Athena Lamberis

Posts Tagged ‘history’

The history of your Favorite Foods: Pizza, Ice cream . . .

In Stories, Travel on November 3, 2014 at 18:30
 So how do we track back in time to find the origins, the stories of how our favorite foods began?
  Who put fortunes in cookies and tomato sauce on spaghetti?
 Food pairings and cultural dishes have a long history.  From spice trades, to climate regions, culinary history continues to evolve.  Natural food traditions complement what was in season – what was in season also supports exactly what our immune system and our overall physical nutritional health.
 Steamed winter greens such as spinach drizzled with olive oil and a lot of lemon juice is a Greek food staple known as Horta.   If the greens were eaten with cheese or just salt, for example, you wouldn’t get the benefit of  absorbing the high levels of Calcium and Iron in the vegetable.  When lemon juice or other foods high in Vitamin C are added to the greens, this assists the body for absorption – plus spinach is delicious with lemon juice anyway! Win-win.
So that’s just the nutritional side . . . on the history side, this info-graphic produced by Cheapflights.ca tells it how it is.  Anthropology of Food . . . .  I love it!  Appetite for variety – I celebrate all things real food.  Enjoy!
the history behind your favourite foods 53cd2cdd68e9e w640 How and Where the Worlds Most Beloved Foods Started (INFOGRAPHIC)

Sushi photo (slider) via Shutterstock

Baklava Recipe of Hellenic Cuisine Cook book – Detroit, MI

In Recipe, Stories on July 8, 2013 at 11:45

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The Culinary Linguist Baklava from Hellenic Cuisine

Baklava from Hellenic Cuisine
pic by http://www.foundmichigan.org/
Copyright 1956 Sts. Constantine and Helen Book Fund 4801 Oakman Boulevard Detroit, Michigan

It started with an urgent recipe book search, followed by a Whatsapp message to my mom,

“Hey, I’m making baklava and was thinking about yiayia’s recipe book.  Did you give me a copy?”

My Yiayia Christina was a legendary cook.  It’s a family fact that Yiayia and Thea Toula (her younger sister) were a culinary force.  They created delicious Greek food feasts for our families, fed generations and instilled life lessons like great food is made with love (and a whole lot of butter or olive oil).   Their culinary contributions are found in the 1956 recipe book, Hellenic Cuisine, created in Detroit, MI.  You can read more about the history here.

This collection of Greek culinary tradition displays the way women of St. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Detroit raised funds to make change in their community.

The culinary memory of my Yiayia and Thea live on when I recreate a recipe inspired by them.  Making baklava this past weekend was one of those moments.

It transported me back to the kitchen counters of my childhood, painting melted butter on phyllo sheets and chewing on raw phyllo dough when my mom wasn’t looking.  I always loved the way each baklava diamond was adorned with a clove and that eating baklava for breakfast was totally acceptable. 🙂

The honey drenched crunch of baked baklava even featured at our wedding.  My mother-in-law had a baklava tasting party to make sure the best one was shared with our family and friends.

To recreate baklava in South Africa meant we adapted a recipe to the ingredients we had available.

We substituted walnuts with ground up cashew, almond, brazil nut and pumpkin seeds.  Raisins and cranberries were chopped in the food processor because we were lazy to pick them all out of the trail nut mix.  Instead of using any sugar, we decided to use a honey and farm butter mixture to paint on the phyllo layers.

We even added organic rose water to the mixture from our friend’s at Kuhestan Farm.  I couldn’t resist dipping uncooked phyllo strips in the honey, butter, rose water mixture while lining the pans with all the ingredients.

In addition to the baklava layers in a pan, I rolled some into baklava cigars for variation of shapes.

In the throws of making the sweet layered masterpiece, my mom sent an adapted recipe from the Hellenic Cuisine cook book that my dad claims,  “Jackie Kennedy had a copy.”

In sharing this recipe with you, I hope you get a chance to make baklava and evolve it to your heart’s desire.

Experimenting with tradition creates new memories.

