Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ode to East Africa (beginnings of a long overdue love letter)

My first encounter with East Africa happened the Summer of 2009. I was 3 months pregnant and this was my first time out of the country (heck of an initiation). I remembering being on the plane and looking down at Ethiopia, trying to see if I could see traces of people in what appeared to be an eternity of desert. Feeling that if by some chance, something were to happen to the plane, I could say "Look ma, I did it..I made it to Africa, and as a soon to be mom to boot." Fulfilled, and it just gets better.

My plane snuck into Nairobi, my final destination at night, a few hours late from Heathrow. There she was cloaked in darkness, hidden from my expectations and only aggravating them with angst and anxiety. I would have to exercise patience and hold tight until the morning with just my quick catches of scenery ("Yo, was that a Fanta billboard?"). But before morning's revelation, she would open her arms of hospitality, like mother, like sister, like friend... My travel beaten, pregnant body was nourished by her food, laughter and a warm bath. In that instance I knew I was in love with her, and this would be a lifetime courtship.

I remember her in flashes and colors, tastes and sighs. Like the first taste of passion fruit (wow!!). Or the memory of walking her streets and the greetings of "dred" from a passing man. So quick that had it not been for my companion, I would have missed it all together. I was absorbed in the act of trying to make sense of the produce street kiosks and oncoming traffic, not to mention the richness of pedestrians and street vendors.

My husband speaks of her like she's co-wife. I see her traces and influences in his paintings. After spending time farming her land, he speaks of her as only someone who has known her intimately can. She is constant in his conversation, and through their relationship, she has become like kin to me. I remember him coming back, excited that his boots were caked with Kenyan soil. Those same boots once worn, were filled with soil and planted in our front yard with flowers, in constant remembrance.

Sometimes I see East Africa and she is like a blur, so quick our time together (2 weeks). Other times, she's so close in my memory , I can smell her near me and there is no time or space to separate us. And she has been for me, what fantasies should be. Lush, inviting, challenging, as pursuable as she is attainable. Those two weeks are forever with me. They seem to have been too soon and I left feeling like a piece of myself stayed with her. It is the season, the time for reconciliation. East Africa, we are on our way to see you again. Soon. Love.

** The first time I had Shiro was at Habesha, a restaurant in Nairobi. It was the richest, most decadent thing I had ever tried up until that point. I've loved it since....

  • 5 tablespoons Niter Kebbah (check earlier blog for recipe)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves smashed
  • 1 tablespoon of berbere
  • 1/2 cup of Shiro/chickpea flour (can find at Ethiopian Market)
  • 3 cups of water
  • salt to taste
In a medium saucepan saute onion, garlic, tomatoes and berbere in Niter Kebbeh on low heat. Stir occasionally for about 10-12 minutes until you have formed a sort of tomato sauce.
Add the shiro flour, salt and water and stir really well, making sure to get rid of any lumps. Bring to a light boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 1 hr or until the mixture has thickened. Injoy!! We did : )

*Finished meal of Shiro, Greens and sauteed Potatoes on Injera.

*Shiro prep and ingredients.

*Fresh Collards and Broccoli from the garden.

*Niter Kebbeh prep and ingredients.

My Kitchen Sounds Like: Gigi on Shuffle...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Winds of Change..

Autumn is here (insert “All Falls Down by Sly) and just as sure as things will fall, we are guaranteed that in accordance with natural order, things will build up.

Fall offers the opportunity to store up and prepare for Winter’s arrival. Our sustaining foods like squash/gourds, grains, and sturdy leafy greens, arrive on the scene, and we are blessed by the harvest. We are nurtured by the lessons, the beauty and color of change.
If nothing else this is a time and space for us to reassess, and there is the reminder that all pushes forward ever.

Lately in America (and Europe), ones have been faced with the growing issue of food security and the rights and question of self-sustenance. For years we have ignored food legislation, turned a blind eye to food policies in foreign countries, because we felt we were safe in our squares. All that time spent cultivating skills other than the basic ones, such as the self sufficient means to secure food, clothing and shelter, are folding over on us. People are beginning to understand that food business is no joke business.

On the Congress floor once again is legislation that has the potential to restrict our means to grow our own food and utilize or purchase herbal supplements and alternative (natural) forms of healing. It has been reported that Europe has already passed and enacted this legislation.

More than being fearful or complacent we have been blessed with another opportunity. The opportunity to reconsider and prioritize. To step into our potentials and roles of self governance. Step by step. Be it planting a seed, watching it grow and controlling your harvest. Sparking food and lifestyle cooperatives that strengthen our family and communal bonds. Or any number of activities that push us towards self-responsibility and reliance. It is the time for us to educate ourselves, to inform ourselves, but most importantly to turn towards means of healing and sustaining ourselves. The winds of change are breezing through and have carried the message that no matter which way the wind blows we are equipped to push forward in strength and I-tality. For-Iva and Iva. Love.

For the fall..Squash

Stuffed Acorn Squash
2 cups barley (1/2 red and 1/2 white), cooked
handful of pinenuts
handful of dried cranberries and/or raisins
1/2 can of coconut milk
1 teaspoon of curry powder
1/4 onion diced
2 garlic cloves diced
1 medium sized acorn squash
vegetable broth

Preheat oven at 350 degrees

In medium saucepan saute onion and garlic in 1teaspoon of olive oil on med/low heat.
Stir continuously, so as not to burn. When onion has become translucent, add barley, pinenuts, cranberries/raisins,curry powder and coconut milk mixing well and coating thoroughly. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cut acorn squash and half. Remove seeds. Stuff squash insides with barley mixture.

