Mediterranean feasting

Eighteen months ago, pre-Covid, our family went to Egypt. It was fantastic and exciting and dusty and historical. We came home very enthusiastic about Mediterranean food. Since then, I crave pitas and creamy cucumber salads. I thought I would share some excellent recipes in case you would like to make a Mediterranean feast and in that way share a meal with us.

Shakshuka: who knew that eggs poached in tomato sauce could be so satisfying? It’s the feta cheese that makes this special.

Pitas: If you use, you might already be acquainted with Chef John. These are a terrific texture.

Hummus: I modify this recipe a little (less tahini), but I like the very specific instructions.

Orzo salad: Giada has so many tasty pasta recipes. The addition of mint makes this one fun for Mediterranean night. I usually leave out the garbanzo beans and add a cheese, either mozzarella or feta.

Cucumber: I love tzatziki, but it’s a bit of work. This salad is also popular at our house.

Here is David, looking cool and getting ready to chow down.

Hash-up Mash-up

During quarantine, I’ve noticed that everyone’s new favorite hobbies are cooking and baking. I say amen to that. What’s better than a hobby you can EAT? I’ve been thinking I should revive my occasional recipe sharing on the blog.

To that end, here’s a super simple yet satisfying meal for those celebrated “breakfast for dinner” nights. I suppose you could make it before noon, but that’s your call.

Hash-up Mash-up


enough potatoes to grate about 4-5 cups; 5 or 6 big potatoes, 12 or so medium red potatoes

10 eggs

cooking oil

salt and pepper

  • optional: bacon, Freddy’s Fry Seasoning


  1. Boil the whole potatoes in water to cover for 15 minutes or until fork-tender. Set potatoes aside to cool a bit. (If you are in a place where you can get a bag of frozen hash browns, you can skip the potato part of the recipe. This is a missionary blog, so this is how we make it.)
  2. If you are using bacon, start by frying bacon in your biggest, most non-stick sauté pan.
  3. Grate the cooled potatoes on the biggest holes of your box grater.
  4. Leave the bacon grease in the pan or if you didn’t start with bacon, put 2-3 tablespoons cooking oil in the pan.
  5. Put the grated potato in the oil or grease and spread it out to the edges for a layer of potatoes.
  6. Here’s the part that requires patience– let it sit at least 5 minutes or more without moving it (more time if you started with frozen hash browns) When you lift up one edge and it looks good and golden brown underneath, flip pieces of hash browns with your spatula. Now let the other side brown. You may need to drizzle more oil on so that you get a good fry. While the potatoes are frying, generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. *On a whim, I bought a jar of Freddy’s Fry seasoning and brought it to Africa. If you live on the I-35 corridor and can get some, we recommend. If not, you can make it. Good stuff to add at this stage.
  7. With patience, you’ll get a pan of beautiful golden brown hash browns. While you are waiting, crack 10 eggs into a bowl.
  8. Now you will add the protein. If you have a thick layer of hash browns, you can make little divots in the hash browns to receive eggs. Pour the eggs over the hash browns, evenly distribute the yolks if needed, and cover with a tight lid. The steam from the potatoes will make sort-of basted eggs and the bottom will get nice and crispy.
  9. Serve a wedge of Hash-up Mash-up with ketchup, sriracha sauce, hot sauce, and/or Ranch dressing, plus bacon, fruit salad, waffles, etc. ¡Bon appétit! 


Happy Thoughts

Things I’m thankful for this morning:

Trash bags– I found some biodegradable rubbish bin liners (as they call them here) and I’m happy to put them to use!

King Arthur Flour website recipes– try the cinnamon scones

David comes back to Kenya tomorrow!

Lovely memories of the birds, the acacia trees, the sunset on the lake, from a family weekend on Lake Naivasha

The many types of birds who live here that lift our spirits with their carefree flying and jubilant songs

The kindly painter who told me that I made good chai (I nearly doubled the sugar yesterday!)

The friendly joking and laughing of the construction guys working at our house

Bright fires on chilly nights

Will is content with his job and has been commended lately for his teaching

The Lord’s reminder of all the wonderful people (specifically from ACU) who encouraged us to do missions

Sibling pairs who are friends with our girls

New kids coming to school next year and all the possibilities therein

Peter’s enthusiasm for the guitar

Coco soundtrack, especially the Spanish version

Two families who visited this summer– we appreciate you!

Cry, the Beloved Country

The repetition of the phrase “I, the LORD, have spoken!”

