Tag Archives: laundry

São Tomé weekend, part 1

img_5087 Just back from a long weekend in São Tomé, very nice!  It’s only 90 minutes flight from Accra with TAP, and we had a great time. São Tomé and Príncipe is a Portuguese-speaking country off the northwestern coast of Gabon.  The two volcanic islands were discovered by the Portuguese in 1470 and became a base for slave trade, sugar cane, coffee and cocoa. São Tomé and Príncipe has been independent since 1975.

We had a very lazy weekend: we stayed at Mucumbli first, on the north west coast near Neves. Bungalows with terraces facing the sea, it was lovely waking up to the sound of waves and birds.  Wonderful grilled fish, very peaceful.

img_5094 It was a few degrees cooler than Accra,  with a nice sea breeze, so it was amazingly fresh. Nice change to be outdoors and not be sweating all the time!

20170429_130943 Driving through Neves. The blue CST booths are from the mobile phone company, and were all over. Lots of street food along the road, grilled maize and plantains.

20170429_131504Laundry drying on beach on the north coast: the goats left the laundry alone. interestingly, we saw fewer goats than in Ghana, but more stray dogs.


Neves is the home is Rosema, a local beer. Perfectly drinkable, especially with fresh grilled fish. No label on the bottle, you just know it’s Rosema.

20170429_133604After a couple days at Mucumbli (very nice!), we went east, to see another part of the island.


Day trip to the centre of the island: Monte Café, an old Portuguese plantation in Sao Tome and Principe. Very easy to organize a daytrip with a driver: north, centre, or south of island all possible. Plantations, waterfalls, beaches: all very acessible, easy place to be a tourist. We were more interested in coffee than beaches, but everyone says the south of São Tomé  is gorgeous.

After the independence of São Tomé and Príncipe, in 1975, most of the plantations closed, but Monte Café still produces coffee and has a coffee museum. We bought local coffee in the coffee shop, arabica beans rather dark roasted but good. We also brought back Claudio Corallo coffee and some mystery local coffee (cafe saboroso) from a Chinese shop downtown. Otherwise São Tomé is more known for cocoa.

More to follow in part 2!




Sourdough loaf with yoghurt and cracked wheat


“Mamma mia, che freddo!” Here in Rome, the forecast is 19C and sun, with 9-10C in the morning. Gorgeous, if you ask me. However, we are in the pre-heating phase, as our condomino heating does not get turned on until November 15. This goes by calendar (unless you have the luxury of autonomous heating), so thank goodness it is not raining yet. Hence, it is weirdly colder inside than outside much of the day, with resulting mamma mias and complaints from various neighbours, and we are wrapping up to stay warm inside and shedding layers for a lunchtime walk in the sun. Of course, a nice loaf of fresh bread helps warm up the kitchen too.

Sourdough loaf with yoghurt and cracked wheat

100 grammes mature starter, 100% hydration
220 grammes lukewarm water
450 grammes plain white wheat flour (I used 00)
100 grammes barley flour
240 grammes low-fat plain yoghurt
25 grammes cracked wheat
8 grammes salt

A few hours before: mix the yoghurt and cracked wheat to soak. Overnight soaking would work too, just leave it in the fridge. Mix the sourdough starter with the water. Add the flours and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes. After the initial rest, add the salt. Mix well. Add more flour or water if you think the dough needs it.

Cover the bowl and let rise for about a couple hours at room temperature. Fold the dough a few times (just in the bowl, using a spoon or spatula). You will feel the dough becoming more elastic and responsive, and it will increase nicely in size.

For baking same day: move the dough to a floured banneton and cover it with plastic (a hotel shower cap works well), and let it rise 3-4 hours at room temperature. (I cheat and line the banneton with baking paper, easier to lift over to the pot.) OR: Park the dough in covered banneton to rise slowly in the fridge until you are ready to bake.

When ready to bake: heat your oven to 250C, with a cast iron pot. When it is properly hot (after at least 20 minutes), take the pot out carefully. Lift baking paper with dough into the cast iron pot. (OR: if banneton was not lined, only floured, then invert dough onto a piece of baking paper, and put the dough in the pot.) Slash the dough – I usually snip,it with kitchen scissors. Bake at 250C for thirty minutes with the lid on, then 10-15 minutes more with the lid off, until the bread looks done and the base of the bread sounds hollow if you tap it. About 45 minutes in all, depending on your oven. Cool before slicing.

Notes: Normally I would soak the cracked wheat in water, but since I had aging yoghurt in the fridge, I thought I would try that. I was not sure if adding the yoghurt would impact the sourdough development, but it seemed to work just fine. The hydration was also a bit of guesswork, I just approximated and hoped for the best. All of these loaves are variations on basic sourdough loaves, but they all taste slightly different, which is nice.

A newcomer to Rome just asked what we do in the weekends. Exciting weekend trips of wine tasting, medieval towns and Italian wonders? We looked at each other and said “Sometimes, yes….. Usually we stay home in Rome and do market, coffee, supermarket, more coffee, house cleaning and laundry.” So mundane, I know. But laundry here is an exercise in strategy. Electrity costs more weekdays, and costs less evenings and weekends. However, you cannot do laundry too late, that is banned by condomino rules. So weekends it is. They are forecasting rain this week, so I did extra laundry today. Some laundry is now on lines on our little balcony, some on a rack on the balcony, and half-dry sheets are draped on the coatrack. Once the November rain comes, it takes days to get laundry dry, especially without indoor heating on yet. Still, I know many places have snow already, so we cannot complain! It is great though, to be able to air-dry laundry most of the year.

Even Spiderman has to do laundry

Spiderman laundry

The building is the Albergo Bianco, here in Garbatella, a suburb of Rome. Under the auspices of the Istituto per le Case Popolari (ICP), a national building society dedicated to public low-cost housing, Innocenzo Sabbatini had a series of four “suburban hotels”–Lots 41, 42, 43, and 44 constructed. Initially designed as short-term accommodation for new arrivals waiting for more permanent lodgings, the albergi also included public services like day care, police offices, and health services. The buildings were converted to apartment blocks in the mid 1930s.

For an excellent introduction to Garbatella, with a recommended walking itinerary, I highly recommend Rome the Second Time: RST Top 40. #16: Garbatella