Saturday, September 9, 2017

Creamy Carrot Ginger Soup

I love soup, especially as cooler weather settles in. But, as with everything else, I'm picky. I don't like most "cream" soups, and am always on the lookout for soups that are broth- or tomato-based. This one is pretty much straight from the pages of Mother Earth Living magazine (Jan/Feb 2017). I may try it with a tad more ginger next time, but this is just enough to add warmth and interest to the soup without it being spicy. A sprinkle of cinnamon would look pretty too!

(I put the orange juice as optional because I had none in the house, and the soup was wonderful anyway!)

Creamy Carrot Ginger Soup

3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large yellow onions, chopped
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
10 large carrots (3 to 4 lbs), scrubbed and chopped 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (optional)
1 inch fresh ginger root, grated
Sea salt, to taste

Heat oil in a large pot and add onions. Saute till onions are golden and soft, about 20 minutes. Stir in pepper, carrots, and broth. Bring to a boil, add the ginger, and reduce to simmer for about 25 minutes, till carrots are tender. Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree (in 2 batches. Return to pot and stir in the juice, if using. Add salt to taste. Serve with a sprinkle of black pepper or cinnamon.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sage and Apple Chicken

I created this years ago when we lived in Vermont. I guess it's a keeper.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in half OR equivalent in cut-up chicken pieces, skin removed
2 large, tart apples, sliced and cored (skin on)
1 med. onion, sliced
8-10 whole fresh or dried sage leaves, or 2 tsp. dried crushed sage
2 Tsp. butter
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. flour
1/4 cup chicken stock (can make from 1/4 cup water and 1/4 tsp. bouillon)

Heat oven to 350 F. Put the butter in an 8x8 baking dish and put in the oven to melt.
Wash the chicken and place chicken in the pan, turning to coat with butter.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Top each chicken piece with a sage leaf, or sprinkle with ground sage.
Place apple and onion slices around chicken pieces.

Bake one hour. Meanwhile, place flour and chicken stock in a small jar and shake to blend. After the chicken has baked for an hour, add the flour mixture to the pan juices and return to the oven for 10 minutes.

Serve chicken with apple and onion pieces and pan gravy poured over.

Serve with baked or boiled, buttered potatoes and green vegetable. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Guavas, and what to do with them

Guavamania hit today when Bob brought in about 100 guavas from our tree. I spent the morning making guava sauce, canning guava slices, and making a guava pie. In other words, I treated them like apples, which don't grow well here. (We can get them imported, but the last batch we got smells and tastes like gasoline. I guess they sat in the wrong place in the truck...)

I eat them fresh, seeds and all. But a lot of people don't like the seeds. And of course, you don't want them in a pie. The seedy center scoops out with a spoon. (And the center looks kind of like a little brain!) :P

Guava Sauce:

Wash guavas and remove the blossom end. Dice and place in a stockpot with a small amount of water. Boil till tender. Mill or strain to remove the seeds. Can or refrigerate. The sauce can be eaten like applesauce (you may wish to add a little sugar) or use as a substitute for applesauce in any recipe, like the cake below, which was so good we couldn't leave it alone and three people finished it in two days!

Beth Cunningham's Guava Sauce Cake
1/3 cup oil
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1 1/2 cups guava sauce

Mix together oil and sugar, mixing till fluffy. Add eggs, beating well after each. Sift together the dry ingredients. Add alternately to creamed mixture with guava sauce. Pour batter into greased 9x13 pan. Bake 350 for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with icing sugar before serving (optional).

Guava Jam

Guavas, cooked and milled

Cook and mill or sieve guavas as above. Measure and return to the saucepan with sugar-- the original recipe called for an amount of sugar equal to the amount of guava, but I also tried reducing the amount by almost half and actually thought it was more flavorful. Cook, stirring often, until it is the thickness you want (take a spoonful out and let it cool to check). Pour into a jar, let cool and refrigerate.


Guava Pie

This is really tasty!! You can use your own favorite apple pie recipe, using seeded, sliced guavas. Or try this recipe below.

One cup butter
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. salt

Cut the flour, butter, and salt together with a pastry cutter till crumbly. (Note: Nigerian wheat flour by law must be adulterated with 10% cassava flour; which makes it slightly less absorbent. You may need to add about 1/4 cup more flour to make it dry enough.) Sprinkle with a few teaspoons of water and stir gently. Continue to sprinkle small amounts of water until the dough comes together and can be shaped into a ball that does not crack when squeezed. Roll out and line pie pan.


