Friday, February 03, 2017

Alert on Autographed Book Labels

This is just a quick update for those of you who wish to receive the autographed book labels  of The Ghana Cookbook signed by both myself and Barbara. I should have mentioned that the signed labels  are only 4 inches by 2 inches (about 51 mm by 102 mm)  and fit easily into a small normal envelope, with regular first class postage (49 cents in the U.S.). There is no need to send an oversized self-addressed envelope.

Thank you, and I apologize for not making this clear to those of you who have already requested them.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Over 1,000,000 hits and A gift to my friends

I just sat down at the computer this afternoon, January 27, and see Betumiblog has just passed the one million visit mark (1,000,408 at 5 pm, EST) since we started counting visits. It's a milestone and I'm grateful.

I'd like to say "thank you" to the folks who've supported this site over the years, and just thought of a way. Several of you have already asked how you could get your copy (or a copy you want to give as a gift) of The Ghana Cookbook autographed by both Barbara and me.

When we published The Ghana Cookbook in November, 2015, I was still in the U.S. and Barbara was in Ghana, but we managed to both sign 50 book plates for the book.

In honor of Black History Month, Valentine's Day, and surpassing the 1,000,000 visit mark, I'd like to give them away to the first 50 people who send me a stamped, self-addressed envelope and proof that they've already purchased the cookbook, or ordered it. One per person, please.

You can send them to:
Fran Osseo-Asare
P.O. Box 222
State College, PA 16804  USA

Be sure to enclosed a self-addressed, stamped envelope (you can email me any photos of you with the book or a receipt to fran@betumi.com if you like). For any of you outside of North America, I'll not expect you to include a stamped envelope, but do include a self-addressed one.

Please tell your friends, as I expect the book plates will go pretty quickly. After all, The Ghana Cookbook is, according to Jessica Harris, "destined to become an African culinary classic" and chef Pierre Thiam calls it "the definitive Ghana cookbook."







Tuesday, January 24, 2017

1,000,000 visits and a call for an African Culinary Association

Did you know that "BETUMI" was originally called "Ananse's Web" back in the 1990s? To the right is a screen shot from an early Dreamweaver version of this "online newsletter and
forum." In 2005 BETUMI began what I believe were the first African food podcasts, and quickly branched out to videos. Today , BETUMI can be found on facebook, youtube, twitter, and instagram. Oh, and there have been a few books, too (A Good Soup Attracts Chairs (only the hardback version is recommended), Food Culture of Sub-Saharan Africa, and The Ghana Cookbook [with Barbara Baeta]), plus numerous articles and chapters.

I began counting visits to BETUMI: the African Culinary Network  a few years ago. BETUMI was not  a "big name." I taught myself to make a very simple, basic website and start an online "journal" (this was before blogging).   "African Food Culture" was not a trendy topic--it was not even on the horizon. BETUMI was not a money-making venture, just a voice crying out in the culinary wilderness. 

In the 20 years between 1997 and 2017, the scenery has changed dramatically. Hurray! The world is finally paying serious attention to Africa's culinary legacy and innovations. There are myriad African voices now claiming and celebrating their African heritage and educating others. From Senegal's Pierre Thiam to Nigeria's Ozoz Sokoh and Zimbabwean Cordialis Chipo, to name just a few, there is a flood of interest in learning  what  Africa, including sub-Saharan Africa, has to offer beyond North African or Ethiopian dishes (not that those aren't wonderful and noteworthy).

Glancing at my visitor count today, I see that people still come to Betumiblog: the counter showed 999,182  combined visits to betumi.com and betumiblog.  Only 818 more visits to make it to a million. It makes me happy to have been a part of this burgeoning awareness of and interest in African cuisine. Thank you all for your support, and I pledge to continue to support you.

Here's to another 20 years of growth! I'd love to see an African-based culinary organization emerge. A kind of "African Association of Culinary Professionals," that includes chefs, African food writers and bloggers, caterers, restauranteurs, farmers, food processors, teachers, scholars, manufacturers, etc. It could provide a unifying industry voice. What do you think?


Monday, January 23, 2017

1 year anniversary

Happy 2017! 

As you may have noticed, we have been silent online at Betumi: the African Culinary Network for the last 7+ months.
After

Our life has been anything but quiet: after the excitement and drama of The Ghana Cookbook's debut at the end of 2015, followed by  a flurry of travel (Ghana, Brazil, and back to Ghana), we (Kwadwo and I) returned to our U.S. home in early August to discover a broken water hose had been flooding much of the house for over 2 months. The house was a disaster, and had to be gutted, remediated, and rebuilt.


