Friday, August 26, 2011

I have contributed to the Swazi PCV Newsletter

I have been asked to make a contribution to the Swaziland Peace Corps Volunteer Newsletter, the SoJo. And since I have actually put something together I figured that I could also put it up here, for you all. It does, however, contain the recipe for emafethi again. In case you haven't tried to make them yet, this recipe is a little more detailed with the experience that I have had making them since I last posted it.

Waiting for emafethi. The addiction continues.

For those of you in Group 9 who know me, you also know that I have an addiction to emafethi. Well, being at site has not caused my sweet craving to wane at all. This started back home when I was in charge of running a seminar series for a bunch of grad students. For those of you who have been students, you know that the best way to persuade them to attend anything is to have food. I chose to have doughnuts and coffee at my seminars. They were every week. Of course that meant that I had at least one donut a week, and sometimes I had to go into the store (they were delivered for the seminar) to work out logistics, or to get lunch or something. Anyhow, it had been about two weeks since I had last indulged in an emafethi and about four days that we had been at site. Needless to say, I thought I was dying.

Mia and I planned to go to Buhleni, our shopping town a few days after we had arrived at site to buy the standard household things, as I’m sure most of the other G9ers did. It was an incredibly hot day around 1pm and we had just sat through about three hours of our fist Umphakathzi meeting under the big fig tree. Standing by the side of the road Mia called her Sisi, who had previously mentioned that she would like to go with us to town, to let her know that we were ready to go and could meet her there. She told Mia that it was too hot and she would come ‘pick us’. So we waited, mostly thankful for the ride. We got in the car and found out that Sisi actually had other plans for the day, the first of which was to go home for lunch. This was fine, no big deal, lunch and then a ride to town. Another three hours later we asked Sisi if she was ready to go to the store yet. She was, so we all piled in the car. When I say all, I mean all, including Gogo and Sisi (another one) who we had to drop off at home really quick before going to town. Ok. In the car, hot, windows down, on a dirt road forever, seriously about an hour!! Finally we got to Mhlume, and my Dramamine kicked in. Great. Luckily it only took about 45 minutes to drop off Gogo and Sisi, then we were back on the road. Sisi said that we would stop at a store on the way back, after she showed us off to some more of her friends in Tshaneni. By the time we actually got to the store it only had a few more minutes of being open. Luckily they let us in and we got to do some shopping, even if we didn’t get to explore our shopping town with a local guide. On the way back we had a nice leisurely drive passing sugar cane fields, monkeys sitting next to the road eating the sugar cane watching cars drive by, and a gorgeous sunset. Quickly, I called my Make to let her know that I was with Buhle and her sister, I was ok and I was going to be home late, not to worry. This was quite an adventure in itself, and then the icing on the cake, or the dough in the oil. We did stop in Buhleni, at one store, for one thing, emafethi. It was heavenly, I mean really. Mine didn’t even make it to the car and I was debating if I had time to run in and get another before Sisi drove off without me.

A few days later Mia and I decided to actually go to Buhleni to get a look around and pick up a few things. I had not had an emafethi since that day with Sisi. Little did Mia know that this adventure was going to turn into a hunt (or long wait) for the fat cakes.
The first place we went to in town was the emafethi place, it’s past the gas station, near the shebeen in Buhleni (stop by if you ever get a chance, note the timing). They said that the emafethi would be ready at about 1 pm (who makes emafethi in the afternoon anyway?!). It was about 9 am. Could Mia and I use up 4 hours in the small town of Buhleni? Two tables, a few brooms and mops, and groceries galore later Mia and I walked back in to the sitolo. Were the fat cakes, by any chance, ready early today?  About 11 am. No. So we decided that we couldn’t wait until 1 pm to eat and headed back out to He Provides Restaurant, previously Twinkle, for PCV famous fried chicken. It was delicious, but by the time we got done it was only 11:45 am. We were so hungry we both wolfed our food down. We went back to the sitolo, were they ready yet? No, one hour. Ok, so we went back to the woodcraftsman to figure out possible transport for the tables. 12:00. Not yet, but we didn’t have anything else to do. So, I asked Mia if she would mind waiting just 45 minutes sitting in the sitolo for the emafethi. She said no. That was her mistake, because the emafethi weren’t ready until around 2:30 pm. Every single person who walked in that sitolo sat down to talk to us about where we were from, how long had we been in Swaziland? what were we doing here? when were we leaving? could they come back with us? even if it was in a suitcase? where do you stay? no, really, where do you stay? what’s your real name? On and on. Then finally, after truly earning it, and making a few friends in the meantime, the emafethi were ready!! And oh were they amazing. I got 8, that’s right 8. I ate 2 on the way home, one when I got home, I gave 2 to Make (who also LOVES emafethi) and ate another one with her.  The rest just had to wait for tomorrow, because I was full. Oh, emafethi. Unfortunately, I have a recipe for them. 