6 cups sliced seeded guavas
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup flour
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. water
1 Tbsp. butter

Toss the guavas with the flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Add the water and lemon juice and mix to coat. Turn the mixture into the pie crust. Dot with dabs of butter.

Cover with second crust and cut vents. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-55 minutes. Poke guavas with a fork to check they are soft. Let cool.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Chocolate Syrup

You can make chocolate milk with this or top ice cream or desserts!

2 Cups sugar
1 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 cup water
2 tsp. vanilla

Place the sugar and cocoa in a deep saucepan (I use a ten cup pot) as it will bubble up as you cook it.
Add the water and whisk to blend well. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly.
When it begins to boil and bubble up, lower the heat slightly and whisk constantly for just two minutes (too long, and the syrup will granulate).
Remove from heat and blend in vanilla.

Allow to cool before pouring into container, or use a mason jar. Stored in the fridge, it keeps for weeks.

Parisian Chicken Stew

Parisian Chicken Stew

If it's possible to have light comfort food, this is it. From my sister, Susan.

1 small chicken, cut-up (a fryer or spent layer is fine)
1/4 cup flour
1 Tbsp. thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. oil
2 c. chicken broth OR 2 cups water + 2 bouillion cubes
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2-3 garlic cloves
1 c. chopped onions
2 c. chopped carrots
1 c. peas
2 c. diced potatoes, red or white, scrubbed, skins on (this is a good way to use up those little potatoes no one wants to peel)

Wash and dry the chicken pieces, removing as much skin as desired. Mix the flour, thyme, salt and pepper and dredge the chicken pieces in it.

Heat oil in a skillet and brown the chicken pieces all over. Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and add the remaining flour mixture. Whisk in the broth, wine, tomato paste, broth and garlic, scraping the bottom of the pan.

Return the chicken to the pot with potatoes and simmer 20 minutes.

Add the carrots, peas, and onions, and simmer 15 minutes or until the carrots are tender and chicken is cooked through.

Serve with fresh bread or rolls.

African Chocolate Pudding

I started with the Joy of Cooking recipe for vanilla pudding, edited to use local ingredients, and made it chocolate because I like that better. If you want vanilla pudding, just leave out the cocoa. (I'm going to try coconut next, using coconut milk instead of coffee.)

First, heat up the double boiler* while you assemble the ingredients.

1 1/3 cups full cream powdered milk
1 cup sugar
6 Tbsp. Cocoa powder (unsweetened)
3 cups boiling water
4 Tbsp. cornstarch (corn flour)
1 cup cold water or coffee
2 eggs, well-beaten
1 tsp. vanilla

Place the first three ingredients in the top of the double boiler.
Stir in 3 cups boiling water. Use a whisk to blend well.
In a separate bowl, blend the coffe with the cornstarch till smooth.
Add to the hot mixture, stirring till smooth.
Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, till slightly thickened.
Cover and cook 10 more minutes.
Add about a cup of the hot mixture to the eggs and blend.
Add back to the double boiler and cook 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
Remove from heat and add vanilla and blend.

You can put these in individual custard cups or a 1 1/2 quart bowl, cover and refrigerate.

*I don't have a double boiler, either. I have a steel bowl that fits perfectly into the rim of a steel pot, and use that, no problem.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tanzanian Smothered Baked Fish

Modified from a dish called Samaki Wa Kukuango. The original dish used a steam broiling method; baking seemed more practical for a small family.

A whole fish that weighs approximately 1kg.
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. coarse red pepper (or to taste)
2 Tbsp. butter
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced tomatoes

Scale and clean fish very carefully. (Sellers will usually scale it for you.) Remove head if desired and cut gashes 2 inches apart across the entire fish.

In a small bowl, combine the salt, garlic, and red pepper. Rub into the gashes thoroughly. Allow to stand for 15 minutes.

In a skillet melt the butter and saute the onions and tomatoes till softened. Place the fish in a baking pan.

Spread the onion mixture all over the fish. Bake at 350~ for 20 to 30 minutes or until fish is done.

Move the sauce to one side of the fish. Cut from behind the front fin, along the spine to the tail and lift one fillet to a plate. Lift the skeleton away and lift the second fillet. Remove as much of the bones as possible.

