1 needle and a few colors thread and thread the needle when you need it. You might want to have at least 2 needles in case you lose one.
Directions: You can fold the cardboard in half for a card style kit or in thirds. I gleaned mine from a memo pad. The paper you want to fold then close to the fold, then "sew" your needles in through both upper and lower paper layers.

Then open the side opposite the fold with the needles still in the paper (I took my threaded needles and replaced these below) . Then trim the paper to the finished size you like.
Next make mini flat paper "spools" by folding paper, then wrapping your thread from the threaded needles right onto them.Next, you'll want to tape your paper onto the cardboard. I pushed the needles out of the way so I could tape down the paper.When you're done taping, push the needles back into place. With the addition of a small scissors (or how about some fingernail clippers to cut the thread?), you have your finished travel sewing kit.

This would be a basic travel sewing kit. You don't have to make it exactly like this, but this gives you a basic idea and you can go from here, adding your own personal touches.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

It's a day I can't remember

My birthday!

Have you ever thought about your actual birthday? I cannot say that I remember that day back in 1972. But I do remember quite a few since then.

My mother used to take pictures of me beside the poppies that grew in our yard every year on my birthday. We happen to visit the homeplace back in 2002, when I turned 30. I had my husband take my photo by the poppies again. I hadn't done that in years. It was fun to stand beside the reddish orange poppies once more.

I have pictures of me years ago when I was barely taller than the flowers were. Some have my brother and sister in the photo with me. Quite cute. Now that I am taller than the flowers (barely, mind you! LOL), and have some more years behind me...I am glad for a few things...

God's beautiful creation
flowers (especially reddish orange poppies)
being a wife to one wonderful man
being a mother to two (so far)
a Maker who knows my name
a Book to guide me on my journey
a Comforter to lead me
God created foods to heal and nourish
the rest of life to look forward to...

I am 36 today. I will always be truthful when telling my age. And why not? It shows that I'm am not ashamed to be any age. No certain age is perfection. However old you are, it's perfect for you. If you have true joy, you will never be "too old."

One more thing to share... no matter my age, there is always Someone who can teach me something I need to know. So I need to listen.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What's on your counter today?

I have a place on my "counter" (a stainless steel topped cart) that I put fruit or veggies... Fruit that needs to ripen more or veggies that don't go in the fridge, like tomatoes. This is what I had on the counter last week.

Mangoes...that's right, good big ones too. Having something there that's healthy, just gets my brain to think on the right track. Something good raw, maybe in a smoothie, maybe just cut and eaten in a bowl.

After that, I had this on the counter from the pineapple and paw paw lady who comes about twice a week to sell these...

Pineapple and papayas (or paw paw, as they call them here). I have really learned to like papayas. They are good a little on the soft side for a nice sweet very juicy fruit. On the firm side, they are good to aid in digesting proteins (and on a low protein diet are good for getting rid of parasites) because they are full of good enzymes. Fresh pineapple is yummy and great in smoothies or just cut up in a bowl. I've even used firm ones (that weren't too sweet, because I cut them too soon) in cooked dishes like curries and stir fries and they are very very good that way. The cooking takes away the tartness of underripe pineapple.

Now we have this on the counter...

Avocados...some are really big too! Like this one - the size of a small melon! =) Yes, you see more the them behind this one I'm holding. Friends of ours have 3 trees in their yard and wondered if we wanted any? (Um...YES!!!) We could eat one or two everyday, no problem. I'm wondering where I can find an avocado ice cream recipe. I've heard there's one out there somewhere...hummmmm.....

Monday, May 19, 2008

Pinto Bean Salad

Everyone should have a few quick meals to prepare on those days when things don't go as planned. Some people have meals in the freezer. Others get take out. I check my pantry once again to look for something quick but satisfying for my family.
I had some canned beans and some vegetables in the fridge that seemed to pair well together. So this salad was born. I wanted something like tacos in flavor without having to cook the beans again. So simple beans and fresh veggies turned into a really nice filling salad. Less work in the kitchen and easy clean up afterward.

