Thursday, December 31, 2009

Green: The color of everything good...

I'm surprised this hasn't come sooner. The one thing I eat everyday in some capacity, everybody I know loves them, they are vital to a balanced diet and nutrition, packed full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein.....GREENS!!!!!

So the family went out to one of the farms that my hubby has installed in the city (Peace Garden;check it out ATL natives) and I have my 10 month old, (who loves being outdoors)and Baba is picking mustard greens for us to eat tonight. I ask him to hand the baby one to play with. I'm thinking he'll enjoy the texture, the color. Meaning he will probably squeeze it and rip it to shreds and then discard it (ya know; occupy his time and focus). We look up and he's actually eating the mustard green. Now for those of you who have had mustards, you know that they have a pretty nice kick to them. He loved it. Then again this is the same baby who likes spirulina and flax seed oil. It just shows that babies have alot more sense than we think they do, and if you introduce a child to things at an early age there is little that they will not open themselves to (for those moms who have a hard time giving their children vegetables).

Greens, Sukuma wiki, Kale, Mustards, Spinach etc..whatever, I eat them all. In all kinds of ways. Out on the farm, need a boost, some kick..grab a green leaf. Juice them put them in smoothies. My mom likes to mix turnips, mustards and collards. My good sister One, from Kenya, came through a couple of years ago, added some rosemary (and other spices) to a pot of greens, I served them to the children at the school and they were looking for seconds. The possibilities are endless.

Cheers to Greens!!!

Basic Green Pot
  • Any mix of greens you like (Collards, Kale, Mustards, Turnips)
  • 1 med onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • vegetable broth or water
  • vegetable oil ( I like sunflower or olive oil)
  • salt to taste
  • cayenne
Saute onions and garlic in oil.
Add greens and stir for about a minute or so.
Add broth or water (whatever amount you desire, and also depending on the amount of greens)
season with cayenne and salt to taste.
cook for about 10-15min (depending on the green)

* This is a real basic mix...I often add herbal seasonings, ginger for a kick, tomatoes, mushrooms, experiment with different oils, bell peppers..etc..its really to your taste. I have never made the same pot of greens twice. Its really a free for all.

Collard/Pineapple Juice (cleansing)
  • 1 pineapple or 2 quarts of pineapple juice.
  • 1 bunch of collards
  • 1 lemon
  • couple sprigs of rosemary
Blend all items together and strain to desired consistency.

Calloloo Style Spinach

  • 4 bunches of spinach (Italian spinach)
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • pinch each of thyme, cayenne, pimento, and ginger.
  • 2 cloves of garlic
Saute the spices, red pepper, onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons of oil.
Add in spinach and water.
Saute until spinach is steamed through.

Green Salad

  • Mix of seasonal greens (torn in pieces)
  • handful of sunflower seeds
  • nori sheets (torn in pieces)/optional
  • handful of pumpkin seeds
  • olive oil and citrus based salad dressing
Toss everything together and enjoy alone or with a meal...

My Kitchen sounds like "Kenyan Girl, Kenyan Boy" by East African Bashment Crew and "Forever" by Necessary Noize.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Like Water for Chocolate

I remember the first time I heard the Common album, "Like Water for Chocolate", it instantly became one of my favorites. As Common albums go it was full of texture, well-rounded, colorful and full of variety. It has a real balance sound. Later it came to me from somewhere (not quite sure) that the title came from a book by Laura Esquivel, not only that but it was a movie. I saw the flick and was very moved by the story. It was a beautiful love story that had food at the center of its tale. The story's protagonist is a young sister named Tita. All her life Tita longs for her lover who she can't be with. The only way that she's able to express her passion and emotion is through the food she cooks. As a result of her immense passion, the people who taste her food are overcome with the emotions she feels every time they eat her cooking.

I got to thinking of the power of not only food to translate our innermost thoughts and expressions, but the power of emotion to come through in such a way. Although it makes sense. I mean what separates cooking from any other creative endeavor? When a painter paints, or a poet writes their emotion, their message, whatever their expression is comes across through their medium. If I sight further, it becomes imperative that we are thoughtful (upful) about what it is we are putting forward.

As a common practice, whenever I cook I am playing music. Music to vibrate my spirit, my mood upwards. Its a delicate matter. The ones who eat my food are not only getting my mood or my current vibration, they are receiving bits of my memory, my story, my thoughts and innermost expression. They are experiencing me. So, its a grand responsibility to ensure that I am at my highest (or striving to be so) whenever I step foot into the kitchen. Its a matter of fact. It shows in how parents and children respond to my cooking, or even how there has been a shift in how they respond to me since I started cooking.

