Yesterday was a fun day with my carpentry stuff as well. The carpenter (I still don’t know his name) and I went into some lady’s house to fix her bathroom door, kitchen cabinet, and dresser cabinet. It was pretty fun and today was the first day that I started hammering stuff. I was a little surprised with how much he let me do unsupervised as he was attending to other things because he had no guarantee that I knew what I was doing!! And, of course, I screwed it up. Not that bad though, I only bent one nail which he had to come and fix. He wasn’t mad though so that made the learning experience easier.
The lady whose house we were working on is an interesting lady. When I talked to her about where I was from (people can instantly tell I’m American when I start talking) she was familiar with CA and with cities in NC. Surprised, I asked if she had lived in the states and she has! Not only that, but she most recently had returned from Germany where she spent most of her time. She seemed irritated that the carpenter said this job would take 1/4th the time it actually took but he accused her of thinking too much like a German and expecting people to do stuff on time (clearly this is not the African way). They then both agreed that she was a Bushwa or something like that. It means a person that left Africa to go somewhere west that has come back. Apparently she got used to that bizarre ideology where people actually use time literally and did stuff on time. Imagine that.
They argued frequently but it was half seriously half jokingly (maybe ¾ serious ¼ joking) but I tried my best to stay out of it (they would frequently say stuff like “You understand how precious time is” or “You know that is not Africa’s way right?” and I would pretty much agree with whatever some declared that I knew).
Today I was mostly busy working on training manuals for the students. The classes start on Monday and I’m nowhere near prepared. I shouldn’t say that…but I’m definitely not as prepared as I need to be.
I tried to bake a key lime pie yesterday…RARGH! The stupid oven here does not have any temperature markings on it. Only a big flame and a little flame and your guess to whatever is in between. Well, I had been looking forward to this for a long time. I bought all the ingredients last week and finally started going to work. Well, as I was squeezing the limes (which were super bumpy but I assumed it was something to do with Africa) Marceline came up to me and stared at what I was doing. Periodically I would come over and explain what I was doing to her because she wanted to learn how to bake.
“So, now you’re squeezing the lemons and mixing the juice with the condensed milk?”
Lemons? I thought, looking down at the dark green limes in my hand.
“Well, no these are limes. But yeah, I’m trying to collect maybe a half cup of the juice for the pie”. Did I mention that I was doing all this without any measuring utensils? Yep, all of this was being measured with eyeballs, fistfuls, and a dash of hope.
“No, no,” she said looking at me puzzlingly, “those are lemons. You see how bumpy they are on the outside? You can tell from that.”
What?! Green lemons?! I dipped my spoon into the juice and tasted it. The strongest lemons I’ve ever tasted too…
“So, wait, your lemons are green?” I asked with a sigh.
It wasn’t the end of the world. Some recipes that call for limes can be substituted with lemon juice. The exact substitution ratio is dubious and there’s not much that is actually done to make the lemon juice taste like lime juice. However, this recipe called for Key limes which can only barely be substituted by normal Persian limes (the big green ones most people are familiar with). Using lemon juice instead of Key limes was a pretty big stretch. Oh well. They must have thought I was pretty weird making a Lime Pie with lemons.
The pie was challenging to make for many reasons. Even besides the lack of accurate measurements, actual limes, an oven with specific temperatures, and an actual pie pan (I could only find a cake pan), the pie was meant to be mixed using an electric hand mixer. As you know, condensed milk is thick stuff and mixing it all up by hand is tiring, lengthy, and quite frankly not that effective. What can you do? At the end of it all, I was quite proud of the pie I ended up with. No doubt it would taste different, but hopefully it would still taste good. This was a new recipe…Cameroonian Lemon Pie. …
I would never taste the Cameroonian Lemon Pie. The pie is intended to be cooked at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Figuring that these ovens weren’t as strong as the ones in the US, I left it in for 20 minutes at almost the highest heat (big flame symbol). Big mistake. I came back and the pie was bubbling and brown on the top—disgusting.
C’est la vie I thought bitterly as I sat on a chair and stared at the pie. Marceline wandered into the room followed by Jerry (the guy who spoke to me about fufu and eru). She poked the charred surface softly with a spoon.
“Is it…supposed to be brown on top?”
I put my face in my hands.