Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mushrooms! Mushrooms! Mushrooms!

Living in the mato (local word meaning 'the bush' or 'the countryside') sure has its benefits.  Take last Saturday, for instance.  Early in the morning, before heading back home, our night guards were out picking mushrooms in the grassy areas in and around our center.  Knowing how much I enjoy mushrooms, Tyren asked them if they could spare some of those they had already picked.  They gave him a bag full of them!  I soon had them scrubbed up, chopped up, and in the pan. 

I enjoyed a nice fried mushroom sandwich for lunch (see photo to the right)!  From the mato to the table!  Later that night, I added mushrooms to some homemade pizza for dinner.  (We still have some cheese left over from our special Christmas and New Year meals!)

Fresh mushrooms sizzling in the pan! 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Making Lasagna in the Mato!

(The local Mozambicans call the area our center is located in "the mato", pronounced like 'matoo', meaning in the bush or weeds.  People don't usually come out here because they consider it out of their way.  I prefer to refer to the area we live in as "Little House on the Prairie".) 

Lasagna has always been a special meal in our family, reserved only for company or special occasions.  Living in Lichinga, it became even more special for us since, during our first years here, we had to practically make everything from scratch if we wanted anything that would come close to being like the lasagna we were used to.  Having had a taste for lasagna for such a long time, I would sometimes make my own noodles, make a creamy white sauce (since ricotta cheese is non-existent here and mozzarella was unaffordable, when it was even available), and then make my own tomato sauce with lots of market fresh veggies.  Putting meat in the lasagna was not even mentioned in those days!   

Now, years later, we've moved up a little in the lasagna making process!  I made lasagna as our New Year's dinner treat last Tuesday.  Here are the steps it took to make it this year:

Freshly harvested onions from our garden.
  1. Make the ricotta!  Using reconstituted powdered milk, I heated it until just before the boiling point then added vinegar.  Once the solids began to separate from the whey, I put the solids in a cloth hung over a strainer to drain until ready to use.
  2. Recruit my 9 yr. old son, Isaiah, to go pick some onions fresh from the garden! 
  3. Prepare all of my veggies and start chopping!  This time the veggies were my garden fresh onions, along with market fresh carrots, eggplant, bell peppers and garlic.                                                                              
  4. Start cooking the sausage!  Hallelujah!  We can now have meat in our lasagna!
  5. Start sauteing the veggies together in a huge pot.
  6. Once veggies are sauteed, throw in a few cans of tomato paste, some water and seasonings, including some garden fresh oregano from my herb garden.  Cook until done, then add cooked sausage.
  7. Heat water for store bought lasagna noodles.  Yes, Lichinga now carries lasagna noodles in the stores!  No more homemade lasagna noodles unless I actually want to make them from scratch! :)
  8. Start grating store bought mozzarella (I actually made home-made mozzarella in November, but found out that store bought is cheaper) and cheddar together.  Yes, we even have real cheese!
  9. Once noodles are flexible, but not cooked through, begin layering sauce, ricotta, mozzarella/cheddar blend, and noodles in large pan until full. 
  10. Bake until noodles are fully cooked.
  11. Eat!  Yum!!  :)

Lasagna fresh from the oven!
Behind, some roses Tyren picked for me from our rose bushes.
Have a blessed 2013!