Pinto Bean Salad

2 cans pinto beans or other small red bean (3 1/2 to 4 cups), rinsed and drained
2 cucumbers, peeled and seeded, chopped (save the seed part for smoothies)
3 tomatoes, chopped
3 carrots, chopped or shredded
1 green pepper, chopped
2 thin slices of onion (from top part of onion bulb), finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil (or about 1/2 chopped avocado)
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar (or fresh lime/lemon juice)
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 to 1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cilantro
basil & oregano to taste (optional)
cayenne pepper (optional)

Mix all ingredients in one bowl and chill for a few minutes or more before serving. Stir right before serving to get the juices mixed again in the salad. You can vary the amounts and vegetables used based on what you have on hand.
When we had this the other night, I warmed up some corn tortillas to use as wraps for the salad. It was very good this way. Kind of reminds me of tacos, but served in a different way. I didn't happen to have lettuce on hand, but this would be an obvious great addition along side the salad (that way it won't get soggy). A delicious garnish that could be eaten along with this would be a small amount of finely shredded purple cabbage.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Especially For The Ladies

A frugal tip with a little background...

After I wrote about using cloth last Friday, I realized that there's one thing that I don't use cloth for. And this is where I tell any guys reading that this is really a ladies post, Ok? So fair warning...

A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to try a product I had read about in the infamous "Tightwad Gazette" book by Amy Dacyczyn (a gift from my friend - thanks, Mistee!)...Something different...Something I had never heard about before.

It was called the Keeper. It is a menstral cup for a ladies mentrual cycle. It is designed to hold the mentrual flow and a woman just empties it and keeps it clean. It is reusable and very good at what it does. After learning how to use it properly (it takes a little practice), I really felt like I didn't need to dread this "time of the month" anymore. The first day I used it, I knew I was a convert. No more icky pads for me.

I had never tried using cloth pads, although they must be much softer than disposable sanitary pads. They just seemed to me that it would be kind of gross, but then again, that's what I think of disposables too. Anyway, after using it awhile, I realized (through another source) that I might be sensitive to latex. Since the Keeper is made with natural latex rubber, I was really heartbroken. Believe it or not, I continued to use it anyway for a few more months (I loved it so much).

Until one day, we were visiting my parents and they had a homesteading magazine that had an ad for the Diva Cup ( I think that I ordered one that day! The Diva Cup is a version of the Keeper, but made with silicone! Yeah! I was sooooo happy to find an alternative that my body could handle.

Just so everyone knows how frugal this little gem is...You can reuse it for years! Just think of all the money you could save. I even used it on our mission trip to Ghana back in 2005. No problem. Love it. Love it. Love it. Currently not using it as I am still nursing my daughter, but I have it just waiting for me. It is definetly a "keeper" for me. Cloth is still a very good option though (especially if you are saving up for a Diva cup). And if you prefer that, go for it, it still saves trees and lots of money too.

So check out the Q & A and the testimonials on the link above for the Diva Cup. If you decide to buy one, you can check the internet for better prices than those listed on their site. You'll never dread that "time of the month" after you become a "Diva"!

Update March 2018: I just realized that I've been using the Diva for about 10 years! I recently replaced my first one with another, as the holes were developing small tears which I knew must be why I was having issues with leaks. So I am now on my second Diva cup and still continue to love it! Leaks are almost non-existant now again. I have always worn a cloth pad for backup, on my heaviest days (I do have a heavier flow than some ladies- I always have. Another thing to note: I have never used tampons ever and I still had no trouble learning to use a reusable menstrual cup!). I am certainly a firm believer! There are so many out there now. There's even ways to find out which one will work for you. So helpful for everyone and the environment!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

It was 15 years ago today...

...we exchanged our wedding vows.


and now...
Celebrating 15 years on the 15th!

I would say those vows all over again in a heartbeat.

I love you, Honey.

Happy Anniversary!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Barbecue Sauce & the Versatility of Tomato Paste

After I made ketchup today, I realized there are many things that I've learned about how tomato paste can be used. I always buy unsalted paste so I can control the amount and kind of salt I use.

Normally I like fresh and raw things better than canned, but when I don't have fresh, it's nice to have a backup in the pantry. Out comes some tomato paste and a recipe I had tucked away that doesn't call for fresh tomatoes.

I have recipes that use tomato paste instead of ketchup for a thousand island and a catalina (or red "French") salad dressing. Both just as good without all the flavorings that ketchup has.

Since I don't make pizza very often, I usually use tomato paste with added water (to thickness desired) and pizza seasonings to stand in for a more traditionally prepared pizza sauce. While I don't really have a recipe for what I mix in, I usually use oregano (the "pizza herb"), basil, thyme, salt, and garlic (fresh or dried) and granulated onion. I taste and adjust as needed.

