Asmara in Maine
Did you know that some of the best Eritrean food in the United States can be found in Portland, Maine?! Yessssss....Asmara (right in downtown Portland).
I've been told on multiple occasions that these memes of Kermit, especially of him drinking tea, seem eerily similar to responses and actions that my dad, sister and I make to many things in life. Now, I receive messages updating me on Kermit Kaonga's latest mis-adventures...including the change of his voice. #drama #butthatsnoneofmybusiness *sipping tea*
Here are more photos of Kermit Kaonga doing his thing (with and without tea...but the tea is probably nearby, as it should be in life).
Photos are courtesy of Google images search.
Tea in a Glass
So, I used to mock my dad for drinking his tea in a glass. It didn't make sense. Didn't he burn his fingers? Why, just plain old, why?
As a tea lover, I recently visited Morocco and had tea multiple times every. single. day. Traditionally, they serve their tea in small glasses. Since returning, I've been enjoying my tea in a glass.
It dawned on me today, as I grabbed a glass, not unlike my father does almost religiously every evening, that he may be more cool and cultured than me.
Some photos taken by N.A.
Rice Milk & Saffron Rice Pudding
Last year, I was introduced to saffron rice pudding and yellow rice pudding. The puddings, which are Middle Eastern in origin, reminded me of kheer and, separately, Egyptian baked rice. They were, above all, delicious. When I learned about the steps taken to make the pudding, it seemed a little more labor intensive than I had imagined (i.e., stirring the rice over a hot stove for several hours).
After some experimentation, and because of a lack of a pressure cooker, I finally figured out a less time consuming way to make the saffron rice pudding. The inspiration came together as I was straining my home-made rice milk mixture (this recipe is an approximation of my approach). I have been making my own rice milk for about a year now and always try to use the left-over non-milk portion in creative ways. Thus far, I have used the remains as porridge, in baking products and as broken rice. This most recent time, I had left the rice to soak (1 part brown rice to 2+ parts water) in the fridge for waaay longer than overnight and noticed that the remains were quite soft.
I had also, coincidentally, prepared Egyptian baked rice with coconut milk around then and so the pudding was not far from my mind. I decided to take the rice milk remains and continuously added warm to hot water, brown sugar, saffron (ground and suspended in water), rose water and a tiny bit of oil and salt. In about an hour, I had a product that was quite close to the delicious rice puddings my friends had made in the past.
[The pudding was eaten before I remembered to take final pictures. However, below are a couple of pictures taken during the process. The first is the mortar and pestle used to crush the saffron (courtesy of a friend) and the second was the initial stirring of the rice remains with water, waiting for the other add-ins.]
Breakfast Oatmeal Bars
Peanut Butter and Banana Breakfast Oatmeal Bars with Chocolate Chips are delicious.
They are also super easy to make. They have been a go-to favorite of mine for the past couple of years. There are different ways to approach building your bar. I tend to opt for honey as a sweetener (in addition to making sure my bananas are pretty ripe, the semi-sweet chocolate chips help as well :-D), prefer chunky over smooth (all-natural) peanut butter, use non-dairy milk, am liberal with cinnamon (which helps if there is no vanilla in sight) and I also skip the eggs. Everything still turns out fabulously delicious.
Sally's Baking Addiction has an easy-to-follow recipe for the bars. Definitely try it out! Your stomach will thank you.
When you're missing garden egg stew.
When you're missing garden egg stew, a delicious eggplant (aubergine) dish from West Africa, you go to drastic measures to attempt to recreate it with whatever you have on-hand.
Garden Egg stew is one of my favorite dishes. I eat it religiously in Ghana. One of the best preparations is at Bar Naas/NW9 -- a hip and contemporary African restaurant based in Kumasi in Nhyieso, that offers a variety of cuisine ranging from garden egg stew (of course), to shawarma, to pizza to fish n' chips (yum) and more.
Equipped with Italian eggplant, anchovies, sardines, fresh tomatoes, onions, olive oil and a variety of seasonings (i.e., salt, pepper, dried pepper flakes and nutmeg) and some inspiration from TimeOut.com, I set out to satisfy my deep craving for garden egg stew. What happened was nothing short of a miracle. While clearly not garden egg stew, this poor (wo)man's rendition was quite tasty.
Here's what I did:
For roughly 3 servings, 1 onion, 2-3 tomatoes, 1 small tin of sardines, 1 small tin of anchovies and 1 Italian eggplant are plenty.
It was so nice that I only got to eat it twice.
Haifa Will Eat You
While this may be the case, I think I ate Haifa, Akko, Naharriya, Galilee, Tel Aviv...om nom nom! The food was delicious! In Akko, I was treated with coffee (which may be akin to us Malawians offering a respected guest with a hen or rooster...or maybe first dibs on the food ;-D).