Drizzle the top of squash with olive oil and a bit of vegetable broth and place in casserole dish.

Bake for about an hour (or until squash is tender). Drizzling every now and again with a bit of vegetable broth.

Garnish with cilantro. Injoy!!

My Kitchen Sounds Like: “Bushman” by Midnite, “All Falls Down” by Sly and The Family Stone and “So Jah Seh” by Bob Marley.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Let your food be your medicine...

Recently, I have been building on herbs as it relates to the Ayurvedic system of healing and living. It was a joy to receive the reminder that a number of the herbs and spices we use to add color and flavor to our foods on a day to day basis contribute to our health and well-being. We are at the time of reason and understanding where ones are exposed to the knowledge that we are what we consume and expose ourselves to. In that, it becomes vital that we take the time to have a working knowledge of the foods that we find ourselves constantly consuming (as well as all other environmental factors..).

Recently in MaituFoods' radio interview with the Wombyn University collective(, we mentioned a recipe for Ackee. In that one recipe alone we referenced several herbs good for stimulation, cleansing and healing. In addition there is a herb-infused oil common in Ethiopian cuisine known as Niter Kebbah that contains herbs good for digestion, liver function, etc. The combined recipes utilize herbs such as ginger,thyme, cardamon, ginger, turmeric etc. These aforementioned herbs are ones that for many of us are commonly used in our kitchens, especially as we broaden our taste and views of cuisine to include the whole of the diaspora.

So we see that there is always an opportunity for health, always opportunity to expand our knowledge base as it relates to the foods we eat. It also sheds light on the reality that there have always been systems and sciences in place that have ancient origins as it relates to food and nutrition. Its no coincidence that curries carry a variety of herbs good for invigoration and digestive function. And this is something that exists everywhere. As common as the palette cleansing parsley on your plate at restaurants (no its not decoration), or the bowl of anise at Indian establishments. That cup of mint tea, to promote appetite and aid digestion...and we could go on and on...from ginger to garlic, cumin to fenugreek.

As the knowledge expands and the need increases, we are steady on the path of finding ways to bring what we do to a higher vibration. This includes equipping ourselves with those things that are necessary for our continuous growth. Ensuring that we are actively consuming that which raises our vibrations, is a step towards that realization. For we overstand that a sound body aids a sound mind and sound spirit. Wishing abundance and health, light and sound. Love

Ackee (quick recipe)
  • 1/4 onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • thumb of ginger diced (or grated)
  • 2 cups of Ackee (can find at international foods market)
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of thyme, cayenne pepper, ground pimento, paprika and fennel
  • salt to taste
In a saucepan heat the coconut oil on medium heat. Add diced herbs and onion. Let stir fry until onions begin to turn translucent. Stirring to make sure not to scorch the garlic or onion. Add in two cups of Ackee and stir fry. Reduce heat to low and add about 1/4 cup of water to simmer. At this point add salt to taste. Simmer food on low, until most of the water has evaporated. Once done couple with rice, potatoes or steamed veggies.

Niter Kebbeh (spice infused oil)*
  • 1/4 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed
  • cinnamon sticks ( I use two)
  • cloves ( I use up to 5)
  • 3 pieces of cardamom (again to personal taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup of oil ( I use sunflower)
Heat oil in saucepan on medium heat. Add herbs and spices. Once it starts to boil, reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once done remove from heat and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes (I usually allow it to sit for at least an hour). Strain and store in refrigerator until ready to use. I put this oil on rice, in legume dishes as a seasoning, it goes well on pasta and salads..etc..
*traditionally this oil is made with butter, for those wanting that taste you can always substitute conventional butter for soy margarine.

My Kitchen Sounds Like: In High Tide by Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers

Friday, August 13, 2010

Building with Wombyn Studies

Come join MaituFoods this week as we sit down with Wombyn Studies, to discuss Planting Sacred Spaces and The Future of Food. Call in with your vegan cuisine and gardening questions. We will be live online Sunday, August 15, 2010 starting at 1pm est.

Monday, July 5, 2010


"We take these steps towards freedom, for all those who have been oppressed.."- Common

One of my favorite songs is "Time Traveling' by Common. It's a tribute to Fela Kuti and just to freedom in general, be it in expression, in creativity or in living. Yesterday, America celebrated its Independence, with Spirits, animal sacrifices and fireworks. Usually its a day for our family to stay still, stay quiet and reflect upon life and its abundant properties. We were privileged on yesterday to celebrate a 2 year Solar return, family, children, new life (Love Love, to Zion who chose to come through yesterday, and to Valerie..YAY!! you are a mommy now) and laughter. And as the world outside of the family gates, celebrated the birth of the colonization of our native ancestors and indigenous people on this continent, we celebrated the generations and continuation of life, bold, beautiful and uncompromising.