Carol truly grandmothering our kids

Each time one of the kids says “Thank you”

Talking to Katherine on the phone

Annie’s braces


Black and White Casqued Hornbill


The Shirk girls are over


Will at work delivering babies

Image 17-08-2019 at 9.36 AM

Annie’s braces


David on his way to the States nearly a month ago


Katherine the Great


The Reids visit us and Hell’s Gate


New construction at Flamingo House


Sunset on Lake Naivasha


Glamping with the girls


Acacia trees on Lake Naivasha


The Shewmakers visit and we ascend Mt. Longonot





2014 Blog in Review

WordPress sends some great stats on the blog at the end of the year.  Our blog was viewed about 40,000 times over the past year.  Of course that is not individuals, but the number of views.  Probably 1/3 of those views are mine.  We had 283 new posts, and the longest stretch of daily posts we had was 14 days.  I may have stolen 200 of those posts from the Diospi Suyana Hospital webpage.  We had visits from 100 different countries.  Most of them from the United States, but also a lot from Canada and Peru.  Somehow we had 2 hits from Saudi Arabia.  It is not surprising to know that my mother was the most frequent commenter.  Thanks Mom!  In addition, a few of our posts were more popular.

Our friend Ryan Morigeau takes great pictures, and one of our posts, The Dignity of Man shows how his photos can show the inalienable value of each individual.

Whenever Allison puts up a recipe or posts something, it is bound to be popular.  She put up a post called Mennonite Muffins that was found by a website that referred lots of visitors to our site.  Please Pray on Sundays shared some of our struggles on sunday mornings.  I really liked and was challenged by her post Take a Love Risk for Someone You Don’t Really Know.  You can tell when Allison writes a post, because it will give you something to think about.  My posts generally have information with less food for thought.

I blogged about work several times, and some of the more interesting and viewed posts were stories of busy call days. Friday Night Call shared the story of an unexpected ambulance visit to the hospital.  Trauma shared the story of one of the worst trauma cases I have been a part of, here or in the US.  A Day in the ER with Pictures has more great photos of me working taken by our friend Ryan.

Of course as a parent, I love posts about our kids.  They had some tough transitions as we dropped them into school that was completely in Spanish.  But they did well, even excelling at times.  Some of the more interesting posts of the kids are the ones that show them in a new cultural context with the school.  Dia de Independencia de Peru has a lot of good photos.  Taller de Culturas explains some of the extracurricular activities of the school year.

We are thankful for our friends.  You can go to their blogs which have their own interesting statistics.  You can find their blogs on the sidebar of our webpage.  This is our little community of American missionaries here in Peru celebrating the Fourth of July in the southern hemisphere. (There are also in this picture 1 Peruvian, 1 German, 1 Dutch, and a family visiting from the US as well as our two Worldwide Witness students we had this past summer, Lydia and Austin.  There are not really that many of us!)DSC_6009They help us pull of crazy ideas like Cafe Caire and they inspire us to live more humbly and with a servant attitude.

And we are thankful at the end of the year for everyone who looked at our blog, for everyone who remembers us back home and prays for us and supports us, and for strangers who have come, guided from some webpage or by a google search.  We hope and pray that you all will know the grace and love of God that surpasses all understanding in this coming year.

Mennonite Muffins

A missionary friend from language school recommended the “More-with-Less Cookbook: suggestions from Mennonites on how to eat better and consume less of the world’s limited food resources.”  With such a groovy, hippy title and the reality that we do have fewer ingredients to choose from, I thought it sounded wonderful.  Lo and behold, I found a well-loved copy, in English, on the shelves of the Brady’s house!  It even has notes like “not very good” and some translations in Spanish.  There are still many, many recipes I would like to try, and I really appreciate the community, helping-the-world, international flavor of the book.

I make these muffins at least once a week.  I feel like they are healthy since they don’t have much sugar in the actual muffin batter, they have oats, and they came from such an earthy cookbook.  I hope you enjoy them too.

Cinnamon-Topped Oatmeal Muffins

1 c. flour

1/4 c. sugar

1 T baking powder

1/2 t. salt

1 c. oats

3 T oil

1 egg

1 c. milk (good if you throw in a little buttermilk or plain yogurt as part of your 1 cup)

I usually add vanilla and cinnamon and nutmeg

topping (yes, Mennonites, I doubled it!):

1/4 c. sugar (we like it w/ brown sugar)

4 t. flour

2 t. cinnamon

1 or 2 T. melted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Stir all dry ingredients (flour to oats), then stir wet ingredients in separate bowl and combine the two.  Pour into muffin cups.  Microwave butter and then add other topping ingredients, stirring until combined.  The topping should be moist crumbles.  Put a little topping on each muffin.  During the baking, the topping will sometimes sink down into the middle of the muffins if you use more butter.  Bake for about 15 minutes.



Our Friend Makes the Bread that Keeps Us Happy

Some of the bread that Konika has made.  The picture is from their blog.

Some of the bread that Konika has made. The picture is from their blog.

Konika Wright is a good friend of Allison’s.  Their kids are our kids friends as well.  I am happy to have Nolan around as well.  Konika is a good cook, and she and Allison share recipes, and one of Konikas bread recipes has become a staple at our house.  Konika has taken that ability to the hospital, and is making the bread that the hospital provides to all the missionaries.  The bread is cooked in a German style, which makes it a little different than we are used to, but it is still good.  Maybe Konika will be able to Americanize it a little bit with time. 🙂  Check out some of the pics from the Wrights blog as they discuss Diospi Suyanas New Bread Maker.

