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.

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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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