Another recipe I keep handy for times when I don't have other forms of canned or fresh tomatoes is barbecue sauce which we like better than all the corn syrup versions in the store. And it's much cheaper too.

"5 S" Barbecue Sauce (Sweet, Spicy, Southern Style Sauce)
(A take off from a recipe I found in Meatless Burgers, by Louise Hagler)

1 1/2 cup water
3/4 cup tomato paste (1 - 6 oz. can)
6 Tablespoons prepared mustard
3 Tablespoons honey (or equivalent sweetener)
4 teaspoons onion granules
3/4 teaspoon garlic granules
3/4 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon salt
crushed red pepper, to taste
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients, except lemon juice, in a saucepan and mix well with a wire whisk. Bring to boil on stove. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Take off heat and stir in lemon juice. Let cool. Put into glass quart jar and store in fridge.

Make sure you check out more kitchen tips hosted by Tammy's Recipes.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Poll #1 - Voting on Vegan Footprints - Results and My Comments

I have added a poll (on the right margin) for everyone to participate in.

Occasionally I will change the poll to ask about a different topic. Answer only once per poll, please. This will help me to decide what I will offer in future posts.

So, don't forget to answer the poll and then "vote" today.

Have a great day. Thanks.

June 1 update below...

Edit to post results:

38 people voted (since people could pick more than one answer, there are more than 38 total answers)

#1 poll findings - taken May 12-31, 2008

Do you have a food allergy or sensitivity? (check all that apply)
(choices listed with number of votes beside)

4 - Yes, gluten
3 - Yes, wheat
3 - Yes, soy
1 - Yes, corn
2 - Yes, tree nuts
1 - Yes, peanuts
8 - Yes, dairy
5 - Yes, eggs
1 - Yes, nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant)
3 - Yes, but not any of the above
21 - No

My response... I am glad to see that most people that voted (55%) are not allergic or sensitive to any foods. On the other hand, it is possible they do and are not aware of such.

The number one allergen food seems to be dairy, of those polled. To me this is not surprising in the least, in fact there is information available which might explain this. I do feel (with the possible exception of raw organic milk - which many people can tolerate) that in many ways there is more reason to live dairy free than to live meat free. That may be hard for you to believe, me being a vegetarian and all, but I have learned much about the dangers of the dairy industry. We are told to drink our milk. "It does a body good" they say. I've even seen people being told that if they eat a certain amount of ice cream, that it can "count" for a serving of dairy. My point...I understand why this is number one in the poll. I hope to post more about this in the future.

Depending how you look at it, the next two/three that are allergen foods are gluten, wheat, and eggs. The wheat sensitivity is what we deal with in our house, along with some possible dairy in there. This seems to be a difficult one for those who find out they have to avoid these. Not only will you have to start baking all your own "bread" and baked desserts (or find the expensive special foods), but you find that wheat/gluten is in many processed foods out there. Having to avoid eggs may be hard to deal with, but very possible.

Soy and corn are ones that we may hear more about in the future because they are the most genetically modified (GM) food crops out there. Did you know that more than 70% of all foods in the average grocery store these days are genetically modified or have GM ingredients in them (processed foods)? That's way too many, folks! This includes anything from produce to canned soup and everything in between. And why? It all comes down to money. If you haven't already, you must see this video I posted here about the GMO controversy if you care anything about the future of food and your family's health. Soy and corn are also very hard to avoid as these are in many many foods in stores in many different forms such as soy protein, vegetable oil (which is soy oil) to corn syrup and cornstarch. These two things are everywhere.

Tree nuts and peanuts...I have heard that some schools have banned peanuts from school property because there are enough students allergic to them that it's easier to make them "contra ban" if you will. Living in Ghana and having lived in Georgia for two years, the peanut one would be hard for me. But from what I understand, peanut allergies mainly come from sensitivity to the mold that easily grows on the shells in storage. Yuck, you say...I agree. But do you realize the mold/mildew issues from other foods as well? Foods like dried fruit, grains, and beans and other foods not properly stored or cooked may have some of the same issues. Tree nut allergy is not one I am as familiar with, so I will have to learn more about this one. It just shows you that what one person needs to avoid, it will do wonders for another. Everyone is created differently. No two of us are alike.