The Culinary LInguist Baklava Recipe

The Culinary Linguist Baklava Recipe Hellenic Cuisine

Mom’s email:

   By popular demand, here is the baklava recipe:
This is the family’s secret recipe but what the heck, if you don’t share good things what else can we share…..

                       Baklava Recipe

5         cups of walnuts, pecans, pistachio or a combination of two or more
( your choice of what you like best, I like walnuts and pistachio)
3/4      cups of sugar
2 T      Cinnamon
1 T       Allspice
2          Phyllo Sheets
1          Lb. sweet butter (yes, 4 sticks – do not cheat on this, otherwise the
ghosts of the past yiayia’s will haunt you)

Blend first 5 ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Spray oil or brush butter a large 15 by 25 inch pan
Apply a sheet of phyllo and butter
Butter 6 more sheets of phyllo and then begin to sprinkle nut mixture between every 2 layers of phyllo until all nut mixture is finished.
Keep 5 to 6 pieces of phyllo for top layer
Cut excess phyllo from edge (leaving 1/2 inch) and fold outside edge under and slice whole Baklava into individual pieces (first rows lengthwise and then diagonally across rows).  Apply 1 clove onto center of each piece.  It looks NICE that way.  Plus it adds some flavor.
Bake in 325 degree oven for about 1 hour.
Make syrup while Baklava bakes.

Syrup:
1  cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes

Or,

Add:
1/4 to 1/2  cup honey And water (after you make it couple of times, you will know which strength of sweetness you would prefer)
Simmer for 5 more minutes

Add:
1   T. Vanilla
1   T. Lemon Juice, 1t of rind
Simmer for 2 minutes

When Baklava is removed from oven immediately spread the piping hot syrup ( it should sizzle)
Allow to cool and store covered in cool place for up to 1 week.

This is the dessert you want to share, or invite your friends for a sweet party.

When I was young and energetic, I used to make 5 pans of Baklava and have a Christmas cookie exchange.  This dessert was the favorite and the fastest to go.

Carry on the tradition, but don’t wait for Christmas.  It is good anytime.  Great with Greek/Turkish coffee too.
Enjoy in Good Health and Good Spirits!
Maria

______________________

Hellenic Cuisine cook book baklava pinwheels, The Culinary Linguist

Hellenic Cuisine cook book baklava pinwheels, The Culinary Linguist

The Culinary Linguist-Hellenic Cuisine

The Hellenic Cuisine cookbook seeks to preserve the culinary traditions of ancient and modern Greece. With well over 300 recipes arranged by category, direction have been simplified for the American kitchen. The book blends new and old. Scores of the recipes were submitted in the Greek language and translated.

How to Cure your Own Olives in Brine: Greek Yiayia Style

In Recipe, Stories on April 25, 2013 at 19:45

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The Culinary Linguist-Homemade-How to Cure Olives-Pickle and Marinate

Olives in Athen’s Greece Farmer’s Market

How to make your own olives edible.

Mom would say, “Only eat 8 olives a day, honey.”  But it was too easy to devour the salty Grecian delights by the dozen. With crusty brown sourdough bread and green virgin olive oil on a flat side plate, nothing satisfied me more than eating Yiayia’s Kalamatas olives in the middle of Chicago’s winter.  To this day, I have a plate solely dedicated to olives and their pips and snack on these pickled fruits year round (and still by the dozen).

Growing up, I’d spin the bottom  shelf of the  cupboard to reveal  Yiayia’s hand-picked, home-cured Kalamata olives.  Purple, green and maroon olives floated in one gallon glass jars of oregano, thyme, vinegar and oil.  As a kid, I was powerlifting  the heavy 2 gallon olive jar off the bottom shelf and onto the counter in order to dip my tiny fingers into the oil and vinegar brine to search for the juiciest olives.  As I got older, I’d use an oversized spoon to fish for the tangiest Kalamatas, and strain the brine from the spoon to reveal my bite-size snacks.  When May arrived, it got harder for the spoon to fish for olives at the bottom of the jar.  I’d spend the whole year snacking on the cured fruits and diminished our Greek food provisions we would smuggle in from Greece.  The empty olive jar was an indicator that it wouldn’t be long before we would pack our dresses and sandals for the summer at Yiayia’s house.  Mom would pack a suitcase within a suitcase when we travelled to Athens.  In August, we would return to Chicago with more olives to fill the jar, and enough oregano to make the beagles sniff us out as drug smugglers.