I am so grateful to the youth. I smiled and I laughed until my cheeks were sore from the act. Yesterday I also ate. Ate until I could no longer handle the task of putting the fork to my mouth. It was Indian buffet day. I must repeat it, just to savor the memory...Indian Buffet Day...Channa, Spinach, Dal, Fritters, Mixed veggies in coconut sauce, chapatis...and on and on. And it didn't stop there. I have been going through taste bud meltdown. It happens amongst cooks/chefs. You cook so much, taste this, taste that and then it happens, your tastebuds experience overload and everything taste like blaaah. So this weekend, that Indian buffet refreshed my tastebuds so a natural progression happened...Mexican. I went home and created a Mexican cuisine extravaganza. It included Vegan Tacos and Nachos. For the nachos I mixed up a batch of my jalapeno cashew and almond cheese..Yum!!! It was the perfect palette pleaser. The only regrettable thing being that the health food store did not have a single ripe avocado, so there was no guacamole. But perhaps that was the universe's way of ensuring that I did not go insane from heightened taste and sensual gratification :)

My husband, a culinary wizard in his own right, not to be out done, surprised us this morning with brunch. When I describe it as creative genius, trust it is no exaggeration. This beautiful soul of a man, took Ackee ( a tree fruit, commonly used in the Caribbean and coupled with Saltfish) and seasoned with Jamaican seasonings and whatever else he put in that pot (his cooking secrets are coveted information), then he made a vegetable medley of squash, tomatoes and broccoli and then topped it off with home fries/potatoes. This is the good life. I cant help but express the thought that everyone should be eating like this. Its basic, its ital/vital, its nutritious, its inexpensive and not time consuming at all. Yo, I love this life. Good Eats. Love.

In honor of my Sun, who loves chickpeas, Channa Masala a la' Jovi.

Channa Masala a la' Jovi (real quick)

  • 3 cups of chickpeas (cooked until tender beforehand)
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of cilantro diced
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil (throw in a little palm oil it gives it a nice kick, but also adds satfat for the uber health conscious)
  • 1/2 ripe tomato diced
  • 3 tablespoons of Garam Masala
  • about 1/4 cup vegetable broth or water.
In a cast iron or stainless steel skillet/pan add oil, heat on medium heat. To the oil add onions, garlic and Garam Masala. Stir until onions are somewhat transparent and Garam Masal has browned a little.
Toss in chickpeas and mix well, making sure to coat the chickpeas thoroughly. Next add water or broth and let simmer on low heat for about 6-8 minutes with lid. After about 8 minutes you'll want to stir in the tomatoes and cilantro and allow to cook for an additional 5 minutes. Serve with Brown Basmati Rice, chapatis and a nice side vegetable like Cauliflower.

My Kitchen Sounds like: "Elsewhere" by Kevin Mbugua, "Hold Yuh" by Gyptian and "Time Traveling" by Common.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Good Works

There is this roots song I like on the Bambu Station compilation called "Good Works." In the song the brother says that "Jah loveth the good works they will always stand, from the hands of the righteous man." Whereas I strive to stand upright and keep a pure heart and clean hands, in no way do I liken myself to the righteous. I, however feel the weight of the lyrics. I pray that with the works that we do that The Most High finds them worthy and sees that we strive towards good works in our daily living. Today was one of those days. And at the end of it, I feel so full.

Black Star Academy had their closing ceremony today and MaituFoods served as the vendor. The youth and staff there are doing a terrific job and it was an honor to serve in the manner in which we did. It wasn't easy. LOL!!! They had quite a menu. These sisters wanted (and received) about 80 spinach spring rolls, about the same if not more lentil patties, a coconut black bean pot, brown rice, broccoli, and gravy. My gosh. And I was suppose to pull this off. I overslept after a spent Friday and woke up at 6:15am with not one carrot shredded, one bean sorted or one pot of boiling water with 4 hours to get it all done, arrive at the venue and set-up and I still had to go to the store because I needed some extra items and sensed I would run out of oil. I am looking at everything in the kitchen, on every shelf, in every corner, thinking how am I and why am I doing this??? LOL!!! Praying my 15month old will not wake up, because to cook in this humid weather with 22 pounds of him on my back is only going to make it harder.

Top it off my husband had a gardening volunteer event today within thirty minutes of dropping me off that he had to prepare for, so I couldn't make him late or hold up his process (didn't succeed at that, thank you for your patience and help love). But when life hands you lemons, grate it for some zest and make a killer sweet potato pie with a hint of lemon and ginger. So I turned up some Fela and somehow danced this meal out. The hubby went out for the extra items, my mother in law helped with vegetable washing, prep and dishes, the baby stayed in chill mode on my back and we got out of here, all fingers and toes in tact and made it to the venue with enough time to set up and sit for about 3 minutes.

I didn't sit down the 3 hours I was there. Isn't God the greatest???

So we ended up having a little extra, and even though I had a sister that wanted to buy whatever we had leftover (apologies Mama Alysia), I had to show my gratitude to my husband for his help and sacrifice this morning. So I decided that we would take the extra food we had and feed the volunteers at the garden event down the street. My mother in law grabbed the mini-van, double parked it in front of the venue, and we snuck (lol) the extra food out of the venue, laid a tablecloth in the van and laid all the food out. When we arrived to the farm, the workers had been out there for a few hours, so I know they were hungry. We popped that trunk open and just started serving plates out of the back of the van. Whatever they wanted, however much, in whatever combination. It was a just service. Here the youth and elders took time out of their Saturday morning-afternoon, to beautify and serve their community with a vegetable garden. And they worked. What we did was a small thing in comparison. By being fruitful, and working the earth, they are assisting in something that is of abundance for all. What those beloved people did was spiritual work. I see and I honor you all, that came out to Providence today to lend a hand.

