Butternut Soup

Butternut Soup

Ingredients (Makes approx. 2 Liters of soup)

  • 2 medium butternuts
  • 1 granny smith apple
  • 2 medium onions
  • 50grams butter/Margarine
  • 2tsp curry powder
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 chicken stock cubes
  • 750 ml (3 cups) Boiling water
  • 500ml (2 cups) milk
  • 1 tsp salt (or more or less to taste)


  1. Peel, seed and dice the butternuts
  2. Peel, core and chop the apple
  3. Peel onions and chop roughly
  4. In large saucepan, saute the chopped onions in butter
  5. Add the curry powder and fry the mixture lightly.
  6. Add the butternut and apple and saute the mixture for a while
  7. Add the flour and nutmeg and mix lightly
  8. Dissolve the chicken stock cubes in the boiling water.
  9. Add the stock, milk and salt to the butternut mixture
  10. Boil with the lid on, over moderate heat till the butternut pieces are soft
  11. Stir the mixture occasionally
  12. Puree or blend until smooth.

The colour of the soup should be a deep yellow and the texture creamy.

Serve the soup hot.

This soup freezes very well.

Nicola’s/Paula’s Lasagne

Lasagne recipe

  1. Mince (we used about a kilo for this recipe. You can use more or less depending how meaty you want it)
  2. 2 Onions (chopped)
  3. 6 Carrots (grated ) or more
  4. 5 Celery (chopped)
  5. 3 Cans tomatoes
  6. Olive oil (about 2 tablespoons)
  7. Oregano (or mixed herbs, or whichever herbs or spices you desire)
  8. Salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Lasagne sheets

For white sauce

  1. 3 tablespoons butter
  2. 3 tablespoons flour
  3. 3 cups milk
  4. 1 cup grated cheese
  5. Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Fry onions in olive oil till soft
  2. Add carrots and celery and cook till soft
  3. Add mince on high heat and cook for about 10 minutes being sure to break down any lumpy chunks.
  4. Add the beef bullion cubes, the tomatoes, herbs/spices, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for a while. If it gets too dry, add some water. If it looks too runny, you can add tomato paste.

While that’s simmering make the white sauce in a separate pot,

  1. Melt the butter,
  2. Add the flour, whisking to make sure it doesn’t get lump. Once this has formed a paste, add the milk and keep whisking.
  3. Add the cheese and stir till it’s all nice and smooth,

Now, assemble your lasagne.
When I make this to freeze and bake at a later date, I use the lasagne sheets straight from the box. When I make it to bake right away, I immerse the lasagne sheets in hot water (on by one) to soften a bit. This helps reduce the amount of baking time.

  1. Put some of the cooked mince at the bottom of a baking pan,
  2. Add a layer of lasagne sheets.
  3. Add a layer of mince and then a layer of white sauce.
  4. Repeat for as many layers as you desire (or as many as your mince will allow). We usually do 3 layers.
  5. The last layer should be white sauce, topped with grated cheese.
  6. Bake for about an hour, (or more or less depending)

The Hole Story: If, When and How Women found out about their True Pelvic Anatomy

I remember this as if it happened yesterday. I was 17 years old, doing my last year of advanced high school. My friend Lucy Franco and I were having a conversation about ‘leaking”, (for that is what we called the menses) with another seasoned friend, Njeri. We were talking about the advantages of using pads over tampons. See Lucy  and I had never used tampons so we were getting some lessons from Njeri. 

Well into our conversation, I said, “Well, I cant imagine using tampons and having to put a new one every time you go pee.” Lucy quickly agreed, “I know!!!!”. Njeri burst out laughing, and Lucy and I were bewildered, seeing nothing funny in our observation. Njeri by now was on the floor, in tears, laughing her head off. When she had calmed down from the laughing hysteria, she said, “Wah! You guys don’t know you have two holes? One to pee and one where you bleed from?” Needless to say, Lucy and I were now even more bewildered!!! “No way,” we shouted, almost in unison. So Njeri went on to give us a short lecture on the female reproductive anatomy. Where had she learned it? Because to the best of my recollection, no one taught us that in “O” level biology. And neither my mom, nor my sister who brought me up had ever mentioned anything about two holes.(Not that they ever mentioned anything really…even about one hole). 