For the person who has sensitivity to nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant- this also includes tobacco, by the way), I am guessing that they have arthritis. Some people find major relief from their arthritis when they avoid these foods and quit smoking. If you deal with this very painful disease, it might be something to look into. There are alternatives for tomato based sauces and those mashed potatoes. I plan to post some of these recipes as well, as it's always nice to have alternatives for a change.

The other answer..."yes, but not any of the above" may come from those who might be allergic to shellfish, strawberries, bananas, or other food that falls in the "other" category. I tried to list all the major ones I could think of, but I know there are many others I could have included if I had done an exhaustive list.

Thanks to all who voted. Check out poll #2, posted on June 1, 2008. Remember one vote per person, per poll. Have everyone in your house vote today! =)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

"The World According to Monsanto" Documentary

Do you ever wonder how you could tell others about something so important, so life changing, that everyone should know? Well here, my friends is one of those times. I am privileged to be able to do that today...
I have just viewed a video documentary that I found very informative.
You need to see this if you care about real food. If you want to know what GM (genetically modified) is and milk that has bovine growth hormones is all about, you should take some time to watch this.
It is 108 minutes long. It aired in France in March 2008.
We vote with our dollars everyday. Make sure you put your money where your mouth is.

Click here to view The World According to Monsanto.

Click here to view more about GMO's and seeds for your garden.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Using Cloth

A frugal tip for today...

My family enjoys using cloth handkerchiefs. You can wipe a sweaty brow and have a really sturdy, but nice and soft hanky to blow your nose with. And there are pretty ones out there for ladies too!

My baby (Ok, not so "baby" anymore) loves that I use baby washcloths for baby wipes. Just wet them with water and use. I even had a friend (thanks, Rosalyn!) who has a serger make some flannel wipes for me out of the receiving blankets I wasn't using. I just toss these in with the cloth diapers in the diaper pail and wash together.

Cloth diapers: need I say more?...These have saved us tons of money and I love them.

Cloth napkins: get colorful ones (stains show up less) and have an assortment. Have everyone pick their own out to use at mealtimes until it needs washed. Sometimes you'll wash after one use (rarely) and sometimes it's more like a few days before you need to wash. Everyone keeps the same one until it needs washed. I've even used cut up t-shirts (because of holes, stains, etc...), that weren't bad enough for the rag bag, for a while. You can always put them in the rag bag later. They won't tear like paper ones do.

Just think about what you use paper for and see how you could do it using cloth instead. Try it.

Cloth just feels a lot better and is money wise.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Car? …What car?

Hissssssssssssss…whereyougoing? Hissing to get someone’s attention is considered normal here in Ghana and not rude. The question about where someone is headed often sounds like one word, which is actually my closest representation of their Twi language asking that same question. This is what we experience on any common day, walking down to an area where one can get a taxi or other transportation. We are often headed to get a “tro tro” – a cheap ride (15-20 US cents worth) that saves us about 30-45 minutes walk most days.

Everyone wants the “obruni” (foreigner) business, especially taxi drivers, thinking that anyone with white skin has money and lots of it. If we used them all the time, we’d be broke very quickly. If you need a taxi somewhere, use it early in the day. After mid afternoon, rates start to climb. After dark, you are looking at double the normal rates, unless you happen to go somewhere fairly close without getting into traffic. For a city of about 4 million people, this can be tricky, so plan well or carry enough to cover the ride home.

A nice thing about living here in Ghana is that because we live at the edge of the city, we can get around with public transportation just fine. No, we do not have a car, truck or SUV (which are actually common here, because of the road conditions, even though fuel prices here are higher than in the states!) The only times we wish we had a personal vehicle is when we want to go somewhere out of the way and bring something home.

Or when you go to a village and need a ride back. You can get there fine. But unless you ask the taxi driver to wait for you while you have your meeting & such, you’ll have to hope another vehicle will let you hitch a ride back to where you can get connected to the public transportation again.

Here there are a couple of options to get somewhere without a car. There’s always the taxi that can take you exactly where you want to go. These are the most expensive option, but then again, no car to maintain or insure. They cost about 10 times the rate of the next option. Then there’s the usually very colorful “tro tro” (or lorry) which operates much like a city bus would, except that you can get on or off one almost anywhere as long as they are going your way. This is the option we most often find the easiest and economical to take (see photo below).

