Category Archives: food

Split pea and sweet potato soup, and plastic recycling

grilled plantain Accra

Grilled plantain, in Cantonments, Accra. We were heading to the airport and traffic was slow. The eight kilometers to Kotoka Airport can take fifteen minutes, or an hour and a half, you never quite know.  But I’d had  this pea soup for lunch, tasty and filling, which helps maintain patience. Normally I’d make split yellow pea soup with salt ham, or salt pork knuckle and maybe leeks, in a more Nordic style. But this was more what we had in the house, and it was good.

Split yellow pea soup with sweet potatoes

Split yellow peas: 2 cups soaked and cooked the day before
2 sweet potatoes: sliced and roasted
1-2 tsp vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
Fresh ginger: about 3 cm, peeled and chopped
One onion: peeled and chopped
2 tsp powdered turmeric
1 litre vegetable stock

Fry up onion, garlic, ginger. Add sliced, roasted sweet potatoes. If you did not have time to roast them (I had leftovers from another dish), just chuck them in the pan with the onions and and let them soften a  bit. Then I added the split yellow peas, mine were already cooked for lasagna a couple days earlier. (Again, if you do not have cooked split peas on hand, just use split peas that you have soaked for a few hours, to cut down on cooking time.) Add the stock, and cook 15 min or so – longer if using uncooked sweet potatoes and uncooked split peas. Then blended it all with an immersion blender to a thick soup. Add more liquid if like it looser. Good soup to eat from a mug  (we did that while watching the French series The Bureau, so far very good), along with a slice of freshly baked and buttered bread.

So non-photogenic, I should have added a sprig  of something or a token swirl of yogurt….
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Accra often surprises me in good ways, like the cheerful garbage truck men. Here collecting from the bakery next door, which is very busy despite not being cheap. Fancy new cars line up to get breakfast, our street gets busy in the mornings. Many do burn rubbish  (I can smell some right now) and the Accra waste situation is challenging. There is a push by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly to turn Accra into the cleanest city in the whole of Africa, we will see. At least Environment360 is doing inspirational work on recycling (mainly plastic) and education, which is great to see. Now I just need to get my plastic to a recycling point…..

Garbage truck Accra

There have been suggestions to ban plastic bags in Ghana, like Kenya recently did. It will come, I am sure. We bring cloth bags to the supermarket, to avoid coming home with eight yellow plastic Shoprite bags after each trip, though that is not so common here. We were told off only once for bringing our own bags (Marina Mall), but not since. Of course my carbon footprint is terrible (air travel), and I really should bring a fabric bag or paper bag to buy my eggs from the the corner shop (a sweet lady in a half-container shack) rather than as here, double-bagged in the thin black bags. Next time!

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Goats, and apple crumble with butterscotch chips

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The neighborhood goats are still doing well. I met them the other day, snacking on this palm branch. It is the end of the rainy season, not too hot yet but it is getting hotter. The goats forage and roam, and go home at the end of the day. Small, but glossy coats and they look healthy.  Quiet weekend here, after heavy rain Friday and the gas explosion here in Accra last night, very sad. At least seven killed, according to the news so far.
Time to make a rather deconstructed crumble, due to some vintage apples in the  bottom of the fridge, and the goal to use up the last butterscotch chips bought in New York last year.  Maybe not a very British crumble, but it was good.
Apple crumble with butterscotch chips
4 apples, peeled and sliced thinly
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup flaked coconut
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs honey  (as I was out of brown sugar and low on butter….)
1 tbs butter
1 tbs water
Heat oven to 180C. Layer the apples in a Pyrex dish, with the cinnamon sprinkled over. Mix all the other ingredients, it will be damp and crumbly. Scatter in a thin layer over apples. Bake 30 minutes, the apple juices will bubble through and the top will be slightly golden. Serve warm with icecream or vanilla custard. Very nice cold next day.
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And here are the goats, heading home. Up in Tamale my friends were petrified of hitting a pregnant goat in traffic, that can be very expensive. Our neighborhood is relatively safe in that respect, traffic is never very fast. I thus have time to see the local peacock, who morosely sits high on a compound wall nearby each morning, looking at the road, barred from going further by the electric wire.
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Time to make dinner: tonight, Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for aubergine, black-eyed bean and dill curry  which looks both interesting and delicious.

