This is Zambia: Diet and Weight Gain

March 4, 2013 § 8 Comments


Scale (Photo credit: chrisinplymouth)

“Laura, you should gain some weight.” – Pastor Z.

This is what my pastor once said to me at a dinner at his house. In Zambia, being fat does not necessarily have the same connotations that it does in America. « Read the rest of this entry »


{Wordless Wednesday} Stuffed Bell Peppers

June 13, 2012 § 6 Comments

Lusaka, Zambia

This Week’s Menu: March 5 – 11

March 5, 2012 § 1 Comment

I’m continuing meal planning each week and it’s been very helpful for our weekly shopping trips to the grocery stores as well as the road side stands where we buy most of our vegetables. Here’s this week’s meal plans:

  •  Monday March 5: Dinner at a friend’s house (I’m bringing home-made bread and no-bake cookies)
  • Tuesday March 6: Chicken curry (my own recipe)
  • Wednesday March 7: Guys’ Bible Study = leftover night
  • Thursday March 8: Nsheema (local cuisine!)
  • Friday March 9: Tortilla soup
  • Saturday March 10: Rachael Ray’s Boo-soto (#312 in 365 Recipes)
  • Sunday March 11: Dinner with friends

What’s on your menu for this week?

This is [My] Zambia[n Wife]

February 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

The staple of Zambian diet is called “nshima” (pronounced sheema).  In a Zambian’s mind, nshima effectively means the same thing as food – thus, if you want to eat food, that means you want to eat nshima.

In our efforts to appreciate all things Zambia, we regularly eat nshima.  Also, Laura decided recently that she wants to cook nshima.  She went to the store to buy some mielie meal (fine maize), and she met with disbelief from the Zambian cashier.  First, he was shocked that a mzungu was buying mielie meal.  Secondly, he was shocked that a man could be married for 3 and a half years to a woman who did not cook nshima!

Laura enlisted the aid of Theresa, our pastor’s wife, and Clara, our maid, and they taught her to cook nshima.  After a couple of lessons, Laura has become a pro and can cook some great nshima.  We ate nshima after church on Sunday – since we had extra, we took a plate of food to our guard Nelson.  While Nelson was thankful we thought of him, I don’t think he was particularly impressed that Laura had learned to cook nshima – after all, what married woman does not know how to cook food?

This Zambian Woman Does NOT Want Help Stirring the Nshima because She Can Do It!!

A Delicious Meal of Nshima and Chiwawa

Meal Plan: January 22 – 28

January 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

Our fave - Rach!

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m making an effort to plan our meals as a way to reduce our grocery budget and prevent wasting food. Here is the plan for this week:

  • Monday January 23: Rachael Ray’s Spring Chicken (#121 in 365 Recipes – the link takes you to a similar recipe)
  • Tuesday January 24: Rachael Ray’s Boo-soto (#312 in 365 Recipes)
  • Wednesday January 25: Guys’ Bible Study = leftover night
  • Thursday January 26: Girls’ Bible Study = leftover night
  • Friday January 27: Roast beef sandwiches with homemade bread and au jus dip (this is a bit of an experiment – roast beef isn’t really available although raw beef is fairly inexpensive so I’m going to bake bread and broil a steak and put it together with my imported au jus dip!)
  • Saturday January 28: Rachael Ray’s 3 Beans and Chicken (#33 in 365 Recipes – link is a similar recipe)
  • Sunday January 29: Rachael Ray’s Tacochili Mac (#25 in 365 Recipes)

Can you tell we love Rach? She’s a constant cooking companion and teacher around this house. She’s become even dearer since she’s only 1 of the 2 cook books we brought with us to Zambia. Ben and I prefer eating leftovers for lunch rather than going out or doing sandwiches so we usually have enough for 4 portions at every meal.

Tour of Our Home

November 3, 2011 § 7 Comments

Welcome to our humble abode! We have settled in and are just putting the finishing touches on things. For your viewing pleasure (well, to be honest, mostly for our families!) here is a brief tour of our home:

Our Home!