If you are going to Accra “central” (downtown), then there’s the even cheaper, but possibly slower option (depending on traffic) of taking the bus. This gives you more seating room (unless it’s “rush hour”), and is cheaper than all other options, save walking (which would take a long, long time). We have taken the city bus and enjoy it. They even have some double-deckers here to enjoy the view up top.

If you are going to another town along the coast or going “up north” (northern Ghana), or even to a bordering country, then there is also the STC bus (not sure what STC stands for). It’s comparable to a service like Greyhound in the states. Their rates seem very reasonable too. They have softer seating for longer rides.

So although it might be handier to have a car, it's definitely do-able when you don't. And we get more exercise this way. =) Live lightly when it's possible. It's more interesting!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Smoothies: Making green smoothies without fresh greens?

Well, maybe not...but when I don't have them on hand, I use dried "greens" powder instead.

I have learned about green smoothies just recently and see the wisdom of making them for my family. We already love fruit smoothies, why not make them healthier still? I don't always have fresh greens available, so I use my "greens" powder (mine has spirulina, barley green juice powder, chorella, and bee pollen) to stand in.

So roughly, here is how to make...

Smoothies - "Loretta style"...

Put in blender*:

bananas (enough for 1 per person - although if you are a non-banana person, there are options to this too)

Then other fruit as desired, for example:

pineapple chunks (can include the core, if you have a powerful blender)
papaya, peeled and seeded
mango chunks
avacado pieces (can add this if low on bananas for creaminess)
oranges (pare off orange peel thinly with a paring knife, leaving the white)
lemon (just a small portion, ditto on the orange prep)
watermelon chunks, in season (for liquid, you won't taste it much)

If I were in the states, I might use the following:

berries, any and every kind you can think of (yummy!)
kiwifruit, peeled
grapes (seeds and all if you have a powerful blender)
other (in season) melon chunks

Just about any fruit you can think of can be put into the smoothie.

Blend with enough water and/or use enough very juicy fruit (even cucumbers work here) to get the blades to turn ok.

I like to add the following for added health benefits: whole flax seed (has thickening power too) and "greens" powder (this will make it a green smoothie). You do not need to add these everytime though. Add a few mint leaves for another "flavor" option.

If needing extra sweetening, instead of turning to sugar, try adding a small amount of dried fruit like pitted dates, raisins or you can add dab of honey or tiny amount of stevia. Adjust as needed.

Pour into glasses and serve with a straw or serve with a spoon if extra thick! Reap many smiles from your family. =)

*To make thick smoothies: use frozen bananas and some frozen other fruit, although no need to have all frozen ingredients to make it this way. Ice cubes can stand in for part of the water. As long as the blades can turn without laboring, you should be OK.

^If you do have fresh can add any of the following: kale, collards, spinach, leafy lettuce (not iceberg), alfalfa sprouts, etc...add as much as you can tolerate, adding more as you get to like them better. There are so many benefits to adding them in your diet. For vegans, this is a neccessary thing to get your plant calcium and so much more. It's great for everyone, no matter what diet you eat! =)

...So, yes, you can make green smoothies without fresh greens. Incidentally, you have just found a recipe for smoothies that does not call for dairy or fruit juice. Some people might call this a sorbet (and you can freeze for sorbet later). I call it - yummy! My just turned 2 year old daughter, Francesca, drinks hers with a straw in no time flat!

Got greens?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Blender Multi-Tasking

I made smoothies for our family this morning. I thought afterward that instead of cleaning up the blender right away - why not make something else in it before I wash it up? I decided to blend together my wet ingredients for my double batch of granola (my granola mixes up better this way). Both things were comparably sweet so I didn't even rinse it out between.

I have done savory (salty/not sweet) recipes the same way. When I've made something in my blender, immediately I start to think of what I could make ahead to put into the fridge or freezer for later. I've blended up vegetables for a soup and then next made an easy vegan gravy for mashed potatoes. Again the first (vegetables) was compatible with the next thing and so I didn't rinse it out between. I put the gravy into the saucepan that I would cook it in later that day (or for the next day) straight into the fridge. At mealtime, all I had to do was pull it out and heat it up.

I like it when I remember to think ahead. These days I have to remind myself that there are others who would like to eat at my house! LOL

See more kitchen tips, hosted by Tammy's Recipes.
Have a great day!

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Wet Season

It is now starting to rain as I write this…Hopefully I can post this before our power goes out… see photo below for what it looks like right before the rain starts falling...

