Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bored yet? Nope!

A reoccurring theme in people's response to my announcement that I would be leaving my career, family, friends, and country to accompany my husband on a year long fellowship in global health was "what are you going to do?" At first I answered that question with "nothing" and an inward smile. Then I explained that I would be preparing for our baby and once baby comes I will be plenty busy.

Truth be told, with 12 weeks left of the pregnancy when I arrived in Nairobi, and a husband who is away from home for a regular workweek, there has been a lot of "down time." So am I bored yet? Nope.

My daily routine during the week consists of household chores like laundry (line dried daily), making meals, grocery shopping, reading everything that ever existed on childbirth, obstetrics and midwifery (Ina May you are my hero), and planning our weekend excursions. I make brownies for Jason's coworkers, and try out new recipes...which at times poses special challenges based on the high altitude and availability of ingredients that are common in the US but scarce or nonexistent in Nairobi.

I spent many hours researching to to make hard boiled eggs that peal easily. I made about 5 batches of eggs with various techniques and can finally say that most of the eggs I hard boil will slip out of their shells without protest. The big secret? Poke a tiny hole in the wide end of the egg (in the air pocket but not into the liquid part), add baking soda to the water, place room temp eggs in the cold water, set on stove and bring to a boil, and then allow to boil for 3-4 minutes. This is the part that seems to make the biggest difference: scoop the eggs out of the boiling water and drop them into a bowl of ice cold salted water, allow them to chill so they are cool to the touch and then return them to the boiling water for a couple more minutes. Again remove them from the boiling water into the ice bath and chill them thoroughly. The goal is to "shock" the shell several times to loosen the membrane inside. When they are cool, they will peel easily. They peel even better if you place a couple tablespoons of vinegar in a bowl of warm water and peel them in the water. This loosens the membrane that causes the whites to adhere to the shell. The hole in the wide end was a trick my mother always did with hard boiled eggs. She said it was to release pressure so they don't crack. None of my eggs cracked regardless of the hole or no hole (perhaps because I started with room temp eggs and brought them to boil slowly instead of from the fridge as my mom did) but there was a clear difference in the peel-ability of the holed eggs versus the whole eggs. :) Thanks mom! The baking soda was a repeat recommendation on several food science websites (it alters the ph of the egg membrane), and the repeat ice bath to hot water trick is credited to Julia Child. I cant remember where I read about the vinegar water to aid in peeling, but it made sense and the eggs taste so nice and stay fresher longer when they are peeled in vinegar water and stored in the fridge. I have also read that using older eggs helps to have an easy peel egg, but I have not found this to be true, and aren't fresh hard boiled eggs stinky enough when they are cooked that we don't need them to be extra old to add to it?

So there you have it. With "nothing to do" I cannot help but remain a busy body. I feel thankful for the time to dedicate to preparing for birth through all my research and reading, as well as to have the time to pursue whims and interests through to satisfaction. No, I am not bored yet, though I recognize this down time as a rare treat in life.

Give or take 7 weeks from now, Jason and I will be parents to our child. At this point, I will enter into a new career of mother and homemaker. I can't imagine work that is more honorable or necessary than to offer stable upbringing and nurturing to ones family. I am so excited for my new title and role: Mother.


  1. You must have some time on your hands if you're perfecting hard boiled egg techniques. LOL Welcome, almost, to your 9th month! I love you.

  2. Alana, what wonderful stories of your adventure. I can't wait for your next post. Keep them coming. Your stories are filling up my list of must-do items for our trip to visit you. Kisses and hugs!

  3. Hey Angela,
    Im so glad that you are enjoying the blog. I am very much looking forward to you visiting Nairobi. Kenya is a beautiful place with so much to see and do. Miss you and hope things are well state-side.