Small girl swinging on a rope from a tree.Most of the nuts people eat in Australia are not fresh. I’m not basing this opinion on any hard evidence such as data on how long they’re stored before selling, just on the fortunate experience of having grown up between two giant walnut trees, one either side of our house. That’s why I know a rancid nut when I eat one.

The picture shows me when I was little, on a home made rope swing dangling from one of those trees.

I’m realising now that perhaps they weren’t quite as giant as I thought.

I vividly remember not only swinging, but also bouncing on grey-barked branches that grew out almost horizontally from the thick trunks, and climbing, although never as high as my older brothers dared to go. Continue reading

A taste of Ghana

My weekend has been busy. Baking and board games with the kids, hunting for sustainably produced furniture, potting seedlings on my balcony garden, the usual housework. It hasn’t left much time for blogging, so this week my Monday Music post is combined with a foodie post.

The soundtrack is Ghanaian classics. Here’s some palm wine music from Koo Nimo to get you in the mood.

So, the food. Continue reading

Dooney’s fish stew for Aussie beginners, or, adventures in Nigerian cuisine

fish stew“WigBoy’s overseas, now would be a good time to cook that African fish curry recipe you shared on Facebook”, my workmate Cub said on Tuesday.

It was an opportunity not to be missed. Without delay, I messaged Sail, the 4th co-conspirator in the regular dinner catch-ups of a group of my work & ex-work colleagues.

“The (fish-hating) cat’s away, let’s play”, I said. “Nigerian fish stew at my place on Friday? Cub & I are cooking.”

The response was immediate.

“Yeah baby”, said Sail.

So last night, the three of us celebrated. As Cub summed it up: Beer + Curry + Friday = 🙂 (except in my case it was ginger cordial & soda water, but still definitely smiley). Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge – Community

Scanning through my photos, wondering what to post for this week’s WordPress photo challenge, I found it hard to go past this little cluster of jars, full of freshly pickled eggplant. pickles

Any grouping of objects could remind you of a community, but these jars are the result of a communal effort. In early winter, I got together with two friends for a bottling day. We made the pickle, lime chutney, guava jelly and passionfruit cordial. Paul, whose fabulous kitchen we used, posted the recipes, pics and tips on his foodie blog Buth Kuddeh.

It was such a fun day, and seeing the picture of the jars got me thinking about how food is such an integral part of community. Growing, preparing, cooking and eating food (and cleaning up afterwards too of course) has all over the world been an activity performed communally, probably for all of human history, in most cultures. Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fresh

I realise this is probably not most people’s idea of ‘fresh’, but it is fresher than much of the food we eat in western countries every day.

Take your average mango smoothie. Sure, it tastes fresh, looks fresh, is freshly prepared, and perhaps freshens you up – but it is almost certainly made with frozen mango and reconstituted juice from fruits grown hundreds, if not thousands of kilometres away, and many months before you consume it. Not so fresh after all.

The ampesi ni kontomire pictured above, on the other hand, is about the freshest food you could wish to eat. It was my favourite lunch when I stayed in DadaK’s village for 6 weeks in the late 1990s. Last time I was there one of my sisters-in-law remembered this, and prepared it for me again.

Taro leaves (kontomire), cut from Ohemaa’s farm immediately before being boiled and ground with onions and chilli, then smothered in palm oil made from locally grown palm nuts. Served with boiled plantains (ampesi) that were also fresh from the farm that morning. Eaten with fingers (hence the bowl of water).

Ok, the palm oil was a bit older than the other ingredients, but let me tell you, no self-respecting Ghanaian would serve rancid oil, so in my view it counts as fresh too.

Sadly you won’t get it as fresh as this in Australia, unless perhaps you happen to be growing plantains and taro (a.k.a cocoyam) in your backyard, but if you want to try it out, here’s a recipe for a Fante version of ampesi ni kontomire. It’s slightly different to what I had in the village but I’m sure just as tasty.

Ghana Street food #4: snacks

Condensed milk sweets, home-made by Abrantie for AM's birthday. A bit darker than you'd find in Ghana, but otherwise typical.

Condensed milk sweets, home-made by Abrantie for AM’s birthday. A bit darker than you’d find in Ghana, but otherwise typical.

After all the excitement of my last Ghana street food post on turkey tails, what can I possibly say about Ghanaian street snacks that would impress you?

Well, probably quite a lot.

I could marvel at the scary woks full of boiling oil at about toddler height, where street sellers deep-fry meat pies, yams, koosé.

I could mention how if researching etoh (pounded yams with palm oil and peanuts) you will enter into the realm of things that are hard to find on Google. I wondered if it’s because I don’t have a Twi keyboard to spell it correctly? I believe it should be ɛtoh. (I stole that character). But no, now impossible to find. (Oh wait, I just made it possible, hehe …. so to add value for Googlers, apparently you can find a recipe in this book.)

Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fleeting

Bubbles on boiling guava juice in the yin yang symbol
On the weekend I was making preserves with friends, This is what the bubbles were doing halfway through making the guava jelly: Yin Yang. You have to scoop the froth off so the jelly will be clear. It tastes like guava ice-cream – yum. Thank you Fred for this pic, it’s a fleeting moment that I would have missed if you hadn’t grabbed my phone. Continue reading