And now here I am, day over, everyone (including the baby) worked. All I want to do is curl up with a mango popsicle and my book Opposite House by Helen Oyayemi, throw on some Nina Simone and just chillax...

I hope The Most High is pleased with our work. Love

I cant even think of a recipe today..soon

My Kitchen Sounds like: Every Fela song I own on shuffle.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Forward Ever/So Long April/Out My Mind Just In Time

April....I am so glad to say goodbye to April. With those April showers came tears, the ending of relationships,goodbye to old friendships and the closing of chapters. On a less personal note or maybe not, I had a couple of recipe disasters, a few menu changes and the end of April, the coming of May also marks the last month of school. Whew!!! I have never been so ready to release a month. May, you shall be like that piece of parsley on the plate. Unknown to some, you serve as more than garnish. No, no no no no. You my friend are there to freshen breath and cleanse the palette, for the next flavor. In short, you are there to open the door for new perspective. I am so looking forward to the new flavor and perspective of forward movement. There is a beauty in change once we learn to accept it. When one door closes, trust a dozen more open, or less distracted you see beauty of the space you are already in.

Just saw a documentary called "How to Live Your Food". It was ok. A story of a zen priest who is also a chef. So he imparts these pearls of wisdom while baking bread. Personally I found "Ratatouille" and "Coco before Chanel" more profound and inspiring, but I did grab a couple of jewels. Like being totally present when you are cooking and understanding the emotional connection between you, your food and who you are feeding. What I drew from that, is how much food is a transmitter, a communicative medium of life force energy, of emotional energy and so forth and so on. A direct quote from the priest was that "cooking was working on yourself and other people." Which is why there is little room for miscommunication. lol. However, by virtue of the fact that communication is open to personal interpertation, there will be a huge array of perspectives and preferences. There are times when I just want a simple, "I loved it or I didnt quite like it." But there are times when you will get a, "I loved it, but..." I am attempting to understand there is a growth in the "but"

Kenya has been popping up alot lately. And not in obvious ways. Of course I am in daily communication with a loved one or another from Kenya in some capacity. But thats not what. Its been bleeding over into other facets of our lives. For instance I am huge reader. There are always at least 5 books I am dealing with at any given time. So I am browsing the bookstore for a good book for the children and stumble on two books "A Grain of Wheat" and "Matigari" by Ngugi wa Thiongo, at two different ends of the bookstore. Then the jewel (and the reason for this) "Unbowed: A Memoir" by Wangari Maathai, which I found at the library while looking for a Helen Oyayemi book. Wangari Maathai has had a presence in our reality for some time now in one capacity or another. So of course I have been eating it up. And the thing that has been the most compelling for me is her recall of history and not just history but the history of agriculture in Kenya and more namely for the Kikuyu people. And in that she has given an accord of eating and sustainability practices (aha!!! we hit the jackpot). So she comments on how the Kikuyus were/are an agrarian community and as a result were largely vegetarian. Crops she mentioned were peas, beans, arrowroots, millet, maize, roots, green vegetables, sugarcane and pyrethrum. Of course there was livestock (cows, goats, chickens),but the diet was largely vegetarian. Elder Wangari spoke on how colonialization and immigration brought the introduction of new foods and cuisine into the population. Foods heavy with salt, sugar, fat and oil. She links this to new diseases associated with nutrition (or nutrient deficinecy as I would say). And with the work that we are doing, I just give thanks when I find jewels like these to re-affirm what is already known and present. The parallels speak volumes. We consider the impact of "diet" on Africans in America and the Diaspora and the decline of our health, because of how and what we eat. The hand of colonialization and slavery in that. Then even further in dealing with land, and the British imposing on land and then forcing Kikuyus into land reserves and working on land they no longer "owned". How that links to the land grab of Native Americans and their population decline and the establishment of sharecropping with Africans in America (african-americans). Its amazing how in all of our revolutionary talks we fail to give righteous accord to food, its growth and how its consumed. You control a people's food. You control a people. I give thanks for souls like Wangari Maathai and the seeds they have planted.

So we move forward with this movement, towards healthy living and healthy eating. Knowing that yes sometimes its hard work, but its divine work. Here's to new perspectives, springing from old wisdoms. Forward and Fiyah!!!

So I have been talked to about giving up recipes for free. I dont expect that anyone reads this but friends, family and associates. But in consideration I will offer up recipes that I stumble across online and in recipe books that I like. Like this one..

Corn Pancakes
  • 1 1/2 cups cornmeal
  • 2/3 cups unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 2 cups milk (I use almond)
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 2 eggs (I used Ener-g egg replacer or you could use flax seed meal)
  • 1 cup corn
  • 4 scallions diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
In a large mixing bowl combine dry ingredients and stir together well. In another bowl combine milk, oil, "eggs". Mix well. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together until well moistened. The batter will be thin. Stir in the corn, scallions, red pepper flakes, and cilantro.
Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, measure and pour 1/4 cup of the pancake batter into a hot skillet.

Eat with Guacamole or Black Bean Salsa. YUM!!!!! I actually heavily modified the spices in the recipe. Just because I like a certain kick to my food. But the original recipe is quite nice and its flexible. Injoy!! Love.

