Month: July 2012

A view of Lake Bondhus in Norway, and in the background of the Bondhus Glacier, part of the Folgefonna Glacier. Photo Alchemist-hp.

About the food of Norway

Oh Norway, land of the midnight sun. This is the place to go when the world’s drudgery stifles you… when the world just… sticks to your skin. In Norway, the sky feels a million miles away. The air is crisper, cleaner. Sparkling. I spent a weekend in Stavanger, Norway in 1998, where I pitched our way to first place in our softball championship. I remember just breathing, breathing, breathing as deeply as possible. That air – I will always remember it. The fjords seemed to know what I was experiencing; these bohemouth rock walls scraped up into the sky as if they wanted to stretch into the beauty themselves – to become a part of the crystalline air. And it worked. This was a high school trip so there was also the standard curious experience. Like the odd coincidence that we arrived in late spring when the whole town (or so it seemed) was tipsy. Stumbling, bumbling, tipsy. If I remember correctly, we were told this was a standard part of graduation festivities. I do believe I …

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Monday Meal Review: Nigeria

I press the glass to my lips. Millions of tiny bubbles burst at once; fireworks in my mouth. Zesty fireworks. If the name is any indication, this Chapman is a serious drink. A drink for gentlemen and poker, with a splash of intrigue. A drink suitable for 007 himself. But one sip in and I know – this is a silly, sing-in-the-shower, dance-with-your-towel-on-your-head kind of drink. This is a sit-in-the-shade-and-sing-to-the-birds kind of drink. What’s in a name, anyway? The drink comes from Nigeria, and so – in a fit of boredom one sweltering afternoon – I look into Nigerian naming traditions. As the air-conditioner whines, I lose myself in a group called the Yoruba who live, in part, in Nigeria. According to Yoruba culture, the naming of the child is a decision of the utmost importance. They believe that the child’s name shapes the life of the child because the name is like a spirit, constantly on a quest to seek out fulfillment. This is how, for example, a Yoruba child can come to be named “kokumo,”or “this …

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Grilled Plantain spears with crushed peanuts | Boli Bopa

This is so quick, it’s silly. All you need are a few medium-ripe plantains (as pictured), some red palm oil, and a bit of salt & hot pepper. You can find the red palm oil at your natural grocer or, if you’re lucky enough to have an African market, there. You brush on the red palm oil (back in the day I wrote a bit about this popular west African oil)… Sprinkle with salt and whatever spices you like (think hot, like cayenne… or mild, like paprika)… Grill until tender and charred, but not mushy. Slice and serve… … preferably with crushed peanuts and a sprinkling of extra spices, as desired. This would also be great with minced chili peppers, like jalapeno. That’s it! A quick and relatively fuss-free taste of Nigeria. Adapted from The Africa Cookbook: Tastes of a Continent by Jessica Harris. Here’s what you need… Ingredients: 3 plantains 1-2 Tbsp red palm oil handful crushed peanuts salt cayenne pepper, optional Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: Rate this recipe! Print Recipe This is so quick, it’s …

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Nigerian Chapman Cocktail

There are four things I love to do in the summer. 1. Flit around pools, lakes, and oceans until my fingers wrinkle and warp. 2. Make mud pies and bake them in the Oklahoma sun. 3. Kiss my husband at the drive-in movie theater. 4. Dance like no one is watching. When that’s all done, I like a good, sweet sipper and a shady spot to drink it down. Thankfully, I just learned about Chapman – a bright, bubbly festival for your mouth. This is a Nigerian drink made for parties – supposedly invented by a Nigerian bartender named Chapman and, although I wasn’t able to find any solid facts on the history, I like the idea that there is a real live person behind the drink. There are as many variations as there are bubbles in Chapman. The general idea is to mix orange soda (traditional would be fanta) with a lemon/lime soda (like sprite). I went with natural izze sodas and later made a version with san pelligrino. Both tasted bright and zesty. Perhaps the most …

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West African Peanut Kebabs | Suya

My pantry’s name is Patty.* She’s actually just a shelf in the laundry room, above the vacuum cleaner and mop, but I love her all the same. Right now she could use a diet – she is packed with boxes upon boxes of noodles, rice, 8 kinds of oils, soup, 4 bags of coffee from around the world, 4 kinds of dried chili peppers, and fishy bouillon cubes I bought 2 years ago for one of our Global Table meals and promptly forgot to use (I’m going to go ahead and presume they aren’t good any more). Just the other day I unearthed three bulk bags of peanuts in the back corner of the shelf. This is what happens when Patty is in disorder. When I don’t clear through her clutter. I’ve never been happier to have too many peanuts in my pantry. It means I get to make Suya, west African Peanut Kabobs. These kabobs, ever-so-popular in Nigeria, crackle with the most addictive crust – ground peanuts seasoned with fresh ginger, garlic, paprika, onion powder, and …

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Menu: Nigeria (& Giveaway)

Today we’re celebrating two things. Our Nigerian menu (we’re almost done with the “N”‘s can you believe it?) and our first weekly giveaway (scroll down to find out what it is). Yay! First, as always, the beautiful food. Our Nigerian menu is all about the grill – grilled plantains, savory peanut crusted kebabs, and a bubbly sparkly citrus drink, perfect to take the edge off summer. Either that or you can impulsively jump in your child’s inflatable pool with your clothes on. That’s what I do. Grilled Plantain spears with crushed peanuts | Boli Bopa [Recipe] A simple way to taste Nigeria – brush plantains with red palm oil, sprinkle on spices, and grill until tender. Serve with crushed peanuts. West African Peanut Kebabs | Suya [Recipe] Pure, wonderful bites of happiness. Beef (or whatever you’d like) grilled with spiced peanut crust (think fresh ginger, garlic, paprika, and cayenne… onion powder and more). You’ll make this one again and again. Nigerian Chapman Cocktail [Recipe] Citrus, bubbles, and smiles. What more can a girl ask for? You’ll get all …

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Kids playing in the streets of Zaria, Nigeria. Photo by shirazc.

