Last week, my friends Taylor and Bethany came to visit. While they were here, they treated Ben and I to a special dinner. Since food is expensive here, and we don’t often buy meat or certain fruits and veggies, they gave us the gift of yummy by taking me shopping and buying me groceries for an awesome meal.
We decided to make one of Ben’s favorites: meat sauce on rice, Africa style. Well, sort of. We didn’t have any curry powder. But I improvised, and it turned out great!
A couple pounds of beef
Oil for frying
4 oz of tomato sauce
2 T pilau masala
1 T of garlic
1 t of ground ginger
1/4 cup corn starch
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups Chicken broth (or bouillon cube and water)
Cut the meat into one-inch cubes. Slice onions.
Heat oil in a frying pan. Fry onions until translucent. Remove from pan.
Fry meat until thoroughly cooked.
Add spices to meat and stir.
Add tomato sauce, water/broth, and onions. Allow to simmer.
Slowly whisk in corn starch until sauce is thick.
Serve sauce over rice. Pair with tropical fruit and salad. Enjoy!
Yes, we’re talking about the Pastizzi, the small puff pastry filled with ricotta (pastizzi tal-irkotta’) or peas (pastizzi tal-piżelli’) and one of the icons of the Maltese gastronomy. Who has not tried one in the street food stalls? It is said that the best Pastizzi in Malta are served at Crystal Palace a small traditional bar in Rabat. […]
Here’s a Foodie Tuesday from the blog Homesteading 101.
For us, history is very much a part of why we homestead. We have a strong tie to the land where we live and to the history of our ancestors who lived and worked here before us. We still do many of the things that they did during daily life. Making certain foods is obviously […]
This is the easiest and fastest East African food I’ve found so far.
My sister, who’s a junior at Arizona Christian University, is working on a project on Burundi for her geography class. Burundi is a tiny African nation near Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania. It also happens to be the country where my husband, Ben, was born. Of course, she and her project partners interviewed Ben as their expert on Burundi.
She also asked me for a recipe to bring to class, so I sent her directions to make chapati and mandazi. However, those take a long time, so I thought I’d write up a recipe for something a little quicker: chips mayai.
Chips mayai is basically a french fry omelette. It’s a popular street food from Tanzania that is also easy to find in surrounding countires. You can make it from scratch, but this is the busy college student version.
-Frozen french fries
-Oil (palm oil is the most authentic)
Thaw your french fries.
Heat a generous amount of oil in a frying pan. Cook fries until hot.
Beat eggs (eggs and fries should be 2:1 ratio) and add a little milk, salt, and pepper.
Pour eggs in pan. Allow to cook over medium-high heat until the bottom is cooked. Flip over. It’s fine if it’s messy once flipped.
Cook thouroughly and remove from heat. Serve with ketchup.
Ironically, I had to go back to the desert to find the garden.
One strange thing about living on Saint Martin is the lack of cultivation. You’d think that a tropical paradise would be dripping with succulent fruit, but this one’s not. And I can’t try to grow anything myself, because the only dirt I can call my own in the soil in the dustpan.
Early this morning, I landed in Phoenix, Arizona, where I grew up and where my family still lives. When the sun rose, my mom took me on a tour of her garden.
I have never been able to coax more than a sad cactus to grow in the hard clay we Arizonans like to call dirt. My mom, however, has a true green thumb. She and my dad have conquered the bugs, rats, birds, hard soil, and lack of rain by building two beautiful raised gardens near their citrus trees.
The first raised garden is full of vegetables and a row of giant sunflowers. We picked some carrots and lettuce. Fresh carrots hold some many good memories for me. We planted them in our garden when I was small, and I remember feeding the root to my cousins’ horses and the greens to their rabbits. Horses thought carrots were treats, so I was convinced that they were basically candy.
We enjoyed the fresh lettuce and tomatoes in our sandwiches at lunch. In Saint Martin, lettuce is expensive and goes bad more quickly than we can eat it. I never buy it, so it was a treat. Especially since it was fresh picked.
The flower garden is beautiful. Can you tell what my mom’s favorite colors are? She grows daisies, poppies, and other bright blossoms. The hollyhocks, sadly, did not decide to grace us with their presence this year.
Last but not least is the little orchard. My parents have an orange tree, a lemon tree, a grapefruit tree, and a tiny lime tree with one baby lime. They’ve recently planted a peach tree. They also have a strange lemon tree with an orange branch grafted in. The fruit looks like an orange but is bitter like a lemon. It makes interesting lemonade but is not very good eating. Citrus actually grows very well in Arizona. It’s one of the state’s five main sources of income, along with cattle, copper, cotton and Grand Canyon tourism.
Here, in the middle of the desert, good and beautiful things grow. I left behind a land of lush greenery and little produce, and found myself in a dry place with much fruit.
I think that our Christian lives are like that at times. Sometimes, we find ourselves in an oasis in life, but we discover that we bear very little fruit in that rich season. Then, we may find ourselves in a desert place. We don’t expect to find growth in our lives in those seasons, because they’re so dry. But when we look at ourselves and our lives, we suddenly realize that the very place that promised so little is the place that cultivated the most growth and fruit.