Now, when May arrives I pick 10-20 kilos of Mission Olives around Cape Town, South Africa.  My childhood love for enjoying home-cured olives, fills my own cupboards with a cultural joy and salty olive treats to share in memory of my grandmother’s tradition.

Every step of the curing processes makes me wonder of when and how people discovered this ancient practice.

My Grandparents in Greece, 1930-40', Athena and Elias

My Grandparents, Yiayia Athena and Papou Elias Soupos

My Greek grandmother Athena culinary traditions

Greek love under the olive groves

Mission Olives in South Africa on Francolin Farm

Mission olives growing on branches in South Africa

Was it Athena’s olive tree branch that broke off during an autumn storm?  The branch that fell into the river bed and carried it for weeks into the salty estuary of Poseidon’s sea.  For weeks it may have soaked along the shores until a small family fishing boat arrived near Kalamata and came across the curing olive fruit branch floating in the water.  If they tasted the divine harmony of the Greek Gods’ elements and discovered that the olive fruit tree was not just best for oil, wood and shade, but for it’s fruit too, then let that be the start of a nourishing tradition.

I have been learning about the whole benefits of the olive tree itself recently when I’m not making up mythological stories of food origins. 🙂

With all its rich phytonutrients and phytochemicals (phyto stems from the Greek word-plant), the medicinal compounds from the leaves, fruit, roots and stems, play a major role in fighting bacterial and viral infections/disease as well as boosting the immune system to prevent and treat flus and colds.  The olive tree’s ancient medicinal presence is found in many religious texts such as the Qu’ran, Torah and Bible, and continues to feature in Internal Medicine Journals today.

The oleuropein (the bitter substance in olives) has been founded to inactivate bacteria, and display a number of other benefits in pharmacology research.  Essentially, it is an herbal powerhouse effective for infectious and chronic health conditions.  I like to use olive leaf extract or make olive leaf tea as a preventive agent in my overall health.  Olive leaves are now a staple in my cupboard alongside cured olives. I’ve found ways to use olive leaves in many everyday uses by sprinkling the leaves in salads, porridge, soups, and breads.  Don’t be surprised if I post an Olive leaf smoothie in the near future. I promise it wont be bitter!

For now, I would like to share some delicious combinations of flavours I’ve added to my curing olives over the years.

But first, there are a variety of ways to cure olives.  Check out the Australian Olive Grower Issue #4 for some inspiration.

For the past three years, I have been roughly following a water bath recipe given to me by Francolin Farm.

1. After picking your olives, place rinsed olives in a net bag (the ones you store onion’s  with) and put into a bucket and cover with water. Don’t pack olives too tightly and take care not to bruise them.  I place my olives in a cooler box because it has a spout I can lift open to let the water drain. Some people save water by placing the olives on top of the toilet basin where fresh water gets drained everytime you flush.  Others just fill their bathtub and drain it daily.  It would be nice to find some use for your greywater (olive water) in your garden.  If water shortage is an issue, fill jars with 50% salt and 50% olives.  Gently turn and toss olive jars daily for 2-3 weeks.  Rinse salt and fill jars again with 1 part salt and 10 parts water (see below for olive marinade flavours.)

2. Change water once or twice daily for 2-3 weeks. Simply lift the net bag with
olives out of the bucket and pour off water and replace in fresh water. Taste after two weeks and continue if it is still too bitter.

3. Dissolve 500 grams coarse salt in 5 litres boiling water. Allow to cool.
This mixture is sufficient for approx 2 ½ kilos of olives. Leave olives in this
brine solution undisturbed for one week. Taste, if bitter replace with fresh
brine solution and leave for a further week.  I like to use non-iodized salt or kosher salt.  The other ratio to use is 1 part salt to 10 parts water.