When we came, Ghana was in the wet season. That doesn’t mean that you need to have a rain jacket on all the time. It just means that is rains frequently – maybe about 2-3 times a week (right now) and it’s more humid. Could be more, could be less.

My wash takes longer to dry on the line. And because it rains more, my husband installed clothes lines inside a few of our rooms (out of the way), so we can get dry clothes. It beats having a hot electric dryer that uses our precious electricity (read: expensive!) and heats things up more. Besides, you can’t always count on having power when you want it.

It gets muddy, VERY muddy. The roads always seem to be under construction or for the more common reason, there are a lot of unpaved dirt roads. After a good heavy rain, there are sometimes ruts and little rivers washing dirt away.

Because the gutters are commonly open here, we’ve even seen vehicles stuck a little crooked & tilted with a tire or two in a big puddle of water that is hiding an open gutter after a heavy rain.

When we need to walk somewhere after a rain, we always put our water proof shoes on (yes, we use Crocs =) and don’t worry about getting muddy or wet while we are out. Getting wet here is just part of life in Ghana sometimes. Umbrellas are good for sun cover, not just for rain.

It’s kind of funny how people head home when it rains. Appointments get cancelled most often by people not showing up at all to a meeting without telling anyone. People here know the roads get worse when it rains. Outdoor markets all but close down for the day as the paths between the stalls get very hard to maneuver. Roofs leak.

The temps dip and get cool many times when it rains. Consequently, people think it is too cold if it gets below about 85 degrees F. Yes, I’ve seen people wear jackets and coats during the wet season months.

One good thing is that you are assured a good amount of rainwater collected if you are smart enough to catch it with something you can put a lid on afterwards. Open still water is breading ground for those pesky mosquitoes that carry malaria.

I just sit back and enjoy some natural relief from the heat of the day on those precious days it rains.

Last year I wrote the following about our first rain in months…

“Showers of Blessing: March 17, 2007

During the night, we had our first rain in months. Maybe we are at the end of the dry season, we will see.

We have a woman who comes and helps with cleaning once a week. Late in the morning I could hear her singing the hymn, “Showers of Blessing” at the top of her lungs. Earlier I had asked her about the rain and if she was cold (it cools down considerably when it rains here). Yes, she is cold. Later I check the temperature. It’s 82 degrees F. That is chili for Ghana. Maybe today it won’t hit higher than 90 degrees in the house as usual lately.

It continues to rain lightly here this morning. Everyone will rejoice today and try to stay warm as the rains have come to wet this dry, dusty, thirsty land.”

Friday, May 2, 2008

What a normal day's meals might be like for us

We actually eat a lot of local foods here and the tropical fruit here is good and cheap (at least compared to prices in the states from what I hear). So it would not be easy, but I will try to give you an idea for our weekdays:


fruit such as:
pineapple, papaya (called paw paw here), bananas, and now mangoes (back in season - yeah!)
oatmeal with honey, or just fruit mixed in (see above list) or maybe raisins if I have some
or maybe homemade granola
local foods maybe: "koko" (a very thick millet drink with ginger we sweeten with honey)
bread with "kosi" (fried bean and onion patties - see photo below)


(usually leftovers from breakfast or supper the night before for me, daughter just turned 2 is still nursing and eats some foods that I eat)
My husband & son eat on the road at the local "chop" stands (places to eat prepared food - like having a take out on the street - sometimes they even have benches to sit at to eat right away. They might have:
rice and roasted or boiled groundnuts (peanuts)
or grilled plantain (cooking bananas, see photo below of woman selling raw plantains in the market)

or "red red" (a white bean - like black eyed peas - with ripe plantains and red palm oil and a cassava root product called gari)
or "banku" (a cooked and stirred cornmeal dish) with a hot chili and onion sauce
or "wakye" (a bean and rice dish)
or "kenkey" (a cornmeal dish that is firmer than banku packed in banana leaves or corn husks)- hubby likes this if he can get a vegetarian stew like "okro" (okra) or "garden egg" (eggplant) stew
or sometimes fried yam (a very large white flesh root that is like a very dry white potato) with hot chili and onion sauce


it may be some food as listed for Lunch or:
boiled yam (makes a wonderfully easy vegan mashed "potato" with a stew or vegan gravy)
or boiled plantain with a stew or stir fried vegetables
or "soya" kebabs (tofu cubes with very spicy coating and onions between, see photo below)

or other more "American" food that I can buy at certain stores (can get pasta, make pizza, etc...)
or rice with lots of veggies and some raw food like: a salad - often made with cabbage, carrots, onion -slaw or cucumbers, avocado (called pear here), tomatoes


homemade popcorn, homemade cookies, fruit (& the occasional apple - but those are imported and are getting expensive here - versus a pineapple we can buy for about 50-70 US Cents!), maybe some plantain chips sold on the street (see photo below - The darker ones are not burnt, they are made with ripe plantain and are actually naturally sweeter than the more popular light colored ones in the foreground that are usually salted.)