No one had ever really discussed any womanly things with me personally . When I was in primary school, around the age of 11, I opened my sister Scholastica’s purse and there were several white bullet shaped objects neatly wrapped in clear plastic. I asked her what they were and she told me they were sweets. (I wondered why anyone would call a sweet “O.B”, but then I remembered we have a chewing gum called “Big. G”) Later I snuck again into her purse and stole one of the sweets. There were quite a few and I was sure she wouldn’t notice that one was missing. I quietly unwrapped it put it into my mouth and waited in vain for the sweetness to kick in. After a few seconds, my mouth started turning dry as the “sweet” started to swell up. I thought maybe I needed to crack the sweet to get into the sweetness. I sunk my molars into it, but the sweetness was not forthcoming. After a few tries, I gave up and I remember wondering how anyone would enjoy such a sweet. For fear of my sister finding the uneaten sweet, I tossed it in the latrine!!!

If she ever discovered a sweet was missing from her purse, she never mentioned it to me!!!

About a year or so later, now in   5th grade, some nurses from the nearby clinic came to give “the talk” to all the puberty aged girls. I remember them talking about bleeding from “down there” (I had never heard anyone mention the word vagina). After the lecture, it was Q and A time. I was a sharp child, and when one of the nurses asked what we can use to “stop” the bleeding, my hand shot up at supersonic speed. “A handkerchief,” I confidently answered. See, the mention of blood conjured images of an open wound in my mind, so I thought a handkerchief would be as good a solution as any!!! The nurses and all the older girls laughed. I wondered what was funny, but the nurse said, shaking here head thoughtfully from side to side said, “Mmmmmh, maybe.” And she went on to other respondents who gave varied answers such as “cotton”, “Always” (a brand of a pad), O.B (a brand of a tampon) and even a thick piece of cloth. All this was Greek to me, but I didn’t discuss it any further with anyone. 

 When I was 13 and heading off to boarding high school, my sister bought be a roll of cotton wool. She didn’t tell me what it was for, and I didn’t ask. By now, I had an idea what it was for.  I used that cotton for this and that. See, I hadnt started my period yet. 

Then in December of 1985, during the school holidays, my sister was away and my period started. I went to a shop in the neighborhood where we were authorized to take things on credit and my sister would pay when she got back. I took a packet of “Always” on credit. I didn’t tell my sister, and when she came home, she got the list of goods we had taken on credit but didn’t ask anything about the Always. She paid for it. In January 1986, I whipped out my shopping list for my back to school needs, which my sister used to scrutinize like the FBI else you sneak in a “non-essential”item. I am sure she saw the new addition on the list, but said nothing of it. She approved the shopping list. 

So, this was the background I was coming from as me and Lucy Franco were rudely shocked, at 17, to find out there were actually two holes. The thought of 2 holes had never even crossed my mind!!!

We left the conversation with Njeri feeling both enlightened and embarrassed. I hoped secretly that Njeri wouldn’t tell the rest of the girls that we didn’t know about the second hole. 

I didn’t share that story with anyone that I remember, until one day in 2011 after my family and I returned to Kenya from the United States of America. 

I was at a friend’s salon in Nairobi, and the details of how the conversation headed this direction elude me at this point. There were about 3 ladies at the salon, including my long time hairstylist  Nyambura. I started sharing the story about our conversation with Lucy and Njeri when I was 17 and I started laughing uncontrollably, telling them how embarrassed I was, and how I couldn’t believe that at 17 years old, I didn’t know that women have a peeing hole and a bleeding hole!!!