4. Rinse olives several times with fresh water. Cover with brown vinegar for
24 hours. Pour off vinegar and expose the olives to air overnight or a few hours
till dry.  This brings the colour of the olives back to a deep purple/black.  You may notice they lightened in colour when they were soaking.

4. Pack olives in clean warm sterilized jars. Pour over 25 ml olive oil per
jar. Make a brine of  300 grams coarse salt to 4,5 litres water (or 1:10 ratio). When brine mixture boils pour in 250 ml wine vinegar.  The vinegar is not necessary, but many people love the taste of red wine vinegar instead of the rich olive taste.  The art is getting all flavours to balance, in true Grecian culinary wisdom -Everything in Moderation. Pour hot brine mixture over  . . . . .  But wait!  This is where your creative olive marinade flavours get to feature.

Let your imagination go wild.  In addition to your brine (whether it is the vinegar and salt, or just 1 part salt to 10 part water ratio.  The salt ensures that the olives cure without bacteria growing and spoiling the fruit.  If you notice some white film, don’t stress.  You can scrape it off or leave it to add flavour as some people believe.  Before filling the jars with olives, add your favourite pinches of spice and intuitive amounts for your olives to marinate in. Then, place olives into the jar, filling the jar to the brim. Pour your salt brine over and seal jar immediately whilst the liquid is hot. Some people pour oil over to seal the jar.  This is optional.

Olives in a Moroccan marinade

Olives are tossed in salt, lemon, bay leaves, pickled garlic, and rosemary in a barrel marinade

Some flavour marinades I’ve done in the past:

Smoked Chipolte Chili Powder and Rosemary

Mustard Seeds and Laurel Leaf

Greek Traditional: Lemon Juice, Lemon Rinds, Rosemary and Garlic cloves

Herbaliser: Basil, Oregano, Lemon and Thyme

Nasturtium and Peppadew

Lemongrass and Ginger

Cumin seeds, Cayenne and Lemon

Miso and Ginger

Celery Seeds, Bay Leaf and Tarragon

Sage and Rainbow Peppercorns

Acha Masala

Smoked Paprika and Lemon Slices

Lavender Flowers, Cloves and Cumin

Cardamom, Peppercorn and Cinnamon

Red curry powder and Turmeric

Carraway Seeds, Celery and Carrot

Spices and Herbs to put in Olive marinade

Food as our medicine: Herbs sold at in Athens, Greece Farmer’s Market

Olives sold in Athens, Greece

Different types of Olives: Brined, Pickled, Dried, Salted, Cracked, etc.

Share your olive marinades and enjoy!

Pickling Green Bean Recipe for St. Patrick’s Day

In Recipe on March 17, 2013 at 22:13

How to Pickle Green Beans on The Culinary Linguist Blog #recipe
There’s not much that happens on St. Patricks day in Cape Town.  You could go down to The Dubliner Pub on Long Street or wonder if wearing your “Kiss Me I’m Irish Tshirt” from college could get you a smooch.  Growing up in Chicago, I remember the river turned green (or was it always? :0), Irish Soda Bread filled our stomachs and fraternity parties thought green beer kegs would bring all the girls to the yard.

Pickle Green Beans on The Culinary Linguist Blog #recipeThe greenest thing I’m consuming this year are the efforts of my pickled green beans.  Every year in college, my cousin Chrissy would share her  spicy stock of  homemade ‘Dilly Beans” with me.  I would bring them back to my dorm room at Michigan State University and enjoy every tart spicy crunch I’d pull out from the juice of the jar .  As a student, it was the perfect snack in between classes or to keep you spiced up for studying.  Salt and vinegar dilly beans with a cayenne twist lived happily in my cupboard to replace my Funyun and Flaming Hot Cheeto days.

  Now, years later the pickled cravings for that long green bean treat has finally been recreated in my kitchen-thanks to her shared recipe in Share. Cook. Love.  Six bottles of white wine vinegar and eight sterlised jars later . . . I had myself a pickling kitchen station ready to spice up anything green for winter food storage.  Eventhough my St. Patty’s day isn’t filled with shamrocks and parades, I am celebrating my freckles, my family and a green recipe with you.

