Piggy Goes to Market

Everyone loves little piglets.  So cute, cuddly and absolutely adorable.  The lovable children’s story of the Three Little Pigs is one most of us heard growing up.  There is also the precious game we play with baby’s toes, This Little Piggy.  Who can resist these adorable little guys.

But let’s face it, by the time a pig is full grown it doesn’t really look that lovable anymore.  And our breed of pig is the local type here in Uganda.  They are black with white patches and have long snouts.

As cute as pigs may be when they are little, this is a working farm.  We grow pigs to sell as pork.  There isn’t much to say about that, either you like pork or you don’t.  I guess there is a third option; you like pork but would rather not think about where it comes from.  I think most of us are in the third category.  We certainly don’t sell the pigs just because they cease to be cute, but it helps.  Luckily we are not all held to the same standard of cuteness or many of us would have gone to market years ago.

For the sake of good manners and to keep our conscious clear, we have not included photos of our actual pigs being tied (hogtied – that is) and take away on the back of a motorcycle kicking and screaming.  Something about the whole ordeal was unsettling to say the least.  But we knew the end would come and today it did.  We sold six of our male pigs and didn’t even come close to counting our losses when we calculated all the feed and care they were given.  We are now left with two females that we will use for breeding.

It takes a gestation of three months, three weeks and three days for a pig to produce a litter.  There can be anywhere from 10 – 14 piglets per litter.  So let’s put today behind us and expect more cute photos of pretty pink piglets in a few months time.  Until then, pass the bacon.

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Foods of Uganda

Nothing is better than a home cooked organically grown meal with a slightly smoky taste.  With such a great response from our personal website, we have decided to recreate this page here as well.

The diet of Uganda is based on two dishes at each meal.  The first one is a starch and since the starch is usually dry the second dish consists of some kind of soup.  Most things are boiled since oil is very expensive and also because people cook over an open fire.  When the goal is to serve many people and get full repetition of foods is not really an issue.  People eat what is in season and what they can afford.

Here are some examples of each type of starch and also some items used for soup:

Starch

Posho

Posho (poe-show)
Winning the gold medal for all time most favorite food of the majority of Ugandans is posho.  It is similar to polenta in Italian cuisine.  It is not sweet or savory but instead takes on the flavor of whatever soup it is served with (usually pinto bean soup).

Posho is made up of finely ground white corn flour mixed with boiling water until it becomes solid.  It is not easy to cook as it must be “mingled” thoroughly and becomes stiff while mixing.  Shem compares mingling posho to rowing a boat. Here is a photo of someone cooking posho for a large number of people. Luckily Catherine makes a much smaller batch for the family.

 This heavy food is prized for its “fill you up” ability and it doesn’t have to be peeled, washed, sorted or soaked like some other things.  Maize (corn) is relatively easy to grow and there are grinding mills in every village so people prefer to grow their own corn and then have it ground into flour as needed.  The flour can also be obtained in large quantities already milled; it is used by all boarding schools as their main staple food.

If you visit Uganda beans and posho are definitely on the menu!

 

Chapati

Chapati
There is no “fast food” in Uganda and actually it is very uncultural to eat on the go.  But chapatti comes close.  In almost every place where there are people, there is a guy selling chapatti (with varying degrees of cleanliness).  A dinner plate sized chapati usually sells for 500 Ugandan shillings; half the price of a bottle of soda.  It takes two to even make a dent in the average hunger pains of most people here.

Chapati are made from wheat flour, water, salt and sometimes a little baking powder.  They are rolled out like a pastry crust but are more hardy and elastic in texture.  After frying in a cast iron skillet with a generous portion of oil they are thick and flaky.  They are sold wrapped in a bit of news paper so the person eating doesn’t have to wash their hands first.  They can be eaten alone or with pinto bean soup.  They are better hot but even cold are acceptable fare.

If you are on a road trip in Uganda chapattis are a must!

 

Rice

Rice
Any special occasion demands rice.  People of Uganda prefer white rice simply boiled in salted water or fried with oil and onions then boiled in beef broth for a pilou type dish.

Rice is difficult to grow and is harvested by hand; it is therefore too expensive to eat every day.  It is also very time consuming to sort. It is a delight to eat but rather labor intensive.

