All of our mail is sent to Thom’s department at MSU and then once a week they gather up the first class mail and DHL it to us. Magazines cost a fortune here (I think I saw a Vanity Fair that was going for the equivalent of about $15 for one issue) so before we left I subscribed to a wide variety of magazines (The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Hobby Farmer, National Geographic Travel, etc.). As you can imagine it’s pretty exciting to get our mail each week out here in the bush.
This week we got a super-duper-extra-special surprise envelope from my dear friend Angie at Maple Valley Off-Grid Farm. Angie and her extraordinary family used to live in an eight bedroom home with a pool and all of the amenities needed to live the American way of life — microwave, DVD player, washer/dryer, etc. October 2008 they bought a 40-acre Amish farm and made the move to live without electricity and indoor plumbing. Her husband quit his corporate job and they became full-time homesteaders.
Their blog documents their adventures. One of my favorite posts is this one and this one. (Yes, that’s a rolling pin she uses for her “live reports” and yes, that’s her singing.) Oh, and how could I forget this one of their journey to the Royal Wedding this past April. After seeing these I know you can see why we get on so well.
Anyways, living on an off-grid farm with a family of eight is a lot of work and Angie worked herself right into the hospital this winter. Normally I’d make a meal for a friend’s family if they were sick but I thought if I did that this time it probably wouldn’t clear customs with those food-sniffing-dogs they have at DTW and all. Instead, I called and ordered pizza for them.
Now this was a very small thing to do and they more than thanked me with emails, posts, etc. So, you can imagine my surprise today at receiving this envelope from them. Inside were handmade items with vintage fabrics! I was SO touched!! I literally teared up at this family’s generosity and kindness.
Here are two sandwich bags (they close with velcro).
Here is what I’m going to use as a toiletry bag.
And here are two king-sized pillowcases with a vintage bell fringe.
So, what to do in the face of such kindness? I know, I’ll make them that pecan praline weave I just saw. Then, I’d find people over here to eat eight pieces — one for each of their family members — in their honor.
I got the dough made but it sure felt like a pie crust to me. However, the food blogger said it would rise so I put it in our truck as that’s the only warm place in all of Lusaka right now (our kitchen did not get above 60 degrees today; I’m wearing cuddle duds on top and bottom, a heavy sweat shirt and a heavy fleece of Thom’s over that).
Three hours later the dough had still failed to rise so I added some water and more flour to try and make it more bread-dough-like. This helped and I was able to roll it out properly.
Then I went about making the filling but oops — no pecans! So it became a walnut-date-praline filling (and it was quite good!).
I finished the weaving but didn’t know what to do with the ends so just pushed them altogether.
I brushed it with egg and baked it as directed and it came out great! (Not as beautiful as the blogger’s but pretty good.) The dough puffed up nicely, almost like a phyllo or croissant-type dough.
I cut eight pieces and distributed them to our guards, our gardener, the groundskeeper and his wife out front, Thom and myself.
Mmmmm-mmmmm, it’s really good Ang!
Angie — thank you and this is for your family! A virtual walnut-date-praline weave. Enjoy!