Chrissy’s dilly bean recipe goes a little something like this:

Ingredients to Pickle Green Beans on The Culinary Linguist Blog #recipe 2 lbs Green Beans ( in separate jars I also used celery, kale, and broccolli)

  1 tsp. cayenne pepper (I also added tumeric, pickling spice, paprika, whole dried chillies and bay leaves to some jars- getcreative)

Spices on The Culinary Linguist Blog #recipe 4 cloves of garlic


Cayenne on The Culinary Linguist Blog #recipe
  4 heads of fresh dill (I couldn’t find fresh dill so I settled for sprinkling dry dill into the jars)

  2 1/2 cups water

 2 1/2 cups white wine vinegar

1/4 cup salt (I used Khoisan’s hand harvested  sea salt but any of your preferred quality salt can be used)

How to Pickle Broccoli on The Culinary Linguist Blog #recipe

 

  1. Wash and trim the beans.  Pack lengthwise into clean sterlised jars leaving 1/4 inch head space.

 2. Add 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper powder to each jar, one clove garlic and one head dill.

3.  Combine water, vinegar, and salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Pour this hot mixture over the beans packed in the jars.  Leave 1/4 head space.

4. Adjust lids and process 10 minutes in boiling water bath.  Let is stand for at least two weeks for the flavour to develop.

 Makes about 4 pints.

How to Pickle Vegetables on The Culinary Linguist Blog #recipe

Check out the pickling variety: Kale, Broccoli, and celery

My Recipe Book on The Culinary Linguist Blog #recipe

Share. Cook. Love: The Cook Book

In Events, Friend's Kitchens, Recipe, Stories on August 5, 2012 at 15:53

Athena and Chris on The Culinary Linguists blog #cookbook

Our story began 2005, Feb 14th.

Durban, South Africa.  A Surfer met a Gypsy at Capoeira class.  It was a Monday, after the first day of our third year at University.

7 years later, in the province where it all began, we told everyone we loved to join us for a festival of families, a love

celebration . . . our wedding.

Friends and family came as far as California, Thailand, Belgium and Detroit. And on the Monday before our wedding I was given the most thoughtful and loving gift.

My sister, Koko, compiled a recipe book that she titled:

A collection of recipes on The Culinary Linguists blog #cookbook

Share. Cook. Love

The cookbook

Gathered by the women that love you.

As I opened this gift at my surprise Kitchen Tea, it felt as though my heart was reliving my most touching memories-an overwhelming feeling of love washed over me and misted my eyes.  I paged through over 50 recipes of family and friends that represented so many facets in my life.  From friends that were celebrating our marriage from afar, in Brasil, New York, Chicago and Nicaragua- I was able hear their voice through their shared words and recipes.  This cookbook was made for me and the diversity in dishes and loving varieties directly reflected the beautiful community of women in my life.  From dressings, to desserts, every tradition and recipe chosen for my own personal anthology of culinary linguists will be cherished throughout my life.

Now when I am missing my family and friends and want to create and cook from my heart–I can thank everyone who contributed to this emblem of friendship and love.  As a bride, it was a collage of memory that reverberated through my heart and now as a wife, it is a personal love resource from all the sisters and mothers that I get to celebrate with.  I have years of memory and new memories to look forward to, by creating edible creations curated by them.

This is culinary linguists at it’s best: a true example of love.

My family recipe contributors on The Culinary Linguists blog #cookbook

My mom, sister, myself and mamabel

Athena and Chris Wedding Day on The Culinary Linguists blog #wedding

Our wedding day June 30th

Athena and Chris on The Culinary Linguists blog #love

the day before our wedding day

The recipe book on The Culinary Linguists blog #cookbook

Diving into the culinary linguists!

