Archive for August, 2013


kitumbua success

After studying and trying several slightly different recipes, kitumbua success!  Delicious!  So worth the trial and error (and error).   Lemonade stand?  I don’t think so.  Nope, the farmergirls are putting on dashikis from Shona Congo and setting up a kitumbua stand on our street, just like they do in Lubumbashi.  Totally kidding.  That would be silly.  Okay, not totally kidding.  That would actually be pretty awesome.  I would not hesitate to buy a kitumbua from these two Congolese cuties in their dashikis.


and I’d go back for another … even if they tasted like that first attempt.  Plus, it would help Keta toward her goal of purchasing a magic car. 😉

So here’s what they should kind of look like …


And if you’re feeling in the mood (or you’ve made the request for this info), here’s kind of what I do to make them …..

First, I stopped measuring after failed attempt number two.

Second, my successes have been very slightly different in texture and fluffiness, but they’ve all been equally delicious.

Finally, this is just what I do.  I am not even close to being a person who really knows anything about this.  What little I do know I learned from a three-year old with very foggy memories, a Google search, and some (several) mistakes.

1.  Fill a mug with white rice and soak rice overnight in tap water.  (I rinse the rice pretty extensively before soaking although I didn’t see in any recipes to do this).

2.  Drain most of the water or drain it all and rinse.  Doesn’t seem to matter.

3.  Put the rice in a large mouth canning jar or blender.

4.  Add a can of coconut milk.  Don’t go with that light stuff.  Use the real deal.

5.  Throw in some sugar.  I’ve used a variety of types, all work fine.   Roughly half mug should do it, but you can use more or less, depending on how sweet you like things.  I like things on the sweeter side.

6.  Add some regular flour, maybe two-ish heaping tablespoons.

7.  In desperation I’ve added coconut flour.  Tastes really good, probably not necessary.

8.  Add an egg.  About half of the recipes include an egg.  I guess it’s optional.

9.  Add a pretty small amount of ground cardamom.  I forgot one time and the rice and  coconut combo was great without it.

10.  Add rapid rise yeast.  I usually pour in about half of a package, however much that might be.

11.  Blend and blend and blend and then blend some more.  I use a stick blender.  Rice should be in extremely tiny pieces.  You might have to add some water.

12.  Put it in a bowl and cover loosely.  Let it sit on the counter a bit.  I’ve seen anywhere from one hour to overnight.  I usually make the dough (batter??)  in the morning and let it sit until early afternoon.

13.  Heat your pan.

14.  Stir your future kitumbua.

15.  Cook it!  Recipes say to use oil, but I’ve used butter instead.

They turn out kind of dense but fluffy too (I know, one thing cannot be both) with a very nice and subtle crunch from the rice.  Yumma!


back to school

first day of school, ever        August 2012


first day of school      August 2013



It was a scary time, but we did.  We survived the first visit from the tooth fairy!  Francine split her cash with her big sis and looks super cute with a tiny gap in the front.  Now that she has these new experiences behind her, losing the tooth and the exchange of it for cash, she’s “all growed up.”



a minute

Sometimes mama needs a minute.  Maybe it’s a minute to workout without interruption (haha) or maybe time to do dishes or laundry without “help” or it might even be a minute to just sit and stare numbly out a window.  So, I’m guilty.  I’ve done it.  I’ve given in.  I’ve thrown in the mama towel, hung up a do not disturb sign and I’ve put on a movie.  Keta is thrilled.  Francine plays along.  We don’t watch any television at all.  We have movies and Netflix for hair days and usually only hair days.  But now we’re at the end of about two months of round the clock, nonstop, unending, continuous, and incessant single parenting (of two absolutely delightful kiddos) and mama needs a minute.  I’m thankful they’re here and that I have a job that allows me to spend summers with them and I know before long I’ll miss these days and they’re growing up so fast and I love them like crazy and all that, but sometimes mama needs a minute.  So, I tried a movie.  It did not work.  It so did not work, even for a minute.  No matter if I was in the same room or not, there was round the clock, nonstop, unending, continuous and incessant questions and comments (and it was a movie they’ve watched no less than 29 times!!).   Keta absolutely cannot understand why we don’t have a magic car. She’s truly appalled that “they’res don’t make magic cars like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang anymore” and is disgusted that after the “long loooong times” (remember, she’s four) since she started saving money in a piggy bank she still lacks the cash to buy Chitty.  To her this is completely Un. Be. Lievable!  Francine just loves to chat.  She’ll ask a question about forty-two thousand seven times even though she knows the answer before she asks the first time.  Gently and quietly shh-ing her does not end the questions nor does it cause her to turn down her volume.  Nope, she just switches to whisper shouting which would be funny except for that tiny detail that mama needs a minute.  And now that I have my minute, all I want to do is creep back to their bedroom and rub tiny backs and kiss tiny foreheads and be in awe of them, for a minute.

Yep, it’s time to hide these favorites.


bye bye summer

Keta can add riding a horse to her list of summer adventures.  She rode an amazing horse called Cocoa with the assistance of an amazing teacher who taught her how to ask Cocoa to go and to stop.  Much like skiing, Keta knew how to ask to stop, she just didn’t do it.  Finally, we had to just pull her down, give poor Cocoa a much earned break.


Francine is 100% little sister.  If Keta says something, Francine will too.  If Keta does something, Francine will too.  If Keta has a different opinion, Francine will change her mind to be the same as Keta’s.  So, when Francine told me she too had a loose tooth, I just played along.  “Loose teeth feel pretty funny don’t they?”  and all that.  Yesterday she told me she had a “weally weally wiggly tooths.”  Alright, I’ll humor her.  I looked and wiggled.  Yep, it’s weally wiggly and it’ll fall out in a day or two.  Since then, we’ve been talking endlessly (and sporadically before) about the tooth fairy.  We survived Santa’s visit and the Easter Bunny too.  Really, what is it with all of these magic characters invading our homes in the middle of the night?  Scary!  I think we might have to set the tooth outside the house, outside the room is not far away enough, it seems.  Already we’ve verified, repeatedly(!), that mama will close the bedroom door that night and mama will protect you and the dogs will protect you and no, the tooth fairy isn’t going to come until the tooth is actually out, and she’s nice and leaves you some money and has no interest in “scaring your heart” or even making her presence known and if that first tooth does not fall out in a day or two I’m seriously going to have to tell them that I’m her and just hand over a few quarters.  One of us tends to obsess a bit.  She’s a meticulous verifier of facts.


We had an awesome time at Uncle E’s.  K and F were in the pool within minutes of getting to the house.  We fed ducks, we checked out the dairy, we saw cows being milked and trucks being filled with milk and babies born just that day.  We fed chickens and saw a really pretty snake and discovered all kinds of creative ways to go down (and up) slides.



It was a great way to end the summer.  Monday it’s back to the usual business of missing my babies while I try to teach other ones a thing or two about physics.  Bye bye summer!