Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cooking through Africa

The late fall and holiday season got a little wacky for us with school, and there were some things I wanted to adjust anyway from last semester that just weren't fitting for us.  I feel like we are finally hitting a groove with some things for school again, and it's exciting!  
(I'm still going to try to post some highlights of our fall and holiday season, mostly for the grandparents that keep an eye on us here :), but we're moving on with new things...)

One of the things that we started with a new season is our geography and social studies lessons.  We had started out this year using a curriculum because I wanted one of the subjects to be a bit more automatic since I've been piecing together most things myself.  But, it just wasn't turning out to be a good fit.  I decided that to finish out the year, I just wanted to do some units on a few countries/regions and have some fun introducing culture and some basic info on them.  It's been more work, obviously, but it's been so much more fun because I LOVE this!  

One of the things I really wanted to incorporate with these units is cooking some foods from the cultures we study.  My younger one seems to really enjoy cooking.  And, he and I both love eating. :)  I have always loved trying different foods, and I think food is such a fascinating part of cultures.  As a kid, one thing my mom did with us that I really loved was to have special nights where she found recipes to cook from a culture (not as easy to do before the internet in small town Midwest America!), and then we prayed for that culture as we had a special dinner.  

So, I'll make some posts specifically about our cooking adventures, which we are loving so far!
For our first unit, we studied Africa.  There are SO many cultures in such a large continent, but for the sake of time, we honed in on a few.  Our business has an office in Kenya, so we spent a bit longer studying Kenya to start off the unit.
We ground up some corn grits to make corn meal and cook ugali, a staple in Kenya and many other places in the region.  We found several recipes with varying ratios of cornmeal and water, but the directions all seemed basically the same and seemed to kind of be based on adding cornmeal until you have the desired consistency, which can be a little challenging when you don't know what consistency is desired. :)  Here is one sample of directions for making ugali.  We can't get white cornmeal here, so we used yellow.

We also made some greens and a simple vegetable curry to complete our meal.

The things we read said that you scoop some ugali from a common plate and use it to scoop up the other things on your plate.  My older son is not a fan of stickiness on his hands, so he is merely posing and chose to use his spoon.  :)

We read the book Mama Panya's Pancakes, so, of course, we had to make the recipe for pancakes that was in the back of the book.  It was an easy recipe, so my son could basically make the batter himself with me just helping him read the recipe.

One of our pancakes
A little silliness ensued when we were eating the pancakes!

After Kenya, we moved on to West Africa for a week.  My cousin and her husband are in Senegal, and we talked about that country, but the traditional meal (while super interesting) seemed a bit ambitious for us to pull off.  We also studied Nigeria and spent some time praying for the situations there, so we opted to focus our meal on Nigerian food.  Fufu is a staple in West Africa, which can be made from a variety of starches.
We made our fufu from taro, which is readily available here right now.  The recipe for the fufu was actually a Ghanian recipe, but all the sites we saw talked about fufu of various kinds being a staple in many countries in that region.

We made some groundnut stew to eat with the fufu.

The next week it was on to Southern Africa, and we mainly studied and cooked from South Africa.
It seems that a dominant aspect of cooking in South Africa is barbecue.  Meat is rather expensive here, and I confess I don't really know how to use our grill, so I'm not sure we did justice to our main dish, but we made some borewors, a traditional sausage.  I have no idea where to buy sausage casings here, so we just formed them into more of links by hand and cooked them that way.  

For dessert, we made malva pudding.  It was delicious.

Showing off with his completed mea
The recipes we tried all turned out well, and my son and I are having a great time on this first installment of our food tour!  Can't wait to keep our taste buds traveling. :)

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