My Kitchen Sound Like: "Heartless" by Kanye West (808s and Heartbreak), "Moon and Sky" and "Skin" by Sade, "Out My Mind, Just In Time" and "20 ft. Tall" by Erykah Badu and "Zelie" by Angelique Kidjoe ( I love this Song!!!! I play it on repeat at least 5 times before I hit next).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Out of chaos comes...

Thankfully in my case tonight it was a good meal. Sometimes with all of this food business, plus maintaining my role as a wife and mother, its like I have to catch up with myself. I will add that to my eternal list of things to do. But all in all cooking is a blessing. There are still moments where I find myself excited about the possible outcome of a new meal experiment, how a new spice will go with an old favorite, how excited the children may be to see there favorite meal on the menu.

Over and over I keep hearing that in the food service business one has to get use to doing the same things over and over again. A client likes something, they want it and they want it the way they had it when they fell in love with it (wow its sounds like a relationship). I mean Mc Donalds, its the Big Mac, Burger King, the Whopper, me its the vegan cookies at Whole Foods (lol). I must say that I am still trying to adjust to this concept. See the joy for me in cooking is the creative challenge, venturing into new ground, new cultures, new tastes, new textures. Its the new colors and smells. Its "my thing". Having a bad day, stressed out...I'm running towards the kitchen, to work it out and voila!!! we have a really good meal. For instance, today was a hectic one. I headed to the kitchen, turned the radio on real loud (Corrine Bailey Rae and Raheem Devaughn's new cds) and I just went all in. I've have been really feeling some Ethiopian inspiration. So I made lentils with berbere spices and peppers, baby bok choy fresh from the garden, brown rice and guacamole with seaweed. Yum!!! It was perfect and I felt 10...well 8 times better afterwards.

So the challenge. Food wise, I have been in a rut of sorts. Most people want the same thing. I swear I can make falafel in my sleep, lentil patties in a tornado, and pasta and potatoes, well the baby can make pasta and potatoes. The conflict is I appreciate that the food is cherished and well liked and some days I am in need of something new.

Something that babies probably wont like, because children for the most part, like it real simple when it comes to their food. For instance, last week we had a power outage on our block. We have an electric stove so there was no way we were cooking. I had to make sandwiches for the children. When I walked into one of the schools, one of the 4 years old, said "Mama JoVonna, thank you for bringing us bread." LOL!!! How should I have felt about that? LOL!!! The rest of the gang was "YAY!!!! Sandwiches!!!"

Or another mystery. They love, what I feel are my mistakes. So, I have this thing where besides lentil patties, I have the strangest experiences with making patties/burgers. I mean they never come out the way I (keyword being I) want them to. I take all the well known steps from breadcrumbs, energy egg replacer, flax seed, flour...somehow they just never come out the way I envisioned them in my head. And still the people love them. Like my chick pea pancakes which were suppose to be chick pea patties. I'm really not quite sure what happened (will post recipe below, open to suggestions), but they ended up being like these strange pancake things, that of course the children loved. Well I suppose what am I complaining about, at the end of the day, its about the people being excited about the food.

I will just have to learn how to experiment on my own time and pray that my brain doesnt explode.

Chick Pea Patties/Pancakes (tips would be helpful)

  • 1 pot of cooked Garbanzos/chickpeas
  • 1 chopped onion
  • Berbere seasonings.
  • Ener-G egg replacer (the equivalant of, heck I lost count, maybe 6-8 eggs/lol)
  • breadcrumbs and flour to thicken and help stick together
  • salt to taste
  • a small amout of h2o
  • about 1 cup of oil.
So I didnt measure anything...I blended everything together by hand. Lightly oiled a skillet. Spooned large clumps of pattie mix into a skillet browned one side of the patty and then flattened it. Flipped it over and browned the opposite side. And the end result was Chickpea Pancakes (thanks Ananse Kurom for the Love

My Kitchen Sounds like: Corrine Bailey Rae "The Sea" and Raheem Devaughn "Love and War: The Masterpeace.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Birthing Community

It was a huge blessing, to have the opportunity, the privilege to find myself in the company of the men and women that I shared space and time with on last night. So Mama Sarahn, beloved, beloved mother and midwife (mine amongst many) facilitated a Meetup group. The families came together under the common interest of home and natural birthing. Housed by Sister Song, it was an honor to have MaituFoods as the first sponsor in this new organization. I have so many thoughts and ideas, sparked from the gathering. To see so many of us, united in the midst of cultural, race, class, gender and age differences was amazing. It's good to know that we have all come together under the banner of life, health and abundance. I see potential. I was introduced to many people in my community who offer services that I would never have known of if not having been in attendance last night. I am grateful..and look forward to solidifying the connections we made last night.

Celebrate life!!!!

My Kitchen Sounds like: Lizz Wright "The Orchard"

Monday, February 15, 2010

1 more day/ Happy Earthstrong Kaba

Whew!!! Busy, busy week ahead. Lunch deliveries, preparing food for an event with Mama Sarahn (Greater Atlanta Homebirth Meetup Group, check it if you are in the Atl on Wed), all the usual, clean this, cook this, wash that, help with this...but most importantly.........ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!! It's Kahen's Birthday tomorrow!!!!! Ah, my firstborn Sun, makes his first revolution. I am so so geeked. Kahen you are brown and beautiful. An amazing soul, and you light up our days and nights. Mama and Baba love you deeply. You have survived our first year and Mama's crash course parenting with all of your limbs, both your eyes, your nose, your brain intact. No major accidents or injuries. I am looking forward to your progression, little one. God be with us on the journey to 2. Praying for more sleep, more solid foods, walking and verbal you advance, keep the Most High close and know that you are that. Nakupenda Kababinghi. Your family loves you.