Athena and Koko on The Culinary Linguists blog #family

Koko and I in 1984

Athena, Bride to be on The Culinary Linguists blog #wedding belindaandAthenakitchenteakitchenteainDurban Wedding Stationary Athena and Chris on The Culinary Linguists blog #wedding Athena and Chris' reception on The Culinary Linguists blog #wedding

Celebrating Vetkoek, Beats and Madiba at the the Ubuntu Festival in Cape Town

In Events on July 18, 2011 at 13:53

Ubuntu Festival-Madiba's birthday on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownTata Mandela celebrates his 93rd birthday today.  His life and dedication to the public’s well being has been a symbol for us to trust that we have the capacity to make changes in our life that leads to freedom and positive transformation.  Giving life to metaphors.  On Sunday, July 17th, the city of Cape Town hosted the Ubuntu Festival.  Activities were bustling on St. George’s Mall & Church St and on the ground level of the Mandela Rhodes Place.

Ubuntu Festival-Mandela's birthday on The Culinary Linguist Blog #Capetown

Ubuntu Festival-Mandela's birthday on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownUbuntu Festival-Madiba's birthday-vetkoek on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownA festival that bridges the city’s diverse spirit had independent locally produced food and farm stalls and young local DJ’s and muso’s that delivered positively hip bass-bumping beats from the Red Bull converted land cruiser turned DJ booth. I especially enjoyed GoldTooth’s vocals that dripped like honey off the amp.

Ubuntu Festival-Mandela's birthday on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownMandela's birthday on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownUbuntu Charity Cook Off Mandela's birthday on The Culinary Linguist Blog #Capetown

Inside the Mandela Rhodes Place, festival attendants could give 67 minutes of their time (The number of years Mandela dedicated to public service) to wash, peel, and chop vegetables for soup that was being made for the city’s shelters.  The Charity Cook and Chop had tables of donated vegetables from Shoprite surrounded by tables of chopping boards, knives and peelers that were populated by shifts of about 50 people at a time.  Everyone was in a meditative state, getting into the rhythm of chopping onions, or peeling carrots.  Some people confessed it was a therapeutic activity to prepare the food together, peel, cut and chop and watch the crates fill with all the chopped vegetables.

Ubuntu Charity Cook Off Mandela's birthday on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownUbuntu Charity Cook Off Mandela's birthday on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownUbuntu Charity Cook Off Mandela's birthday on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownCraig Anderson, the Chief Chef at Mandela Rhodes Place led the kitchen logistics of transforming the ingredients into soup. A call for volunteers to stir and cook was announced over the upbeat radio pop songs that were provided by 94.5 Kfm when the Chef needed to quickly prepare the dinner shift for the restaurant upstairs. “Just take a look around you!” exclaimed Craig Anderson, “It’s great! All this soup will be picked up by Red Cross at 5pm to be delivered to the city’s shelters”  So much love was being put into this communal cooking event and it wasn’t the first or last time the Charity Cook was going to happen.Vegetables on Cutting board on The Culinary Linguist Blog #Capetown

Earth Fair Market on The Culinary Linguist Blog #Capetown

Outside along Church St and St. George’s Mall, the Earth Fair Food Market curated the stalls that served traditional Umngqusho and Vetkoek, free-range biltong, farm-cured olives and preserves, Chinese spring rolls, a variety of fragrant curries, chilli bites, freshly juiced apples and beetroot, savory pies, and sublime local wine and beers at The Laughing Crocodile Bar.

Olive Products in South Africa on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownBeef Biltong in South Africa on The Culinary Linguist Blog #Capetown Fresh Produce in South Africa on The Culinary Linguist Blog #CapetownFresh Juice in South Africa on The Culinary Linguist Blog #Capetown

Fat cake in South Africa on The Culinary Linguist Blog #Capetown

Vetkoek a.k.a Fat Cake, Fried Dough, Donut of delicious Msanzi variety

The Ubuntu Festival celebrated the beautiful struggle of freedom, bringing dancing vibrations and nutritious food together in our public city centre to commemorate communities celebrating together in a democratic South Africa. With the spirit of Ubuntu in all of us-Happy Birthday Madiba!

Mandela in South Africa on The Culinary Linguist Blog #Capetown

Mopani or mopane worms (caterpillars) taste like dried leaves

In Friend's Kitchens, Recipe, Stories on May 26, 2011 at 19:56

Mopane caterpillars eat Mopane tree leaves.

