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

Monday, April 11, 2016

LA, PA, and Ghana Videos from the Launch

The International Association of Culinary Professionals Conference (IACP) in Los Angeles California April 1-3, 2016 was a celebration of good food from around the world, and focused on changing communications in the culinary world. I was happy to represent Ghana (Note the Made-in Ghana-apron). For the first time since I've been attending, I met a sub-Saharan African (Nigerian) colleague! 


My next signing event will be at the University Club on the Penn State Campus from 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday April 23, 2016 at a half day conference sponsored by State College's own Smart, Creative + Interconnected women's group.
See the website for more information. I'd love to see you there.

Finally, I'm happy to announce that some of the speeches from January's Ghana launch of The Ghana Cookbook  are now available online. Here's the first one from BETUMI's playlist.

All of the videos Barbara Baeta had uploaded from that day (including among others Barbara's remarks about the fascinating history of Flair Catering, my irrepressible husband, Prof. K. Osseo-Asare making outrageous remarks, journalist and former minister of state, Elizabeth Ohene, and  Rev. Dr. Joyce Aryee [also a former minister of state]), are available at http://bit.ly/1Wnwm5x (Incidentally, I still can't believe I said some Akans might claim they eat soup and fufu "for breakfast," when I meant "every day." Oops.)

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Ghana Cookbook News

To my Los Angeles, California, friends: I'll be attending the IACP Conference this weekend (April 1-3, 2016) in Hollywood, and would love to see any foodies (especially African food lovers) Sunday night at the "Creative Showcase" open to the public. 

In other news, The Ghana Cookbook, is shortlisted for the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards (best African cookbook published outside of Africa). The winners will be announced in Yantai, China May 28-29, 2016, at the Gourmand Awards ceremony. Also, The Ghana Cookbook was just submitted to Les Dames d'Escoffier International for consideration of their MFK Fisher Award for Excellence in Culinary Writing. Will keep you posted.

I continue to be immensely grateful for all of the word-of-mouth publicity that you have given to help bring recognition to this book and keep sales up.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Big Blue Marble Bookstore Revisited

Folks have been telling me they had a great time in Philadelphia last Sunday, and I agree. Thank you to everyone who showed up. My camera got passed around a bit, but near the end of the event it stopped recording folks who came when we had standing room only. 
We began with a discussion of Akan day names, a couple of demonstrations using volunteers from the audience (how to open a coconut, how to peel a plantain and make
plantain strips/chips). 

Later, a volunteer agreed to try his hand at rolling out dough and making twisted cookies (atwemo,  atsomo).

Along the way folks sampled both the chips and the atwemo, along with hibiscus iced tea (bissap, zobo, sobolo) and ginger beer. We also talked about Ghana's answer to couscous (gari), and sampled 2 versions of a Ghanaian one-pot called gari foto (classic, with corned beef) and contemporary (vegetarian). We tasted fresh coconut, and I shared some failed "coconut cakes" that were made with too little coconut. Along the way, we discussed stories behind the cookbook, and the challenge to get it published. It was wonderful to have family support from the Philadelphia area (adopted nephews Sam and Ernest and my sister-in-law Phyllis ("Sister Amma"). Neighbors and colleagues, African friends, and other local people helped swell the crowd. As noted elsewhere, appreciation of West African cuisine is on the rise in the U.S.!

Thank you to everyone who pitched in to help with plating the food, serving, assigning day names, cleanup, etc. My sincere apologies that the bookstore did not have not enough books to go around. Remember, they are available at a discount at Amazon. Here are a few more photos:

Next event? At the International Association of Culinary Professionals conference in Los Angeles in early April. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Cookbook Event in Philadelphia Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016

Getting ready to leave Saturday for Philadelphia. Busy making plantain and taro chips, ginger beer and hibiscus iced tea (bissap/zobo/sobolo), "twisted cakes," and 2 versions of gari foto (cassava meal one-pot), plus cracking open coconuts. All recipes direct from my latest book, The Ghana Cookbook. Come join us Sunday at the Big Blue Marble bookstore, 1-3 p.m. Food, fun, stories, and a West African cultural and culinary experience for the whole family. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

More press for The Ghana Cookbook

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, here are a few more links to positive articles about the recent launch in Ghana of The Ghana Cookbook.

