Monday Meal Review: Benin

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In my humble opinion, the highs and lows of life are equally worthy of a great meal. Highs are cause for pompous, celebratory food that leaps, dancing into your mouth, while lows beg for rich, fattening foods that slide in softly and ground you (and your belly). It is therefore fitting that this week of highs (seeing Anthony Bourdain live at the Tulsa PAC) and lows (a miserable husband with a giant kidney stone that just won't pass) be acknowledged with a special feast. As chance would have it, … [Read more...]

Recipe: Pureed Black-eyed Peas

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Serves 4 Pureed Black-eyed peas are smooth and creamy thanks to peeling the beans. If you do not have the patience for peeling the beans, use a food mill or omit the step all-together. The resulting mash is rich and flavorful, but it looks a lot like mashed potatoes so you might give unsuspecting guests a heads-up. Ingredients: 2 cups dried black-eyed peas salt pepper 1 stick butter Method: 1. Soak beans overnight in cool water. Drain the beans and slip the skins off. For … [Read more...]

Recipe: Crabs from Benin (Crabe Beninoise)

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Serves 4 This crab dish is contains a classic Beninoise combination: onion, pepper, and tomato. Please use fresh tomatoes... I only had canned and the flavor of the can totally takes over (in a bad way). I know, I know. I should have my blog taken away from me for doing it, but I forgot to buy fresh at the store. Just proof that I'm human :) Ingredients: 1-2 garlic cloves, minced 1/2 cup onion, minced 1/2 cup diced tomato (I didn't have fresh on hand so I had to use canned. I just … [Read more...]

Recipe: Baby Bananas in Orange Sauce

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Serves 2 Bananas in orange sauce is a fresh, summery way to use bananas as a dessert topping. When we made the Baked Brown Sugar Bananas for Antigua and Barbuda (made with brown sugar, rum and butter) I didn't think they could be beat, but these west African bananas are totally different and just as yummy!! Ingredients: 1/2 cup orange juice 1/2 cup brown sugar 1 Tbsp lemon juice (optional) 2 slightly under-ripe bananas NOTE: We used red bananas which are about 4 inches long, you … [Read more...]

Recipe: Coconut Rice

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Serves 2-4 Found both in the Caribbean and parts of Africa, coconut rice is rich and fragrant. The strong flavor goes particularly well with grilled meats and spicy sauces. We even used some leftovers in an asian-style salad with spicy peanut dressing. NOTE: Wondering how to make plain rice? The technique is the same, just substitute water for coconut milk. Ingredients: 1 cup coconut milk 1 cup water 1 cup white rice salt & pepper Method: 1. Heat coconut milk and water … [Read more...]

Listen to a complicated love song from Benin

The first three and a half minutes of this video tell the story of a couple who are engaged. In the story the man's friend makes a pass on the woman. She refuses his advances and tells her fiancé what happened. The fiance then goes to confront him, but the friend says that he was just testing the woman's fidelity. The singer says for us to judge for ourselves. Then the chorus says that the friendship is true. After 3'30 the people start dancing a really interesting local … [Read more...]

Fun Fact Friday: Benin (with poll)

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Because there is a shortage of information on Benin, I had to dig really deep to find some fun facts. In my search I happened upon a lovely blog by a young woman named Jen. Jen is an American who spent 2 years in Benin for the Peace Corps. I enjoyed reading through her experiences (although I am sad to report that they end mid-trip, suddenly and without explanation). First, I want to share a picture I found of her cooking class in Benin. You will see the lengths Jen and the other students … [Read more...]

Technique Thursday: Peeling Beans

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I spent the better part of a day peeling beans for our Benin Global Table. This is partially because it takes an eternity to peel beans and partially because my husband became incapacitated by kidney stones. All day we ran around to the doctor, the lab, and the prescription house. I didn't take my beans with me which, of course, set me back several hours - but prevented me from looking like a crazy woman. Here's how to peel beans: First things first. Soak 2 cups of beans overnight. 2 cups … [Read more...]