And to Baba, M2, both grandmas, big brother, aunts, uncles, cousins and close associates. We made it!!! Love to you all.

Ah!!!!!! I am dancing!!!

Chocolate Cake (from Vegan Goddess)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup margarine
  • 1 1/2 cups dry sweetener
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups nut milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350degrees. Stir together flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. Ina blender, blend margarine, sweetener and water. Add this to flour mixture along with the milk and vanilla. Mix together until gently mixed. Pour into a lightly oiled cake pan and bake for 30 min.

****and to just go all for it

Chocolate Icing
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 5 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup dry sweetner
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp margarine
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
In a small saucepan, whisk together the water and flour constantly over medium heat until thick (about the consistency of glue). Be mindful not to burn it. Once thick, remove from heat and cool off completely before setting the pot in a larger pan of cold water or sink with cold water. While its cooling, in a medium bowl mix together the sweetener, vanilla, margarine and cocoa powder until well mixed. Add the cooled flour mix to the bowl and stir together until there are no lumps. Let cool on fridge for 30-60 minutes. Then ice cooled cake.

My Kitchen Sounds Like: The sound of my hands clapping and my feet hitting the floor as I dance in celebration of life...Love

Saturday, February 13, 2010



In the words of my girl Mini Money/Ms. Lucas, "uh Yum!". So I have been working at this cheese recipe forever. Trying to figure out how to make vegan nacho cheese. See, I have a cheese recipe already, but it tastes more like an alfredo. Dont get me wrong I love it. I put it on all my recipes that call for cheese. But somehow it needed an adjustment for nachos and also change is necessary every now and then. So nacho has become the favorite recipe of the family as of late. So what did I do????? I will never tell all. You'd have to just come and get some. But I will share the basic cheese recipe at the bottom.

I would be wrong if I did not shout out Sister Janelle. So, Sister Janelle is running things in Miami, serving up vegan pizzas (check her at The sistren is doing big things and I've heard from a good source that she is good at what she does. So if in the M.I.A, please, please, please link up with the sis. Ok, back to my story. So Sister Janelle and me were building about our respective businesses and we got on recipes, namely cheese recipes. I shared with her my cheese recipe and my dilemma in trying to figure out how to come up with a cheddar cheese equivalent. So we swapped ideas and found out we use very, very similar cheese recipes..catch is Sister Janelle shared with me the beautiful idea of using raw cashews as a thickener. So me being the being that I am, decided that the next weekend would be pizza weekend for the family. I went to the store, gathered all the usual suspects and just to get my kicks, added a bag of cashews. Project Pizza underway. I did everything like I always do, prepared the crust, made the marinara (with some adjustments I have added since posting the recipe), some pesto, diced up some veggies (peppers, olives, mushrooms, artichoke, onion) and then began the cheese process. I decided since my cheese recipe was still dope I would keep it, and then also do Janelle's adjustment. Hey it just meant more pizza for us. So I did things as usual. A lil garlic here, some almond milk there, a lil aqua, a lil nutritional yeast and then....dun dun dun!!!! CASHEWS!!!! Oh my goodness!!! If Janelle was nearby I would have thrown her a party. A pizza party. The cashew was a perfect addition. It thickened the cheese so when it baked it wasnt too runny. The flavor was great. YUM!!! Thank you Janelle for adding to the YUM!! repertoire. I tried the pizza out on the youth, they loved it. So Atlanta, looking for vegan pizza delivery. Soon come. And if and while you are in Miami, check Sister Janelle. Love.

Continuing with the Yum and hailing up my girl Mini Money. Coconut. I use every single part of the coconut. I love coconut. I shout Somini, because all I have to do for her is add coconut to the recipe and I got a winner. If you dont know Coconut is great for so many things. I remember reading an article about the uses of coconut. The water is good for electrolytes (pregnant mommmies this is good during birth), when Kaba had a fever I used it to cool him and keep him hydrated. We use it in smoothies along with the meat of the coconut. I use the oil for my skin and hair. Its a nice fat in recipes, like cookies (*damn there goes my secret), greens..whatever. I make coconut chili (big hit when vending), coconut rice and peas, coconut curry...its great for anything. So, imagine how my heart dropped when I was told that my son possibly has a coconut allergy. I saw the world of Thai food coming to a complete halt and together we mourned, the lost of coconut in my life. Well at least until Kaba is two and no longer breastfeeding. So for me. Go out there, find you a coconut and binge until the heavens cry out. Love


My mother use to say that food tastes better the next day. Why? Because "the flavors" (lol) soak in. There is alot of truth to the theory. If it was good once, it will most likely be good the second time around. My only issue with that is that, one of the best parts of cooking for me is going out and picking the ingredients. So, sometimes recreating with leftovers is like trying to create a new painting, using the same paint from the previous day on the same canvas. Its possible to create a masterpiece, but there is the potential that you end up feeling like, been here and done that. Which is why I have so much respect for people who can create something out of leftover ingredients or creating something from nothing. *Insert shout out to my cooking Gurus Akilah and Eugene right here**

