Sunday, November 27, 2011

"The Mental Travelers visit Africa,Passport,Please"

Jambo,I spent much of my day on a cold,windy Saturday surrounded by information on African Cuisine.It was a learning experience beyond belief ! I thought I'd breeze through some food ideas,capture the essence of Africa and move on to the next project.WRONG!In my quest to always be authentic,the list kept growing.

First,I was surprised at the many sources available for African Cuisine.The diversity was overwhelming..who knew!Check out:
All of the different influences especially Baasto &Digaag (pasta & chicken) take-out from a Somali restaurant were amazing. Many countries infiltrated the Motherland, leaving behind their traditions which blended with those of the Natives.The Coffee Ceremony in Ethiopia and other Eritrean countries is comparable to the British influence of TeaTime in East Africa. The women wear an  Ethiopian coffee dress for the ceremony :  

BBQ_No Place Else BUT Texas_Wrong! Of all the things that amazed me was the love of all ethnicity's in South Africa of BBQ. It is called Braai_and people have this event at the drop of a hat_lots of COLD BEER is always served! The food of South Africa is sometimes called "rainbow cuisine" because of the blend of so many cultures.

Of course,I had already fallen in love with food from Morocco.In May 2010,my themed Birthday party was "Mo'Rockin'Harem Nights" where we enjoyed the spicy Tagine,couscous,preserved lemons,dates,BELLYDANCING,etc.The vessel & food called "Tagine" is the border of my blog pages.I purchased two blue ones that I adore! I'm still trying to figure out how the people of Benin in West Africa make those rings of peanut butter called Klouikloui_take a look,if you figured it out let me know the secret!

So,with my day"spent" combing through recipes,menus,traditions, final Menu ..drum roll...
Now this Menu is ambitious,but when a couple of my friends found out that South Africans loved BBQ_they immediately volunteer-ED their service! We all bring something to the table at these themed parties.So_all is covered! This will be the 10th year of celebrating the Food,Culture & Music of Countries we can only dream of visiting. Luckily,some of us have visited these countries. My trip is in the planning for a ride on the "Orient Express" from London to Italy_spending some time in Tuscany!Several of my friends have been to Africa.

We'll gather around the table,fill our wine glass with the South African Wine "Pinotage"_ someone will say "Once upon a time"_then someone will take the queue,and the Tradition of African StoryTelling will began all around the table_one picks up where the other one leaves off ! The Mental Travelers in a far away land called "The Motherland"! Passport Please...

                                                  ~ Gese'ende Kersfees~

Monday, November 21, 2011

~Reflections on "THANKS" & "GIVING"~

I made the mistake of going to the grocery store on a Sunday_a Sunday before the Thanksgiving Celebration! I watched the carts filled to the brim, people with list longer than Santa's_full of Saturated & Trans Fats (yum), folks fussing/cussing about what they would or would NOT eat, overheard one Grandmotherly type say in a mean tone_"Not in My House", every soul NOT pushing a cart was_Texting or on the cellphone,twenty something girls with their "T"underwear showing "a full-moon harvest of sorts", pushing & shoving for the best looking TURKEY & a host of other malfunctions @ that junction_ too many to mention here! I went deep,deep,deep inside "MY ZEN ZONE" and vowed to myself.. REALLY! practice PATIENCE..right here,right now!

Afterwards,I pondered the "real" meaning of Thanksgiving.It was a time when Americans and Natives
celebrated the harvest cycles by giving thanks and rejoicing after much hard work with members of the community...what, no grocery stores/carts & mutual effort in the community? It is a tradition that both the USA & Canada celebrate in North America. The dates varied in both areas.In the United States the date was decided by individual states until the 1863 Presidential Proclamation. It was an effort to foster a sense of "American Unity" between the Northern and Southern states that President Lincoln proclaimed the date to be the final Thursday in November.So,148 years later we still struggle for "American Unity" sad is that.You would have thought we'd learned a thing or two by now.

With that wee bit of history in mind,I wondered about our present day "Harvest". All over the world there is confusion about so many issues in life.Everyone is busy,talking on cellphones,texting,and (yes)writing Blogs & chasing that never-ending dream of MORE,I need...! Surely,we can find something to give THANKS for...and GIVING a SMILE to another human being is an act of thanksgiving. So,in my quest to remain in " MY ZEN ZONE" throughout that Mass Confusion of crowded lanes,noise,carts moving at lightening speed,folks cussing/fussing...mind you this is an UPSCALE grocery store_I gave everyone a Smile..not a word came from my mouth because it would have been *!@#$~%^&^&*()+>>... LETHAL!

              "Happy Thanksgiving To Y'All,Be Kind"

Monday, November 14, 2011

.."I had a Farm in Africa at the foot of Ngong Hills".....