Spread the onion mixture over the top of the fish as a garnish. Serve with rice or couscous, with the sauce, and with lemon slices.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Chin-chin is a traditional Nigerian snack, ubiquitous at Christmas time. It us usually produced in large quantities and kept on hand for visitors and children throughout the season, and sometimes makes an appearance at weddings, baby-naming ceremonies, and so on. It keeps for weeks without refrigeration as long as it is stored dry and cool (Christmas time being the only time of year in West Africa that would qualify).

Follow this link: This recipe is Americanized in measurements, i.e. it uses cups rather than grams; and in Nigeria margarine is generally used instead of butter (due to lack of refrigeration), but butter surely tastes better. Also, nutmeg is commonly added. You can use a pinch up to a 1/2 teaspoon, depending on your taste.

You can roll the fried balls in sugar and/or cinnamon to make them extra special. This is definitely not health food, although it is highly satisfying and a few is no overindulgence. Chin chin with a cup of black tea with powdered milk and sugar is the height of Christmas hospitality.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Orange Lassi

If you like yogurt, this is a great way to take it without added sugar.
If you don't like yogurt, you probably will after trying this.

Oranges in Nigeria tend to have a fibrous core, so I cut the centers before squeezing.

Mix about equal parts yogurt and orange juice. I take it in a bowl with a sprinkling of granola, but you can also drink it from a glass if you prefer-- that makes it more like a smoothie.

This can also be made with mangoes, when they are in season. Yum!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Shortbread

I call it "Christmas Shortbread" because Scotch Shortbread is so amazingly scrumptious that I only allow myself to make it at Christmas time.

Shortbread is the ur-cookie: stripped down to the barest essentials of butter, flour, sugar.

A few years ago I was part of a Christmas cookie exchange. A week or so later, my friend Melissa Adams commented that next to the fancy-looking iced and chocolate-coated offerings, the shortbread didn't look like much. But as the flashier cookies disappeared her husband Sam tried the shortbread and cried out, "You've been holding out on me!"

1 cup butter, softened (226g)
1/2 cup sugar (some prefer to use powdered but regular is fine)
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt

Cream the butter, then add the sugar and beat very smooth. Then add the flour and salt. It may seem dry at first, but continue stirring until there is very little loose flour, then with clean, dry hands knead briefly in the bowl until it comes together as a smooth ball of dough.

Break the ball in half and roll each half into a ball. Then flatten onto a floured board to make a circle about 7-8" in diameter, 1/2" thick. Transfer each round to an ungreased cookie sheet. Using a fork, pierce as shown:
Pierce the dough additionally to allow steam to vent (I make a simple, star-like design). Bake 275 degrees F (135C) for 30-35 minutes, till golden around the edges. Let cool. No, it isn't one giant cookie, you break it into triangles to eat.

If you want to go a little fancier, serve shortbread with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream and some raspberry or strawberry syrup (idea compliments of Shirley Bubar).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cocoa Cashew Cookies

Chocolate chips being only an occasional and well-savored treat in Nigeria, I decided I needed another cookie to ring my chocolate bells on occasion. So I came up with this recipe.
1 cup butter, softened (226 grams)

1 1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for rolling
2 beaten eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/3 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2-3 Tbsp. hot water or coffee
1/2 cup cashews, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (optional)

Cream first 2 ingredients.
Add eggs and vanilla and beat till smooth and fluffy.
Blend in flour, baking soda and salt.
Mix in coffee, enough to make dough pliable but not too soft.
Stir in nuts.
Roll dough into 1" balls and roll in sugar.
Place on ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake 375 for 10 minutes.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ginger Cookies

When I take out the recipe card for these I always think of my Vermont friend, Janie Booth, with whom I often compared and modified recipes... these have been further modified for African ingredients. I like a lot of ginger; everyone loves the sparkly, crystalline appearance these cookies have.

The molasses or treacle is optional (sometimes it's hard to get in Africa); they add chewiness to the cookies, without it the cookies will be more like ginger snaps, and are also delicious. (See the sparkles?)


3/4 cup butter or margarine (170 grams)
1 cup sugar (1 1/2 cups if not using molasses/treacle)
1/4 cup molasses or 2 Tbsp. black treacle (optional)
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda (bicarbonate)
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. or more ginger, to taste (I like at least 4 tsp.)