“They taste like a bit like biltong or chicken, I love them!” she explained. “Actually, they taste more like leaves.”  A bag of Mopani worms are sitting dried in my cupboard waiting for my “how to cook this” experimentation session. My seastar, Nokulinda, bought them from a Sangoma down the road from her work in Johannesburg. Noks wrote me a text before she arrived, “So happy to see you manana. x I come bearing gifts 🙂 I hope you like mopani worms . . . At least if you’re open to eating one the rest can compost xx.”

The first time I learned about mopani worms was by sticking my head inside a kitchen of a restaurant in Muizenberg.  I leaned over a huge bubbling pot in interest for what was for lunch to find plump fat worms instead of the expected butternut soup.  At that time I was more interested in where they came from than how they tasted.

Now, I’ve got my own worms and my own pot to bubble them in, there’s no shying away from it now.  People have been cooking these tree worms or rather caterpillars for centuries, so it should only feel natural to finally make up a recipe and cook and taste these Limpopo province imports, so here it goes:

bite-size butterflies

250 ml Mopani or mopane worms

1 clove of garlic

1 small onion

1 tomatoe

1 carrot

2 T of sesame and ricebran oil 

250 ml coconut milk

1 tsp fresh basil

1 tsp fresh lemongrass

6 peppercorns

2 tsp salt

150 ml rice

bath time

Bowl rice in 300ml water and lower to a simmer or place in a hot box for 45 minutes. Rinse the mopani worms in a colander. Place them in a bowl of warm water and let them soak while you prepare the vegetables.  When they have soaked for more than 5 minutes, remove any yellow hair found at the tail of the worm and tiny spikes on the body.

coconut milk broth

Boil water and add potato slices to the water.  Boil until soft. Heat oil on medium heat in a separate pan. Dice the garlic and onions and add to the heated oil.  Brown the onion and garlic. Puree tomatoe and carrot with 1 tsp salt and 1/3 cup water.  Add to the pan. Add 1 tsp salt, pepper, lemongrass, and basil. Add mopani worms and stir. Cover pan and simmer until the water has evaporated. Stir in the coconut milk, let it simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mopane worms are a source of protein, iron, phosphorus and calcium.

Lower the heat and stir what now should be a gravy-like consistency. Mopani worms should be soft and the gravy should be oh so tasty.  Add the potatoes to the gravy and let them soak up the flavour  or alternatively place in your hot box.  Fry the rice in coconut oil so some bits become crispy.  Serve the gravy over the rice and garnish with cilantro.

How to serve mopane worms 🙂

Next up: Chocolate covered worms!

Prickly Cactus Pear Smoothie

In Friend's Kitchens, Recipe, Stories on March 7, 2011 at 00:25

The best thing about when friends house sit is the magic of new groceries that end up in your kitchen.  One Sunday afternoon, I discovered prickly pear syrup (turksvy stroop) in my fridge and it sat there, waiting for me to make crepes or pour it on yoghurt. Instead, it ended up in my fruit smoothie as a sweetener and added delicious flavour to an ordinary combination of vitamin C fruit. The syrup is a tradisionele resep from Cradock, South Africa.

Prickly Pear Smoothie:

1 frozen ripe plum

1 frozen orange

300 ml water

50 ml prickly pear syrup

On the bottle shares a food story about Prickly Pears in South Africa: The earliest pioneers in South Afria were bound to live from raw plant and animal products.  Sugar was almost unobtainable and they has to make their food tasty. The juice of the wild growing prickly pear was extracted and then without adding water or sugar, it was cooked over an open fire for many hours, until only a concentrate remained.  Great amounts of fruit are needed for only one bottle of syrup.  To EAT: butter slice of bread on one side. turn it over so that the buttered side faces the plate, cut into little squares and drench it with syrup.  Eat it with a knife and fork. Can also be used as a topping for ice cream.  The Voortrekkers also used it as a cough remedy, and for instant energy for sick people.

