Susan’s blog: Baking

Tryphina Nkosi received a letter from her Vernon partner Janis Lauman. It included a photo of the potatoes Janis had harvested from her garden. Tryphina insisted (through an interpreter) that I come to her home on baking day so I could “shoot her” and give the photos to Janis in return.

A photo story . . .
We entered directly into the kitchen where Tryphina and her adult granddaughter, Victoria, had been baking for five hours.  1-samp-cooking-resize2A large vat of samp, a type of hard cracked corn, simmered on the stove.


2-dough-rising-resize1In a corner a large bowl of dough was rising, swaddled in a green plastic bag, covered with blankets and topped off with newspapers. I suspect the dough would have risen without a single cover, judging by the heat and humidity in the small space. Tryphina bustled about, eager to show all the scones, ‘long doughnuts’, and buns in various stages of completion.

3-victoria-mixes-cream-filling-resizeVictoria sat on a low bench mixing a large bowl of cream filling, and ruefully pointed to an electric mixer that was broken.

And the reason for all this energetic activity? The next day was pension day, when she and Victoria sell their products to the elderly lined up to collect their pensions.

4-piping-in-the-cream-filling-resizeTryphina sliced open a long john, piped in some cream filling and handed it to me. Not exactly Food Safe certified, but fatteningly yummy nevertheless. I did pay her the 3 rands (40 cents) she would normally charge for it.     

5-pension-day-selling-by-the-roadside-resize1The next day as I came into the township, I walked amongst dozens of locals selling their wares on spread blankets, including Tryphina Nkosi and friends.

(A personal side note about Tryphina: she is raising two orphaned grandchildren, and last Friday one of them, a teen-ager, went to buy bread at 9 pm. He was robbed of his cell phone (everyone here carries cell phones) and shot in the foot. He is still in hospital and it appears the bullet will not be removed. The police have the culprit.)


5 thoughts on “Susan’s blog: Baking

  1. We are so lucky Susan that you enjoy writing and that you have the discipline to do so. I love all the information that you have sent and enjoy the pictures so much. Thank you. B

  2. Ken just strolled by to check out what I was reading and he asked if I had made any headway in doing something with the Gogos in Togo. I guess that is my “hint” that I should get going on this. Loving your blog Sue and enjoy the memories the pictures bring to mind.

  3. Hi Susan,

    How fun! My husband and I are in the process of developing a gluten-free line of baked goods. I find inspiration in others pursuing similar projects abroad … we are all connected to this thing called “the web of life”. If you see Tryphina again, please let her know she has at least one “partner in crime” living and breathing the joys and sometimes sorrows of baking …. is my dough ever going to rise?

    look forward to more!


  4. Stephanie, your gluten-free baking is a very worthy pursuit. It’s probably a generation in advance of Tryphina’s calorie-rich pursuits, but we are happy with her entrepreneurial efforts. I will pass on your well wishes.

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