A few kilos of rice make the perfect gift for any Ugandan host!

 

Shem Harvesting Matooke

Matooke (mu-toke-ee)
There are over 20 variety of bananas in Uganda.  Matooke is the type that is picked green and must be cooked.  It is usually steamed in its own leaves and must be eaten hot as it hardens quickly when cooled.  Left over matooke can be friend with onions and tomatoes for the next meal and is almost better that way.

It is very expensive and is only grown in certain areas of the country.  It takes a special skill to peel the bananas and this tends to be an indicator of a woman’s skills in general.  It is mashed after steaming and served hot.

Matooke is a must for every special occasion!

 

Cassava

Cassava (known in South America as Yucca)
The king of starchyness; cassava definitely needs to be prepared properly. It can become bitter if not cooked immediately after harvesting.  It has limited nutritional value but can be dried and pounded into flour to make porridge more filling.

A root that takes several months to grow, cassava is easy to harvest and grows well even in drought.  Cassava is considered a poor man’s food.  It is usually boiled in huge chunks and served with soup or can be sliced thinly and deep fried in oil for an added extravagance.  When diced and boiled with beans it is called “Katogo” and is very nice for lunch and some people rely on it for a hardy breakfast!

I’ve heard that cassava is used to make tapioca but haven’t figured out how yet!

 

Millet

Millet
This is the food of Shem’s tribe.  It is cooked similar to posho but has a higher protein content and heavier taste.  It is dark brown in color and is called millet “bread” when mingled although the texture is sticking rather than bread like.  It is especially delicious served with peanut sauce containing smoked fish.  Millet flour can also be boiled in water for a nutritious porridge best served with milk and sugar.

Millet is a tiny bead shaped grain that must be husked then winnowed and finally stone ground after harvest; but first it is meticulously weeded.  The Bagisu tribe has a saying if a task is particularly difficult – it is said to be “like weeding millet.”  Since the grain is dried on the ground after reaping, good millet should be sand free when cooked.

Many a foreigner has mistaken millet bread for chocolate cake before tasting!

 

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes
These come in various colors on the outside but are usually white inside.  They are more hardy that the American yellow variety and do not fall apart or turn soggy when cooked.

They are grown in mounds of soil and are eaten shortly after harvest.  For the most part, they are peeled and boiled whole in water.  They are also good served with peanut sauce.  Their sweet taste contrasts the saltiness of pinto bean soup for an excellent combination.

You can’t put marshmallows on top of these for Grandma’s Thanksgiving casserole!

 

Irishpotatoes

Irish Potatoes
This is what we just call potatoes.  They are very expensive and do not keep long in this climate.  They usually are russet type and are served simply boiled or fried in tomatoes after boiling.  Mashed potatoes would be very expensive due to the butter and milk required plus they are considered baby food.  French fries (or chips as they are called here) are served in larger restaurants but cannot be found in small towns.  They are not considered food but rather they fall under the “snack” category.
 
Don’t serve an honored guest mashed potatoes he will think it’s for babies!

 

SOUP
Ugandans believe that eating dry food is a trial not to be endured.  When we say soup we do not mean stew or gravy but watery soup.

PintobeansLegumes
There is any number of legumes available in a culture where meat is very expensive.  They are the main source of protein in the Ugandan diet. Although each variety is distinctive in taste and texture they are all prepared in the same way.  Here is a sample recipe for bean soup.  This one uses pinto beans but it could easily be navy beans, lentils, great northern, black eyed peas; or some that I only know the local name for such as chaloko.

            2 cups dry pinto beans
            12 – 15 cups water
            1 T cooking oil
            1 purple/red onion (thinly sliced)
            3 medium sized tomatoes (diced)
            1 medium green pepper (diced) – optional

 

Boil beans until soft adding plenty of liquid, cover and set aside. Place one tablespoon of cooking oil into large saucepan; add one red onion thinly sliced.  Fry until translucent then add three medium sized diced tomatoes.  Add diced green pepper if available.  Stir and cook until tomatoes are soft (about 5 minutes).  Then add beans with plenty of water they were cooked in.  Bring to a boil and serve over posho.  Serves 10 people

CabbageVegetables
Basically any vegetable can make a sauce to eat with the starchy food.  People eat what is available.  They eat better when the harvest is good or when things are in season. Often times, however, people will sell their harvest of peanuts or other expensive (and nutritious) crops because school fees for children come due about that time.  So they eat vegetables and get cash for the sellable items.  If the rain was not enough during the growing season people eat less than they need.

