What a day! I taught three people how to use crutches (but half of that time included fitting the crutches . . . which entailed running back and forth to the shop to have extra holes drilled or to borrow a wrench -- during which time I had a very interesting conversation on marriage with the guys in the shop . . . but that will be a post for another day, as I've been invited to a wedding on Saturday, and I have the bubble gum to prove it!), learned a few colors in Hausa, helped a 15 month old weight bear for the first time in six weeks (bilateral femoral fractures means six weeks of "traction" when there is no ortho around . . . but that's also another story for another day), and (drum roll please) I had company for dinner!!
Now, when I'm home, this would be no great feat. In fact, I typically have at least one dinner party a month, some times two or three. They always take preparation and planning . . . but nothing like today. At home trying out new recipes is an enjoyable process . . . I usually come across one at my leisure and think, "hmm, I'll have to try this out on a few people." But for tonight, recipe hunting was a premeditated, very intentional mission.
Tonight's menu: Meatloaf, scalloped potatoes, peas, and key lime pie. Simple. Not in Niger.
Rewind to last Friday. A vegetable seller came by with the potatoes and onions (keep in mind, it's now the following THURSDAY). Skip ahead to yesterday . . . Wednesday is the co-op day, which means I could purchase flour, butter, mince, canned peas, and a loaf of frozen bread. But I forgot to get mince, and had to go back later. Last night: leave the mince to thaw in the fridge, and two slices of bread out on the counter to harden to make bread crumbs for the meatloaf.
I woke up this morning ready to go! Made yogurt (from powdered milk), then off to the hospital (see above). Did a "load" of laundry in the sink during morning break, followed by more crutch training. My lunch time/siesta were spent in the following manner:
- Light stove to toast semi-stale bread for breadcrumbs, as it was really humid today and the slices weren't crispy enough to crumb.
- Squeeze a dozen limes to get 1/4 cup of lime juice for pie.
- Make pie crust.
- Light oven to bake pie crust.
- Bake pie crust.
- Burn one side of the pre-breadcrumb toast.
- Relight oven due to unknown cause of extinguishing in order to finish cooking pie crust.
- Whip up key lime custard.
- Make make meringue . . . by hand . . . without an electric mixer.
- Clean up meringue splotches off floor (I'm a messy enough cook to begin with!).
- Slice up one-side-is-now-burnt-half-stale toast to retoast to make breadcrumbs.
- Continue attempting "stiff peaks." (in this heat and humidity, there's no such thing!)
- Put down bowl and walk away.
- Put pie in oven until meringue tips turn golden brown.
- Relight stove.
- Avoid second burning of breadcrumbs.
- Relight oven.
- Peal and slice potatoes.
- Make two cups of milk from powder.
- Chop onions.
- Season mince.
- Shape loaf.
- Put pie in fridge so that it doesn't melt.
- Boil water x3 for dishes .
- Return to the hospital one hour late.
Since the prep work was done, I figured it would be smooth sailing from there. Before a quick shower to wash away my Galmi-tan, I lit the oven and popped in the meat loaf -- it's a small oven, with only one rack -- not enough room for the meat and the potatoes at the same time.
Once the meat was done, I popped the potatoes in -- the recipe was for scalloped potatoes without cheese, as it is really hard to come by in these parts, and it said it would only take about 3-4 minutes for the milk to boil, and then I was to lower the oven temperature so that they would simmer. Twenty minutes later, still no boil. Thirty minutes . . . and nothing. Forty . . . my guests were getting hungry. WAIT . . . what's that?? THE OVEN WENT OUT AGAIN! Where are the matches??
By the time the potatoes were done, the meat was cold. Too bad. I don't have a microwave. We sat down to eat, and I realized, OH NO! I FORGOT THE PEAS!!! Oy. But I wanted peas. So, I went to quick make peas while they started to eat. But the pot was dirty from something else, and I didn't want to fill the kettle, light the stove, and wait for water to boil. So, no peas.
The meat looked done, but was a bit soggy in places . . . but that would be the "breadcrumbs" as I burnt one side trying to toast it on the gas stove (no toaster) so I had to chop little pieces instead. HA! And the potatoes were still crunchy. But that's not all . . . .
Refrigerating toasted meringue is a bad idea. It broke, collapsed, and the custard got really runny. So I reasoned that a few extra minutes in the oven would do the trick. But the oven is unreliable and I don't have a timer. Next thing I know, Auntie Cindy said "Um, is your pie still in the oven?" The top of the meringue tasted like a crisply toasted marshmallow. HA!! So much for that idea!
Needless to say, Uncle James, Auntie Cindy and I had some really good laughs throughout dinner!