The past 8 yrs both my Birthday & Christmas parties have focused on exploring the Food,Music and Culture of countries around the World.This year is no different.We will go on _YET_another imaginary journey_an "African Safari" this Christmas! In my quest as always to make the trip authentic,I've drawn upon two of my favorite books and the movie adaptations to shed light on the second largest continent in landmass_Africa.

"Out of Africa"(1985) was nominated for 11 Academy* Awards,winning 7 in 1986.It was based upon Isak Dinesen(aka Baroness Karen Von Blixen-Finecke,birth name) recounting events of the 17 years living on her coffee farm in Kenya.She moved there in 1913 at the age of 28 to marry her second cousin_the Swedish Baron_Bror Von Blixen-Finecke.Well,at least  Karen didn't have to change her last name_as it was the same! Interestingly,Bror's twin brother Hans was her intended groom but their relationship didn't work out..really! The book and movie recount so many aspects of Colonial Life in "British East Africa"(aka Kenya).The British as you know owned the World at that was all about the dollars & cents...come in take over the natives land_make a fortune.Not unlike,America's history...just sayin'!

The Kikuyu tribe was the most populous ethnic group from that Region.I have great "ISSUES" with their history as it seems since the MEN were the great Warriors of the land,strutting their stuff,all painted up,manly man stuff...WINNING!!! While the Women had to do all the hard labor,building roofs for houses,clearing the weeds,taking care of the households,balancing large items on their heads,having plenty of babies, were the Prima Uomo (aka) Donna! I've seen the movie several times,what's not to like about a Robert Redford/Meryl Streep match up_presently reading Isak's biography.

"The Flame Trees of Thika"(1980) chronicles the life of Elspeth Joscelin Huxley (husband Gevais Huxley,grandson of Thomas Huxley,advocate of Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution;and cousin to Aldous Huxley,Author of Brave New World)..that's a mouthful! Anyway,Elspeth arrived in Colonial Kenya,moving to the area called Thika in 1912 at the age of 5 yrs old. A "Flame Tree" turns entirely reddish orange in June each year depending upon previous rainfall. She left in 1925 returning periodically.Later,becoming the Associated Press Officer of the Empire Marketing Board (Trade Board).The movie won 3 BAFTA** Awards in 1982.I loved Haley Mills in the movie! I'm reading the book now & what a delightful story!

The area in question for you "Geography Buffs" is :

Kenya,home of Mt.Kenya (highest mountain in Kenya & second in Africa)_where tea and coffee are the best cash crops. I was introduced to Kenyan Tea when I started my tea business many years ago.The tea has a natural taste of chocolate_the taste is attributed to the volcanic ash deposited many thousands of years ago...very delicious cuppa tea! No wonder the Brits were coming to town! Great picture of tea growing...

So,I'll keep y'all posted on this great adventure as it unfolds on December 4th,"An African Safari Christmas Party"!!

*Academy Awards_America founded 1929
**BAFTA Awards(British Academy of Film & TV)_England founded 1947
Beginning line of book & movie of "Out of Africa"...I had a farm in Africa....

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"The Tales of Shoo-Fly Pie & A Bucket Strainer"

While at a Medical Sales Conference in 2000,the hotel we stayed in had a weekend Antiques Show & Sale.Since we were in Berks County_"Pennsylvania Dutch Country"_I knew I'd find items of interest to add to my growing Collections! I purchased an iron doorstop in the image of a Boston Terrier(my doggie),a HEX Sign and a very rare_teapot spout strainer! My allotted $'s were just about gone after those purchases!

Note:Please forgive that it needs a good cleaning_BUT,I kinda of like it as it looks!

This Tea Spout was developed in the late 18th century.It is a pierced basket or bucket-shaped strainer with long pins to be inserted in the spout.As the tea is poured,it flows through the strainer into the cup.
Spout strainers were more fashionable in Europe than America,and silver manufacturers created many novelty forms such as helmets,buckets and shells that proved especially popular in France & Russia.

**In the United States,Gorham & Co. created some popular ones in the 1880's. The next time I clean it will look for marks to see if it's REALLY a TREASURE,Antiques Roadshow kinda treasure!

Now,my other great fine was a book called "Shoo-Fly Pie"by Edna Eby Heller which being a person that loves to cook_caught my attention.The book was written in 1953 and was intended to bring Pennyslvania Dutch cooking to your kitchen with various recipes from Soups to Desserts.The Shoo-Fly Pie is very famous in that part of the country.

Shoofly pie (or shoo-fly pie) is a fluffy molasses pie.The term "shoo-fly pie" first appeared in print in 1926.The pie may get its name because the molasses attracts flies that must be "shooed" away.Recently,I made this pie from the box mix shown above. A very interesting tasting PIE,INDEED!!!