Sunday, March 27, 2011

African Cats

When we got back from vacation we found out at the Disney Nature movie being released this Earth Day is (wait for it)
African Cats.    Yes, please!

Recipe: Blueberry Buckle



The likelihood of a recipe from the 1940s going wrong is very low.  Ingredients are simple and already on hand.  No fancy tools are required.  And it turns out perfect every time.  I found the recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book

I actually used frozen mixed berries for the picture above and it was great, but you can't go wrong using only blueberries either.

2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Topping:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

I use a 9x9 silicone baking pan for this recipe.  Once it's cooled you can just pop it out and slice it.  If you want it while it's still warm, just slice it in the pan.

Preheat oven to 350.   Grease the bottom and 1/2 inch up the sides of a 9x9 or 8x8 baking pan.   
In a large bowl combine 2 cups flour, powder and salt.

Beat shortening with an electric mixer then add the 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy.  Add egg and beat well.   Alternate adding flour mixture and milk to egg mixture beating until smooth.    Spoon batter into the pan.  Sprinkle with berries (frozen berries are just fine, I promise). 

Combine 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon.  Cut in butter until it is coarse crumbs (I use two knives).  Sprinkle over berries.  Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until golden. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Project 365 - March Catchup

With vacation and vacation recovery I've been slacking on posting my 365 pictures, though I've been taking them.  With numerous posts and pictures about Tanzania, consider those my representation of March 6 - 13 and I'll catch you up on the rest!

March 4 - "Vacation in a Cup" at Caribou

March 5 - Delicious apple tart in the Amsterdam airport

March 14 - Water with ice(!) and pizza in the Minneapolis airport

March 15 - Post vacation read on Tuesday while recovering from jet lag - great book

March 16 - Return to work weather

March 17 - Love Susan Wiggs!

March 18 - St. Patrick's Donut Holes

March 19 - Thin Mint @ Liks

March 20 - Yes, it's about time that I own a Sangria set

March 21 - Friend models her pre-birthday Israel peacock feather earrings

March 22 - Blue Bear in Spring

March 23 - Buffalo Mac and Cheese from Target

March 24 - Rare rain clouds in Denver

March 25 - Art Institute student treats

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Africa

I am never ready for vacation to end, whether it's a weekend in the mountains or a month in Thailand.  My sister and I refused to discuss the end of vacation.   On Saturday night we had a cocktail party with our guides on the deck at the bar.   On Sunday we headed out for some serious end of vacation shopping, both in a structured store (owned locally by Tanzanians - and across from the Snake Farm) and at the Mount Meru Maasai Market in Arusha.   We stopped at had lunch at the Bushdrifters office in Arusha at a restaurant called "Island Style."  The owner of the restaurant lived in the States for a long time, but moved back with her daughter so she'd understand her African culture.  I think the Island Style comes from the fact that her husband is from Jamaica.    There was a small church nearby - a simple structure with gapped wood walls and a tin roof, but you could hear everyone singing.  

Saying goodbye the last night at Lake Manyara

The Tanzania version of the Latin American Chicken Bus

African Art.  I saw people in the airport with bulky wrapped packages that I can guarantee are wood carvings of giraffes.   Honestly, if I wanted one I'd buy it at World Market here in town and take it home in my car.
We never did see Mt. Kilimanjaro.  This is Mt. Meru.  
It was dark when we arrived and cloud covered when we left.  
Random Life Lesson:  Both my sister and I spent the remainder of our cash at the Maasai Market because we knew we were going to the airport.  Surprise - none of the shops or cafes took credit cards, except the one that sold Tanzanite...and what we wanted were chips and Fanta.   And then on the opposite side of immigration were the duty free shops that did take credit cards, but only sold liquor, cigarettes and coffee.   We scored two Bounty Bars at the checkout.  Of course there was no drinking water available on the other side of immigration.  And it was hot.  The good news?  I slept almost the entire 11 hours to Amsterdam.  I don't know when I'll be back in Africa, but I know I will.

Lake Manyara

Lake Manyara National Park is very different from the Serengeti.   There is "jungle" as in lush and green, but you can see the sky.  The nice part was the cool shady trees.  We saw different monkeys, spider monkeys and blue monkeys.   Manyara comes from the Maasai workd for a green bamboo type plant the grows there.    Lake Manyara does have some tree-climbing lions.   Take your standard lion, put them in a climate where there is moisture in the ground that can breed nail fungus and the lions climb the trees.   Sadly we didn't see any.   But the highlight of our morning game drive on Saturday the 12th were the baby elephants playing in the mud.  I love Africa - it's like the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet but live, in person, and so much better!