Before

We spent months cooking  in a microwave in our upstairs bathroom and eating on a card table in our upstairs bedroom while the restoration of offices, the laundry/mud room, kitchen, dining room, and much of the basement continued. It was a difficult time, compounded by a car accident and cancer scare.

On top of everything else, there was the US election, which was its own story.

As of Friday, January 20th, the green dumpster has  finally been removed, the last worker packed up his tools, and I'm back at my computer.  Let me belatedly remind everyone how thrilled Barbara and I have been at the reception of The Ghana Cookbook, and how pleased we were to have it awarded the 2016 Gourmand World Cookbook Award for the "Best African Cookbook Published Outside of Africa." Thank you for all the word-of-mouth marketing that has kept it on Amazon's African cookbook best-seller list throughout 2016 and into 2017.

What lies ahead in this new year? I plan to first share some interesting conversations I had in Ghana with a couple of young entrepreneurs from Ghana's Ashesi University. 


Tuesday, June 07, 2016

What's next for BETUMI?

Once The Ghana Cookbook finally came out last November, everyone's been asking me: what's next? I"ve been wondering about that, too. There are so many possibilities I'm not sure what to pick. Some of you know that I recently suffered the loss of my mom, too, after I returned from Brazil in May. That's led me to some solemn reflections on life. . . 

I hope the next couple of months to get some clarity. I return to Ghana for 2 months on June 14. Most of the time I'll be based at Ashesi University in Berekuso, but with periodic trips down to the Tema-Accra area.

My ideas span from writing in the memoir genre (as I did with A New Land to Live In) to pursuing the Ghana kitchenwear product line, formalizing this  "network" of African food writers, developing African gluten-free doughs and pastries, adopting "tapioca" crepes from Brazil, and teaching. . . Someone has asked if I'll be blogging from Ghana. I've taken quite a respite from sharing here, and I hope to pick that up again during June, July, and August.


Check back and see how things develop here at BETUMI: The African Culinary Network.

P.S. The photo to the right was taken recently with award-winning owner/chef Leonardo Paixão at his fabulous (and multiple award-winning restaurant) in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Glouton.





Wednesday, June 01, 2016

West African Cuisine at the Global Table



News Flash. Sunday, May 29, 2016: The Ghana Cookbook placed 1st

in the 2016 Gourmand World Cookbook awards for "Best African Cookbook published outside of Africa"!  Pierre Thiam's Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl, tied for 3rd place. 



These awards are listed on pages 185 and 184, respectively of the global awards booklet.

As Publishers Weekly noted back in August last year  with The Ghana Cookbook and Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl,  "This season, West Africa comes into focus." It's been a long wait, but Africa's time is coming.





Monday, April 25, 2016

Snacking, Signing and Traveling updates



Recently, over 50 community women (and a few men) from all walks of life in State College, PA, came together for a women's networking event. It was sponsored by a new group largely spearheaded by Dee Frisque and called SCI (Smart, Creative and Inter-connected).



I was invited to exhibit and sign copies of The Ghana Cookbook, and brought along samples of a couple of recipes: the always popular plantain strips ("chips") and hibiscus iced tea. It was a refreshing time, and I'm always grateful for the chance to meet and network and also  promote Ghana's (and sub-Saharan Africa's) cuisine and culture. It's rewarding to see The Ghana Cookbook continuing to make its way out into the world, spreading almost entirely by word-of-mouth. Thank you to all of you who continue to share about it.
This weekend, I'm heading to Brazil for a week: first to Rio where I'll reconnect with 2 Brazilian colleagues I last spent time with several years ago: culinary professional Margarida Nogueira and Teresa Corção,President of Instituto Maniva (its motto is "food is love, culture, and memory") and chef owner of the O Navigador. They have also been very involved in supporting and developing Brazil's slow food movement. I'm excited to talk specifically with them about differences between Ghana's and Brazil's cassava (mandioca). I'll also be back in Belo Horizonte for a few days, in Minas Gerais.


On another front, as those who follow me on Betumi's facebook or instagram (franatbetumi) or @theghanacookbook twitter account may have noticed, I'm working to develop a press cookie ("biscuit") dough using naturally gluten-free flours from Ghana. First two efforts were disastrous, but #3 was eaten pretty quickly. I've begun with millet, white rice, corn, tapioca, and tigernut flour. Will continue the experiments after returning from Brazil. Any advice or suggestions? Ha anyone tried substituting coconut oil for part of the butter or margarine? What about sorghum flour?

               
#1 Disaster
 
#2 Worse

#3 Getting there