Cream together butter, sugar, egg and molasses or treacle.
Sift dry ingredients together and blend with butter mixture.
Roll to 1-inch balls and roll in sugar. Resist eating too many like this, they are yummy raw!
Flatten slightly on cookie sheet and bake 350 9-11 minutes. Cool on a rack.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


This fruity, refreshing drink has a number of health benefits. Roselle (zobo) blossoms are in the hibiscus family, and has the same taste as hibiscus blossoms available in your local health food store.

4 cups dried hibiscus blossoms (pictured right)
4 clove buds
8 cups water
1/4 cup lemongrass (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
1 large slice fresh ginger (optional)
Sugar to taste (1/2-1 cup)

Place the blossoms, cloves, lemongrass and ginger if using, and water in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes. Let cool and strain. Add vanilla extract and sugar to taste.Chill and serve cold.

Some people also add the outer peels from pineapples for a different flavor.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dinner Rolls

Bob used to brag about his grandmother's dinner rolls, which she prepared for a hungry family plus ten famished farmhands with a handful of flour and a spoonful of lard, with one hand tied behind her back, while walking on water. When I first served him these, he told me I had found his grandmother's recipe... whatever. I'm afraid I need two hands free for this.

1 1/2 cups hot water, as hot as you can hold your finger in for a count of ten without pain
1/2 cup milk powder
3 Tbsp. butter, margarine, or oil
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp. yeast

Mix and let stand till yeast blooms. Add:

1 tsp. salt
2 cups flour
Beat vigorously for 2 minutes. Add:

1 egg
1 cup flour

Beat another 2 minutes.

Add enough flour, blending, to make a soft dough. Knead until smooth and slightly elastic. Let rise, covered, in an oiled bowl until doubled in bulk.

Punch dough down and form into rolls. My favorite are formed by pulling off plum-sized pieces, rolling into a cigar shape, and making a simple knot. When baked, these form a round roll with a navel on top.

Bake 400 20-25 minutes, till golden brown. Serve warm with plenty of butter.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Muffin Mix I

Even hectic mornings can usually spare 5 minutes to get these in the oven. Warm muffins say "I love you" to sleepy kids groping for school books and running for the bus.

8 cups flour (you can blend in up to 1/2 whole wheat flour, or one-fourth oatmeal)
4 Tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. nutmeg
1-2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups powdered milk

Mix all together well and store in an airtight container.

TO PREPARE 1 dozen muffins use:

2 1/2 cups muffin mix

Mix together well in a bowl:
1 beaten egg
3 Tbsp. oil or melted butter
1 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla

Add into the muffin mix and stir just until all ingredients are moistened. Do not overstir, or muffins will be tough. Fill greased muffin tins or muffin papers 2/3 full with batter. I like to sprinkle the tops with cinnamon sugar.
Bake in oven preheated to 375 for 15-20 minutes. Test for doneness by touching the tops-- they should spring back.

Muffin Additions/Variations:

After mixing dry ingredients, you can add one or more of the following and toss to coat before adding liquid:
1/2 cup blueberries
1 apple, finely chopped
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, or 1/2 cup dried
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup coconut

You can make banana muffins by mashing 2 or 3 bananas with a fork and blending with the liquid ingredients before adding to the flour mixture. (Banana-coconut is a favorite of mine.)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hershey's Chocolate Cake

Modified slightly from the Hershey's cocoa box. This is our favorite cake. A class of cold milk is a must with a nice hunk of this.

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk OR, 1/3 cup powdered milk and 1 cup water
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup oil
1 cup boiling coffee OR water
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease and flour two 9-inch round pans or 9"x13".
Combine all but coffee and chips, beat two minutes.
Mix in coffee and chips. Bake 30-35 minutes.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar, or frost with Hershey's chocolate frosting (half recipe for 9"x13" pan):

half recipe                      full recipe
1/2 (113 grams)              1 stick butter or margarine (226 grams)
1/3 cup                          2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 (250 grams)           3 cups powdered sugar (500 grams)
3 Tbsp                           1/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp.                          1 tsp. vanilla

Melt butter, stir in cocoa, alternately add sugar and milk, beat at medium speed till spreading consistency. Mix in vanilla. Add more milk if needed. Frost cake.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Jamaican Goat Curry

Goat is leaner than lamb but has a similar taste. Goat is more highly regarded than beef in Nigeria, and the price is higher as well; perplexing when you consider the number of goats that seem to overrun the country.

