There were not a lot of options where grocery stores were concerned. I remember two types of cereal on the grocery store shelves in Nairobi; Corn Flakes and WheetaBix. It got better as the years went by, but at first that was it. And absolutely zero boxes of cereal in the nearest town of Narok. We could buy staples in Narok; like limited produce, eggs, flour, sugar, and tea. This meant that my mom spent time in the kitchen. Not just a little time. She had to make nearly everything we ate, so it stands to reason that she spent A LOT of time in the kitchen.
Baking day was quite an event. There would be a humongous batch of dough that would be made into bread, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, and rolls. I remember her baking English muffins, bagels, banana bread, granola, cinnamon rolls, pita bread, cakes and cakes and cakes, cookies, pies, and lots of other delicious goodies. She always had something good to pull out when people stopped in.
As you can see from this picture, she got pretty innovative and used what was available to her. There are three tins over there to the right. That is called Blue Band. It is labeled as margarine, but it is unlike any margarine I’ve seen or tasted here in the U.S. I’m pretty sure it’s just shortening (called Kimbo in Kenya) with salt and yellow food coloring. Highly nutritious (pffff). Call me crazy, but I really did like it. I am sure it had something to do with coming to enjoy the things with which you’re familiar. So there is my confession for the day. I liked Blue Band. So, moving on.
Those Blue Band tins are empty. That is because my mom used them as baking pans. Anytime she made banana bread or pumpkin bread, she baked it in empty Blue Band cans. To this very day, I feel a little wasteful when I throw tins and things away. We even washed out our re-sealable bags (kindly brought by people visiting from America) and dried them on wooden spoons in the dish drainer.
Baking Day was my favorite. I would sit on the counter and “help” with all the measuring and dumping. I got to stir and pour and poke. I got to lick the beaters and taste the first loaf of bread fresh and hot from the oven. I had my own little miniature bread pans into which I smashed my very own lump of dough and I’m pretty sure it tasted better than anything in the world.
As you can see from the expression on my face, Baking Day is serious business.