or occasionally "kelewele" (fried ripe plantains with ginger and chile pepper seasoning, see photo below)


water, water, and more water (up to a gallon each day for each of us),
the occasional fresh pineapple juice,
maybe a fresh young coconut off the street (see photo below - yes, that's a machete he's using to cut while you wait-you might even get a straw so you don't get it all over you...and then you can scrape off the coconut meat after they crack it open for you).

I hope this gives you an idea. In Africa, there is hardly a typical day. Just because I list those things we might eat doesn't mean that they are ideal for nutrition. Just like other families trying to do better health wise and in their diet, we are no exception. I am trying to get more smoothies in our diet and greens too. So that is what I hope to accomplish. I love being able to eat local produce here that is good for you. We actually have a mango tree in our "yard" that has small mangoes they use here to drink the juice (very stringy) and they are good. We also have a palm nut tree (where red palm oil comes from and the more refined palm kernel oil comes from - see photo below to see harvested palm nuts that have been boiled to make red palm oil) next to the mango tree. And papaya trees next door. =)

Haircuts for the guys...Frugal tip

Well, my guys (hubby and son) finally got haircuts yesterday they've needed for quite a while. You know your son needs his hair cut when his stick straight hair is starting to give him wings over his ears! Get ready for takeoff! And while he would love to fly to the states much sooner if he could, I think that the hair cut was much cheaper and necessary anyway...Sorry, Sutherland. My husband always likes his hair cut super short, so his cut looks more decent for a longer time, even though his neck needs a good trim.

Before we moved to Ghana, we had a good system in place to cut hair... Welcome to mama's barber chair! =) Seriously, I have done both their haircuts for years. I bought an electric trimmer for my husband's hair the first year we were married (15 years ago this month! =). I've used it ever since for at least 14 years (that adds up, you know).

Along came our son who was born with hair that a bald girl baby would love! I started..had to...cut his hair at 4 months old so it wouldn't get into his eyes. LOL! So along with a good scissors now and then, I've been doing both their hair now for quite a while.

Enter Ghana...take trimmers, blow them out while trying to use them the first time, not being careful about the voltage stuff you're supposed to here and wah-lah...need to find good cheap barber. You know what I mean?! LOL

The good thing about Ghana..prices are usually very cheap for services, compared to the US anyway. We asked about barber prices. When we first came...they were only about 70 pesewas for a man, 35 pesewas for a boy. In case you didn't catch my post (What's it like in the tropics?) about the equivalent to US, that would be roughly 70 US CENTS and 35 US CENTS!!!

Yep, if you could sign up, right then and there, for barber shop "membership" - I'd say let's go.... So while we are here, we've been enjoying the thrifty prices here for a fairly decent guy's cut. I will say that the prices and barbers have changed now and then, but paying about 1 US dollar for a guy's haircut these days, I think, is still pretty good. And I don't have to cleanup - hey! LOL

When we move back, we will make sure that our trimmers are OK, and then start doing cuts at Mama's place once again. Since us ladies don't cut our hair (another frugal tip - don't cut! =), besides mama's occasional self-trim for my split ends, we save by doing it ourselves at home. I've even done scissor only cuts for the guys at our house. It doesn't take too much to learn. I read up on how to do it from a book at my local library.

The other thing I like about paying someone else to do it here, is that you are helping support the people here that are making a living doing this. There are many things I like to do myself, yet at the same time, there are times when having someone else help is also a very good choice.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Southwestern Black Bean Salad with Chili-Lime Dressing (!)

Here's a spicy but wonderful main dish salad. Just leave out some of the chili pepper seeds* if you want a little less zing with your salad.