2 lbs. (1 kg) goat or lamb, cubed
1 large onion, chopped
4 scallions, (optional) chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium bell pepper, diced
1 tsp. thyme
2 Tbsp. curry powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. garam masala
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. celery seed
sallt and pepper
1 cup broth (or 1 cup water with 1 bouillon cube
1 medium potato, diced

Combine meat, onions, garlic, bell peppers, thyme, cumin, curry powder, turmeric and garam masala. Rub mixture in well. Cover and refrigerate a few hours or overnight.
Heat olive oil in a large pan. Saute meat and marinade in oil for 10 minutes. Add celery seed, salt, pepper and broth. Simmer for 1 hour. Add potatoe and simmer for 15 more minutes. Serve with rice.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Apple Fritters

Check out this Apple Fritter recipe. Admittedly I haven't tried it yet, I am trusting in the sound of it (my stomach is already growling!).

Apple Crisp

This simple, homey dessert is probably my all-time favorite served warm with vanilla ice cream... In Nigeria, I substitute under-ripe mangos for the apples. But apples are best.


1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
8 cups pared and sliced apples
1 Tbsp. lemon juice


1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
pinch salt
6 Tbsp butter

Place apples and filling ingredients in bottom of baking pan. Toss lightly. Blend topping ingredients and spread evenly over apple mixture. Bake 375 for 40-50 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Variation: add one cup of cranberries to apples.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Yogurt Cheese Spread

To make Yogurt Cheese:
Place a coffee filter or clean cloth in a strainer over a bowl, and cover with another filter. Fill with plain yogurt. Refrigerate for several hours. Peel off the filters or cloth and store in an airtight container. (You can use the liquid whey, in the bowl, to make muffins or bread.)You can use the Yogurt Cheese as a sour cream substitute.

To make spread:
To one cup of yogurt cheese, mix in your choice:
1 cube bouillon
black pepper
minced, fresh or dried garlic
minced fresh or dried onion
One or more herbs: thyme, rosemary, marjoram, dill
Salt to taste

Refrigerate and use within 3 days.

Whole Wheat Crackers

These are so good!! Crackers as we know them in America are not generally available in Nigeria; if you stumble across a stray box the price is likely to be ten dollars or more!! I start by sorting through the wheat berries and grinding them with an attachment on my heavy duty stand mixer. I like the whole wheat to be coarse for crackers, it adds texture.

3 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup vegetable oil or cooking margarine (not spread)
1 egg
spices to taste

Combine the flours, baking powder, and salt. Cut the margarine into the flour. Beat the egg in a 1 cup measure and add enough milk to bring the liquid up to one cup. Add liquid to flour mixture and mix till well combined. Form a ball and knead for a few moments.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220C).

Divide the dough into 4 balls. Roll out very thin on a floured board. You can now sprinkle the dough with a little salt, pepper, sesame seeds, garlic powder, parmesan cheese, or whatever suits you; and roll lightly to press the seasonings into the dough. Transfer greased cookie sheets (the easiest way is to roll up the dough, and unroll it on the pan). Prick the dough all over with a fork (unless you happen to own the old-fashioned doodad that women used to keep for piercing crackers, in which case use that). Cut into desired size with a pizza wheel or pie crust cutter. Bake crackers 7-10 minutes, till lightly browned (or well-browned, if you want them to be very crisp) Watch carefully in the last minutes, they are so thin they change quickly. Let cool completely on a rack before storing in an airtight container.

There will inevitably be some "waste" trimmings after cutting to squares; bake these and crumble for a salad topping.

These are good alone, and even better with Yogurt Cheese Spread.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mango Ice Cream

1 ¼ cups fresh or frozen mango puree

2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar (I use 1/4 cup)
2 cups water
¾ cup full-fat milk powder
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend thoroughly. Freeze in an ice-cream churn.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup oil or melted butter
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, beaten

Blend dry ingredients together. Add the oil, milk, vanilla and beaten eggs and stir just until blended. Over-stirring causes pancakes to be rubbery.

Heat frying pan with a small amount of oil or butter. Pour in about 1/3 cup batter. (If desired, immediately sprinkle on berries, granola, or whatever!) When the pancake is bubbly and starts to look dry around the edges, flip and cook the other side. Pancakes should be golden brown. Serve plain with butter, or with syrup, fruit, whipped cream, or honey.