Roast pumpkin lasagna with yellow peas

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On my way to work: parts of Accra are very modern. And yes, the taxis and trotros (minibus taxis) here generally have religious text on the back window, like above. You might see BLESSED, JUDGMENT DAY, THE DEVIL IS A LIAR, or BE HUMBLE. Friday we had a massive rainstorm, plenty of time in traffic to read window slogans.

After three months of cooler weather (under 28C) here in Accra, the heat is coming back. Phew. After a grocery run to Marina Mall (for cheapest UHT milk) by Uber yesterday  morning, I was already feeling woozy from the heat. And it’s not even that hot yet…. Still, I am really happy I spent the last weekends sorting through cupboards and closets so most of that is done before we move. Risengrynsgrøt (Norwegian rice porridge) is now spluttering away in the slow cooker, and chickpeas are soaking for tomorrow. We are working our way through the food left: lots of pulses, seeds and mystery ice-crusted boxes in the freezer. So far it is still a fun challenge: buy fresh vegetables and fruit, soak and cook a batch of beans/lentils/cowpeas in the slowcooker, and see what we can cook. Last weekend it was a dried split yellow peas, which ended up in soup and this lasagna.


Roast pumpkin lasagna with split yellow peas

500g pumpkin
2 tbsp olive oil

For the sauce:
1/2 onion, chopped
1 stick of celery
3 cloves of garlic
1 vegetarian stock cube
1 cup of split yellow peas, soaked overnight and cooked
Roast pumpkin
Enough water to make sauce loose enough to spread: 1/2 litre or so

Make 1/2 litre of bechamel sauce:
50g plain flour
50g butter
500ml milk
salt, pepper
pinch of nutmeg

10-12 dry lasagna sheets
300g of grated cheese (I used defrosted scarmorza and cheddar)

Night before: soak the split yellow peas, if using. The ones I have take ages to cook even when soaked, despite the package saying soaking not needed. Lentils would be fine too. I try to eat meat-free most of the week, so we have a big stash of pulses. The first year of our mortgage we were so broke, and ate so much beans and lentils…. it is a real luxury to be eating this way by choice, not of necessity.

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Cut the pumpkin into 2 cm slices. Drizzle with oil, and roast in a foil-lined tin at 200C for 25 min or so, until soft. (Shoprite had local pumpkin already peeled,  a nice shortcut. I chopped and roasted the pumpkin the night before, when we were making pizza and the oven was on anyway. Stored in fridge overnight once cool.)

Cook split yellow peas: drain soaking water, covert with water and cook until soft. Then drain. (Mine stayed slightly crunchy, so I blitzed them with immersion blender to speed up cooking.)

Make pumpkin sauce: Sauté chopped onion and garlic, add cooked split yellow peas and roast pumpkin. Cook 20 min or so. Salt and pepper to taste. With immersion blender, blend until relatively smooth. You’ll need to add some water to make it loose enough to spread.

Make bechamel sauce: melt butter, stir in flour, then whisk in milk and bring to boil while stirring, until sauce thickens and is smooth. Stir in 2/3 of the grated cheese, stir until melted.

Assemble lasagna: Grease a roasting tin lightly. Spread a layer of pumpkin sauce on base, then a layer of dry lasagna sheets, then a layer of bechamel sauce, with a handful of grated cheese. Keep layering, finish with bechamel and cheese. Bake for 40 mins at 200C.

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Very un-photogenic, but tasty (all that cheese helped, use less if you prefer.) Also made this week:

Today: Norwegian Christmas dinner with ribbe, surkål, kålrabistappe, raspeballer, flatbrød, tyttebærsyltetøy, akevitt, riskrem. Perfect in the heat! Not really, but the freezer seems to take forever to empty,  so big steps needed. Eight weeks left until we move, but I am waiting to see the paperwork before I start giving away cutlery, plates, bookshelves, clothes and such. Not much clutter here, except in the Corner of Doom (things to use up in kitchen). Paella spices? We’ll soak some of that dried salted cod, and make fishcakes and a fishy saffron rice dish. Oodles of sesame seeds and tahini? Tahini cookies coming up. Maybe a chickpea pumpkin curry tomorrow, we shall see. A good Sunday to all.