Monday, February 17, 2014

Orange Honey Muffins #MuffinMonday

Sweetened naturally with honey and flavored with orange juice, these muffins make a delicious and reasonably healthy breakfast.

So, I am in Uganda, folks! I’m hoping to update this with first reactions and a little bit of what my days have been like but, just in case I don’t have internet, I’m going ahead and scheduling Muffin Monday before I leave Dubai. I’ve chosen two ingredients for today’s muffin that my research tells me are available and common in Uganda, although it seems that Ugandan oranges are a little more green on the outside than we are used to. And Ugandan honey is supposed to be wonderful.  Can’t wait to find out if that’s true!

Update: Still haven’t tried Ugandan honey but Yay! I have internet, albeit sporadically, so I’ll add my first impressions at the end of the recipe along with some photos, for those who are interested. For the rest of you, bake orange muffins with honey and think wild African thoughts! 

1 orange, for zest and decoration
2 cups or 250g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/3 cup or 80ml honey
3/4 cup or 180ml orange juice
1/4 cup or 60ml milk
1/4 cup or 60ml vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar for topping, if desired

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your 12-cup muffin tin by spraying with non-stick spray or lining with muffin papers.

Combine your flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add in the zest of your orange and stir well.

Peel your orange and remove all of the loose bits of white pith. Using a sharp knife, cut the hard side off of each peg and remove the seeds. Slice six of the pegs in half lengthwise. Set aside. (You can juice the rest to make up part of your 3/4 cup or 180ml orange juice or just eat the remaining pegs. Guess what I did?)

In another smaller bowl, whisk together your egg, honey, milk, orange juice and oil.

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ones and stir until just mixed.

Divide your batter between the 12 muffin cups. Top each with an orange slice. Sprinkle with the sugar, if using.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pans and then remove to continue cooling on a wire rack.


Part of our human experience is that we try to make connections.  With people, with places we’ve lived, indeed with past experiences. As we arrived in Uganda, it felt more familiar than different. The airport was Freeport, Bahamas or Talara, Perú or Port of Spain, Trinidad many, many years ago. The landscape as we drove through the countryside shares the deep green foliage and red clay soil of Brazil or Malaysia and the dusty towns we passed through could well have been Balikpapan, Indonesia or San Fernando, Trinidad as easily as they could have been Macaé, Brazil during the years when we lived there or even our small area of Kuala Lumpur.

There were shop fronts selling myriad sundries, butchers with meat hanging in the open air, flamboyantly colored new clothes on hangers swinging in the breeze to entice passing shoppers, the languid men lounging on their boda-boda or motorcycle taxis waiting for a customer, women and children sitting on stoops, cooking or hanging out laundry and my favorite, shoe shops that were no more than a tarp laid out and spread with a colorful selection of sandals and flip flops and tennis shoes.

The red clay roads through the countryside. 

Storefronts in the village, complete with live chickens for sale.

Going through Kampala

Roadside dress shop

They carry enormous weights on their heads!
 As we passed out of the larger towns and into the countryside on our one and a half hour journey from airport to camp, many of the tiny cobbled-together houses by the roadside had little shelves in their front windows or outside their front doors with just a small bunch of tomatoes, or a couple of pineapples, perhaps some onions or eggs.

I was sitting in the front seat so I had a chance to chat with our driver and all around Mr. Get Things Done in Uganda, Kevin. When folks go to the market, they bring back a little extra to sell in the neighborhood. The slight mark-up they charge is worth it to the housewife who doesn’t have transportation and would have to either pay a motorcycle taxi or walk there herself. I thought that was pretty ingenious.

Notice the little window shelves on the houses, with a few things to sell.

No matter who you are or where you live, everybody's got laundry.

We are staying at a small farm, in thatched roof huts called rondavels. The property is owned by an English couple and they built the extra out buildings for their daughters who are now grown, so they rent them out on a daily basis.

We do have electricity and running water and even hot water if you time your shower right. The water is heated by a wood-burning stove that is lit in the morning. The windows are open and without screens so every bed has a mosquito net. Since malaria is prevalent here, sleeping under the net is imperative, as is a liberally slathering with insect repellent in the early evening.

Our rondavel
Our camp, for all its rustic appeal, has one real luxury, a freshwater pool made out of local stones in greys and blues. It is set in a huge garden with one of the most majestic trees I have ever seen. At the end of our first hot, dusty day at school (more on that next week), all I could think about was a dip in the chilly pool.

The pool. Boy, howdy, is it cold! 

Notice the person at the bottom. She is 5-foot, 5-inches tall.

We finished our first afternoon in Uganda with a quick tour of the Masooli School and a hike down to the watering hole where the villagers fill jerry cans of water for their daily use. This seems to be the responsibility of the children, with even the littlest of them carrying a small plastic jug.

Heading down to the watering hole.

A local on the left, doing it right, and one of our group trying hard on the right.

We filled only one jerry can and six of us took turns carrying it back up the hill to the school. With every plodding and ungainly step we gained a greater appreciation of the blessing that is piped in water and the strength of those wee ones who carry an equal load. All alone. Every day.

Check out next week's Muffin Monday where I've added photos of the school and our work there.

Till next week!


  1. First off, the muffins sound amazing - love, love, love honey and citrus!

    Also, I'm loving the photos from Uganda. My sister has been to Africa a few times in recent years, and her photos and stories never cease to amaze. Enjoy your adventure!

  2. Thank you, Movita! I am enjoying it thoroughly! It's hard and fun and wonderful and challenging, all at the same time.

  3. I've already told my friend, Margaret, about you, Carolyne and she would be thrilled to have another teacher come out, especially an English as a second language teacher. The language of instruction is English but most of the students don't really know much until they arrive at school.

  4. Stacy, I absolutely love what you are doing. . both my brother and sister have gone to Uganda (separate trips) to help children there. . I think they mainly built a school and played with the kids but their experiences were life changing. You are such an inspiration and I loved reading this post and all of your FB posts .. so awesome that you are teaching sewing. . love that! pls keep the updates coming! How long are you there?

  5. We are curious, Alice, which school did they help build? There are so many needy children here that it is unreal so I am trying not to look at the big picture but just at doing what I can do where I am. Otherwise, it's overwhelming! I am in Uganda for 12 days but the last three we will go on safari to see the wild animals.

  6. New Hope Uganda orphanage and boarding school. and I just spoke to my sister. they were teaching the kids and helping at the school, not building the school but they were building another school when she was leaving. My sister was there in 1999. She was in Luwero. she had no running water where she was.

  7. Wow Stacy what an amazing experience for you. I'm sure you will get back ten fold what you give. And wifi?? Really? The world is becoming smaller by the minute. Looking forward to more photos and stories.

  8. That sounds right up my alley - I'm used to teaching people who haven't a clue what I'm talking about. ; ) Will definitely keep this in mind!

  9. Wow! 1999! I can't even imagine what it was like back then. Our school doesn't have running water either but thank God the farm we are staying on does!

  10. That is wonderful, Tara! It does feel good to do something since the needs are so great.

  11. It is indeed, Nancy! I had to go to a four-star hotel and pay their business center but then I had wifi. We also found one restaurant on Lake Victoria that had free wifi but it's pretty far from home.

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  13. You are amazing, Stacy! Both you and your recipes are inspirational.


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