A future post will definitely include Wild Food: Prickly Pear cocktail recipes. I’m sure people who lived and travelled on Southern African land before Voortrekkers time (1835) had amazing recipes with prickly pears and using it as all sorts of remedies.  Would be cool to track down some of those stories and how food rituals were learned from these nomadic encounters.

I love when new wild food ingredients find a handful of ways into your kitchen palette.  I would love some tips on how to harvest these prickly fruits!

Vegetarian Bobotie

In Recipe on September 29, 2010 at 16:10

 

spiced bobotie in the oven

 

This layered oven-baked dish is a reflection of  the histories, cultures, and cuisines that flavour the peninsula of Cape Town.  The roots of the spices used in traditional recipes come from Cape Malay cuisine but is easy to make your own Bobotie-inspired dish with the flavours and ingredients in your own kitchen, celebrating the truth of cultural-pluralism in our food language.

 

So I'm not photogenic but I'm layered with goodness

 

The meditative quality that cooking can give when we take the time and patience with real foods and combine their chemistry is a unifying cultural practice.  Food speaks a unifying language. Everything takes time to communicate.  Bobotie speaks a Cape Malay history, a strong culture alive in South African food and community combining the diversity and strength fully reflected in the flavours of the dishes served spicy hot in neighborhoods all around Cape Town.

Ingredients:

2 slices of hearty bread

1/2 c. milk

1 cup of cooked rice/wild rice/lentil mix

1 chopped onion

1 tomato

2 garlic cloves

half grated carrot

half grated apple

1/4 c. apple cider vinegar

1 TB mild yellow curry powder

2 tsp fresh grated ginger

1 half teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon cinnamon

handful of raisins

2 heaping spoonfuls of smooth apricot jam

pinch paprika and tumeric

salt and pepper to taste

oil to coat the dish

1egg

2 TB yoghurt

Soak the bread in milk and 1 tsp ginger. Fry the garlic, onion and left over grated ginger in oil for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add carrots and fry until softened.  Mix in the curry powder and garam masala. Add all other ingredients in the pan and fry together until well mixed and distributed.  In an oven dish line the bottom with the soaked bread.  Layer the ingredients in the pan on top. Beat 1 egg and yoghurt with a pinch of paprika and turmeric and pour on top.  Bake until golden brown on top at 180 C.

Tip 1: Spices don’t last forever.  There are lots of theories on how to maintain their freshness but one that does not fail is to just use them.  Experiment and trust your intuition. Don’t be afraid, especially in a dish like bobotie known for combining wonderful spices.  Entertain yourself with spice alchemy and put that spice cupboard to work.

Tip 2: Substitute the rice mix with mashed chickpeas, white beans, or mince. If you have random beans or grains in your cupboard like millet, buckwheat or quinoa, be bold and mix them together and create a complex grain mix.  Just be mindful that each grain may have different cooking times so add them to the water accordingly.

Tip 3: Clean out your lingering grains in your cupboard by making a mix that amounts to what is needed.  Give the 3 TB of brown rice and 1/2 c. white rice and some red lentils some freedom and speak your own dialect of bobotie.

Tip 4: Leftover bobotie?  Slice brie and place on top of the bobotie. Pour apricot jam over the top and bake in your oven over high heat.  Bake brie on anything if you have to eat leftovers and you won’t look at leftovers the same.

 

Brie and Leftovers are best friends

 

Food Language Speaks Up!

In Recipe, Stories, Travel on September 8, 2010 at 12:36

Food and communication is a necessity for all of us and this blog is a celebration of variety, sharing of ideas, cultures and the language of food which ultimately connects us all.

The food that will be and has been created in my kitchen and friend’s kitchens will be spoken about in this blog, as a testament to the way we each have our own food language.  It communicates history, culture, experience and motivates us to create and share, diversifying our palette.

So this is a journey and journal through the languages of food, mixing and experimenting with tastes from many different spice racks, gardens, cultures and regions.

Please feel free to share this space as a forum of recipe ideas, flavor and food language gossip.  I love to hear the stories about food, questions, ingredient combination discoveries, and the rituals of food sharing, etc. Otherwise, I hope the recipes shared here speak to you and can be recreated in your own unique way.

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