Italian bread dough

This basic dough is the basis of Italian loaves, garlic bread, pizza and focaccia. You can substitute some of the white flour with whole wheat or semolina. If you have a heavy duty stand mixer with a dough hook, it makes preparation very easy.

2 cups warm water
2 Tbsp. dried yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar (optional, speeds rising)
1 Tbsp. salt
5-7 cups white flour (can substitute up to half with whole wheat flour)

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water with the sugar, if using, in a large bowl, and allow to sit for 2-10 minutes to “proof”- it should bloom in the water and become frothy. Add 2 cups of the flour and beat vigorously for 2 minutes. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft but substantial dough.

For long Italian bread (as for garlic bread), roll half of the dough out on a floured surface to make a rectangle about 8”x16”. Roll into a 16” roll and place on a baking sheet which has been oiled and/or sprinkled with cornmeal or semolina. Make several diagonal slits in the top of the loaf. Let rise. Before baking, brush with water or egg to make more crispy. If you use egg, you can sprinkle the loaf with sesame or poppy seeds. Bake 400°20-25 minutes. It should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Let cool fifteen minutes before slicing.

For rounder Italian bread, roll and shape as desired.

For pizza or focaccia, roll out as desired. Bake 450°12-15 minutes with toppings.


Granola should be composed of about 5-6 cups grains, including at least 3 cups oatmeal; 1-2 cups seed products like flax meal, sesame or shredded coconut; and about 1 cup of liquids and oil combined; honey or syrup, about 1/3 cup oil, vanilla, fresh coconut milk, fruit juice, even water. Add a pinch of salt. Nuts and dried fruit should be added after baking. Sugar can be used in place of liquid sweetening if necessary- use 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar and an equal amount of water. Add more water if chunky granola is desired.
Here is an example:
4 cups oatmeal
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup flax seed meal or sesame seeds
1 cup coconut flakes (grated raw, as in the picture; or dried)
2/3 cup maple syrup or honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil
pinch of salt

Combine ingredients well. The picture (right) shows a double batch of mixed granola, with cashews (which are inexpensive here). I like it chunky; if you want even bigger chunks, add a little more water. Don't be afraid to use your hands! :) Bake on 1 large or 2 medium baking pans for one hour at 275. After mixture is cooled add:
1 cup whole raw almonds or cashews
1 cup dried cranberries, dates or raisins

Store in an airtight container. It's ready to eat... yum!! I like it with yogurt or milk, and some fresh fruit.

Ab Gusht (Persian Stew)

1 lb. chopped or ground beef, goat, or lamb
1 cup red beans, soaked
1 cup garbanzo beans (chick peas), soaked
One large chopped onion
Juice of one lemon
Pinch of grated lemon zest
4-6 medium scrubbed potatoes
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. curry powder
1 small can tomato paste
Put beans in a pressure cooker with the curry powder and enough water to come at least one inch over the beans. Bring to pressure and cook one hour. Let cool until pressure is released. Check that the chick peas are cooked. (Alternatively, you can use one can each of cooked red beans and chick peas.)

Add remaining ingredients to the pot and simmer 30 minutes at least, until potatoes are cooked through. Season to taste.

Our Iranian friends, the Rahmanis, make this stew on a camping trip by Lake Ontario. Everything went into a heavy pot at once (they used canned beans) which was put into the coals of a fire where it simmered for hours while we went on a hike. When we returned we enjoyed the stew with pita bread and fresh radishes-- including the tops, which are edible. The original recipe used tiny, dried lemons sent from Iran, whole. I adapted the recipe for the pressure cooker, which saves time and cooking fuel. It would also work in a crock pot.

By love, serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)

 When a Yankee moves to a third-world country as a missionary, then you get extreme frugality. We had to learn to make do and to do without so many things we were used to! Many ingredients I was accustomed to cooking with simply are not available in Nigeria; others can be bought but are so expensive they must be stretched.

My daughter holds a chocolate Easter Bunny that was mailed to us from America.
Yes, those are the eyes.

But we do like food, so I searched hard for ways to create delicious meals from what is available. As a Vermont wife, I had already learned to make most meals from scratch as the most thrifty way of cooking. A pound of dry beans goes a lot farther than a can of prepared beans; a whole chicken can make two or three meals for a family; homemade cookies are less costly and better tasting than store-bought. This served me well in a country where beans are bought by measure from a basket in the marketplace; when you buy a chicken it is generally still clucking; and cookies are mostly imported and cost several times what they did in America!

