The Bush Kitchen

written by Sophie Grant 14th May 2019

Sophie Grant is a homestead enthusiast, self-taught cook and Co-Founder of El Karama Lodge in Laikipia. In the rainy season, she can be found happily foraging for vegetables in the bush where she lives with her husband and two small children. 

Self-sufficiency and homestead life is all about necessity, creativity and thriftiness. We instinctively know how to cultivate but only circumstance has removed many of us from this.  Because we live in a remote environment where amenities are far away, growing our food, foraging and zero waste guides the way we cook, eat and live. Nothing makes me happier than harvesting fresh produce from our shamba and cooking with loved ones around an open fire with the stars overhead and children underfoot.

Our day is busy and begins early at around 5.30 am with the happy trill of a Crested Francolin who get us going well before the sun comes up.  We keep our own chickens for eggs so early mornings begin with opening up their houses, cleaning them out and feeding them some mixed mash and kitchen leftovers. Our children are involved in homestead chores which gives them a keen sense of responsibility.  Once they’ve picked up the eggs, they like to collect fallen feathers for making headdresses; a fun offshoot of having your own chickens is having perennial provisions for art projects!

We harvest and eat seasonally, according to what is ready in the garden: It’s not uncommon to find me bashing out huge pots of spiced cauliflower soup or aubergine casseroles because of a glut or baking up last minute calzones from remains of ambitious bush suppers from the night before.

Nothing I do is difficult, perhaps it takes a modicum of planning and creativity but it’s fundamentally practical and designed for all home cooks can achieve. All the recipes shared here can also be adapted to an outdoor/active life as that is arguably where all food tastes its best.  

After many years of trial and error, we have developed a productive, pesticide-free shamba for vegetables and fruit, all fed by stored and recycled water and some rich manure from a small dairy attached to it. The garden feeds our family, our team and the guests at our little eco-lodge, known for its authentic, home-grown identity.

The dairy produces milk daily which is sold to local entrepreneurs as a livelihood opportunity and we collect ours in big milk churns the old fashioned way.  It arrives into my Bush Kitchen warm and ready for use.

Living close to the land and depending on it, alters our attitude to food, consumption and waste.  We are very aware of our own waste and have to dispose of it. So we make sure any scraps are shared amongst the animals or saved for compost.  Other elements like bones become transformed into the next soup stock with a little creative sparkle! Over the years, I’ve probably already written an entire book’s worth of recipes that show what one can do with just ‘leftovers’.

So in celebration of growing and cooking your own, zero waste and stolen moments in the mother nature, these breakfast recipes are a natural and unfussy offering for homesteaders at heart!

Read more in our May issue both print and online:

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