Nyambura, well over 30 years old and married once already shouted, “What? Two holes? Where? I didn’t  even know we have 2 holes?” By this time my ribs were aching with laughter! All the ladies at the salon were doubled over and stomping  with laughter. Never mind that I didn’t know at 17, here was a married-once, 30 year old woman who was receiving this as news???? I wonder how many women don’t know they have 2 holes till they die. I guess it may not be a basic necessity to know as you really never need to pee and have sex at the same time. But seriously? How many other things are we ignorant about because no one told us. And to be fair, maybe my sister, and my mother didn’t actually know there are two holes anyway!!!

You are probably laughing now but that’s not the end of the story. We finished laughing at Nyambura, and went on to talk about other trivial topics typical at salons. 

 I never thought I would talk about the hole story gain. But alas! Did I have another think coming!!!!

In July 2017, I was volunteering at a summer youth camp that our two daughters were attending in Oklahoma. My fellow volunteer and housemate had her two grandchildren attending the same camp. We hit it off like a house on fire. 

One evening we were talking about camp activities for the girls and I said to her how I hoped our daughters wouldn’t get their periods during camp and especially not during the days that they had to do swimming because I really detested the idea of them wearing tampons. “Me too,” she said. I then said to her, “ can you believe that until I was 17 years old I thought you had to to change your tampon every time you had to pee.”  “I know, isn’t it terrible?” “What’s terrible?” I asked her. “That you have to wear a new  tampon every time you go pee?.” I could feel my stomach muscles start to tighten. I didn’t want to laugh. 

“You don’t!” I told her. 

It was her turn to be bewildered. “YOU DON’T?” She asked. 

“No, you don’t. You have two holes. One where you pee through and another where you bleed from and have sex and have babies!” 

“Whhhhhaaaaaaaaat?” She exclaimed. By this time, I was hysterical. My volunteer friend must be in her sixties. Married once, widowed and has children and grandchildren. And she didn’t know you pee from a different hole than you bleed from. I was about to die laughing!!!!

I couldn’t believe it. But then again, come to think of it, maybe if at 17 I hadn’t had the conversation with Njeri, I might never have known, and I wouldn’t know I didn’t know. 

Right there and then, I decided I was going to conduct a research to find out if and when women found out the third hole…I haven’t completed the research yet but hope to start gathering data soon. 

Home made Pizza

Paula loves to make this easy bread machine pizza dough and then she adds whatever she wants.

Dough Recipe. Click link below. We have used this recipe for many years and it hasn’t failed us. If you don’t have a bread machine, knead and let rise.


She made two flavors. Sweet Chilli chicken and margherita

In the sweet chilli chicken one she added

  1. tomato sauce mixed with sweet chilli sauce

2. Chicken

3. Feta and Gouda cheese and bake.

In the Margherita, (not pictured) Add tomato sauce, garlic and then the cheese. You have to put the garlic before the cheese, Paula says.

A Living Eulogy to my Sister.

“How often have you regretted NOT telling or showing a person how much they meant to you?

Maybe you felt too shy and awkward or the moment never naturally arose. Maybe you felt the person you wanted to share your feelings with wasn’t open to receiving them. And then they’re gone, sometimes out of your life forever. Now instead of telling them directly, you tell the people who have gathered at their funeral.

In contrast to a more typical funeral speech, a living eulogy celebrates our special people while they are with us. It is a powerful, life-affirming gift.”

The above is an excerpt from  https://www.write-out-loud.com/living-eulogy.html

On a Friday morning, September 7th 2012, I was on my daily phone call with my mom. We talked for a very long time. Little did I know it was the last time I’d have such a lengthy talk with her. She was sad and extremely stressed because of issues she was facing with her step sons. Despite the fact that wasn’t sick or anything, it was weird that we were talking about death and funerals.she said to me, “When I die, I don’t want a copious number of people standing up at my funeral and talking about me. If anyone has anything to say about me, they’d rather tell it to me now while I can hear them. And please, don’t go out and buy me expensive clothing to bury me in. Now is the the time to buy me clothes when I can wear them” 

After our chat that morning, I went on with my daily activities, but I was pondering my conversation with Mom. I planned to call her again before the evening, just to share with (and sin to her Psalm 23,) The Lords my Shepherd, No want shall I Know” but I got so  busy and that evening I thought, “Oh, I’ll call her tomorrow anyways and can share that with her then.” 