The first link is to an  article by BBC journalist and former minister of state Elizabeth Ohene, who also spoke at the launch in Accra. It includes insightful comments on "cooking by book."

Another article was recently published in Ghana's Business and Financial Times:

Finally, it was also picked up for a post  by the "obroni" head librarian at Ashesi University, Nina Chachu.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Time correction: 1-3 pm on Feb. 21st

Yay! It's Black History month, and I'll be in Philadelphia doing a launch/tasting event featuring Ghana's food at the Big Blue Marble (independent!) Bookstore  Sunday afternoon, Feb. 21st from 1 to 3 p.m. It should be great fun for the whole family. See the flyer below. Please RSVP so we know how much food to plan for. Please also help spread the word. Hope to see you there.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sold out all the books at the Accra launch

I'm in the airport at Brussels waiting for the flight via Chicago back home to Pennsylvania. I have a few "free minutes" at the airport to let everyone know that, as expected, we had a joyous time on Thursday. I was awed by all the impressive number and rank of the hundreds who showed up. We ran out of our over 180 books and many folks pleaded with us to bring more to Ghana. The flowers, music, food, and presentation were up to Flair's standard of doing everything with "flair."

No time to go into details right now, but I thought folks might like to see a few photos from the launch. I'll be more specific when I have more time to reflect on the meaning and to share some of the comments we received. The media were also generous in their coverage with interviews before and also at the launch itself.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

1 Day to go until the launch

I squeaked by the blizzard on the eastern U.S. by a few hours and made it safely to Ghana last Friday. I've been working with Barbara to coordinate the Ghana launch of The Ghana Cookbook, but she and her catering staff are handling the lion's share of the publicity and all of the food preparation. It looks to be a grand event.
I spent part of the day today at Flair, helping (just a little) with the behind-the-scenes work preparing for the launch on Thursday. That involved, among other things, pre-signing the almost 200 books that will be available there, getting my outfit adjusted (Barbara and I will wear matching outfits). Also, helping sort books and providing general moral support.

It should be a vibrant, lively day worthy of Ghana's culinary heritage. I'm very grateful for the opportunity Barbara and I have had to work together. A bit nervous about how it will play out, but mostly excited. Hard to believe it's actually happening, and the stir it's causing!
Here are a few pre-launch photos. We were interviewed for a brief segment to air the day of the launch, Jan. 28, at 8:30 a.m. Ghana time, on TV3. We're still wondering exactly how many folks will turn up. Stay tuned for more photos and a summary of the event.

Anyone who is interested in Ghana's cuisine and around tomorrow afternoon  (Jan. 28, 2016, 3:30 p.m. at Flair Catering), feel free to stop by. It's a rare chance to get books autographed by both authors.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

TV demo, plantain chips and hibiscus iced tea

Had fun last week doing a brief demo and tasting for Central PA Live in Altoona with Anne Quinn Corr, featuring recipes from The Ghana Cookbook.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Where to buy The Ghana Cookbook in Accra?

Happy 2016! Several folks have asked where they can buy the book in Ghana. It is now available in Accra at  Wild Gecko, and also at  Vidya Bookstore in Osu. If you would like information about attending the upcoming book launch with Barbara Baëta and Fran Osseo-Asare in late January, please contact fran@betumi.com for more information.

We were pleased that Gourmand International announced in December that The Ghana Cookbook was the Gourmand World Cookbook award winner for Ghana, and is now entered in the Gourmand Best in the World competition for "Best African cuisine published outside of Africa," with winners to be announced in February. 

This is the year of The Ghana CookbookIt has also already gone into its second printing. Try something new this year, or learn how to make a  favorite Ghanaian dish. There are over 140 to choose from.

An especially hearty "yɛdase" (we thank you) to all of you for your support, such as Poem van Landewijk and Elizabeth Dubes Vardon at Wild Gecko Handicrafts, pictured above, on the left and right, respectively.