Peace Corps Videos

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Biscuits and Gravy

I’ve never been much of a cook. I know how to do the basics and back in the USA I could do a pretty “mean” steak on the grill and I make decent gravy. However, the whole idea of baking is a pretty foreign concept unless you count “microwaving” as baking.

In Tonga, there are very few “pre-made” food items available. It’s pretty much the basics like sugar, flour, salt, etc. And even the basics can disappear at times. A few weeks ago, there was no flour in most of the stores for a few days until the boat came with a new supply.

The bottom line is that if you want a cake or pizza dough, you make it from scratch. Sunday morning I woke up with a craving for one of my favorite breakfast meals: Biscuits and Gravy! I knew I could make the gravy, but wasn’t sure about the biscuits. I found the recipe book that Peace Corps gives to each volunteer. I have to confess, it was the first time I had opened it. Inside was a recipe for biscuits. I didn’t have all the ingredients, but I figured I would substitute and leave out some things. Amazingly, the biscuits came out great. They weren’t anywhere as good as Bojangles’ biscuits but were pretty tasty.

Climbing Mt. Talau

I live on Mt. Talau, which at 430 feet, is the highest point on the main island of Vava’u. I live a lot closer to the bottom than I do to the top and while I may say I climb Mt. Talau every day, I don’t climb all the way to the top.

Twice in the past two weeks, I’ve ventured all the way to the top. First last week with my friend Chad and then again on Friday with Chad and Katie.

Chad and Katie admire the view from Mt. Talau Katie and Steve at the entrance to the park Katie and Steve admire the view from Mt. Talau Chad and Steve on Mt. Talau

Near the top is also a place where you can do some rock climbing. It’s actually pretty easy and not very challenging, but that didn’t stop me from posing for a photo!

Steve rock climbing on Mt. Talau Legend has it that Mt. Talau used to be the tallest mountain in Tonga, but many years ago some evil spirits from Samoa tried to steal the top of the mountain but only got a short distance away when they top was dropped into the Pacific, forming what is now the island of Lotuma. Lotuma later served as a Tongan military base and was the site of our American July 4th celebration last year.

Funeral Photo

Two months ago I attended a funeral for the mother of my friend ‘Ofa. On Thursday, ‘Ofa brought me this photo which was taken at the funeral.

Steve at a Tongan Putu

As I mentioned in my previous post about the funeral, it is tradition for everyone to kiss the forehead of the deceased person.

Solar Power coming to Vava’u High School

The University of Canterbury in New Zealand is spearheading a project to put solar panels on the roof of Vava’u High School. The school hopes the new system, scheduled to be installed in July will provide the school with 10 to 15% of its total electrical needs.

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