Through the years, December has always been THE month for gas shortages. As usual, November rolled around and we couldn't find gas for cooking. When our cylinder ran out at the end of November, we were thankful we had found a friend leaving the country who gave us the remainder of her gas. Whew, I was off the hook for a bit longer. But, then I realized if I cooked the way I normally did, the gas would run out right around Christmas time. Smack in the middle of baking season. Not cool. So, what to do... I then gulped and realized it was time to grow up and learn a skill I had always dodged. Cooking on a segeri (local charcoal stove).
This was my first try. It takes at least 30-45 minutes to get these coals bright hot! The "charcoal" is locally made out of wood and sometimes hasn't been made correctly. If it is poor charcoal, it snaps, pops, and burns too fast. I stood there with a plastic bowl, waving it to keep the flames growing and the coals spreading.
I have watched women cook on little charcoal stoves for years, admiring their ability to roast nuts, make beans boil for hours, and even use the charcoal inside of an ancient iron for smoothing out the wrinkles in our clothes. Did I think I was able to do it to? Seriously, after 7 1/2 years of living here, I had avoided cooking on one, let alone lighting one. You may think it's like grilling out all the time, which it is to some degree, yet more complex and a bit more intimidating. Do I just place my saucepan with a plastic handle right on top of the fire or what? To some of you, this is a giggle. To others, you understand my inner turmoil. Life as I knew it in the kitchen was forever altered. The learning curve was big, as I had a hungry family to feed!
These pictures showed my first of many lunches and dinners I made on those three little sigeri's. I learned to like it after some time. I was able to enjoy the fun of cooking outside, and relating to all my Ugandan friends in the hardships of waiting patiently for the segeri to light! I had many cheerleaders and not too many chuckles (at least to my face). My friend Fiona told me, "Auntie, you are now officially in Uganda!" After all these years, have I not been "in" Uganda? Not really. The point was "you really can be like us". I am still learning, and know that Daddy God still has many humbling lessons coming my way in the year 2012.