I have witnessed my husband Eugene, go into the kitchen, when I thought there was nothing and create a meal, that I find myself waiting to get down to the bare essentials to duplicate. Genius (its part of his name). Last week he made this Sushi bowl. I think by accident but it was great. Absolutely great snack. Full of minerals and vitamins, good fat and flavor. Being a visual artist, his sense of color and presentation is off the chain. And when it comes to flavor. He never, ever fails. Ever. His art is the art of simplicity. Simple ingredients, simple meals. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Akilah. So for anyone who thinks I am a great cook. This woman is my cooking Guru. Who I look up to. My dear, dear sister Akilah. She is the only person who comes to visit our house and I make her cook, instead of preparing a meal for her. You think its wrong? You have not had her food. I can recall every single meal Akilah has made for me. Like in Brooklyn when she made white bean soup with jalapeno cornbread (YUM!!!) or the time, 5years ago, she made Cornmeal battered Seitan, Steamed okra and Sesame Udon noodles (I have pictures). Its like she takes nothing, absolutely nothing and makes something. The last time she cooked for me, I was pregnant she made BBQ Seitan and Spicy Kale Salad with Couscous. I still think about that meal. I mean there are so many stories. Like the time we made chinese food together and we didnt have sweet and sour sauce. She went in the kitchen took out white vinegar, maple syrup, cayenne and soy sauce and voila!!!, Sweet and Sour Sauce a la negro (lol). My sis Neff still swears by that sauce recipe. Or in college when we all lived together and were starving and she made home made ramen with spaghetti noodles, green onions and seasonings. I love this woman. My cooking guru Agoo goo/Akilah. Love.

Cheese Recipe
  • about 1 1/2 cups of Nut. Yeast
  • Garlic
  • Water
  • fresh almond milk
  • oil
  • salt
Blend all ingredients together and add to pasta..whatever. Add cashews to thicken.

Rice and Peas Recipe
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 16 ounces of red beans (cooked)
  • salt to taste
  • thyme to taste
  • 1 onion diced
First add a bit of oil to the pan. Saute onion until almost translucent. Add rice, thyme and salt. Stir in beans. After stirring for a bit add in coconut water and water to make about 4 cups of liquid. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until water is absorbed. About 25minutes.

Leftovers/Sushi Bowl

  • Leftover Brown Rice
  • Nori sheets
  • Avocado
  • Garlic Dressing (I make it homemade but you can use Soy Sauce to replace)
  • Cashews
Just cut the avocado into chunks, tear the nori sheets and then throw everything into a bowl. YUM!!! Instant sushi without the rolling.

BBQ Seitan

  • Seitan (precooked or buy gluten flour and spend the next 2 hours making up your own/my preference)***look at bottom for additional instructions
  • Favorite BBQ sauce
  • Seasoned Cornmeal
  • Oil
** I typically like to make my own seitan. So I buy the gluten flour, add water, knead until my hands fall off. Slice the seitan into chunks and drop the raw dough into a boiling pan of hot water with garlic, ginger and onion. Let it boil for about an hour until the texture is nice and chewy. Proceed.

Cut the seitan into thick strips. Place slices in a wet batter and then seasoned cornmeal. Fry the strips in oil until nice and crispy. Toss in BBQ sauce. Injoy!!!

I dont use this too much. Wheat can be an allergen. So whereas this recipe is great. Eat occasionally. Love

My Kitchen sounds like: "Umi Says" by Mos Def, "How Many Mics" by The Fugees, "Who Colt The Game" by Bob Marley and "Shug's Song" by Shug Avery.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Newest Family Member/Sarita's Playpen

We are so pleased and blessed to welcome Sarita's Playpen to the Maitufoods family. Sarita's Playpen is a Child Development Experience Center located in Grant Park. Family owned and operated they offer many different services in child development and they serve a vegan lunch handled by Maitufoods. (Yay!!!) If anyone is in the Atlanta area and is interested, look them up. Thank you to the Director Rose and Family. We look forward to a healthy and abundant experience. Love

My Kitchen Sounds like: Kababinghi's (Kahen's)Drumming and Piano playing.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Pumzi/Wanuri Kahiu

We are little without family and community. Looking into our family, our close companions, is kin to looking into a mirror to view our reflection. I am blessed to be surrounded by beautiful, beautiful souls. This sister of mine, to attempt to write an expression would diminish what's felt and the importance of this sister to our family. She is M2 (godmother) to our youth and just a beautiful influence and inspiration. Her creativity speaks volumes.

So what's the correlation to Maitufoods you ask?(I'm not just boasting on my fam). When I was looking for a name for the business, it was around the time Wanuri was writing the script for Pumzi, her latest film. I was very drawn to the main character for many reasons. I am a sci-fi buff and Wanuri has a good sense of imagination. Said all that to say, there was one thing that stuck out in the script. Maitu: the name of the seed and community in the film. Maa (truth) Itu (ours). Comes from the Kikuyu language, and its meaning is mother. So Maitufoods, MotherFoods, Our Truth Foods, was inspired by my sister Wanuri, by way of her film Pumzi. So for those who have been asking, seek no more, your answer has been granted. :) what do I say about Pumzi. First I will say I love it. The layers, the images. The heroine is woman of color. The beauty of her is in her humanity. The film takes place in futuristic Africa. 35 years after the Water War (WW3). Asha, the main character is a curator at a virtual museum in the Maitu Community (ahh there it goes) that collects ancient, natural artifacts. By this time nature is extinct, water is scarce and without giving away the film, my interpretation is, its about Asha's journey back to life. Beautiful beautiful beautiful...check it. Love (trailer) (website)

My recipe for today was designed by GOD....WATER!!!!!! DRINK IT!!!

