Tag Archives: cooking

The Fruit of Good Living: Goodbye to South Africa

The Fruit of Good Living: Goodbye to South Africa

This was not the post I was expecting to write when I began outlining ideas for March 2020 — any more than these months seem to be what anyone was expecting.

The last weeks of my service in South Africa began like all the others: a kaleidoscope of culture, friendships, quiet, and difficult times. Then it started to get weird. A cascade of unrelated events contributed to a growing sense of chaos, which paradoxically prepared me for the end of my Peace Corps service in a way that I could never have anticipated.

In the end, as a friend pointed out to me, it was a mercy.

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The World Which Thou Hast Redeemed: April Holidays & Swaziland

The World Which Thou Hast Redeemed: April Holidays & Swaziland

A friend told me that sleeping cleans and heals our brains, like brushing the plaque from our teeth. That’s how church felt my first Sunday back from visiting the USA: brushing the plaque from my soul.

Peace and a sense of belonging enveloped me like a perfume; I greeted every friend with joy, conscious of how blessed I am to know them. Every week, it seems that a new connection unfolds, weaving me more and more into the fabric of community life in KZN.

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The Solitary in Families: Visiting the USA

The Solitary in Families: Visiting the USA

The weather has turned. When I left mid-March for my first visit home in nine months, the sun blazed more often than not. Now cool breezes, clouds, and a freak hailstorm enliven our days.

The first term of school has ended; the second began three weeks ago. It is almost autumn in South Africa. Another mile-marker: As of April 5th, one third of my Peace Corps commitment has elapsed.

March blurred by with my first end-of-term exams bearing down.  Meanwhile my head was muddled with packing for back-to-back trips: first, training in Durban, then two weeks at home in the USA.

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Scarcity into Plenty: Culinary Culture Swap

Scarcity into Plenty: Culinary Culture Swap

It was one of my self-reflective revelations, about the time I graduated college, that not everybody enjoys cooking as much as I do. For some reason it had never occurred to me before that there were alternative perspectives on the subject.

Cooking has entertained and invigorated me for many a hour, many early mornings, and several late nights, since I first learned to mix a batch of brownies for my elementary school friends. This might come as a surprise to my community here in South Africa, since they are all more or less convinced that their young American guest is incapable of cooking or at least deathly afraid of it.

It’s true that I haven’t cooked as much as I imagined I would. In my defense, my facilities are limited. My kitchen consists of a desk squeezed in the corner of my apartment, sporting two burners and an electric kettle for my appliances, with a single pan and diminutive pot as my tools. That put a kabosh on my plans for showering family and friends with goodies, but I was determined that no oven did not have to mean no baked goods ever.

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All Who Are Dear to Us: Family Appreciation Day

All Who Are Dear to Us: Family Appreciation Day

With teaching practicum and our language assessment behind us, I must confess to cherishing the misapprehension that the last two weeks would be leisurely in comparison. As you might guess from the lapse since I last wrote, that was not the case.

Since my final farewell with the learners in Bundu, I have slept in three different beds.  A million moments have passed, with dozens of photos attending them, but this day deserves its own recognition: Family Appreciation Day at SS Skhosana.

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To Guide and Bless: Graduation

To Guide and Bless: Graduation

practicumThis past week smiled on luminous accomplishments: the graduation of my first class of South African learners, and my graduation to a new phase of the Umama School of Cooking – baking!

I had hinted to my host mother that my future family in KZN, to say nothing of myself, might recall my time in Bundu even more fondly if we had some tangible token to treasure…baked goodies, for example.

She obliged by imparting to me a coveted recipe for “amakhekhe” – the Zulu word for cake, here applied to mouthwatering tea biscuits!

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It May Bring Forth Fruit: Site Assignments

It May Bring Forth Fruit: Site Assignments

Though it seemed impossible when I was camped out in the airport terminal with my fellow trainees, staring down a three-month-long stretch, the bulk of Pre-Service Training (PST) is now behind us. We have sighted the finish line, and it is racing towards us instead of the other way around.

Determined not to go quietly into our impending separation as the Peace Corps deploys us throughout the KwaZulu-Natal province (KZN), we have already begun the serious business of loading our dwindling days together with celebrations and festivities.

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