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.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Green Tomato Chutney

Green Tomato Chutney


3 large green tomatoes

1 large red tomato

¼ cup water

Photo by theCSSdiv Flickr
½ cup raisins

1 medium finely chopped onion

2 tablespoons white sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground clove

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon crushed garlic

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste



Take out the stems of the tomatoes, and stew on low heat until soft, add remaining ingredients and stew until thick.



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Serenity Prayer translated into six widely spoken African languages

The Serenity Prayer is brilliant in its simplicity. Christianity has deep roots in Africa and infuses itself into many sectors of African life. Just as it is on every continent, there is passion and tension about religious life. Below is the Serenity Prayer written by Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr translated into six widely spoken African languages.
Mungu, nipe neema ya kukubali na utulivu mambo ambayo hayawezi kubadilishwa, ujasiri wa kubadili mambo ambayo lazima iliyopita, na Wisdom kutofautisha moja kutoka nyingine.
Dieu, donne-moi la grâce d'accepter avec sérénité les choses qui ne peuvent être modifiés, le courage de changer les choses qui doivent être changées, et la sagesse de distinguer l'un de l'autre.
Unkulunkulu, nginike grace ukwamukela nge nokuzola izinto ayikwazi ukushintshwa, Nesibindi ukushintsha izinto okuyinto okufanele washintsha, kanye Ukuhlakanipha ukuhlukanisa lo omunye nomunye.
God, gee my die genade van die dinge wat nie verander kan word nie, Courage met kalmte te aanvaar die dinge wat verander moet word om te verander, en die wysheid om die een te onderskei van die ander.
Deus, dai-me a graça de aceitar com serenidade as coisas que não podem ser mudadas, coragem para mudar as coisas que devem ser mudadas, e sabedoria para distinguir um do outro.
God, give me grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Friday, July 4, 2014

Sweet Fig Chicken


2 skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 cup water

1 hot pepper

1 teaspoon red pepper flake

1/2 cup fig preserves 

1/2 cup sour cream

Salt and pepper to taste


Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Season chicken with the spices and add chicken to pot. Add water and let sit for about 15 minutes or until juice runs clear. Meanwhile in a large bowl mix sour cream and preserves well. Add sour cream mixture to chicken and over low heat cook an additional 5 minutes.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tortoise and Crab

An African Folktale

Tortoise and Crab

Photo by Rod Waddington Flickr
Everyone knows that Tortoise and Crab are enemies.
One morning on the seashore they decided to fight to see which was the stronger, but, as both of them are protected by a hard shell, neither could succeed in injuring the other.

Finally they came to an agreement that they were equal in strength.

“We are so well protected by our armor,” said Tortoise, “that no one can harm us.”

“And thus,” said Crab, “we are the strongest creatures in the world.”

But at this moment a boy passed by and picked them both up. Tortoise was boiled in a pot and his shell was made into ornaments, while Crab was cooked in a stew for the boy’s supper. Since that day the descendants of the two boasters have always been ashamed to meet, and that is why they always shun one another.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Bunny Chow


Photo by The Aimless Cook Flickr
2 whole loaves of bread cut vertically in the middle and most of the soft bread removed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 15 ounce can red beans
1 cup vegetable stock (or water)
1 medium onion chopped
1 cup green peas
2 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 large potatoes cut in cubes
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons ground curry powder 
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
3 curry leaves
Salt to taste

Add all ingredients except the bread, water and beans and sauté for 3 minutes over medium heat.  Add remaining ingredients; simmer until the potatoes are soft.  Spoon mixture into the hollowed out bowl and serve warm.



Saturday, June 14, 2014

Understand the differences between organics

What does "organic" mean?

Some people believe organic means organic but let us look closely at the word and break it down.

The USDA organic labeling fact sheet states:
Organic products have strict production and labeling requirements. Unless noted below, organic products must meet the following requirements:
·         Produced without excluded methods (e.g., genetic engineering), ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge
·         Produced per the national list of allowed and prohibited substances
·         Overseen by a USDA national organic program- authorized certifying agent, following all USDA organic regulations.
The term 100% organic means:
Raw or processed agricultural products in the “100 percent organic” category must meet these criteria:
·         All ingredients must be certified organic.

·         Any processing aids must be organic.

·         Product labels must state the name of the certifying agent on the information panel.

The term organic means:
Raw or processed agricultural products in the “organic” category must meet these criteria:
·         All agricultural ingredients must be certified organic, except where specified on national list.

·         Non-organic ingredients allowed per national list may be used, up to a combined total of five percent of non-organic content (excluding salt and water).

·         Product labels must state the name of the certifying agent on the information panel.

The term “Made with” organic means:
Multi-ingredient agricultural products in the “made with” category must meet these criteria:
·         At least 70 percent of the product must be certified organic ingredients (excluding salt and water).

·         Any remaining agricultural products are not required to be organically produced but must be

·         Produced without excluded methods

·         Non-agricultural products must be specifically allowed on the national list.

·         Product labels must state the name of the certifying agent on the information panel.

The term specific organic ingredients means:
Multi-ingredient products with less than 70 percent certified organic content (excluding salt and water) don’t need to be certified.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

African Hot Peppers

Hot peppers that originated from Africa

Devil's Rib
Origins Ghana
An extremely hot habanero chilli from Ghana. They are slightly ribbed and turn from a shiny green to bright red as they ripen. The plants are sprawling bushes that can be grown either in the ground or large pots.

World Origins Africa
Sea Spring Seeds selection from the Ghanaian land race kpakpo shito, the  small, roundish fruit are about 20 mm in diameter and change from lime green to orange to red as they mature. They are very hot, and their deep lobes make them look somewhat like the cheeks of a vagabond, hence the name. The plants are a tidy bush and can grow unsupported, making them perfectly suited for small or large pots and grow bags.

World Origins Africa
A Habanero relative, this prolific plant can grow tall. The plant produces good yields of wrinkled extremely hot fruits which turn from pale green to bright yellow when mature. They have a fruity, almost citrus-like flavor making it a very attractive hot sauce.

Pettie Belle
World Origins Africa 
A habanero chilli selected by Sea Spring Seeds from the kpakpo shito landrace of Ghana. A high proportion of the small fruit (about 25 mm in diameter) are bell-shaped, making this variety possibly the smallest bell pepper in the world. They are hot, but measuring around 37,500 SHUs they are still one of the milder habaneros. The medium tall, bushy plants can be gown in the ground or larger pots, though they will need support to stay upright.

Piment Curry
World Origins Mauritius
A Maurtian aji pepper that is thin-fleshed, wrinkled fruit are about the size and shape of a forefinger, turning from green to red as they ripen. Mauritians like to eat this chilli green, either gently fried in oil or coated in a spicy batter made from chick pea flour and deep fried.

Source for photos and descriptions