My Kitchen Sounds like: "New World Water" by Mos Def and "I'd Like" by Freshlyground

Connect Between Earth and Sky

Being a woman is a beautiful, beautiful experience. One that I cherish. I am so grateful that by way of karma and the Most High's grace I came back as a sister this time. Within that I have found myself a daughter, a sister, a friend, a wife and helpmate, a receiver, a nurturer by nature, but most cherished is the experience of Motherhood. Mothers, what can I say about mothers? There is so much more in the feeling than in the words. So much in the relation, than in the verbal conveying of what it is to be, to have a mother. I find myself now as a mother, having instances that call forth my own memories as a child and experiences with my mother and realize the weight, the beautiful implication of that role. All love and praise to mothers and fathers that allow and support mothers. Truly family is a blessed thing.

Maitu, the Kikuyu word for mother, literally translated as Maa (truth) Itu (our) Our Truth, was started with the premise of honoring Mothers with service. Maitufoods initial service being preparing meals for postpartum mothers and their families. Its been a blessing and a gift to give to the families, the children, to these vessels of creation. I am grateful that The Most High has saw fit to allow me and the family to serve humanity and our community in this way. Its so intimate, its so personal. Dealing with food, which is vital for living. Yeah its great :) I honor any one who finds themselves serving the communities with their gifts. Be it in food preparing, food growing and establishing green spaces, midwifery and doula services, educators, instructors, story tellers, musicians, artists etc. It's all good works. Talking with my husband Eugene, last night we discussed the importance of setting out to be decent human beings. As social creatures we have many ideas of how to dos and what to dos, but if we can show our children examples of just being decent human beings, all else will be taken care of. I believe that. And for our youth, the very first influence, the first teacher and connect to the world and beyond is the Mother.

Mothers I salute you!!!!! Blessed love and prosperity!!!!

MAITUFOODS is happy to offer vegan meals for expecting and new mothers. As a mother I understand the importance and value of a meal that meets your nutritional needs. It's important that the food we eat, not only tastes good but also sustains us. Maitufoods is committed to serving fresh and nutritionally sound meals.

As a service we offer meal planning, food pick-up and delivery, as well as fresh water services.
Contact us at:

Wangari Maathi Punch-Up (call me I will explain the this history on her.
  • 1 whole pineapple peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1 cup fresh tamarind pulp
  • 4 inch piece of ginger
  • water and flesh from 1 coconut
After peeling, coring and slicing the pineapple, Juice along with the ginger.
In a blender, blend together the pineapple-ginger juice, coconut water and flesh and tamarind pulp.
At this point I like to keep it pulpy and thick, however you can strain to desired consistency. Love.

My kitchen sounds like: "New Life" by Midnite

Friday, January 29, 2010


My sister Neff said to me during one of our talks: "Baba told me that if you feed your community, your community will feed you." Simple enough, and yet it was so right on in the moment. I had been pondering the last two years and the warm embrace and support that I have gathered from the community of people who support MaituFoods. There are times where I am overwhelmed by the thanks and appreci-love that I feel for the community of families and students at Black Star Academy, Pearl Academy, Ananse Kurom Learning Center and Akebon Home School Collective. What Neff said has rang true. As I have been blessed with the ability to feed my community, I in return am fed. There are countless days and experiences that I can recall where I have received so much from the children. Days where the family has arrived to deliver the food and the babies have burst with greetings when we walked through the door. Reaching for Kahen, sharing a childish joke, a hug, a question or a new lesson that they have learned. Or arriving at Black Star Academy and walking in on an experiment or some new movie the girls have created. The many jokes or teeny-bopper interests that they have shared. Or even more so when they share a piece of African or African Diaspora history with me that I had not been aware of, or some science fact. I am amazed at the intelligence and beauty of our youth. And to know that everyday they all are fed by food that my family has taken the time and energy to prepare and serve as our offering to them is a huge blessing.
So to the youth at Black Star Academy, Pearl Academy, Ananse Kurom Learning Center and Akebon Home School Collective, Mama JoVonna salutes you. Know that you are beautiful, creative, shining and blessed by the Most High. Love

*** A recipe sent by a family friend, she offered it as something to share...

Oatmeal Fruit Cookies
  • 3/4 cup butter (can substitute w/vegan butter such as Earth Balance)
  • 1 cup sugar (half brown, half white)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup soy milk (can sub w/any other kind of milk or water)

In a separate container Mix:
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
Then add to butter and sugar mixture

Next stir in:
  • 3 cups whole oats (not quick oats or instant oatmeal)
  • 2 Tbs flax seed meal (ground flax seeds)
  • 1 cup dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, cherries, etc...)
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple (well drained)
  • 1/4 cup dried shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp clove powder
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scoop cookies onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 18-25 minutes. Cookies will be quite soft when done but become more firm once cooled.

My Kitchen sounds like: "Africa Unite" Berhane Selassie/Robert Nesta Marley