Walking into the kitchen for me is sometimes like walking into a time warp, landing in my mother's kitchen. I smell garlic and onions. I smell sweet potatoes pies and lemon pound cakes. I can see me in the living room with a broomstick as my microphone singing and dancing a made-up routine to Betty Wright or Marvin Gaye, or if I was lucky New Kids on The Block (I liked Donnie, don't laugh.) So, when I step into my own kitchen now as an adult, in my mind's eye, I am back there in that secure place, 10years old, having a ball in my youth, waiting for what's coming out of the pot. I pray, God willing that when the people eat my food all that love, imagination, light, and youthful energy comes through...Bless

Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • cinnamon to taste
  • 1 cup of sugar (I switch it up, sometimes I use turbinado)
  • as many dark vegan chocolate chips as you want (GO CRAZY!!!)
  • nuts (optional)
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup oil (sunflower is nice and light)
  • vanilla extract (to taste)
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix together flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nuts and chocolate chips.
In a separate bowl mix together the oil, sugar and vanilla. Stir until well mixed and then add vanilla. (* at this time you can also add applesauce, my husband swears by this for moist cookies.).
Combine the ingredients of the two bowls. Stir well, but do not over stir. This is the time I usually abandon the spoons and use my hands (I like to get down and dirty, become one with my food). Mix and then spoon the dough onto a preheated cookie sheet.
For a softer cookie bake for 8-10 minutes. The longer you bake the harder they will get as the still cook and settle for a few minutes once they begin to cool...INJOY!!!

** this is really a base recipe. Every time I make these I come up with a new variety. Be free, subsitute one of the cups of flour for a cup of oats, add raisins, nutmeg and walnuts and you have an oatmeal cookie. Add cacao, coconut, dried fruit..go wild with these. There are no limits with this basic recipe.

My Kitchen sounds like "Like Water for Chocolate" by Common

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Family Time

Its that season again. And whereas we don't celebrate the holidays, our house is always full of family. Which means plenty and plenty of food. I love it. Especially because with each visit, comes another preference, another recipe that's passed down and placed in the arsenal (just in case).

This time of the year is also spent in reflecting over the year spent. If I look back, I can think of all the events that have shaped and moulded this year, and with each event there is a dish that equally sticks out. Like when my mother came for the birth of our son, I ate her vegan tacos and home fries almost everyday. Or when I had my blessing way, sister Camara made these really good lentils. I still can't figure out what she did. When Somini came from Kenya, there came Githeri (which instantly became my favorite) and Mukimo (not sure if I spelled that right) But Githeri is this dish of potaotes, red beans, corn and spices simmered...yum!!! I eat it all the time. Then there is Sarah's Kamut. Sarah a good friend of the family, came to our home fresh from a year in India. So one can imagine the explosion of tastes she experienced. She arrived with a willingness to serve and a wonderful, wonderful taste for curry. Kamut is a really hearty grain that takes about 2 hours to cook, but it is well worth the wait. So in the spirit of family, and in honor of our dear sister Sarah, this week's post will be Sarah's Cashew Curry Kamut. Beware this is spicy!!!!!!!

Cashew Curry Kamut
  • 2 cups Kamut
  • 1 cup cashews (whole, raw)
  • 1 1/2 cups raisins
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 2 TBSP  vegan margarine (optional)
  • 1 TBSP coconut oil
  • 1 TBSP sunflower oil (if needed)
  • 1/2 TBSP salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 TBSP turmeric
  • 1 TBSP curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1 TBSP cumin seeds
  • 2 TBSP Sugar (turbinado) or substitute with maple or agave
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (optional)
Kamut: Boil Kamut with 6 cups of water for 1 1/2 -2 hours. Once it comes to boil, simmer. Stirring occasionally

Curry Sauce: Heat ghee and coconut oil in a sauce pan. Add salt, pepper, turmeric, curry and cumin seeds. Saute for 10-20 seconds and add onion. Careful not to scorch the cumin seeds. Once onion becomes translucent, add cashews and raisins. Cook on low/med until onion has disintegrated and you have a paste.

Once Kamut is cooked add curry sauce, sugar, shredded coconut, and coconut milk (if desired). If its dry, you can add water. Stir well, serve hot and Injoy!!!
Serves 7 or if I am at the table 5 :-)

My Kitchen sounds like "We are One" by Ziggy Marley.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

I love the weekend.