My recommendations on places to go in Haifa:
Now, if you are ever headed to Akko, stop by the Old City and visit Uncle Yusuf's Campagna Corner. Uncle Yusuf is a fascinating gentleman. He speaks over five languages, even known to shout at tourists in their presumed language, welcoming them to his corner. Uncle Yusuf has lived around the world and humbly began his business with a single pomegranate juice cart. The food he offers at his corner is absolutely delicious, and if you tell him you know me (the smiling girl from Malawi), maybe you will be treated to some coffee.
Lastly, if you ever find yourself en route to Nazareth in the middle of the night, like I did with a friend, there is a small, lovely town called Kafr Manda. Two circles in to the town, there is a restaurant adjacent to a 24 hour grocery store that serves delicious food.
To check out photos of food I enjoyed whilst in Israel, including bites from the above, click this link!
More nut butter...
Yes. I gave in to curiosity (my love) to test out (to devour) peanut butter. This time, I opted to roast the nuts prior to blending. It literally was almost insta-nut butter (but still had me wishing for the Whole Foods machine). With the lovely assistance of my sister and one of her friends, we shelled the peanuts, I then roasted them in the oven at 350F/~175C for 20 minutes. In total, it still took a solid half hour to make the butter, but the blending was reduced to <5 minutes AND there was less stopping and scraping involved.
Next time, I will try out the roasting method with almonds; I will also explore cashew butter!
...off to eat some peanut butter...
[Pictures were taken by my sister and me.]
I can't believe it's nut butter!
I devour peanut butter...maybe even live off of it. You, too?
I recently came to the realization that I probably spend more money on peanut butter than any other food item. [I may or may not 'drink' my peanut butter, but that is besides the point.] I started wondering what it would take to make my own nut butter. After some consultations with gurus (my dad and google), I began the adventure. The directions I followed from Megan at Detoxinista gave fair warning that patience is a requirement. She was so right.
Because this was an experiment, I didn't want to make too much nut butter. The nut I went with (partially because I did not have peanuts on hand) was almond. I took close to two handfuls of raw almonds and threw them into the blender. I was on a high for the first few minutes. The nuts were breaking down well, my blender was chopping, dicing and shredding like a pro. But then, when the consistency was like a very grainy flour, the nut 'flour' started sticking to the sides of the blender! I reluctantly stopped the blender, scraped the sides and then continued. I started the blender back on and in a matter of seconds, the same thing happened. Still reluctant, I stopped the blender, scraped the sides, then turned it back on.
This. kept. happening. over. and. over. and. over. and. over. and...during this time, I wondered about many things, including how the insta-peanut butter machines in Whole Foods work and how I could get one.
After I started and stopped the blender a dozen times, I decided to increase the speed of the blender. My rationale was that a faster speed would get more done given my relegation to brief bursts to mix the almonds. I ended up increasing the speed one or two more times before the butter started forming.
Once it did, I was super excited! The two handfuls of almonds yielded roughly two tablespoons of rich, creamy almond butter. As great as it is (and tastes), I'm not sure that the solid thirty minutes of stop-and-go blending have convinced me to completely go homemade with my nut butters, but it does feel rewarding!
You can check out the instructions by Megan at Detoxinista below.
From Detoxinista...Megan's pictures are waaay better than mine and she has great almond butter-making tips.
Here is a recipe, courtesy of Bram Cookware.
[NB: Instead of a Bram, we used a deep dish aluminum foil oven pan. We used Jasmine rice, which turned out nicely; we maintained the 1:2 (rice to milk) ratio; and opted for less butter (just enough delicate flakes to evenly distribute across the top). Baking time should be adjusted for yield.]
Yield: generously serves 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
This is a very traditional Egyptian rice dish that’s super easy to make and very good. It’s always cooked in a bram, an open casserole with high sides. It has a slightly creamy texture and can accompany any dish you’d normally serve with plain white rice. In Egypt, they use very generous amounts of ground black pepper over the top before putting it in the oven.
1½ to 2 qt. bram (see notes)
2 cups sushi or short grain rice (see notes)
4 cups whole milk
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. butter
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 385º F.
Place rice and milk in pot. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt and stir. Distribute butter in thin shavings over surface. Top with generous amount of freshly ground pepper. Place on baking sheet as safeguard from spills. Bake for about 1 hour, checking after 30 minutes to make sure it is not bubbling over. Rice is done when you see a rich golden brown crust.
BRAM: This recipe is sized for our medium brams. If using a smaller or larger size, simply adjust the recipe accordingly. The ratio is one part rice to two parts milk. The ingredients should fill most of the pot before cooking, coming up to about 1 inch below the top of the pot.
RICE: In Egypt, this recipe is made with their traditional short grain rice that is very similar to sushi rice. This Japanese short grain rice is widely available in stores and works best to give you authentic results and a creamy texture. You can substitute it for medium or long grain rice such as basmati or jasmine, but expect a less creamy and much drier texture. Either way is good.
Besides enjoying 'good eats', my sister and I attempt to recreate dishes we have enjoyed elsewhere. Friends sometimes join us in the trial and error. Some attempts are more successful than others.