Sunday, June 24, 2018


Well, the heat of summer is upon us, and Independence Day is coming up. I’m surprised I haven’t heard more fireworks in the neighborhood. In years past, we’ve had a few neighbors who always start in on the fireworks several weeks in advance. But it’s been fairly calm so far, more or less (knock on wood). Like most Midwestern cities, we have a weird mix of urban country dwellers, people who live in the city but still act like they live in the country. Like modern-day Beverly Hillbillies.

If you're looking for something not super sweet and like spice cake, this turned out well. These would make nice muffins

On a different note, I’m cooking from Senegal today. And to be honest, it seemed like an amazing meal from the beginning, and I’ve been good and hungry for days. They are known for a bread similar to a baguette called tapalapa, which is actually kind of ubiquitous throughout West Africa. I made a version of it already, so I was looking for something different and landed on Sweet Potato Mango Spice Cake. In my small bowl, I mixed together 2 ¾ c of flour, 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp of salt. Then in a larger bowl, I beat 1 c of oil and 2 c of sugar before adding in 1 c of mashed sweet potatoes (you’ll have to cook these and mash them beforehand) and 1 c of diced mangoes and beat them well with an electric mixer so that everything is smooth. Then I added in 4 eggs and 1 tsp of vanilla and mix it again. At this point, I slowly added in the flour mixture into the liquid mix and stirred. Once the batter was done, I poured it into a greased cake pan (I used a rectangle one instead of a round one) and baked it for about 60 minutes in a 325ºF oven. I let it cool in the pan for a while before I dusted it with powdered sugar. This was surprisingly good. It didn’t really taste like sweet potatoes or mangoes. I did forget to put in the grated ginger, but I think the recipe forgot to mention it, too. But it was pretty good.

Interesting, to say the least. I lament that I burnt the onions.
The main dish today is Poulet Yassa. In a large bowl, I mixed together the chicken pieces (I used thighs), sliced onions, vegetable oil, some diced peppers (I used jalapeños), lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and a little salt & pepper and let it sit in the refrigerator for several hours. When it was time to cook, I took the chicken out and pan fried them until they were browned on the outsides. Removing the chicken to a plate, I sautéed the onions from the marinade. When the onions just started to brown, I added in the rest of the marinade and the chicken pieces and let it cook down for about 15-20 minutes. I served this with some couscous. My onions and sauce got a little burnt, and I added some green onions to the mix too. But otherwise, I think it was pretty good.

These were amazing, but I ate too many, and now my stomach hurts.
To go with this, I made Akkra. This tasty treat is often served as street food across Africa, the Caribbean, and Brazil and comes with a number of varieties. I soaked some black-eyed peas for a while and drained them. Then I took my beans, chopped onion, and some water and blended it until it became a paste, seasoning it with hot sauce, salt, and pepper. I don’t have a food processor, so I was using my blender as an alternative. However, the blender burned up as I was doing this. So, needless to say, it wasn’t quite as blended as I was hoping it would be. However, I heated some oil in a skillet and dropped in spoonfuls of this bean mix and fried it like a fritter. They were pretty good, but I think this recipe was missing a couple of steps. One, it basically said to soak the beans then grind them. Next time, I’m cooking my bean first, or using canned beans. I think it would make it a lot easier. But regardless, these are really good. I probably ate too many of them. And they’re even better with hot sauce on them. I could even see these used as a veggie burger of sorts.

I was worried about the mango, but it blended quite well. And I'm amazed I actually found ripe mangoes in the store.
Finally to cool off the heat, I made Mango Fonio Salad. I started out with mixing the liquids first in a small bowl: lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Instead of using fonio, I used the easier-to-find quinoa and just made it according to the box. I put the quinoa in a bowl along with some parsley, mint, diced mango, grape tomatoes, diced cucumber, and onion. I poured the lemon juice/oil mixture into the salad, stirring everything so that it was mixed well. The recipe calls to top with spiced cashews, but I couldn’t find any (and if I had, it was probably expensive). I was going to top it with some other nuts, but realized the kids were too big. (Just kidding.)

Overall, it was a very good meal, even with a burned up blender and a moment of gluttony.
So, I’m now down another appliance. I didn’t use that blender often, but man, now that I don’t have it, I’ll come across a 2.6 million recipes that require a blender. I guess that’s how things go. Maybe I can actually find a decently priced food processor. I could definitely use one (or so it seems). So, let’s have a moment of silence for all the appliances that have died by not using them as directed and showed us the white smoke of defeat.

Up next: Serbia

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