Back in Accra, making ricotta zucchini dumplings

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Back in Accra, where it is rainy season and a cool 26C. Nice! The monthly Goethe market  has moved to the W.E.B. Dubois centre, and was very nice indeed. First Saturday of the month, if you are ever in Accra, it is great for presents. Fabric, bags, jewelry, carvings, shea butter soap, and much more. Me, I bought bagels, eggs and spinach.

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Window shopping for future present needs: the batik bags are gorgeous. And I was very happy to see Afrisocks there.

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I’ve seen Afrisocks online, and plan to get some for Christmas presents. Nice to actually see the real thing, though. New patterns coming in October or November, and the current ones are great too. Also ladies socks are planned.

With rainy season in swing and some household items going moldy (suitcases, toiletry bag), best to not do any Christmas shopping too early.  I bought spinach from Sowgreen (behind the market, usually at Dubois every Saturday) and went home to make these ricotta, courgette and spinach dumplings. Normally that would be challenging here, but I am just back from Rome and had brought back fresh ricotta and zucchini. Yes, I make the most of my checked luggage. Then I saw the recipe in The Guardian yesterday and thought: it is a sign! Whoohoo! I can make that!

Normally I read through well-traveled BBC Good Food magazines, or my increasingly mottled cookbooks, noting recipes to try (preferably with available items like sweet potato, banana, avocado, eggs) while sighing over all the ingredients which are not available here (or are insanely expensive) and debating substitutes. It was fun to just follow the recipe for once.

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See  Thomasina Miers’ recipe for ricotta, courgette and spinach dumplings which were quite labour intensive, but very tasty.  I followed the recipe as indicated, just with a splash of KLM red wine from last flight in the tomato sauce. Lots of dumplings left so maybe I will try to freeze some. Or have them with cheese, hmmmm…..

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A good weekend to all!

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From rice weevils to Miffy in Utrecht, in 24 hours

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Yesterday I was tidying the flat in Accra, taking out rubbish, packing bags for a work trip, while wondering what in earth the ants had gotten into this time. They show up now and then in the kitchen: after five weeks of truce, they were very excited about something invisible under the dish rack. I checked some storage boxes, just in case, and there were black specks crawling also there, in the rice. Arrrghhhh….  Rice weevils. Not great, but not a health hazard, so I sorted through 3 litres of rice by hand, and the rice is now in the freezer to kill the rest (and remaining eggs), reminding myself that insect protein is an upcoming protein source. Then I headed to Kotoka International Airport for the overnight KLM flight to Amsterdam. The new terminal there is not open yet, but it looks quite fancy, we are curious about that.

After a sleepless night of flying (Black Panther, Lady Bird and more due to seatmate whose elbows were on the invasive side – great films though) I caught the train to Utrecht (9.80 euro, 30 minutes) and was fortunate enough to get a hotel room even at 830AM. It was 11C this morning, and I was so cold. No problem, I thought: “I’ll go look at central Utrecht, get breakfast, and buy trousers! This is Europe, it will be easy! Then I’ll get some sleep.”  But no, most Utrecht shops open at noon on Sundays, so I ambled around until noon looking at Oudegracht  (central canal), the DomTor (tower), the very empty streets, and the plethora of bicycles parked everywhere. It is a pretty place.

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I had a nice cappuccino, was shocked over how many Pokestops Utrecht has (many parts of Accra are Pokedeserts),  then finally found some trousers AND a Birkenstock shop with summer sales. My goodness, after having various sandals go moldy from Accra humidity and after taping my last Birkenstocks with duct tape to get a few more months use out of them: it was like Christmas. Now I have a backup, if the sadly fraying sandals I packed for the meeting tomorrow break beyond repair.

Yes, it was a bit surreal  to see all the shops in Utrecht.  By lunchtime the streets were buzzing with people, lots of outdoor restaurants.  You might also bump into this:

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Miffy! You might not be familiar with the Dutch rabbit Miffy, but the author and artist Dick Bruno was from Utrecht. I was a child in Holland in the last 1970s, so Miffy is very familiar. Here Miffy is again: img_20180624_1108381

Now it is time to sort meeting files and check email before dinner with meeting organizers. Normally there is very little time to see local sights on work trips, so a Sunday morning peek at Utrecht was a treat.

Banana bread with yogurt and chocolate chips

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Right before Eid I made two banana breads for the office: one with butter, lemon and yogurt, and this one with yogurt and chocolate chips. Both were assembled based on the bananas and yogurt I had to use up, and both were very nice! The chocolate chips were courtesy of my American flatmate, and much appreciated: otherwise coconut chips or nuts would have been nice too.  Though I am not a banana fan, they come my way (canteen desserts, office coffees) and are good and plentiful here, and they do freeze well unpeeled. As our next chest freezer is already full (mainly due to ant invasions), I thought banana breads were a better destination for these.

Banana bread with yogurt and chocolate chips

2-3 small very ripe bananas, mashed (I used about 145 gr peeled)
150 grammes plain yogurt (here there is only full-fat local yogurt, but very good)
2 medium eggs
50 ml vegetable oil
250 grammes all-purpose flour  (until I thought the batter had right consistency)
125 grammes sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
a restrained handful of chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a medium loaf pan with parchment paper (mine is maybe 20x5cm). Whisk together eggs, bananas and oil. Whisk in the rest, and stir in a handful of dark chocolate chips or chopped baking chocolate. Bake at 180C for 50-55 minutes or so. I test with a wooden chopstick, this one took a bit longer than the lemon cake. This would probably be faster if not baking two cakes at same time. Cool on a rack for a bit before serving (easier to slice next day).

Here are the two banana breads, lemon and chocolate chip, freshly baked. Watched with an episode of Alias season 1, which is still enjoyable!  We have not paid for DSTV here, but not having actual TV is fine as long as you have hard drives and DVDs. I am really really forward to seeing Jennifer Garner in Peppermint. Most movies I watch on planes these days, though we did go see Deadpool 2 recently at Accra Mall, which has a very good cinema. DP2 was gory but very funny.

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