Monday, July 22, 2019

Workshop Tomorrow, July 23rd!



Naomi helping get ready today. I had more requests than I could accommodate, but expect 10 folks to come for the 2-hour workshop. 

Wish us luck! I've never actually baked the biscuits/cookies in Ghana before (never even used my electric oven), so it will be exciting to see how it goes.





Mawusi (the seamstress staying here) helped out with the pot holders and some of the aprons. It's a cooperative project.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Biscuit Project Update

I feel kind of like that old saying "all dressed up and nowhere to go," except it should be "all set up and no way to start."

After a several day delay (due to United and South African airlines), I arrived in Ghana determined to discover why the solar panels and inverter were not working at my house. It's a long process, and the power has been off twice in the interim.

I'm reluctant to go ahead with the workshop until I know we have reliable power for the refrigerator and oven, so . . . someone is coming again tomorrow  (Saturday) to take the 8  batteries to be charged (at least a 3-day delay) and we can investigate further. I'm still here for 2 more weeks, so IF we get the power issue fixed, will schedule the workshop sometime during the week of the 22nd of July to the 27th. Let me know if you have a preference for the day and time. Right now, I'm very flexible.

The house is in Community 18, Tema (Baatsona), and I can send you my phone number if you give me yours. I'm planning on about only 5 or 6 people, so let me know if you are still interested.



As you know, two of my favorite proverbs are: "the road doesn't stop the bird," and "little by little the chicken drinks water." Here's to innovation paired with culture!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Adinkra Shortbread (vegan, gluten-free) Biscuits: One, Two, Three


After almost two years working on the Ghana-friendly flour mixture and recipe, and perfecting the Akinkra stamps, BETUMI now has a (copyrighted) version of two stamps ready to be shared (commercial manufacturing is in the works). Fran plans to be in Ghana (Tema) during July, and if time, stove, and electricity cooperate, is  planning a workshop (free, but invitation only) while there.

Why "Ghana-friendly," you ask? It's sad to me that folks think they HAVE to import cutters,  wheat flour and butter in order to have delicious, crispy biscuits with indigenous designs on them. Vegan, because  shortbread biscuits (cookies) need no eggs, and this version needs no butter.

The workshop (assuming it happens) will begin with a discussion of gluten-free baking and the chemistry behind it. Believe me, one cannot just substitute any old flour for wheat. It's an art.

We'll then discuss:

#1) Preparing the gluten-free flour mixture: the various flours, starches, and flavors



#2) Preparing the biscuit (cookie) doughs using the flour mixture (Hint: think flavors like coconut, ripe plantain, pure vanilla, chocolate, sugar. . .)





3. Chilling, rolling out, cutting and baking the biscuits (vanilla or chocolate):
                                                           







Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee or juice!


Contact me  at fran@betumi.com if you'd like more information, or are interested.



Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Food from Uganda: Achiro's Taste

While lamenting the paucity of Ugandan cookbooks to some new acquaintances at a recent wedding, Dr. Brenda Okech said,  "Oh, I can send you one when I go back home to Uganda."

This was in December, 2018. In March another woman confirmed my address and said months ago she was given a book to mail to me.

It arrived soon after, and I'm pleased to present it as the latest addition to the Africa Cookbook Collection. It is by Ugandan writer Achiro P. Olwoch from Gulu, in Northern Uganda in 2013. Thank you to all involved in getting it to me: Dr. Okech, the friend Faith, who mailed it, and my new family member Bigz who provided the link among us.

It includes 92 recipes, some featuring Uganda's matooke (green plantains/bananas) or gonja (ripe plantains) [one of my favorite foods], and includes snacks, main dishes, desserts, including puddings, many kinds of stews, meat dishes, cassava, mushrooms, and fish, salads and sauces. Some are very traditional and some are more contemporary. I'm very grateful and eager to try some of them.

In addition, she gives information on how to stock one's kitchen and cooking guidance and tips. Throughout the book, as well as at the end,  she dispenses advice on life and living.

Thank you to all who helped get it into my hands!




Monday, March 25, 2019

Evolution of Instant Fufu

There are several exciting signs in the culinary entrepreneurial world in Ghana. Here is one of them.

RE contemporary twists on traditional foods   
                                           

FUFU:  Making fufu the traditional way is wonderful, but strenuous and time-consuming. For a long time people have been trying to find ways to get the same taste and texture, but without all the pounding.


  1.  When I was married in Ghana, I carried a mortar and pestle back with me to the U.S. in a shipment, determined to continue to prepare my beloved groundnut and palm nut and light soups with fufu. Alas, the temperature and humidity changes caused the mortar to crack and with it my dreams of home-made fufu in the U.S. 
  2. But I discovered how to make American-style fufu using instant mashed potatoes and potato starch flour, and in February, 2007, convinced my friend, Dr. Naana Nti, to demonstrate proper technique for cooking it in a microwave, using my camera to create BETUMI's first video
  3. I also discovered actual "fufu powder." BETUMI's initial post on it was back in April, 2006, when I did a podcast with the Ashanti chemical engineer Yaw Adusei, who travelled to State College to introduce me to his Mama's Choice fufu flour (and incidentally, conduct a taste test with another leading brand).
  4. Over the years I experimented unsuccessfully with making fufu using plantain and cassava with a blender, or mashing it and stirring it. Last year I stumbled on Obapaa's terrific video demonstrating her technique of making microwave using a smoothie maker and raw cassava and green plantain! It was revolutionary, and soooo simple. I had always tried cooking the ingredients BEFORE blending them in a food processor or blender. She has given me permission to share it here:





The same day I saw her video I rushed out and bought some cassava (commonly called  yuca in our stores here) and green plantain. The result was enthusiastically approved by my husband.

5.  Early in 2019, during a trip to Ghana, he stopped in at the                  CSIR Food Research Institute store and picked up a few items,          including a plantain fufu flour with NO preservatives or coloring,        best prepared on a stovetop by adding water and stirring. Very          convenient if it is difficult to get fresh cassava, as it is in         Pennsylvania.  And I'm thrilled to get rid of those preservatives, and   extra ingredients.