At around 8pm that night I received a call from my niece. My mother was in hospital. She’d had a heart attack. 

I should have called her! I really hope she makes it, if only for me to sing her Psalms 23.

I spoke to my eldest sister Salome who was at the hospital with my mom and told her, “The moment mom opens her eyes, please read Psalm 23 for her from me.” She said she would. 

The next morning, I called my other sister and caught her just as she was leaving hospital. It was last visiting hours but I told her to beg the hospital staff to let her in for just a minute so I could speak to my mom. They let her in and I spoke to my mom and quickly summarized Psalm 23. I couldn’t read the whole of it, or sing it to her like I had planned to, but at least I talked to her fo a quick minute.  I told her I would be traveling later to go and see her. 

About an hour after the call, I received a text from my brother “I wanted to let you know that Our mother has put a Full Stop in her life.” I smiled at the choice of words. I had never heard death described like that. My Mom had lived a full and fulfilling life. At the time of her death She had  8 children, 26 grandchildren.

Her death, and our conversation got me thinking. Why is it that most often, we wait till our loved ones are dead, and then we want to tell others (at the funeral) how much we loved them, and how sweet they were and how much we miss them. Why is it that your boss will find it difficult to give you time to go visit your mom “just because”, but when she dies, the same boss says, “take all the time you need.”  Ofcourse I’m not advocating for people to take time off work “just because” bug you get the point I’m making.

Anyway, a few years passed and in 2017, I started looking up “living eulogies”. I decided to throw my sister a “living funeral”. I coordinated with my niece and we invited her old friends that she hadn’t see in decades. We invited her old students (she was a teacher and a high school, principal in her later years) It was a surprise. She didn’t even know I was flying from RSA. When she arrived at the venue and saw all the people, her old friends from the early 70s, she was blown away. We had a bunch of people lined up with speeches. She cried, she laughed. She then cried again and laughed again. By the end of the day, she was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude to all the friends and family who attended her “living funeral”. We even had a pamphlet like the one they make for your funeral with all her achievements, children etc. 

I had also asked as many people as I could, to send me quotes about the best (or worst) things they remember about her. We compiled it into a book which we gave to her and she could read at her own time. 

When we planned it, I wasn’t sure how everyone would take it. Especially with all the taboo surrounding death and funeral. One of my nieces had actually sent me an email about 2 months before the event to tell me whe wasn’t comfortable with the idea. “What if Mom actually dies before the day?” Miraculously, her email went into my junk folder, and I only saw it many months after the event. 

Moral of the story: Don’t wait till your loved one dies to smother her with praise, thanksgiving and gifts. Do it now, and when he/she dies, you won’t wish you had said this, or done that for her. 

Foot Note: My sister, Salome Riungu has been a mom to me since I was one and a half years old. I moved in to live with her when she had her first daughter, Liza Karimi. I’m told that my parents let me move in with her so I could keep Liza company (after all my parents had 14 other kids already…between my dad and his two wives, so my niece needed more company, I’m told.¡) 

I have NEVER seen my sister so happy!

What is sex?


What is  sex?

To backtrack just a little bit, about 1 month ago, I had taken little Paula for her 6 month check up and I was looking at somepamphlets in the Doctor’s office. The one about “Puberty for girls” was of particular interest, so I grabbed it. It said thatsome girls start their period as early as 8 years old. Liza just turned 7, and to imagine that in 1 year we could be talkingabout menses was a little unnerving. “Well,” I thought, “I can deal with that. The girls already have a clue what that is.” Thatpamphlet should have had some information on “How to talk to your 7 year old about sex”, because if I thought I wouldnot be ready to talk about menses in another year, I was definitely NOT ready to talk about sex right now.


