Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Home from Home

We've known it's been coming, but it's incredibly strange to be in our final week in Cambodia. We've got all these dates and plans buzzing round our minds, sorting, tidying, packing, distributing pots and pans, collecting up little things to take back home... but there are moments of stillness where I can reflect on the 13 months that has passed, and all that God has done.

Transition is a funny time. Simultaneously full of joy and tears alike. Wanting time to fly forward so we can see faces of loved ones we've not seen in so many thousands of hours, but hoping time will stretch and slow to mean precious moments with friends we're leaving behind aren't rushed. We're packing up the physical, shedding things that have served us for this time, and taking new things that will remind us of this time for months or years to come. As well as the physical organisation, we're getting to grips with what we're going back to the UK to do, and what we're moving from here in Cambodia, mulling over all that God has done in that time.

Home from home. What an odd concept. We accustom ourselves to a pace of life, a space to live in, markets to frequent, people to socialise with, even preferred routes around the city. And then things change. I consciously chose early on not to refer to the UK as home once we arrived here in Siem Reap, because I knew it was important that I gave my heart to this place, that I was committed to it, and not refer to home as a location, a city, habits and food choices from a place so very far away. Instead, Siem Reap became home. But now we're leaving home, and going home, and then moving home. If you can't get your head round that, fear not, I'm still working it out myself. We leave Cambodia, travel to Bangkok, fly to Heathrow, head to Hereford, sort and plan, then move to Cardiff. There's a lot going on... but anytime I even think about getting a bit overwhelmed by it all, I'm reminded that I'm at home already. Wherever I am. I have my handsome hubby at my side, and my Saviour in my heart. I am at home wherever He takes me.

And what am I actually doing today as my part of the transition process? I'm making a cake. In the rice-cooker. Because I can, and because it will make some little girls very very happy. And I figured as I'd promised the recipe to several people round about (because cake is important) I've put the recipe below, with pictures along the way. Given that I have no weighing scales, let along an oven, there's a fair bit of intuition/guess work going on in these - which does of course mean you may have to make cake more than once (shame!) to perfect the art...
Be prepared, cake rarely looks good in it's beginning stages, but it will be scrumptious once baked!

Chocolate Yoghurt Cake:
150ml yoghurt
150ml oil (flavourless, vegetable/sunflower etc)
3 eggs
200g sugar, mostly white sugar, with a bit of brown sugar or golden syrup added in for
A couple of drops of vanilla essence (optional)
40grams cocoa powder
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda (sometimes called baking soda)
pinch of salt
Chocolate chips (optional)

With no scales, here's how you make this cake:

 Take 1 small yoghurt pot, empty contents into a bowl.
 Using the yoghurt pot, measure the same amount of oil, add it to the bowl and stir
 Add 3 eggs and beat together
Add cocoa powder - about 2-3 heaped tablespoons,  you can add more later to taste, just depends how chocolatey you want it!
 Add sugar. Depending on the size of the bag of sugar, add the right proportion of it. If you have a 1kg bag, add 1/5th of the bag, if it's 500grams, add 2/5ths of the bag.

 Add brown sugar for a deeper taste. You can replace some of the white sugar with brown sugar, or add a little golden syrup

Mix well together, making sure you have no lumps of sugar or cocoa powder
Add a couple of drops of vanilla essence to bring out the chocolately flavour. It sounds crazy, but it works!

Next, add a pinch of salt...

 ...and the flour...
 ...and the baking soda.

Mix well...
 Until you get a soft dropping constancy that looks a bit like this.
Put a little bit of oil in the bottom of your rice cooker bowl and spread it round to cover all the surfaces and then pour in the cake mix
If you have a rice cooker like mine, it just has an on/off switch, so turn it on, and when it clicks off, leave it for a few minutes, then turn it on again. You'll need to do this for about 1.5 hours I've found...
The base of the cake will always be more cooked, and the top middle, always a bit more squishy, because that's how cake comes out without heat controls! :)
You can test if the cake is done by poking it in the middle with a skewer or a sharp knife. If it comes out clean, the cake is done.

Normally, leave cakes until completely cool to turn them out. If you do that with this it will come out in pieces. So wait for the cake to be cool enough to handle. Run a plastic knife, or soft/non-metal palette knife around the edge, turn the cake out onto a plate and turn the right way up. Done! Ta-da!!

And now - for the instructions for
Banana and Chocolate Chip cake:
120g butter/margarine
180g sugar
3 large bananas (8/9 Cambodian eating bananas)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
240g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
100-120g chocolate chips

 Melt the butter in a pan
 Add half white sugar
 And half brown sugar
 Melt and stir altogether, then turn the heat off underneath
 Peel and roughly chop the bananas
 Beat 3 eggs, then add vanilla essence and thoroughly mix

 Add flour...

...salt and baking soda and stir to make a very thick mixture...

... Like this

Mash bananas with a fork

Add the bananas...
 and the egg mix into the pan, and thoroughly mix
Stir in chocolate chips at the very end so that they don't melt too much when you stir them
Use a little bit of butter on your fingers to grease the rice cooking pan
Pour the mix into the can, and cook in the same way the chocolate yoghurt cake is cooked. This is a bit of a thicker mix, so it will probably take longer.

Enjoy either of these with a cup of tea or coffee. And then make sure you've washed and packed all your underwear! See you soon England...

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