Ginger, cut and drying on a large rock

Nigeria IS rich in fresh food, and for the most part it is grown without pesticides or artificial fertilizers. Steroids have yet to find their way into the chickens and cows (which here are actually cebu; not the Herefords that supply American beef). We learned to capitalize on that, and to find ways to make luxury items like butter and cheese go a long way. We learned a brand of frugality that makes the most of what we have. That is the SERVE part.

To me, this is the essence of frugality: it is not miserly thrift that robs life of goodness as it seeks an obsessive degree of control over resources, but a way to maximize enjoyment within the range of resources that are at hand. It is not an end in itself. And it is not everything. Frugality should be the embodiment of contentment and wisdom. It is realistic and at the same time, joyful. It says, this is what I have: let me make the best of it for us! That is the LOVE part.

A lot of so-called "frugal" recipes seem to leave that out. Just because it is edible, doesn't mean it is good (or good for you). Cheapness is not equivalent with frugal!!

We put our heart into what we serve. Love first, then serve!

Of course, there is nothing original in this. The Bible says that when we give, we give ourselves first, then we give what we have (2 Corinthians 8:5). And before we SERVE the Lord, we first LOVE the Lord (Deuteronomy 11:13).

So love, then serve... delicious and nourishing food to the people around you!


Meredith DeVoe

Jos, Nigeria

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Creole Fish Stew

The lemony flavor complements the strong taste of mackerel, the ubiquitous "iced fish"of inland Africa; and enhances the flavor of milder white fish such as catfish. If you or your house help are adept at filleting fish, you can do that before cooking, but the tiny bones of whitefish make removing them from the cooked flesh much easier. Mackerel is easier to bone, but stronger in "fishy" smell which some don't like in the house, despite that it makes a tasty meal. Adapted from New Recipes From Moosewood Restaurant.

3 Tbsp butter or oil
1 cup chopped onions
3-4 minced garlic cloves
1 tatase (mildly hot red pepper such as pimiento, optional), minced
3 celery stalks, or a handful of celery leaves, chopped
2 cups diced potatoes
1 cup chopped green beans

2 small zucchini chopped (opt.)
2 small green peppers, chopped
1 bay leaf
generous pinch of thyme
2 cups pureed fresh tomatoes
3 bouillon cubes (maggi)
3 cups water
3 whole whitefish (shawa), or 2 small mackerel (ice fish); about a kilo of fish
juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper

Heat butter and saute the onions, garlic and tatase until translucent. Add the carrots, celery, and potatoes and saute for 5 minutes. Add green pepper and zucchini (or green beans) and saute 5 minutes. Add bay leaf, thyme, tomato puree, maggi, and water and bring to a boil; simmer covered 20 minutes. Meanwhile, gut the fish and remove the heads and tails.

Stir the lemon juice into the stew. Lay the fish in the stew and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the fish to a plate and remove the bones (an easier task when the fish is cooked than when it is raw). Cut the fish into chunks and return to the stew. Season to taste.

Serve with fresh cornbread.

Potato Fans

You can use small potatoes to make these as a finger food.

4 medium baking potatoes
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. melted butter
2 tsp. chopped fresh hers or 2 tsp. dried; such as chives, dill, thyme, caraway seeds, cumin
4 Tbsp. grated cheddar cheese
1 1/2 Tbsp. parmesan cheese

Peel or scrub well the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into "fans" by placing them between two wooden spoons and slicing them numerous times, as close together as possible, allowing the spoon handles to prevent the knife from slicing all the way through. Place potatoes in a baking dish.

Mix the salt, garlic powder, and herbs together in a small dish.

Pinch each potato to fan out the slices slightly and drizzle with melted butter; sprinkle with herb mixture. Bake potatoes until almost fork-tender. Sprinkle with the cheeses and return to the oven 10-15 minutes, till cheese is melted and slightly browned.

Potato Curry

A vegetarian meal in itself, that satisfies even my meat-loving husband.

5 Tbsp. butter/ oil combination, to taste
2 heaping tsp. curry powder
1 large onion, diced
3-4 cups of peeled, diced tomatoes
2 bouillion cubes
1 cup chopped green beans
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 cup corn kernels
2 cups pureed tomatoes

Heat oil and curry powder for a few minutes. Add onions and saute till wilted. Add all but the corn. Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes, till potatoes are tender. Add corn, cook 5 minutes. Season to taste.

