Sunday, February 7, 2021


It’s February, and a lot of things are happening. Each of the nonprofit organizations I work with have events happening this month. Next weekend, I’ll be participating in Civic Day, listening in on an all-day webinar of speakers discussing the importance of voting by mail, the environment, veterans issues, and several other topics. And I’m also working on promoting our annual Brazilian feijoada luncheon, which will be carry-out style this year for obvious reasons. Hard to think that we barely got it in last year before everything started to be shut down.

A little messy, but oh so worth it.

But today is a different kind of meal. While most people in the US are making Super Bowl foods, we’re cooking from Zambia. The bread today is Zambian Fritters with Orange Syrup. I mixed my yeast into the flour, sugar, salt, water, and vegetable oil to make a soft dough before setting it off to the side until it was doubled in volume (about an hour). While the dough was resting, I made the syrup by adding some sugar, the zest from two oranges, and some orange juice in a pan and heating it until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture becomes the consistency of syrup. I skipped making the icing (just powdered sugar and orange juice mixed together) since there was already a syrup. When the dough was ready, I heated some vegetable oil in a skillet and dropped spoonfuls of dough into it and fried it for about five minutes, or until it turned golden brown. I let it drain on some napkins. When it was done, I drizzled the syrup over the fritters. Some of my fritters were too large because my dough was really sticky. I meant to make them the size of doughnut holes. The smaller ones were practically perfect, but some of the larger ones didn’t seem quite as done in the middle. However, the orange syrup was really good on top of them.

Surprise of the night. This actually was pretty good. Especially if it were spicier.

The main dish today is Kapenta. I’m not sure if Kapenta is either another word for sardines or a fish that is very similar to sardines. I opened my sardines up and I poured the oil in a skillet and heated it to fry the sardines. I took them out when they were crispy and set them off to the side. (I drained off some of the oil at this point.) Then I added in some diced bell peppers (I used green, yellow, and red), onions, some jalapeños, and some diced tomatoes. Once I fried the vegetables up a bit, I added the sardines back into the mix for only about a minute or so. I actually liked this dish pretty well. I think it would've been a little better if I had deep fried them like it called for, but it was still good. Probably one of the few ways that I enjoy sardines.

I really liked this side dish. I will probably make it again and experiment with it a bit.

To go with this I made two similar dishes. The first one is Red Brown Mushrooms, which I knew I couldn’t find the particular red mushrooms that were mentioned in the original recipe, so I used white mushrooms (plus, I was sending my husband to the store). I rinsed off my mushrooms and sliced them, putting them into a pot with a bit of water, salt, and oil. I boiled them for 15 minutes before adding in some tomatoes, onion, and a little bit of ground cayenne pepper (instead of chilies). I let it cook down for a few minutes. I really liked this one. I thought it would make a nice accompaniment to any dish. If I were making this for myself, I would’ve added in some more cayenne to it.

Very healthy for you. I want to experiment with different kinds of greens.

The other similar dish is called Kalembula, which is basically sweet potato leaves, but I used spinach leaves since sweet potato leaves are difficult to find this time of year. In a pot, I cooked down some diced tomatoes, onion, and salt and stirred until everything was cooked together and most of the liquid from the tomatoes was evaporated, about 5-10 minutes. Then I added in my fresh spinach and stirred until the leaves looked wilted and everything was mixed consistently. It needed a bit more salt than what I originally added, but I thought this was rather tasty. And really, I think you could probably substitute any greens (or multiple ones) in a recipe like this.

This was pretty tasty - and an excellent pescatarian meal!

I was going to make Nshima, which is another form of pap/ugali/fufu. It’s basically cornmeal and water that’s cooked down as a type of porridge or paste. I ended up not making it because I got tired, and I was hungry. I’ve tried to make it a couple times before, and it didn’t end well. But this meal really needed something to go with it, like rice or couscous. One thing my family noticed was that all of these dishes were fairly similar in their base: tomatoes and onions. Honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong with tomatoes and onions, unless you’re my husband who gets heartburn from tomatoes or my son who thinks onions are out to ruin his life. I've got news for them: I'm basically not going to stop.

Up next: Zimbabwe

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