I have been awake since 5:15 a.m. My body is exhausted, so exhausted. But my mind is racing. I have been home for not quite 24 hours, and have been in the U.S. for about 48 hours. A week ago I was in Uganda, lovin' on the kiddos there. And now, here I am. At home, with my family, surrounded by my room and home and things that should seem familiar, but in an odd way seem unfamiliar.
I woke up this morning in my own bed, and my first thought was, "Africa!" I got out of bed and went to my computer, not to check my mail like I would've done a month ago.. but to look at the photos I took while in Uganda. The photos remind me of moments there, of stories, of experiences.
I want to tell stories to everyone I come in contact with. I want to tell them about the dirty and bumpy roads, about the craving for American food, about washing my teammates' hair in buckets, about peeing on cockroaches in the squatty potty. I want to tell them about the kids there, their shoeless feet, their ragged clothes, their incredible joy, their hugs. I want to talk about being called, "Muzungu!" by so many children, about how these kids were obsessed with our arm hair and pale skin.
I want to tell stories because telling the stories helps me feel a little bit closer to a place that is so far away now. I want to tell stories because, as each story is told, it reminds me of another one. I want to tell stories because I don't want to forget. Ever. I want to tell stories because telling stories keeps my love -for the children, people, and place- alive.
I didn't expect to fall in love with Africa. But I'm pretty sure that's exactly what happened.
One thing I thought about a lot while in Uganda was baking. Going without my Aid-Mixer for a month was a little bit harder than I had anticipated. I thought about baking chocolate chip cookies, or brownies, fruit pizza, or cheesecake. I was all about the sugar... and the chocolate.
But I got home, and chocolate brownies and cheesecake didn't sound all that appealing anymore. At first, nothing did. And that was not a problem I expected to have. But there I sat, looking through recipes and couldn't find anything I wanted to make. "Remember the desperation for chocolate? For sugar? For something not fried?" I don't want to forget that. I don't want to take my pantry and refrigerator for granted ever again. I have a wide option of foods, I don't ever want to hear myself say, "None of this looks good." ever again. Because just a week ago, I would've loved anything that wasn't rice or noodles or potatoes.
This morning, I baked for the first time in a month. I finally decided on making muffins-- healthy, not very sweet muffins. I walked into the kitchen, getting my ingredients out for flax seed and honey muffins. And I couldn't find the whole wheat flour. Or the honey. Dishes were in the wrong places. The cans of corn were where the cans of spaghetti sauce normally go. Terror struck for a brief second. I didn't know how to work in my own kitchen, it seemed unfamiliar.
But the feeling of measuring honey was familiar. The serenity that filled my heart felt like home. The smell of the flour was comforting. My kitchen in itself may not have felt familiar, but the baking process was. And to bite into a warm, soft muffin? Sweet and utter bliss.
(click 'read more' for recipe)
Honey and Flax Seed Muffins (slightly adapted from sugar crafter)
1 1/4 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 C. rye flour
1/2 C. whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 C. flax seeds
1 Tbs. ground flax meal
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 C. milk
1 stick butter, almost melted
1/3 C. honey
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a muffin pan with non-stick spray, or line with baking papers.
2. In a medium bowl, mix first 9 ingredients together with a whisk. In a separate bowl, combine butter, milk, eggs, and honey together.
3. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry. Mix just until combined.
4. Spoon batter into muffin tins and bake 12-15 minutes, or until done.
5. Sprinkle with raw sugar when done, if desired. Let cool.