Mix together in a large bowl, gently:

2 cups corn, fresh or frozen (can use leftover cooked corn)
1 pound dried black beans, cooked, rinsed & drained
4 scallions (green onions), cut into very thin slices
1 medium jicama, peeled and diced
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 medium size ripe avocado, peeled and chopped

Optional: cooked brown rice or other cooked whole grain added to above mix

Chili Lime Dressing:

Boil in small pan:

3 T. water
1 small chipotle pepper (a smoked & dried jalapeno pepper^)

Cook for 2 minutes turning frequently. Set aside until cool enough to handle (alternatively, you can soak the pepper in warm water for a longer time til soft).

Meanwhile, put into blender:

2 T. olive oil
5 T. fresh lime juice
1 medium garlic clove, chopped
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro (or 2 t. dried)

When the pepper is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the stem (*remember if you want it less hot, remove some of the seeds first before continuing). Wash hands immediately to remove the "hot" from your hands, being careful not to touch your face until you do. Then put the pepper and its cooking water into the blender with the oil, lime juice, etc. Cover and blend on high for a few seconds.

Add to blender while running on low:

1 cup unsweetened soy milk

Continue to blend for a few seconds. Stir in any salt or other seasonings as desired. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Mix with above bean mixture as needed. You may want to reserve some salad separately before putting dressing on it, for children who don't like it so hot. Great served with some quality tortilla chips on the side.

Optional: serve with some thin shreds of lettuce on the side or whole Romaine lettuce leaves for "wrapping" this salad and to add a little more greens to your meal. Yummy! =)

This dressing recipe makes more than enough for one salad. Keep extra dressing in a jar in the fridge. Dressing is good for 2-3 corn and bean salads like this one. Or you may use in other dishes or salads to give it some spicy flavor.

^If you are sensitive to smoked foods, try a fresh chili pepper of your choice instead. My husband was having headaches every single day from enjoying the leftover dressing on our salads after I initially made this. He loved the flavor, but as soon as we realized this, he stopped eating it and his headaches went away - so now we use a fresh chili and skip the water soak part.

Edit to add:
For anyone not using soy milk for various reasons (allergies, don’t prefer it, don’t have it on hand…) you can use rice milk. It will lend a little more on the sweet side in flavor, but that’s not usually a problem. The other difference is that rice milk “looks” thinner than soy milk ("watery" looking), but because it’s in the dressing (which will be green anyway), you might not see the difference. Make sure you use rice milk that is unsweetened if you can. For a savory dish like this, it will be better.

I suppose it might be cause for another post soon, but there are alternatives to both soy and rice milk that are non-dairy. For example: nut and seed milks. I could see plain almond milk (super easy to make at home) being perfect for this dish. But cashew or sunflower seed milks might work too. For those of you that are lacto-vegetarians, who eat dairy (or not “veggies” at all – “what we have those here?!” – LOL, I hope so! =), certainly use whatever type milk you have, even yogurt could stand in, thinned with a little water.


What’s it like in the tropics?

I know you are all thinking it is, well….HOT! And you would be right…some of the time. It’s funny how living here can change your body’s thermostat. When we came in August 2006, we were warm. But in the northeast/midwest US, it was also warm. August, by the way, was a great time for us to move to Ghana. It's close to the same tempurature that we had in the states.

After you live here a while, you adjust and then 80° F seems cold or at least on the chilly side. With temperatures over 100° F usually, higher in the dry season, you can see why.

Having ceiling fans in almost every room in our house helps a lot. We don’t have air conditioning (which would be atrociously expensive to run here anyway). It’s easier to do without this luxury when you see people who have much less than you and are still happy. It puts everything into perspective when we keep in mind what we’re here for.

Shade…it’s nice to have, nice to be in, and nice to carry around with you…take for example this girl in a village.

They carry everything on their heads. This very large empty basket is no exception. She's merely transporting it from one place to another. Could be two houses away, could be two miles away. It works.

Those blue and white coolers to the right of her in the photo are what you see often wherever cold water satchets are sold (see the plastic bags in bulk, to the left of her in the photo). Satchets are 500 ml size (about 2 cups worth) plastic bags that are sealed full of drinking water. They can be bought individually on the street for the going rate of 5 pesewas (peh-suh-wuz) which is approximately 5 US cents worth. When you are on the street and you are thirsty, this is what you look for. Nice and cold. Just bite a hole in the corner and you are good to go.'s what keeps everyone cooler and it really "does a body good!"