Thursday, September 18, 2014

Chorba 'dess (Soupe de lentilles/Lentil Soup)

Photo by mollyjade

Did you know…

The African Country of Algeria has the second largest French speaking population in the world.

Chorba 'dess  (Soupe de lentilles/Lentil Soup)
1pound lamb meat thinly sliced
1 large white onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons good quality ground coriander
1 cup dried lentils
2 large potatoes
2 large carrots
8 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a large pot simmer until vegetables are tender for about an hour. Serve with rice.



Sunday, September 7, 2014

Homestead Gardening

Every morning, 56-year-old Abby Ncube of the Matobo district in Zimbabwe spends at least an hour in her garden before doing household chores. Her homestead garden has become a source of livelihood for her family of 11; they get nutritious vegetables for every meal and are able to sell a surplus, meeting some basic household needs.

A number of factors constrain crop production in Matobo, chiefly excessive leaching of soil nutrients—but also drought. In Zimbabwe, USAID has introduced the homestead gardening technique that Abby uses. It includes raised keyhole beds to grow leafy vegetables; trenches for crops a conservation farming plot for small-scale production of staple crops and a compost pit to nourish the soil. Underneath the keyholes and trenches are layers of organic matter that add soil nutrients and help keep in moisture.

Abby's household is one of 172 families who embraced the homestead gardening approach introduced in Matobo by Catholic Relief Services and the Organization of Rural Associations for Progress.

"This is a new approach that I appreciate very much," said Abby, who has planted spinach and onions in her keyholes, and tomatoes in the trenches. From her first harvest, she sold at least five bundles a day, at about $0.50 per bundle, and has added seven more garden trenches. This income allowed purchase of more seeds, and household basics such as salt, pens, and exercise books.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Making Money Making Honey

The communities in Bié Province’s commune of Cassumbi have been producing honey for a number of years. They perfected their methods to produce good quality honey, but had no way to sell it. It was a wasted resource.
“We spend a lot of time and have a lot of skills in producing honey, but the problem is we don’t know who to sell it to. The roads are so bad here that even if there were people who were interested in buying it, it is hard for us to go to market to sell it,” said Domingos Cassinda.
However, when a USAID-funded program in the municipality of Andulo (where Cassumbi is located) did a community mapping exercise with the villages, some interesting results emerged. After villagers identified the honey as a local asset, the project team helped them think collectively about ways to use this asset for income-generating activities. With a bit of collective brainstorming and the insights in Andulo, a new solution was found.
Rather than thinking that they themselves had to go to market, the community members found that they can get the market to come to them. They decided to seek businessmen who already had capital and contacts the community didn’t have. The communities looked into linking with local businessmen in Kuito, Bie’s provincial capital, to see if they would be interested in working with the community.
“Before, we just made the honey and did not think about how to exploit it. Now, having worked together, we have managed to get not only someone to buy it all from us in bulk, but a contract with them to protect our agreement. And better still, they can come to us and we do not even need to go anywhere! We hope now that this will increase the standard of living in the community and we can start to invest for our future and that of our children,” said Maria Henda, a peasant woman in Cassumbi.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Roz Bel Laban or Egyptian Rice Pudding

2 cups cooked white rice
Photo by Falling Sky

3 cups cream
½  cup honey
1 teaspoon rose water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

In a large saucepan add all ingredients and simmer until thick. Place in large covered dish, chill in refrigerator for at least 6 hours. Serve cold. Drizzle with honey and cinnamon if desired.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Egyptian Chicken Fatteh

The word fatteh means "to crumble" in Arabic. Fattah is traditionally served with lamb meat, but beef or chicken can be used.


4 cups cooked chicken chunks

8 pita bread

2 tablespoons olive oil
Photo by stu_spivack Flickr

1 chopped onion

5 cups chicken broth

3 cups white rice

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon agar

Salt and pepper to taste


In a large pot, add all ingredients except bread, onion and olive oil. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat 15 minutes. In a saucepan heat olive oil, add onion, cut bread into small pieces, and toast until crispy and golden brown. Preheat oven to 350 F. In large baking dish place bread inside evenly and then add the rice mixture on top over the bread layer. Bake 25 minutes serve warm.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Lost Beads

An African Folktale

The Lost Beads
Seven maidens set out one morning to draw water from the river, and when their pitchers were filled, six sat down on the bank to wait for the seventh, which had gone a little farther on. While she was absent her companions took off their beads and hid them in the sand, saying, "When our sister comes back, let us tell her that we have thrown them into the river, and see if she will do likewise." 
Photo by MarcLouwes Flickr

So when she returned, they called out: "Sister, we have thrown our beads into the river! Do likewise, and see what will happen!"