Konika bread

IMG_1271This is my friend Konika (like Monica, but with a K) Wright and her daughter Sydney. She is wonderful– creative, caring, honest, and talented. Besides bringing her two kids, Benjamin and Sydney, very important persons in our household, to Curahuasi, she herself has been a real blessing to me. She is my “mom friend.” I can call her and say, “Aaah! We can buy an extra uniform this week! Less laundry stress!” or “Did you get the boys’ math homework? What were those symbols?” She and I see eye to eye on lots of issues and I am thankful to God for providing such a friend. Everyone needs someone to say, “I agree. That’s what I was thinking too.”

Many times I call Konika to say, “Can I please have that recipe?” She is a fabulous cook and baking is her specialty. There is another amazing family here, the Friedemanns, who do many things at the hospital, among them making bread and cheese for the missionary community. Michel makes over 500 rolls and many loaves of bread each week. He is training Konika to take over since they are going home in June. She gets to the hospital before 6:00 am on Tuesdays and makes bread for several hours in the big industrial kitchen. There is a hospital employee who grows wheat on her farm and sells it to Michel. Another group of people sort and clean it, they take it to someone to grind it, and then they use it to make the bread. The wheat itself is supporting a whole community! The resultant loaves are deliciously whole grain-y and heavy. We call it German bread.

In our house, when the kids see a bowl of wet-looking dough rising in the windowsill, they say, “Yea! Konika bread!” Now German bread is Konika bread too. What follows is original Konika bread, a no-knead, fail-proof air-pocketed bread. Enjoy some tonight!

Konika Bread

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons yeast
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
sprinkle of sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water

Combine the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the warm water and stir. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and leave it for a couple of hours or more. Heat your oven to 350 or 400 (our oven is either on or off, so I don’t really know). Line your baking sheet with a silicone liner (Silpat) or parchment paper and drizzle a little olive oil over it. Turn the bowl over and dump the dough out. Konika gathers her dough in and lets it re-rise. Sometimes I do or sometimes I just plop it on the sheet and put it in the oven. I like to drizzle the top with a little olive oil to help it brown and crisp a little. It should be done in about 20 to 25 minutes. As Konika says, “It doesn’t look pretty, but it tastes good.” Konika reports that her friend bakes it in a Dutch oven with the cover on and it turns out nice and crispy. Try it if you have an oven-proof pot. One day I’ll retrieve mine from storage…

Keeping people happy…

Pizza time!

Pizza time!

… is easy to do when you feed them pizza. Here is something that can make our family’s day, any day, and it does so about once a week– it is a little piece of home and so yummy too. At first we were sad that there is not any good pizza in town, but now we are big fans of this recipe. I have found that pizza making is pretty enjoyable– the stretchy dough, the painting of the sauce, and the end result is certainly rewarding, making every member of the family happy at once.

This is a calzone recipe from Cuisine at Home, a magazine my sister-in-law recommended to me and I can heartily recommend to others. It makes two about 10” pizzas. We have started to need to make three!

Pizza Dough
1 c. warm water
1 package yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 c. flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt

Sprinkle yeast and 1/4 teaspoon sugar over warm water and let it sit for several minutes. When it is foamy, add the olive oil. In the meantime, put the flour, tablespoon of sugar, and salt into a food processor or large mixing bowl and combine. Add the yeast mixture and either process until it forms a ball or mix until all dry ingredients are moistened. Now knead it on a lightly floured surface about 10 times. Put the dough into a bowl with about 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil on the bottom and turn it over so that it gets oiled on top and bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for at least an hour. Cut the ball into two pieces and roll into whatever shape your cookie sheet or pizza pan is.
If you have a good working surface, don’t sprinkle much flour at all for rolling out your crust or it will spring back and you’ll never get a thin crust. I like it pretty thin, so I let it stick to the table until I get it the size I want. It peels off easily. I read on the Internet that you can turn a cookie sheet over and bake on it so that you can slide your pizza off. I put a tiny bit of corn flour (it’s like cornmeal only more fine) down first, peel the dough off the table, arrange it on the turned-over cookie sheet, and add a simple tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. This is an important tip, because if you build your pizza on your working surface instead of your baking surface, it is very hard to move the pizza onto your baking surface. I’ve learned that the hard way! We like pizza margherita, with just cheese and basil, or a few slices of ham. We haven’t gotten too crazy with the toppings yet, but there is more pizza to come, never fear… When you come to visit us, I’ll make you a hot, delicious, Allison’s Pizza Kitchen pizza!

Microwaved Cuy

That is guinea pig reheated in the microwave in case some explanation is needed.  This picture is from our friend Stephen Wright’s Instagram account.  Their blog is here.  I seriously don’t know what I think about this.  We are continuing to work on our cultural sensitivity.