Here are some examples of vegetables that are commonly used as sauce:

Eggplant

    • Cabbage
    • Egg plant (various types)
    • Spinach
    • Kale

Things like okra, green beans, zucchini are very expensive for some reason and not commonly used.  I have never seen any broccoli or cauliflower; mushrooms are gathered locally in the wild and are a delicacy very much enjoyed in this culture. The Ugandans I know don’t usually like carrots.  But my kids love to eat them raw (properly washed) something a Ugandan would NEVER do.  Uncooked food is not eaten and the government discourages it, to prevent diseases.

In a culture without refrigeration, it is no wonder that chilled foods are loathed.  To serve a Ugandan potato salad or pasta salad or green salad or a relish tray would be very unkind to them because they would try to eat it to be polite but would hate every bite.

 

Peanuts

Peanuts
These are pounded into a dry mixture and boiled in water.  The peanut sauce eaten here in Ugandan does not have any other ingredients except salt.  So we are not talking about Thai peanut sauce with lime or Jamaican peanut sauce with jerk flavoring.  Ugandans do not like spicy or highly savory foods.

 

 

 

Fish

Fish
Uganda is home to the largest fresh water lake in the world and the source of the mighty River Nile.  The lake has been over fished, restocked by well meaning foreigners with fish that ate the other varieties, etc.  The lake is not polluted as such by chemicals but certainly not drinkable without being filtered.

Fish is expensive.  There is Talapia, Nile Perch and another kind (very large) called Mputa locally.  Yes, there is also Mukini which are little silver fish similar to anchovies but not preserved in the same way.  Mukini is usually dried and is the most affordable of all types of fish sold.  It is also the most “fishy” tasting.  An acquired taste which fortunately someone from Alaska enjoys.

 

Fish is usually sold in three ways:

  1. Fresh  – almost impossible to find in Mbale – far from the lake.  Prepared by boiling and adding fried tomatoes and onions.  The entire fish is eaten, nothing is wasted.
  1. Dried  – the drying is sufficient to preserve it during transport but must be eaten or re-dried shortly after purchasing.  This is how mukini is sold.  It must be washed two or three times then boiled with beans or vegetables.  Sometimes it is fried as a side dish.
  1. Smoked – this is the most flavorful and preferred way of buying fish.  This is added to the boiling water that will be used to make peanut sauce.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin
Although this is a vegetable it is not usually prepared as soup.  It is usually cut into large pieces (unpeeled) and steamed.  It is served as a side dish.  Some are not true pumpkins but are a type of summer squash.  The seeds are soaked in salt water and roasted for a special treat.

 

CONCLUSION
Well, if you have made it this far in reading about foods of Uganda you are probably ready for a snack.  There are some yummy ones here in Uganda. Samosa Triangular sumosa are thin pastry filled with savory peas.  There are also mandazi which are yummy donuts without the hole.  Granted adjusting to the food of any new culture takes time and some things one never gets used to but must eat.  Many Ugandans who have traveled abroad find American food unbearable.  There is a saying here, “The one who thinks their mother makes the best sauce has not traveled very far.”  I’m not so sure about that, I’ve been all over the world and my Mom still makes the best Big Fat Noodles!

Please send us some Velveeta mac-n-cheese as soon as you leave this website!

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Famine is Over!

Join us in a quick trip to Uganda. We walk along the path together in the bright morning sun. Even before we reach the garden, you hear laughter and lively chatter. Everyone is talking at once. People are happy. The corn is ready to harvest and the neighbors have joined us to bring in the bounty. Thanks to Farming God’s Way, an ecological no-plow method of farming, we have a bumper crop. The six month famine in Uganda is finally over.