Are you in a dry season? Don’t slip into discouragement, dear friend. You may not realize what great things God is doing in your life until you come to the end of the wilderness.
“The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad;
the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus.”
“Ground beef. Like, beef– cow meat– but it’s all ground up in little bits.” I did my best unofficial international sign language to accompany my explanation.
“Ah! Bœuf haché?” The grocery store employee led me to the freezer and pointed at the package of meat, eyebrows raised. “This?” He asked. It didn’t look exactly like the ground beef at Walmart, but it appeared to be ground beef nonetheless. I smiled and thanked him, placing the package in my cart.
There are only a handful of affordable grocery stores on the island of Sint Maarten, and my options are to pay $170 a trip to shop in English or $102.75 to shop in French. I choose the language barrier and saving seventy bucks.
I spend a lot of time staring at labels, trying to make out what this can or that box holds. I’ve become pretty good at guessing, and I’ve even picked up some French in the process (although don’t ask me to try to pronounce it). Whenever I learn to speak French, I’ll have a head start. I will know the word for every single food item ever invented.
Some of the labels are easy. I babysat for a bilingual family, and their kids called milk lait at all times. The cow on the front also helps.
Others aren’t so easy. I always thought fromage was just the word for “cheese,” but apparently it’s the word for every single dairy product on the planet.
This is not cheese. It’s yogurt. When I bought it, I needed yogurt, but it looked like it could be cottage cheese or whipped cream. I decided that the risk was worth it. Ben hoped it would be whipped cream, so he was disappointed.
This does not say fromage, but it IS cheese. Thank goodness this bag is see-through, or I would have been even more confused than I already was.
The hardest products to find are the ones I don’t know the French word for, can’t see through the packaging, and don’t even recognize the packaging. It took me a few trips and some asking around to find baking soda. I was looking for the small orange box, but apparently Arm and Hammer doesn’t do French.
I suspect the packaging issue is why I still can’t find baking powder. My friend Aqiyla went shopping with me yesterday, and she couldn’t find it either, although she speaks French. You don’t realize how powerful branding is until you’re dropped in the middle of unrecognizable foreign brands.
One thing that is not hard for me to locate, however, is Nutella! I think I have a Nutella radar built into my brain. I’m OK with becoming more European, if it involves chocolate for breakfast. Yes, please!
I have encouraging moments, too. I’m getting to the point where I can read a lot of French words, even if I couldn’t use a single one in conversation. I can understand most French signage around town, and I can tell the difference between all-purpose flour and pastry flour. I can even scan package ingredients for allergens and be fairly confident that I won’t send anyone into anaphylactic shock.
I never thought I’d say this, but there are days that I really miss Walmart. But at the same time, I’m glad I have the chance to make shopping a bilingual adventure. After all, I never quite know what I’m going to come home with…
Today on Foodie Tuesdays, we are going to meet a local food wizard and learn to make sweet potato pudding.
Meet Frances! Born and raised on St. Kitts, Frances moved to Saint Martin 30 years ago with her husband, who relocated for work. She can work wonders in the kitchen. I met Francis at a local event, where she was selling delicious meat patties, pies, puddings, and cakes. She calls her business “Secnarf’s Place,” and you can find her at almost any public trade show or market event.
As you can see, Frances loves to cook. Before she retired, she worked in a store nearby. Now, she spends a lot of her time in the kitchen, baking for her family or preparing for an event. She told me that she stayed up all night to make fresh-baked goodies for her booth. She doesn’t mind the work, though, because she loves what she does. “I like to use my hands,” she says, “It’s like a work of art.”
Frances’ culinary skills aren’t limited to the oven. She also makes her own all-natural fruit and vegetable juices. All she adds is a little bit of sugar for flavor, if it’s not quite sweet enough. Passion fruit is her best seller. “It’s so much better than what you can buy in the stores,” she says. No preservatives, no shipping. Just natural goodness!
I asked Frances what her favorite food is. She thought for a moment before answering, “Sweet potato pudding.” The pudding is actually what sparked Frances’ interest in cooking. When she was a girl, her mother would make sweet potato pudding every year as a special Christmas dessert. As she got older, Frances would help. The rest is history.
Here is how you can make sweet potato pudding, as described on Jamaican Caribbean Favorites. You can visit their site to learn how to make many more awesome Caribbean dishes!
In Sint Maarten, there a lot of airy little restaurants on the water. Today’s destination for the American University of the Caribbean spouse’s crew was Buccaneer Beach Bar. Despite its name, this is actually a great place to take kids. It’s right on the beach, and the water is shallow. It’s also a calm area, even on days when other areas of the island have big waves.
They also have a delicious assortment of non-alcoholic drinks in addition to their bar menu, and classic beachy food.
If you make it to SXM, make sure you visit one of our on-the-beach restaurants! Who doesn’t want to lounge on a beach chair with a plate of fries and a glass of something cool and sweet?