So, as a reward for suffering through this story, below is my recipe for how to make emafethi. A little warning though, with this recipe they are quite a bit fluffier and more cake like. To make them more doughy and dense do not use self-rising flour and knead for longer. What’s next for the emafethi? Chocolate emafethi anyone?

Emafethi – using 2 cups of flour yields about 16, 1.5” (in diameter) emafethi.

2 cups of self-rising flour.
2 tablespoons of oil.
½ (about) teaspoon of salt
½ (about) teaspoon of active yeast
4 heaping tablespoons of sugar

To make a bigger batch use 3 cups of flour 3 tablespoons of oil and 6 cups of sugar and increase the amount of salt and yeast only slightly, or follow ratios accordingly.

Mix all of the above ingredients together and stir thoroughly, until well integrated (haha, get it?). Then slowly add water to the mixture and keep stirring. I add water about a half cup at a time. You want the dough to be a little thinner that pizza dough, but not runny. Just so it sticks to itself rather than the sides of the bowl. Then I take the spoon out, put it in a cup of the remaining water, put a towel over the bowl to let the dough rise a bit.

While the dough is rising pour about an inch and a half of oil in a pot. If you use a bigger pot it takes more oil, but is slower to over heat. Vice versa if you use a small pot, it takes less oil but the oil can become too hot quickly if you are doing a big batch. If I am using 2 cups of flour I use a small pot (about 3 rounds of frying), if I am making any more than that I use a big pot. Heat the oil. The oil is ready when you sprinkle water from your fingers in the pot and it sizzles as soon as it hits the oil, not when it hits the bottom of the pan. Then take your spoon out of the cup of water and one at a time, by the spoonful, drop your emafethi dough balls into the oil. If the dough starts sticking to the spoon dip it back in the cup of water. The emafethi may stick to the bottom of the pan, so be ready with a pancake turner if they do. The dough will need to be rolled at least once while in the oil, cooking to perfection. They are ready when they are just golden brown. If the emafethi start coming out raw in the middle and burnt on the outside, your oil is too hot. Take the poor dough balls out. Let your oil cool and try again.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pictures! - They loaded backwards so start at the bottom and work your way up :)

Men's traditional wear. Sorry the boys weren't looking at the camera, the photos with their faces were totally inappropriate. Silly Boys
Mia (My Village-mate) and me at Swearing-in. Women's traditional wear.
The Ladies of Group 9, Swaziland.
Ryan sitting with some OVCs in Makhonza during one of our applied language classes.
View opposite the waterfall; at a cultural village we visited.
Th waterfall at a cultural village we visited. It was a hike to get there, but it sure was gorgeous. Plus I was trying out some new settings on my camera. Notice how vivid the colors are?
Sunset view from right outside my training village hut.
View from the training center.
My language group!!
Me and Calile, my AWESOME language teacher :)
Host Family appreciation, with Make Quality (Calile's host mother), Pila (my bhuti), and Make wami.
Pila's Soccer Team
Cutest goats ever were born on my training home stead.
The Host Family...well most of it. And Pila, eating the ceramic fish, I taught him to do silly things while people are taking pictures earlier. It seems I've created a monster :)
Home, home on the range. Yep Cattle graze 100% freely here.
More traditional homes near my training homestead.
Animals at the nature reserve. Can anyone identify these?
Animals at the cultural village. Can anyone tell me what kind of monkey this is?
That's right. We saw a real live Zebra at the reserve!

I love you all!! Take care.

Monday, August 22, 2011

And Here We Are!!

So, I know I have been promising updates left and right, but I ran out of airtime which means no internet (except for free facebook). I apologize that I have made you all wait this long for a post, and also that it is so long. I hope you enjoy. I waited to post until I could include pics J

Let’s start with why I have no airtime and no money to buy more airtime. First of all, I tethered my computer to my phone’s internet. My phone is set up to run on certain settings to keep costs down, my computer is not. Then the money issue is because of a burglar door. I was doing really well with the money they give us, then I discovered furniture at the same time that my Babe decided that he wants me to be ‘too safe’ and we should have a burglar door put on an inside door that adjoins my house to another section that has no bars on the windows or outside door. Bye Bye money. Luckily, we get more at the end of the month and I should be peachy again. Also, as soon as my Babe gets paid we are going to split the cost of the door and PC is figuring out whether they have anything to contribute to the cause.