About the food of Nigeria

Let’s fill a van with pineapples. Let’s pack them so tightly they press against the windows. Let’s load up a motorcycle with a mountain of empty plastic bottles, all strung together like a tangled string of lights. And while we’re at it, let’s make this mountain five times the size of the motorcycle. These are scenes from Nigeria, the most populated country in Africa. And I saw every single one on YouTube. Nigeria is nestled in the heart of Africa, where you’ll find ocean, swamp, city, plateau, and plain. The food is as varied as the landscape – guaranteed to make your tummy rumble. There are many traditional dishes to be found, made with goat, chicken or beef. There’s also a great love for seafood and fish – especially prawns and crayfish – abundantly found in the ocean and the Niger River. These might be accompanied by casssava, corn, or millet (Fancy a millet ball? Gotcha covered – try serving it with yogurt, honey, and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom). Common veggies include peppers, squash, …

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Monday Meal Review: Niger

THE SCENE We’ve now eaten a meal from 129 countries in the world. Surreal. Wonderful. Delicious. This means we are officially 2/3 done with the Adventure.  In November there’ll only be a year left. After cooking the world for this long, certain things come to be expected. Happy bellies, for example. Enriched minds. Stretching ourselves. Growing. All along the way, whether I’m frazzled or relaxed, hungry or full, I hear the same question again and again from curious readers. “What country has been your favorite, so far?” Oh boy. Talk about a tough question to answer.  Every time I hear those words I always feel vaguely uneasy, like someone has asked me who my favorite child is. How could I ever, ever choose one over all the others (theoretically, of course)? Let me stumble through an answer. While I don’t have a favorite per se, I do love making food from countries I know nothing about. Which brings us to this week’s Global Table – Niger. Much of Niger’s traditional food is heat-your-house-up sauces and stews …

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Cardamom Caakiri

There are very few things that surprise me any more. A toddler falling apart five minutes past her bedtime? Predictable. Going twice as long between mowings in the 100F-mid-July-inferno? Guaranteed. Two things that do succeed at surprising me? The last season of Lost (no spoilers please!) and using couscous to make a tangy-sweet pudding. Yes. I’m considering eating caakiri while watching Lost to see if the surprises cancel each other out. It could happen. So. Let’s back up a moment and talk about caakiri. Remember when we made steamed “rainy day” couscous? Well, this is what you make with the leftovers. This is what you make to stretch simple carbs into a rich treat. Made with couscous, yogurt, sour cream, and evaporated milk, Caakiri is a slightly tangy pudding of sorts. It can be served unsweet (in which case it tastes very yogurty and rather nice for breakfast), or with sugar. This is where it takes on dessert-like qualities. Perfect to get you through a walk in, say, the desert. If, after the first time, you decide …

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North African Sage n’ Green Tea

There are a few ways to keep cool in hot weather. In the west, we wear shorts, drink cold drinks, and blast the A/C. In Niger, they use a completely different set of tricks. The polar opposite, in fact. For starers, they cover up. Believe it or not, wearing long layers made of lightweight cotton keeps the sun’s hot rays off your skin. The flowing movement of the fabric acts like natural air conditioning. The elephants accomplish the same thing by dusting themselves with dirt. Not quite as desirable if you have somewhere nice to go. There’s one other trick to staying cool in Niger. Drinking hot tea. While it sounds like it’d make an already hot day feel like an inferno, it is the opposite. The hot liquid makes you perspire… and the tiny beads of sweat catch the slightest breeze, cooling you off. That’s what our tour guide in Tunisia told me, anyway (they do the same thing all over North Africa). All you do is splash hot water over green tea and… a …

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West African Toasted Baguette Sandwich with Spinach Scrambled Eggs

If you’re going to serve an egg sandwich, you best do it up right. Layer hot, scrambled eggs in a crusty, toasty baguette and wrap ’em up. Make sure there’s something green in there to keep you strong and healthy. Tie it with a bow. Simply put: turn breakfast into a present for your belly. I learned this trick from Niger. When I dug around for traditional recipes I kept stumbling upon the same thing: eggs sandwiches sold by street vendors. Simple. Comforting. Filling. This is the kind of thing people crave once they leave Niger – a fond memory in the making. Most people say they come wrapped in old newspapers, but any old paper does the trick. Turns out wrapping up a sandwich is by far the best thing you can do to help keep your eggs from running away. Particularly if you’re 3 years old. Just ask Ava. Seriously. This could have been bad. While I used spinach and a little green onion in our sandwich, the fine folks of Niger often …

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Menu: Niger

Our menu for Niger is all about familiar ingredients. This menu is full of that which is already under our noses, no matter where we live. The fun part is seeing the ingredients arranged in new ways. This time I chose street food, a comforting evening sipper, and a fun way to use up extra couscous. What sounds good to you? Toasted Baguette sandwich with Spinach Scrambled Eggs [Recipe] Inspired by the street stalls of Niger, where baguette sandwiches wrapped in newspaper are commonplace, and Malahiya, a popular leafy green used in Niger.  In each bite you’ll find spinach, paprika, green onion and toasty baguette. A simple way to bring a touch of Niger to your internationally inspired brunch. North African Sage n’ Green Tea [Recipe] Green tea steeped with fresh sage leaves and as much sugar as you can stand. Yes, they sip it sweet in Niger. Serve with a smile at your next tea party. Cardamom Caakiri [Recipe] Our Caakiri is made with prepared couscous, evaporated milk, yogurt, and sour cream. Dust with cardamom and …

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