The famine was very severe. Even when we had money, it was difficult to find food to buy. Thankfully, we saw God’s miraculous provision day-to-day. At one point, we only had one day of corn left and Shem went to the shops to have the bicycle repaired.  As he was coming home, he remembered he had left the old tire at the shop.  When he went back to get it, Shem found a man sitting on a motorcycle with a 100 kg (220 lbs.) sac on maize/corn on the back.  The man and his maize seemed to just be sitting there waiting for something.  Shem greeted the man and asked him what he was doing with the sack of maize.  The man’s reply stunned Shem.

“I’m just waiting for someone to buy it,” the man said.

Unlike the maize that was available this late in the famine, the quality of this maize was excellent.  Shem bought the maize on the spot and had it delivered directly to our house.  It kept us going for another month.

We reduced our rations and were able to share what we had. A family of a widow, her daughter and two grandchildren, came to live with us because their mud hut was falling down around them.  They are still here. What a joy it was to hear a little children’s laughter in our house again.  We now have nine extra people living with us.Widows, HIV patients and orphans received food. Neighbors came and by the grace of God, we had something to give.

Now we have harvested corn and have planted pinto beans.  Because we used Farming God’s Way we saw a greater harvest than most (350 kg/770 lbs) from 0.6 acre.  There was still only one ear per plant but with fuller ears of much better quality when using Farming God’s Way.

We would have gotten more, but army worms decimated a huge portion of our crop.  We are researching ways of fighting this deadly pest for next season.

 

 

 

Thank you to all of our partners who sent food packages chocked full of proteins like peanut butter and oats.  We are very grateful.

We have more land that we could be farming but lack the people to help us.  With 14 people around the table, three of them are HIV+, one is lame, six are school age and one is a toddler.  That leaves Shem who is always traveling for the purposes of intercession and Catherine who takes care of the home.  We only have two young men who put in a few mornings a week.  We also need someone to help us take care of the farm animals.

Farm house waiting for a Farm Manager

We are looking for a farm manager and have even built a place for him to stay, but we just are not able to find such a person at this time.  If you would like to come and help us for a season or two, please feel free to contact us for more information.

Entire Bible

 

Many people have gone before us and prepared translations of the Bible, both the Old and New Testament.  Since they have already done all that work we feel it is important when we are making audio recordings of Scripture in tribal languages to record both the Old and New Testament.   

  1. The entire Bible is about Jesus Christ.  When we offer tribal peoples only the New Testament we have certainly made an excellent beginning, but that is not the end of the work.  In order to see the entire Gospel message, we must present the books of the law, prophets, history, poetry and wisdom literature.  Imagine trying to understand the concept of Jesus sacrificing himself for our sins if we had never read about the blood of the Passover lamb when the children of Israel escaped from Egypt.
  2. All of history and the universe is God centered.  Too often when only reading the New Testament, we get bogged down in the question, “What’s in it for me?”  But the Bible shows a God who is bigger than just my little postage stamp of the world.  Even when we read God’s story throughout the entire Bible, we are only gaining a glimpse of who He is.  The Apostle Paul wrote in I Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”  Why limit the tribal peoples we minister to with only a part what God has revealed about Himself?
  3. Faith comes through the Word of God.  When we hear from God from Genesis to Revelation we grow in faith.  We see how God answered the prayers of the patriarchs and we learn to pray the Word for ourselves.  When we align ourselves with the entirety of scripture we are less likely to be deceived by false doctrines, we are better able to share our faith with others and we become more like Christ.  As God unfolds His plan for salvation throughout scripture we stand in awe of His mighty power and goodness and fall down to worship the only God our Father.

If you can think of more reasons that what are briefly listed here, we would love to hear them.  Please feel free to comment on this page and offer your ideas.  After all, we are in this together.

A Drop in the Bucket

Sometimes it feels that missionary work is like trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon.  There are so many needs around with no end in sight.

I like to think of each drop of kindness as having a rippling effect that touches many other lives.  I’m not one for cheesy Halmark card theology but I also believe we are not equipped to judge the eternal significance of what we do.

Take Annette for example. 

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Join the Crowd

Petero is a gift from God to me.  A breath of fresh air in this weary world.

When I struggle with understanding and interacting with others, Petero is easy as pie.  Don’t get me wrong, we don’t speak the same language.  And even if we did, Petero is so hard of hearing he mumbles, because in his head it sounds like he’s shouting.

We have many people living with us that cause me no end of headaches, but Petero makes me

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