This morning the girls and  I were in the van taking Mia home. She spent the night at our house last night. Liza was seated onthe front seat .We were listening to NPR (National Public Radio), and the  word  “sex” was mentioned. Liza straightened up on the seat asked, “Mami, what is sex?”

“Mmmmmh,” I said slowly shaking my head up and down, trying not to act surprised.. “Sex, sex, mmmh” “Mh, You want toknow what sex is?”


“Well, I will have to tell you about it later, but just know that sex is something only grown up people do!”

“Later when”

“When you are 10 years old”, I responded stupidly. 

“You have to be 10?”

“Oh no!” I think to myself, “What does that question mean…that you have to be 10 to have sex, or you have to be 10 to betold about sex?”

“Yes, you have to be 10,” was all I could manage to say.


We dropped Mia off, and came back home. No sooner had we got back into the house than Liza looked at me andasked, “What is SEX.” She had this sly smile on her face that seemed to say, “I know all about it.”

“I told you we will talk about it later.”

I called my friend Lynelle and shared with her, and she told me that a few months ago Jake, her 7 year old (who is in thesame class as Liza) had told her, “Mummy, I know when you and daddy are in your bedroom with the door closed, youare having THE SEX.” Wow, that’s something.

Later in the evening, we talked with George and we decided to approach it by first explaining to her about sex beingGender…easy enough…. And then give a few more details (which details to give to a 7 year old about sex…I don’t know)



I thought we were done with the SEX topic, and was hoping to spend some time thinking more about it and how to talkabout it. I should have known better, because I know Liza is persistent. She does not quit until she gets what she wants.A wonderful character trait, but definitely NOT good when what she wants to know is about SEX, and Mom is not readyto tell it like it is!!!

Anyway, today, about 5:00 pm, I was in the kitchen getting dinner ready, and Liza came in and said, “Mami, tell me,what is sex?”

“Oh, no, not again.” I think. “Where did you hearabout sex?”

“On the radio.” (I already knew that) “No, not just on theradio. Before that?” She shrugged her shoulders.

“Ok, see how daddy is a man, and I am a woman? Daddy’s sex is male, and mine is female. Or, how you are a girl and Jakeis a boy? You are of the female sex, and Jake is of the male sex.”

“I already knew that. But what is the other sex?” (The other sex? Please God, help me with this)


“Ok kiddo, leave me alone,” I wanted to say. But I knew she needed some answers. I wasn’t sure which. So, I bent downand got to her level and told her, “What do you think sex is?” (Who asks a 7 year old what she thinks sex is?) “Do you knowwhat it is?” I stupidly continued.

She laughed…very slyly. “No Mami, I don’t.”


“The way you are smiling, I have a feeling you know something.”

“Ok, I know!” (My heart skips a beat.)

“You do? What is it?”

“Maami, I don’t want to tellyou.” “Why?”

“I just don’t want to tell you.” “Come on Liza, you cantell me.” “No.”


“Because it’s Yucky!” “Sex is Yucky?”

“Yes, it’s Yucky for little kids.”

“Please Liza, tell me what you know.” (I am starting to panic)

“It’s so yucky I can’t even say it. I am going to write it for you.” (What? She knows enough about sex to even write aboutit?)…Well if I may digress a little, Liza loves to write. She writes notes and letters and stories all the time. She reminds meof myself as a young girl/lady. I expressed myself much better with a pen! I can’t tell you how many letters I wrote to mysister, especially when I perceived “injustice”. Over time, I was able to steal back some of those letters. I wish I hadsaved them. Maybe my sister has a few of them still, I don’t know.”


“Ok. Liza, write it for me.”