Serve with hard-boiled eggs and/or chapati or pita bread.


The Nigerian version of falafel, sold on street corners as breakfast food. Traditionally, the grinding is done between two large stones, which are often made of cement. They are usually cooked outdoors over a wood fire in a wok-like pan of oil.

2 cups blackeyed peas, sorted, rinsed, and well soaked
1 large red onion
1 large clove garlic
1 large tatase (medium hot red pepper such as fresh pimiento), seeded
1/2 tsp. ginger
2 bouillion cubes
oil for deep-frying

Rub and rinse the beans to remove the skins. Coarsely chop the vegetables and place all in a blender, with spices and bouillion cubes. Blend until smooth, adding a small amount of water if needed. Heat about 1/2" of oil for frying.

Ladle by tablespoonfuls into heated oil and fry until golden. Turn to brown the other side. Drain in a strainer. Often served with fried potatoes (called "chips"), plantain, and slices of boiled yam dipped in egg. Don't forget the hot pepper.

Moros Y Cristianos

Black beans and white rice made someone think multiculturally when they named this delicious dish from Cuba.

1 lb. dried black beans, rinsed, sorted, and soaked
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
2 large green peppers, seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander (optional)
1 tsp.oregano
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste OR 4 plum tomatoes, pureed or chopped fine
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 1/2 cups water
4 cubes bouillion
3 cups long-grain white rice

After the beans have soaked at least two hours, add the bay leaf and bring to a boil in a pressure cooker. Bring to pressure and cook about one half hour. Turn off the heat and allow cooker to sit at least 15 minutes undisturbed before opening, till pressure is completely off. (You can do this well ahead of time-- the beans will keep in the sterile environment of the cooker for hours.)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the cumin and onion. Saute until onions are wilted and add green pepper. Add garlic and fry another minute or two. Add the tomato paste (or tomatoes), drained black beans, oregano, and vinegar. Cook for about five minutes, stirring gently.
Add the chicken stock or water, and rinsed rice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook about 20 to 30 minutes, or until rice is fully cooked.
Finally, add salt and pepper until it tastes just right. Remove the bay leaf, serve hot.

Annice's Baked Beans

A treasured recipe from a treasure in Vermont.

1 lb. navy (white) beans
1/4 cup baking soda (bicarbonate)
Chunk of salt pork, to taste
1 cup sugar (white or brown)
1 tsp. dried mustard
salt and pepper

Rinse and sort beans. Cover with cold water and add baking soda. Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes. Drain and rinse beans. Cover again with cold water, at least one inch above the breans. Add salt pork, gored; and bring to a boil. Simmer very low for 2 hours, till beans are very soft.

Remove from heat and remove the chunk of salt pork. Stir in the sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Place the beans in a large baking pan, slice the salt pork, and arrange the slices on the beans. Add some water if necessary to bring the liquid well over the beans. Bake uncovered for 2 hours or more, till water is absorbed to desired level.

Watan Dankali

In the Hausa language, "watan dankali" means simply, "bean-sweet potato dish".

2 cups blackeyed peas, rinsed and sorted
1/2 lb. chopped beef (optional)
vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large tatase (medium hot red pepper), seeded and chopped
2-4 tomatoes, chopped
thyme, curry powder, to taste
4 bouillion cubes
2 medium yellow sweet potatoes, diced

Boil the beans (and beef, if using) together in a pot till the beans are soft.

Heat oil in a large pot. Saute vegetables. Add spices and bouillion cubes, water drained from the cooked beans to cover, and sweet potatotes. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Add beans and meat and stir. Cook 15 minutes to blend flavors. Serve hot.

Hopping John

Traditionally eaten for good luck at New Year's in the southern United States.

4 cups cooked blackeyed peas with liquid
1 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
Several cloves of garlic, minced
Fresh hot peppers, diced, to taste
2-3 green peppers, diced
1/4 -1/2 lb. smoked or cooked ham (optional) OR 2 bouillion cubes
4-6 plum tomatoes, diced
1/2 tsp. dried or 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. sugar
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a pot and saute onions and garlic till wilted. Add peppers and cook a few more minutes. Add remaining ingredients, but only enough of the bean-cooking liquid to just cover. Cook 20-30 minutes. Serve with hot rice and hot sauce.