Feeling curious, the girl flung hers into the water, when immediately her companions dug up theirs from beneath the sand, and, laughing, went homeward, carrying their water-jars upon their heads.

The girl was in deep distress at losing her beautiful ornaments for nothing, so she went to the edge of the water, crying, "Pool, Pool! Show me my beads, which I flung into your depths."

The pool answered: "Pass on."

The girl followed the river bank till she came to another pool, larger and deeper than the one she had left, and gazing into it, she cried again: "Pool! Pool! Show me my beads."

At first there was no answer, but when she spoke once more the waters of the pool divided, and a voice said: "Enter! Your beads are here."

The girl dived from the bank and beneath the waters she found a hut with a piece of ground in front of it. Out of the hut came a poor old woman, hopping on one leg. She had only one arm and was covered with sores. The girl looked at her with pitying eyes as the poor creature stood in front of her.

"Why do you not laugh at me, little sister?" asked the old woman. "See how miserable I am."

"I am sorry for you," answered the girl.

"Then come and dress my Wounds," said the woman;  and while the girl did this she told her that she was the slave of a cruel Monstrous master who hunted for human beings and devoured them.

"He has eaten my arm and one leg," said she, "but he does not kill me entirely because he needs me to cook for him. If he catches you, he will kill you and eat you, but because you have been kind to me, little sister, I will protect you."

When the girl had dressed her wounds, the old woman fetched food and set it before her, saying, "Eat this, and when you have finished, hide behind this wall, for the master will soon be here, and if he has caught nothing for supper he will be furious and devour you. Beware when you hear a light wind rise, and a few drops of rain fall. These are the signs of his coming."

The girl had not long been in hiding when the wind rose and a few raindrops fell pattering on to the earth. Then came the master, and he was indeed terrible to look upon, for his mouth was red, and he had tusks like a wild pig, while over his shoulders fell long matted  hair. He had brought nothing back from his hunting, and he was hungry. As he entered the hut, he said to the old woman: "I smell a human being. Where are you hiding him?"

"I am hiding nobody," said the old woman. "You can finish eating me, if you like; there is nobody else in the house."

Now, hungry as he was, the master did not wish to eat the old woman, so he lay down and went to sleep, snoring so that he shook the hut. Next morning he was awake early, and went off hunting again.

As soon as he had gone the old woman went to the girl and adorned her with beads far more lovely than those she had thrown into the pool. She gave her beautiful brass rings for her ankles, and bracelets of fine workmanship, wrapping round her a rich mantle of skins fit for a royal princess. Then she put into her hand a small round stone, which she begged her keep safe until she was a mile from the pool, when she must throw it over her shoulder without looking back.

"If you do as I bid you,' said the old woman, the master will not catch you; but beware of looking backward, or you will be lost. Go in peace," she went on, blessing the girl, "and may the rain fall upon you!"

When the young girl was a mile away from the master's pool, she threw back the stone which the old woman had given her. She had now reached the pool into which she had flung her beads, and there, sitting on the bank, was her younger sister, who sprang up with joy at sight of her whom she had given up as lost.

"We have sought you everywhere," she cried, "and we feared you were dead."

"Give me water from your pitcher," said the elder girl; and when she had quenched her thirst they set out on their homeward way.

There was great rejoicing when she entered the village, and the girls who had persuaded her to throw away her beads crowded round her, glad to see that the trick which they had played her had not caused her death.

But when they saw how richly she was dressed, some were jealous, and asked her she got all the fine things she wore. Then the girl told them what had happened to her, and how the old woman had saved her from the master.

When she had finished her story the six girls talked among themselves, saying, "It is just like her to be so lucky. It would never happen to any of us."