I love the weekend. Well let me say I loved this weekend, and its not even over yet. Because of, the food alone I love this weekend. Yesterday I taught a cooking class and the student made Lasagna. Yum. So basically we took the simple marinara recipe and built from that base. It was a lot of fun. Especially since my student is a friend of the family and a fellow cancer who considers himself a "semi-chef" (whatever that means). So he spent most of the time telling me how he was going to improve on my recipe. I had to keep reminding him that he did come to me to be was all in good fun. We had our own little cooking war, as he tried to convince me and a good sister of mine (who are both vegan/vegetarians) of the necessity of meat, not only meat but deer meat. I love this life.

Then today, the family went to an Indian food buffet!!!! (Yay!! A cooking day off). I ate like eating was going out of style. I love Indian food, but more than that, I love Indian food that is all you can eat. Plates and plates of Aloo Gobi, Nan, Saggaloo, gosh..I could go on, but I wont incriminate myself or my appetite.

Then to top it all off (this is starting to sound like a glutton fest), because we knew we would be in, due to the 25degree weather outside, we bought ice cream, cookies and cider (Sarah is my sugar sister) and had a blockbuster night. I can say at this hour I am full and satisfied. I give thanks for the family, the conversation, entertainment and just being home on this day.

Its amazing how food has the ability to bring us together. Think of how many great moments we have at the table. How many events in our lives have happened in the midst of food.

One of the movies we watched was Food Inc. Wow, a must see. It was a tear-jerker. You see how big the business of food is. I mean really, THE BUSINESS of food???? It's such a fragile matter, one in which all of our lives and livelihoods is linked into. It's seems important that we make ourselves aware. And if it is not our thing to get involved on a political or social level, that we at least take some time to plant our feet in the soil, to perhaps even take an active hand in growing our own food ( 1st commandment to humanity in the scriptures "Keep and tend the garden"...Love

My kitchen sounds like: The Philadelphia Orchestra

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Can you send me that recipe???

I get the question all the time, "so will you share the recipe?" I am always hard pressed to answer because, whereas I do look up recipes (quite often actually). I don't follow them all that well. I seek out recipes only to gather the skeleton items. For instance. I had a hard time making oatmeal cookies. No matter what I did the recipe would not come out right. So I went online checked out several recipes and found the basic elements of a cookie and then the basic elements of an oatmeal cookie. Took the skeleton, added a dash here, a pinch there of my own flavor, modified the recipe to my taste and voila I ended up with a perfect recipe for chocolate chip cookies (Lol!!!). Hey it wasn't what I set out to do, but it works.

The point I am trying to make is recipes are great, especially for the beginner. You don't find yourself trying to re-invent the wheel, you can take simple basic items and add your own creative touch. So, do I share my recipes? Hardly ever. But I will always, always share the basic recipe that I may have drawn inspiration from.

Another question I have been asked frequently is after cooking for the business, do I still cook for myself and the family? Or do I like other people's cooking? Question 1. Of course, my family members are my taste testers. Trust, its better that way, because then by the time it gets to the public, its been tried and tested. Besides I come from a family of cooks, so the challenge is always on. About liking other people's cooking....ahhhh that's hard. Not generally. There are really three people who I walk away from a table and I am amazed. My mother, my husband Eugene and my sister Akilah. These are the people that I look to for ideas, recipes, help :) My mother is really good with on the spot, flavorful, everyday meals. Akilah is great at food that makes you feel good when you are eating it, her food is like a huge hug. Eugene, well he is Mr. "How About". How about adding this, or how about if you add that. He's great when, I am stuck. Or he has the ability to go in the kitchen and make 1 potato, a handful of Brazil nuts and cut okra into a gourmet dish packed with flavor.

Suffice it to say, this is a movement. MaituFoods has so much input from my everyday experiences and relationships. I'm grateful for that much. Because I can rest with the assurance that WE are putting so much of ourselves into making this endeavor complete and whole-hearted. I love doing this. I give thanks for the opportunity.

Garbanzo Patties

  • 2 cups of cooked Garbanzo beans/Chickpeas
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • Salt to taste.
  • 2 tablespoons of oil.
  • 1 clove of garlic.
(I like to add different veggies, depending on my taste)
combination of your favorite spices and herbs to taste.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until the mix is smooth.
There are two routes you can take this recipe. You can either spoon the mix into hot oil and brown the patties on each side (my favorite option), or you can add a bit of flour to the mix and form into patties and bake for 15min-20min.

Once done you can serve over rice with a nice homemade rue/gravy and a side salad.

My Kitchen sounds like: Sun Is Shining by Bob Marley (Kaya) "We lift our hands..."