Lately, you could say I've been cooking up a storm. Rainy season concluded with a bang (and a boom and a pow!) with the worst storm to hit Gulu in the past four years. Being from Florida, which ranks first for thunderstorms in the United States, I was used to them. While I wouldn't exactly describe them as creature comforts, they were a nice reminder of home when I moved to Uganda.
The World Meteorological Society reports that Uganda's capital city, Kampala, has more lightning annually than any other city in the world. Gulu is in northern Uganda, and although the storms might not be quite as powerful as in Kampala, they've certainly left us much more powerless.
After storms like this, trees and power lines cover the streets and power may not be back for two weeks. This means a few things. Given that Africa time is slower than molasses, it will more likely be out for a month. This also means I probably should avoid stepping on the live wires outside my house. But as scary as electrocution sounds, it isn't as terrifying as this: no power means no hairdryer.
Being without power has meant one thing – I'm all about preserving the things that are important to me. First, of course, is my hair – I'll try for as long as I can to preserve my last blow dry by putting baby powder on my greasy roots. Next would be to preserve my sanity. Life can get really boring without electricity but I've found cooking really helps. This leads me to the last thing I'm trying to preserve – good food.
When I'm without refrigeration, I can only make things that won't spoil overnight. So losing power means there could not be a better time to start experimenting with preservemaking!
There is a Meyer lemon marmalade I have always wanted to try making but unfortunately Meyer lemons haven't made their way to Uganda. Instead, after exploring the vegetable market, I decided to experiment with what is here – a curious citrus that looks like a lime but tastes like a lemon and some ginger.
Ginger Citrus Marmalade
4 cups citrus, chopped
4 cups sugar
4 cups water
1/2 cup coarsely grated ginger
Cut citrus into segments, removing all membranes, pith and seeds (this will add the pectin that thickens the marmalade). Place them into a piece of *cheesecloth and tie it up. Add citrus segments, ginger, water and pectin bag to a pot and boil over medium high heat until the segments are soft (about 35 minutes).
Take mixture off the stove and remove the pectin bag. When the bag has cooled, squeeze it over the pot to remove any remaining pectin.
Add sugar and return the mixture to the stove. Boil for about 35 minutes but you may want to keep your eye on it after 15. It should reach 220 degrees F. and be thickened. Serve when cool.
*Trick of the Fare Trade If you find yourself in a place where the amount of people combating mosquitoes outnumber those experimenting with cheese making, a cut up mosquito net can be used as a substitution for cheesecloth. Just be 100% sure the mosquito net was not treated with DEET.
About the Author: Layla Eplett has always been curious about food. At the age of five, she shoved peas up both her nostrils in a misguided attempt to eat like the elephants she had seen at the zoo. From this event, Layla gained an appreciation that humans have the option of breathing through their mouth if other airways are obstructed. She also realized the importance of becoming a more astute observer. After shifting her focus from elephant to human behavior and improving her participant observation skills, Layla attended The University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies earning a Masters in Social Anthropology of Development. She now combines her love of learning about food and anthropology in her blog, Fare Trade, where she documents her culinary adventures. She is happy to report none of them have involved food in her nostrils.