Fact: A blender could easily be the most utilitarian and useful kitchen tool yet.
Case Study: Strawberries, banana, chocolate chip ice cream, yoghurt, milk, whey protein, and peanut butter can go in one mixer and voila! Food! And not only food, but an easy-to-drink, flavorful meal.
Caveat: You can only eat meals processed by a blender for six weeks. Yikes. Sorry dad. A broken jaw will do that to you.
I’ve been assisting my dad this week in finding the best variety of smoothie-shake-blended meals that I can find. Of notable help has been Jaws Wired Shut, a clever name for a blog serving as a tool for people with eating issues. Nice.
In this process, I’ve been fiddling around and experimenting – though in truth, it hasn’t been very hard, having had worked for a smoothie shop one college summer and a string of three years at Dairy Queen in high school.
Messing around in the kitchen leaves a lot of dirty dishes.
Take 3 basins.
Fill one with clean and clear water.
Fill the other with soap-sudded water.
Place dishes around basin area and begin scrubbing one by one. A ragged piece of old mosquito net will help you just fine. If it’s just you and your hands, plan to scrub hard with those finger nails.
Rinse. Change water. Repeat. Three times total. Dry in the sun or with an old wash rag you happen to have lying around.
You better have washed them well. If something is not crystal clean a Rwandan will judge you. Go slow. This might take a while. You’ll probably be standing upright, bending at your hips, inviting a sore back to come that evening. Wear igitenge – the fabric old mamas wear every single day. This will help your clothing stay dry. Oh, and be smart with that jerry can full of water. It might not rain tomorrow and the well has probably run dry, knowing your luck.
Save a liter to bathe your body. You’ll have to choose between washing dishes, cleaning your body or cooking like you did last week.
Dirty dishes that overwhelm that porcelain white sink now go in a machine. Rinse well, certainly, but you can load up that blender and its supporting parts in under 5 minutes.
Need water? Turn on the faucet. As far as you know, it’s unlimited.
I came back stateside 3 months ago. And it took that long to really think about water. I mean, really.
It’s almost laughable in the way I’ve treated my now unending access to the beautiful, unlimited water – multiple baths a day? Sure! Leaving the sink running while I do other things around the kitchen? Whatever! Endless refills of clean, drinking water? Woo hoo, cool beans!
I mean, of course, delight in the wonders of infrastructure and incredible levels of development of life here. Absolutely – there’s nothing wrong with that. But I have to be honest. I’m worried about the power of complacency. If you forget what you’ve learned – what has cultivated much deeper values – you risk losing an opportunity to make the small actions in life stand for something larger.
Water swishes all over my hands, I’m humming, and I wonder what some of the posse of children that lived in my village are doing in that moment. Truth be told, it’s not very hard to imagine. It’s nearing 6:00am back in Rwanda and I can tell you that they’re probably lugging a 10-20 gallon (depending on what their small heads can handle) yellow jerry can up Kajembe road just like they do every morning as the sun rises. Some are close to the water source, living nearby, allowing for a short walk to fetch. Others live in the valley, hidden in the overworked rice swamp. They’ll climb up the steep elevation for 30 minutes and that’s just to get to the water source. They’ve probably carried their 20 Rwandan Francs (equivalent to around 8 cents in US currency) clamped tightly in their hands and so their tiny fingers will smell like sweaty old coins. Sure hope the water pump is working today.
This isn’t about making feel bad or guilty – first world guilt – you might say.
No. It’s about making people aware. To think. Think about what you are doing. Be intentional. Life isn’t a series of mindless tasks that we should just power through because you don’t have to think about them. Take that life philosophy and you’ll be amazed at how little you feel. It can be much more – a life of small moments that have a great deal of meaning. I think that’s why Peace Corps life was so profound. The little things really did mean so much. A glass of clean water was like gold and the things I had to do just to get a dish clean. We might live in an insanely developed world but it’s no excuse not to recognize what we have.
You really can just start with water.