She left and went to the  bedroom. I was so anxious I left the kitchen and went to sit down on the sofa and take a breath. Shecame back with a piece of paper that looked RED HOT to me. I did not want to touch it. What if she wrote “Sex is …?”No, I don’t even want to go there.

What if she drew a picture of two people having sex? I was going to die. Why is it so hard to talk about a subject that is sospecial? A biological act that God saw fit to give to mankind for pleasure and procreation? I have no clue. I thought I woulddo better as a mother , but I am clearly  failing.

She waved the red hot piece of paper at me and said , “And Mami, don’t tell anyone, because you always tell yourfriends about me and the things I say.”

“Ok, I promise,” I said as I grabbed the paper from her hands. (I realize I am breaking that promise!!)

On a piece of paper, she had written:

“In love. And then marrie (sic).” Phew! That was close.


“Ok,” I told her, “So a man and a woman are in love, and they get married. Is that sex?” “Yes”

I looked at the paper again and I said aloud.


“A man, and a woman are in love and they get married and…” “And getdivorced!” Liza completed.

“Get divorced? What do you mean? Mami and Daddy are married. Are they going to get divorced?” “No”


“Because Daddy likes you.” “How do you know helikes me?”

“Because you sit down and talk together a lot.”

“Ok, Liza, back to the topic of sex. So, a man and a woman are in love and they get married. Is that it?” “No.” (Oh no, why didI go there?)

“Give me the paper.” She grabbed it from my hands and went back into their bedroom. Back to the livingroom and handed me the paper. She had added,

“Kissing!” The kissing was accompanied by some graphics. (The paper on which she wrote appears at the top of thisarticle)


“What are those?” I asked, pointing at the graphics.

She makes some “kissing” noises. “Ok. Yeah, theykiss. Is that bad?”

“No. But I don’t like when Daddy kisses me on the lips because he leaves “meta” (our word for Saliva) on my lips.”

By now, the stew that I had put on the stove to warm is burning! I jump up and go back to the kitchen, and that was it aboutsex. At least for today. I am sure the subject will come up sooner than later. But I am ready to sit down and have a littletalk with her and explain a few things.


Any advice would be greatly appreciated!



Vetkoek (Fat Cake)


Vetkoek Recipe

What You Need

1 ½  cup water

3 Tablespoon sugar

1 tsp salt

3 Tablespoon oil

4 cups flour

2 ¼  teaspoon instant dry yeast


To Fry

  1. Deep frying pan
  2. Deep frying oil.



Add the ingredients in your bread machine in the order above

Turn machine on and choose the dough cycle.

Press start

(The dough will be ready in about 1.5 hours depending on your machine)


When machine beeps, take dough out and place on a floured surface. If it’s too sticky, add some flour and knead dough.

Divide dough into 12 balls and flatten with hand to about  inch thickness.


Have your oil ready and hot in your deep frying pan. ( not too hot, otherwise the outside will cook too fast and inside won’t cook.

Fry a few of your flattened doughs “balls”  at a time depending on size of your frying pan.


Remove from pan when brown.


Note: if you find it’s not cooked inside, or if Browns too fast, your oil is too hot. Please reduce fire.

To re-fry, cut the Vetkoek in half with a bread knife and return to hot oil with the fleshy part down. Fry for a few seconds or more depending on how crispy you want it.

Enjoy with tea or with filling of choice!!!


Karpakis Banana Bread



3 very ripe bananas

1.5 Cups all purpose flour

1 cup white sugar

1/4 cup butter softened

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 egg

1 tsp mixed spice (optional)

some oats to sprinkle on top (optional)



1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C

2. grease a 5X9” loaf pan

3. Mash/mix bananas till completely squished.

4. Add sugar and mix.

5. Add butter, vanilla and egg and mix,

6. Add the dry ingredients and mix. (Flour, baking soda, baking powder, mixed spice)

7. pour into baking pan and sprinkle the oats on top

8. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.