Male giraffes battling for leadership.  They hook necks and kick each other.

Baby elephant

Kirurumu Tented Lodge

On Friday March 11 we left the Serengeti behind and retraced our steps through the park, the plains and the rim of Ngorongoro Crater and all the way back in to Karatu Town.   On the way we went really off-roading to this giant sand dune in an area called Shifting Sands.   Then we went to the "Cradle of Mankind", Oldupai.  Then on to the Kirurumu Tented Lodge.  The lodge is 6km in on bumpy dirt roads and you wonder where you are going.  Many of the children who live on the road will come running when they hear the jeeps, both to say hi and hoping that you will throw them candy.   

Think very nice platform tents with indoor plumbing.  We were not roughing it in any way.   The lodge is small, only 22 tents.  All the meals are served al fresco in a pavillion.  The food here was also really good...there I was taking pictures of my food, again.  The bar had a great deck overlooking Lake Manyara.  We were there at the end of the dry season, but you can tell how big the lake will get once the rains come. 

Shifting Sands

Maasai Beadwork at Oldupai

Our "tent"

The bar - where we had a chance to try Konyagi, the local liquor

View of Lake Manyara from the bar

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

If It's Tanzania, It Must Be Los Lobos?

There is a certain irony in hearing songs you don't expect in unexpected places.  In Thailand, it was the prevalance of Bob Marley music (see post: If it's Bob Marley....).   So this strolling musician at our hotel in the Serengeti was a special treat.

Serengeti

On Wednesday morning we left the Ngorongoro area heading for Serengeti National Park. Serengeti means endless plain in Maasai, and we saw plenty of it - lots of Thompson's Gazelles, Zebras and Wildebeest, and not a lot of trees.   In the afternoon we officially entered the park and saw more of the amazing wildlife, including getting "that close" to lions.






We stayed at the Serena Serengeti Lodge which is in the park.  We stayed in "huts" as the staff called them.  Since it was in the park, you needed an escort after dark because the wildlife is out and about. 
And you've got to love the infinity pool that overlooks the endless plain.

And, from the hotel staff and our driver guides, we learned how to handle animal attacks; from elephants "take off your shirt and throw it on the ground so they stomp on it, not you" to cape buffalo "lie still on the ground so it can't hook you with it's horns - if you have to, bite it in the tits" to leopard "there's no hope."

March 9 Wildlife: augar buzzard, lions, cheetah, leopard, zebra, wildebeest, Thompson's gazelle, Harte buck, water buck, elephants, hyenas, dik dik

March 10 Wildlife:  impala, zebra, wildebeest, topi, hippo, leopard, crocodile, rock hyrax, jackel, male lion (eating a zebra, no less)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ngorongoro

On Tuesday March 8, we left Gibb's Farm and went into the Ngorongoro Crater, which is a national conservation area.  The crater, by topography alone, for the most part keeps the wildlife in, although elephants like to hang out at the top, rather than in the crater.  Ngorongoro is a the sound that a cowbell makes in Maasai, which means life.  The fact that you can hear a bell ringing is the animal saying 'I'm still alive.'  For the five of us that didn't go to Tarangire, this was our first day of safari - and time to pop the tops of the Land Cruisers. 

We also had the luck during our day in the crater to see all of the Big Five.  I'm not sure who in history decided that the Lion, Elephant, Cape Bufflo, Cheetah and Rhino made up the five.   The last time I was in Africa, we only saw three of the five.  Aside from the rhinos, we saw some of the other animals more up close and personal in the Serengeti, but our day in Ngorongoro was still amazing!
Cape Buffalo
Rhino
Elephant
Cheetah
Lions

And all the other critters in the crater:

                                               Hyena                                                   Gazelle


                                           Wildebeest                                             Zebra

We stayed at the Ngorongoro Serena Lodge on Tuesday night.  
The hotel had a great view overlooking the crater and the sunrise was amazing.


Ngorongoro wildlife count:  Crested Cranes, Wildebeest, Zebra, Cape Buffalo, Corey Basterd, Guinea Fowl, Egyptian Geese, Lion, Cheetah, Hyena, Jackal, Yellow Beak Stork, Ostrich, Rhino, Elephant, Hippo, Eland, Hartebeest

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