Friday, April 15, 2011

Making Cassava Bread!

Cassava (Manihot esculenta), also called yuca or manioc, a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family) native to South America, is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. Nigeria is the world's largest producer of cassava.
Cassava Leaves
A manioc tuber

This afternoon the girls asked me 
if I wanted to learn how to make
Cassava Bread! 
The Cassava had already been grated 
and was ready to use.
  First I watched, then Susy stood by 
and very carefully told me what to do, 
BUT she didn't do it, 
she let me do the whole thing! 
The fire was HOT HOT HOT. 
I tied up my skirt because I was afraid that 
the fire would catch the fabric.
I put the grated Cassava in a small pile on top 
of the hot TAWA.
You use a fan (which is made of woven vines) 
to smooth the Grated Cassava
into a circle in the middle of the "Tawa".
 As the Cassava Bread cooks, 
you take the knife and turn the edges inward.
Then you get ready to FLIP it! 
The fire is HOT HOT HOT
the Cassava Bread feels as though it will break...
I screamed as I flipped it!
And then you let them dry in the sun!

Each day, I learn something new!
Last night, we served my very first
Cassava Bread with our Rum Punch!

It was So Good!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Cats of Karanambu

Salvador and I have both always been “Cat People”.  And Karanambu has always be a home to cats of all kinds.  Frequently guests comment on our domestic cats, which are not as common in Guyana as they are in other parts of the world.

“Mongo”, also affectionately known as “The Old Man”, is well over 20 years now.  As the story goes…Diane’s niece was working for a veterinarian in town.  The Old Man’s owner had too many cats. The veterinarian informed the owner that she could keep only three, the others all needed to find homes.  Diane’s niece said she knew of one good home!  The cat was put in a cardboard box, marked KARANAMBU, and placed on the plane.  Diane opened the box, thinking that it was a box of greens from the market and out popped “Mongo”.  He was old when he arrived from GT…Diane is sure he is well over 20…. just not sure how much over. 
Then there is “Fancy Foot”. 
Fancy was born with deformed back feet, so he walks funny.  But always able to find the bright side, Di named him “Fancy Foot”.  He is sweet, but he is definitely HER CAT.  No one else can cuddle him.  He jumps into her lap whether she is sitting in a chair, lying in a hammock or sleeping, fast asleep in bed.
 And “Sir Walter Raleigh”
What a handsome, handsome cat.  He came to Diane as a kitten.  Brought to her by Dr. Graham Watkins.  Graham had asked her to look after Sir Walter for a while….and of course he is still here. Sir Walter is hunter…he jumps and runs up trees. Catches birds, lizards….chases around like a mad man at full speed.
And lastly….our little “Minxy"
I was at the Corral one morning and there was this little one…no tail…covered in dirt…ticks…a pitiful sight. I picked her up and she purred.  I put her down and she followed me….next thing you know I scooped her up in my scarf and carried her home in the landrover.  Once home, I shampooed her in the sink with lots of bubbles…she just sat there and purred.  Slowly she became accustomed to her new home, although she never ventures very far away.
All the other cats came to meet little Minxy.
Now…all of the other cats are MALE...all have been neutered, with the exception of “the old man”, because it was felt that he was just too old to put him through that!  When I asked Dr. Lucy if she thought Minxy might get pregnant, she said that it was  very “unlikely”, because she was very young and he….well, he was VERY old.  Two other vets from Chicago came to visit. Both of them said, “Not likely”…. I would seriously doubt it”.
Well!!! 2 nights ago,
Minxy gave birth to two little ginger kittens!
 MEET Fred & Ginger
There was great excitement among the Staff!
There are also the other Cats of Karanambu!
Dr. Evi who is the Conservation Biologist working with the Karanambu Trust through Panthera. Click the link to learn more about Pathera - - Dr. Evi has been getting AMAZING results from her camera traps. In a matter of weeks she has captured 5 pictures of Jaguar, several ocelot, Puma.  As it turns out,  Karanambu is a corridor for Jaguar! And some of Dr. Evi’s cameras captured the Jaguar less than a mile away. This is an important study which is being done at Karanambu. Below are a few pictures from the Panthera camera traps!   
MORE ON the "Panthera Cats of Karanambu" SOON!