Here is a little story about moving to my new and permanent (for 2 yrs) host family:

Our moving day was a little bit of a disaster. There is another volunteer who is also staying in my village, Mia. Since she is a health volunteer and I am an education volunteer it should work nicely. Anyhow, the PC guy who came with us out to our site switched our assigned homesteads. So we got to the first one and he told Mia it was hers. Her Make was so happy and the home she got was beautiful, but it looked a lot like the picture I had from when we received our assignments. I said something to Babe, but he was pretty sure that he got it right. So, we unloaded all of Mia's stuff, told Make we would be back soon with a bed. Well, as we pulled up to the second homestead Mia and I were both pretty certain that our homesteads had been mixed up, because the house on this homestead looked a lot like the picture she had. Finally, he agreed to call Make, who actually scouted out the homesteads for each of us, and realized that they were opposite of what we were currently in the process of doing. So, we met Mia's 2nd Make of the day and went back to retrieve her stuff and drop mine off. My poor host mother!! Can you imagine expecting a foreign volunteer staying at your house, meeting them, and then everyone coming back and telling you that there was a mix up and the other volunteer is really yours. Oh man! She is a trooper.

My new Swazi name is Busisiwe, it means blessing. My Make picked it because she has 3 boys and it is now a blessing that she should have a girl. She and Babe also said that I should feel like this is my first home and that America is my second home. They are both so sweet. Usually it is just me and Make, because Babe works in a different village and my brothers are older and are either at school or working.

On the side yard of the homestead we have a papaya tree, peach trees, banana trees, and yes Mom, that’s right avocado trees (they are in season in June, I’m pretty sure)! I have a pretty big, nice house with 1.5 rooms. I say 1.5 because there is one big, mostly finished one and then a second, smaller room with unfinished (concrete) floors that I use as a kitchen/ bath. I also had enough room and money to buy a nice (you can't feel the springs) double bed and two beautiful handmade tables from a local craftsman who made them just for me (chairs to come). More good news for those of you who would like to have a quick visit to southern Africa, I don't have to take any time off for when people come to visit me!! I only have to take the time off when I leave my site. So welcome one and all!!!

One big project that I am really excited about on the homestead is a garden. I asked Make about it and she is so excited! She actually started digging the garden the other day, which is kind of bad because we are no where near ready to plant so the soil will dry up pretty quickly which means that we had to cut grass for mulch to try to keep the moisture in the soil. I don’t know how many of you have tried to cut grass as tall as you are with a sickle, but let’s just say my Make and I quickly realized all of the possible injuries that could easily happen while doing it, so she let me give it a couple of tries and then held on firmly to that sickle while I transported grass to the garden. My big task is to get a  compost pile going. We’ve got it started, now we just need to keep it going.J Planting should happen as soon as I have enough money to buy seeds. I did bring some seeds with me from training but they seem to have been misplaced during the move. They should pop up sometime though.

The village is nice too. We are very close to a small town, which helps. I am meeting a ton of people. Mia and I have attended a community meeting (like a city council meeting) to meet all of the head people of Mkhuzweni. At that meeting they asked us to attend the community church service to be held the next Sunday, as it would be a good opportunity for us to be introduced to a large portion of the community (which is GIGANTIC!). We walked for four hours the other day and didn’t get through half of Mkhuzweni. The church service was very interesting, a lot of singing and praying in Siswati. It was a congregation of all of the churches represented in Mkhuzweni. The community church service is something that they do once or twice a year, usually everyone goes to their own respective church/service.

I also got to spend a couple of days in my school before it closed for holiday and from what I’ve seen I really like it too. The first day I was introduced to the school board and teachers. The second day I was introduced to all of the students. Babe (Principal) did a wonderful job of introducing me and made very clear that I am their volunteer and it is everyone’s responsibility to help me out and look out for me, really very sweet. I cannot wait for school to start again, even though I know that it means a lot of work. It is really hard to have little direction in such a new place.

Again, I apologize that this has taken so long. I am going to see if I can figure out how to email to update my blog and hopefully update more frequently.

So, I just spent WAAAYYY Too long trying to figure out how to upload photos. I am going to get this post out and try to put more pictures soon. Love you all!!!

This is a picture at the Nature Reserve we visited during training. I will let the kids out there tell you what all of the animals pictured are. Please comment on the blog with their names :)