"Why not?" asked one. "Let us go to the pool, and perhaps the old woman will give us beads and ornaments of brass."

Early next morning, when everyone else in the village was still sleeping, the six maidens set out, and by and by reached the master's pool. But when the old woman came hopping out on one leg, they laughed at her rudely. "Come dress my wounds," said she; but at this they only laughed the more.

While they were mocking the poor creature, a light wind rose and drops of rain began to fall. The master was coming, but the old woman did not warn the cruel girls of his approach.

When he saw them standing there before his hut, the monster caught first one and then the other, till all six were his prisoners. Then he carried them into his hut, and killed and ate them. Because they had been so cruel to her, the old woman did nothing to save them from their fate.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan was a leader who died unselfishly battling the Ebola outbreak

"Dr. Khan was an extremely determined and courageous doctor who cared deeply for his patients," Doctors Without Borders said in a statement.

Ebola usually kills 90% of those infected by the disease, but the death rate in the Ebola outbreak in the African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has dropped to approximately 60% because of early treatment thanks to dedicated doctors like the late Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan.

Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan
Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan studied at the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS), University of Sierra Leone (USL). He graduated with a Bachelors in Medicine and a Bachelors in Surgery (MBChB) in 2001. As a young Tropical Medicine/Infectious Disease Physician, Dr. Khan was recruited as a Medical Officer at the Directorate of Disease Prevention and Control, Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) where he served for almost two years until 2005.

Dr. Khan was appointed by the MOHS as the Chief Physician to the Lassa Fever Program at the Kenema Government Hospital (KGH), Sierra Leone. Dr. Khan stepped into the shoes of his predecessor, the late Dr. Aniru Conteh who tragically died of Lassa fever. In his capacity as the Chief Physician of the Lassa Fever Program, KGH, Dr. Khan was concurrently contracted by then United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) as a contract physician and consultant for Lassa fever in Sierra Leone. From 2005 until 2010, Dr. Khan served as Physician In-charge of HIV/AIDS services at KGH, and from 2006-2010 as Physician Consultant for the Mano River Union Lassa Fever Network, WHO/Tulane University.

From 2010 until 2013 Dr. Khan conducted residency training in Internal Medicine at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH), Accra, Ghana and was awarded an MWACP. Since completing his training, he has returned to his field of work as Physician In-Charge, Lassa Fever Program, KGH.

In January 2014, Dr. Khan was appointed Associate Lecturer at the Department of Medicine, COMAHS, USL. He is one of the world’s leading experts in the clinical care of viral hemorrhagic fevers among them, Ebola. On Tuesday July 30, 2014 at Kenema Government Hospital, about 185 miles east of Sierra Leone's capital city, Freetown Dr. Khan died from the very disease he fought to find a remedy for his entire career.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fried Garlic Potato Fritters

Fried Garlic Potato Fritters

Photo by arvindgrover Flickr

2 cups cooked and cooled mashed potatoes

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon salt

Take mashed potatoes and flour, work together into a soft dough along with garlic and salt. Roll out into cakes, but not too thin. Fry in as little grease as possible. Serve warm. Eat with curry sauce.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Barbarossa brothers, a Hebrew trading post and an Islamic City

Casbah from the Arabic word for fortified place, were commonly built across North Africa. A Casbah is a large multi building fort with high walls usually made without windows built on high ground.  The Casbah was designed to provide protection during a battle with twisting alleys that wind between dilapidated mud-brick and stucco houses. In Algeria, the Casbah is both the fortress and the old city itself.

When people speak of the Casbah, they are talking about the cramped living quarters on the hillside between the fort and the sea on the Mediterranean coast. The Islamic retreat Casbah of Algeria, was founded on the ruins of an ancient Hebrew civilization trading post named Ikosim.

In the 10th century a Berber man named Buluggin bin Ziri called the new city El Djazair, which means "the islands" in Arabic. From El Djazair derived the name Algiers and later Algeria. The Casbah’s nickname is La Blanche, meaning the white one.

In 1516, the three Barbarossa brothers ruthlessly overtook the Casbah. Algiers Casbah eventually became a stronghold of Barbary pirates who plundered ships and towns throughout the Mediterranean, along West Africa's Atlantic seaboard, to South America, and even all the way to Iceland.