Of Cake and Salads

Occasionally the monotony of farm work and the predictability of Ugandan cuisine must be broken by celebrations and a few delicacies.  I’ve been enjoying experimenting with baking banana bread using the double boil method* on my single-burner propane stove.  I’ve had a decent success rate, but when Alissa hooked up a real oven (small though it may be) I was so excited. I had been dreaming of making an upside down pineapple cake with the amazing pineapples in this area, and Alissa’s birthday provided a good excuse for trying it out. The result was, well, you can see for yourself!

Pineapple upside down cake!

If I may say so myself, this cake tasted sooooo good!

Additionally, with the bumper crop of lettuce that we’ve had, I decided to make “Pittsburgh Salads” for Alissa’s birthday dinner.  (For the non-Yinzers out there, a Pittsburgh salad consists of a tossed salad topped with grilled chicken strips and French fries.) Now, you have to understand that 99% of Ugandans have never heard of lettuce, let alone eaten a tossed salad, so the proposal of salad as a dinner plate was a bit strange. Nevertheless, we proceeded with preparations. I even think that people besides Alissa and I enjoyed them.

The Pittsburgh Salad

The cake was such a bit hit, that I was nearly forced to bake another one for Caleb’s birthday two days later.  And I decided to share a bit of my culture with the agriculture team when I invited them to my house and we made the Pittsburgh salads again. Oh, and I baked a third pineapple cake for that event too.

My fancy dining table during dinner with farm team and Alissa.

It’s these small things – familiar tastes and celebration of home culture – that can be the fuel to push me along when the stress or monotony of life in Kyenjojo threaten to overtake me.

*I learned the double boil method on a backpacking trip in North Carolina.  You take a large pot and put a couple inches of water in the bottom.  Then you take a smaller pot that can fit completely inside the big one with some space to spare.  You put the cake batter in the small pot, and cover the entire thing with a lid.  The boiling water and steam bakes the cake.  This method works great for breakfast cakes and any other moist cake variety.


Posted on May 28, 2012, in Misc. Life, Uganda. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Oh, that all sounds so good! Especially with fresh pineapples, mmmmm…stop you’re making me hungry! :)

  2. Looks like your great cooking and hospitality skills extend to many countries.

  3. Margo McGilvrey

    Looks great-love your explanation of how to make it on a camping trip! We just got back from a backpacking trip in Arizona it would have been a great adition-next time! margo

  4. That’s great, Emily! Sometimes you just have to have baked goods! When I was in Kenya, I made chocolate chip cookies with my host sisters – had to chop up a Cadbury Chocolate bar. They actually had an oven, I assume because they lived in a city apartment. What I remember most is the my Kenyan sisters had to eat a cookie slowly, a little bit at a time, because they were so sweet!! But of course I could eat five in a sitting!

  5. Bethany Blackwood

    Sounds amazing! Glad you’re introducing people to Pittsburgh culture. I introduced my English coworker to bagels yesterday and cookies have become my language tutor and her kids’ favorite food for me to bring them. No bake chocolate PB oatmeal….yum! Anyway I might just try out this double broiler method for cakes soon…my host family here in Kigali doesn’t have an oven so I cherish visiting a friend and using hers! About how long would it take? (although using a charcoal/wood “stove” might be unpredictable anyway)

    Also–any chance you’ll come visit Kigali in the next 5 weeks or so? That’s as long as I’ll be around. There are lots of good food and things to do here :)

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