We live in a multi-unit complex and have a great neighbor next door. The other unit is just recently empty if any of you want to come join us in Zambia! The home came “fully furnished” but we did need to purchase some things like a desk, dresser, and organizational necessities.

Looking from the kitchen into the dining room

This is probably my favorite place in our home! I am loving our new kitchen. This is probably due to the fact that it’s at least double the size of both kitchens we had in previous apartments. It came with the basics but I spruced it up with some gadgets from home, including our garlic press, spice rack, and Santoku knives. My favorite cook books have a place here too.

“How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman

How to Cook Everything

“Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

“365: No Repeats” by Rachael Ray

365: No Repeats

Because the internet is more unreliable here, I’m browsing these books more than in the States. And Artisan bread…I’m in love!! The bread here in Zambia is really terrible. It’s like Wonder Bread without the wonder – it looks fine, tastes bad, and falls apart a day after you buy it. I now make bread for our family 2-3 times a week or whenever the heck we need it.

Looking from Dining Room into Living Room


I really love our photo collection. It’s a great reminder of loved ones from home and special memories of Ben and I. We have extended family, childhood photos, favorite African shots, and romantic ones of the two of us.

Living Room View 1

Couches are hard to come by in Zambia. At the furniture store, good couches run anywhere from $3000-$4000. So we are content to live on our futon like furniture which is still better than most Africans have so we are grateful! My ever-present knitting bag is here so I can pull it out on a moment’s notice or take it with me when we’re out.

Living Room View 2

If you know us well at all, you know we’re not much TV viewers. When we were packing, we needed to cut some weight from our luggage and Ben cut some DVDs. I refused to let go of my girlie movies and so when we do want to watch something, it’s usually along the lines of Anne of Green Gables or Pride and Prejudice.

As you can see, we have plenty of room for guests and visitors! We’re finishing up our guest room and looking forward to my friend Kelly’s arrival later this year. I hope you enjoyed your tour!

Making my own goodies

September 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

Some of you may have seen on twitter (I am @lauramenenberg, by the way) that I have been doing my fair share of making sweets recently. Perhaps it’s because we were stuck at home last week and I had nothing better to do. Perhaps its because of the low sugar content in Zambian food and thus we crave sweet food (and drinks) more often (store bought sweet goods are fairly poor quality here). Nevertheless, I attempted making sweet and savory crepes, maple donuts, and my mother’s famous chocolate chip cookies. Now, on average when living in the US, I probably bake sweets about once or twice a month (usually, this is a result of our parents forcing us to have dessert! 😉 ) so this was over the top in my books.



Crepe breakfast, Lusaka, Zambia

I used the basic crepe recipe from my “How to Cook Everything” book. For filling, I used brie and apples (a Menenberg tradition) for my savory crepes and lemon juice (lime juice is the Leyde tradition) over 1 1/2 tbs of powdered sugar. They were delicious, if I do say so myself.


Chocolate Chip Cookies

Alas, I don’t have any pictures from this baking endeavor. I also don’t want to share the recipe without permission, since it is a Leyde family tradition. So, let’s just say these were a good first try – I had to substitute large chopped milk chocolate candy bars for chips and brown sugar isn’t the same here as at home. I also overcooked them slightly (my mom’s recipe for cookies is essentially underbaked). They do deserve another try to perfect my African version.


Maple Ball Doughnuts

This was truly adventurous attempting doughnuts. I had never attempted to deep fry anything before and was pretty much going by my recipe and by my instincts (and the help of the ladies I live with!). HERE is the link to the recipe I used. The recipe stated to add enough flour to get the dough into a workable state but not to add to much to make it tough. This was very tough to gauge – I never felt like it was workable at all and by the time I added “enough” flour it was starting to be tough. It was incredibly sticky and I wasn’t able to shape it into bars at all. Thus, I went with it and ended up with balls. As the French say, “C’est la vie.” Another African problem I encountered, was that our stove fluctuated temperatures from 280 deg F to 480 deg F. This meant that some were over done while others were under done. I might try these again but the stove issue was definitely the most frustrating part.


All in all, it was a great week of experimenting and I don’t think any one complained about being a taste tester.

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