Monday, September 05, 2022

 Observations on Ghana after 29 months away


1. Very few people are masked, but most will  put on a mask in our house if asked.
2. There are frequent places with hand sanitizer.
2. 1. It is heartbreaking to see the steep fall of the local currency, the Cedi.
3. The weekday traffic is unbelievable, especially in the evenings. Road conditions are deplorable, and there is little official presence and continuous "roadwork." Cars 
drive  4 or 5 abreast, with no supervsion. Heading to the  Takoradi airport, traffic was    
completely blocked by a huge truck that fell over in what should have been the other lane on a muddy, impassable road, full of 
potholes, and ordinary people just sit passively in their cars for hours.
4.  Official roads are often bypassed  by "shortcuts" through muddy, unpaved, dangerous
      roads that do not really seem shorter,  and "workers" begging for handouts as they
      "work" to keep the roads passable.
5.  "Uber" in Ghana has proven unreliable. "Bolt" seems a bit better. Several times we have called Ubers who give us an arrival time and state that they are "here" when they are no where to  be found. 
6.  Despite all these things, people in Ghana are gracious, and generous in many ways.
7. They love loud music and have little sense of noise levels, whether during all night prayer
    meetings, workdays, or location (residential or commercial). Chickens crowing, dogs   
   barking at all hours are common.
8. Ghana appears nauseatingly "religious," but it is all too often a facade. Certainly there are good and pious people, but the political leaders and government officials appear to be  largely
     corrupt and out to make themselves rich while duping the public.
9. Loans and "big promises" and projects are a way of life, but there appears to be
    a lack of follow through and integrity.
10. Despite all this, Ghanaians can be unfailingly generous, courteous, cheerful, and kind.


Thursday, September 01, 2022


 August 26, 1972 to August 26, 2022


Fifty years ago (!), we married in Ghana. Almost 3 years ago we left Ghana abruptly when then-President Trump threatened to close the US borders.

It's good to be back. We spent several days at Lou Moon in the Axim area, and are now back in Tema at the house son DK (Yaw Dankwa) built decades ago as he began his architecture journey. All 3 children are now grown, along with our 2 adopted nephews, Sam and Ernest. Spouses and partners, and grandchildren (Kumiwah and Danso) have entered our lives.

My (Fran's) love affair with Ghanian cuisine continues, and after several years of covid, I am eager to pick up where I left off--3-d printing a line of adinkra cookie stamps and vegan, gluten-free, Ghana-friendly cookies/biscuits.

And cooking for more people than just Kwadwo and me ;-)

Hope to see you here again soon.

Fran Osseo-Asare



Friday, March 04, 2022

Sankofa and Gye Nyame Cookie Stamps 

 

On Adinkra Stamps     

Here's the latest on the efforts to go online with BETUMI's Kitchen.  It turns out we must redo the original set of Adinkra stamps. To be absolutely sure they are truly foodsafe, we needed to order some FDA-approved, no additives PLA (that's a compostable type of plastic usually made from cornstarch derivatives).



Also, we need to print with a stainless steel nozzle (not brass), and then the stamps need to be properly sealed with a food-grade sealant.

Working on that now, but it'll take a little time--filament and nozzles ordered, and a fellow maker is helping experiment with making a threaded handle so the stamps are interchangeable. Fran is learning a lot about Ultimaker Cura and Blender softwares, and 3D printing. Will keep you all updated.

There has  been a bit of a snag with the Woo Commerce software to run the store, too, but that is being taken care of, as well as working on listing inventory.
As my favorite Twi proverb says: 
kakakra, akokɔ bɛnom nsuo,” Little by little, the chicken drinks water. 

Little by little, we'll get there.




Wednesday, February 16, 2022


BETUMI is BACK!

It's been a wild couple of years. I was in Ghana in 2019 and 2020 workshopping BETUMI's Adinkra Biscuits and Gluten-free Cookie Dough when then-president Trump threatened to cancel flights back to the U.S. and I abruptly left.




All  plans for the online store were also abruptly cancelled. Here are some photos taken in July 2019 with a workshop group in Tema.
                        *  *  *  *  *

But. . . to quote e. e. cummings out of context:  "Winter's not forever, even snow melts . . ."
And so, during Black History Month in the U.S. it seems appropriate to celebrate baking with a new West African twist: biscuit (or cookie) cutters stamped with timeless, ancient symbols  for the omnipotence of God (Gye Nyame) and the importance of remembering the past when going into the future (Sankofa) "Go back and fetch it." We are now in the process of reactivating the site and updating it, eager to share what we've learned. 
Check back soon.

Fran Osseo-Asare









Wednesday, September 22, 2021

They say plagiarism is a form of flattery. 


It is also a blatant form of theft.

The photo at the top right is from a scanning of page 7 of the illustrations in our The Ghana Cookbook. With co-author Barbara Baëta, the book came out at the end of 2015 and has since gone through several printings. 

Recently,  I was appalled to see on Amazon.com several books all purporting to be "new"  or "essential" or "ultimate" "Ghana Cookbooks" by unknown-to-me authors.
I am generally thrilled when new West African books appear  on the scene, usually by respected African culinary experts like Pierre Thiam or Zoe Adjonyoh.  

However, it irritates me when folks with no credentials (or  else, bots?) crank out dozens of copycat books on popular topics.  It took me decades of learning to gain my knowledge.

I first noticed Amazon.com listing several dubious books claiming to have expertise on Ghana's cooking--all seem to be by individuals who crank out dozens of books on a variety of unrelated subjects.  I noticed the first one because it blatantly appropriated one of my personally taken photos from The Ghana Cookbook. "Wilfred Dawson" also plagiarized freely from my work. 






I sure don't feel flattered.























Sunday, June 07, 2020

Akpi Seeds

There has been a continued interest in locating an online source for akpi seeds.

This morning I discovered over a dozen replies in the comments section of my postings
by a source I can neither confirm nor deny, but for all who are interested, here it is:
"You can order Akpi seeds, Wholesale/Retail @NATURYTE (Call/WatsApp +2347080890865 or DN www.instagram.com/naturyte)"

Good luck.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Oh, Happy Day! A New (Ethiopian) Cook in Town

Ever since Nigerian Sore Shields moved from State College to go back to school and closed The African Market (near Websters, back around 2009), State College has boasted no source for authentic Ethiopian cuisine. Sore used to sell frozen stews to Ethiopian students. Even then, there was  NO local source of authentic locally made teff injera, the wonderful but perishable stable of Ethiopian meals.

That has  all changed with the arrival of Chef Etayehu Zenebe in Centre County! Etayehu has been in the area over a year now, and quietly begun preparing and selling her injera to individuals and groups, requiring only that orders be placed 4 days in advance (to allow proper fermentation of the  dough), AND that customers pick up their orders themselves since she works out of a rented commercial kitchen. She is very hard-working and generous.





She prepares both vegetarian and nonvegetarian dishes, as well as injera. I envy her her skill which far surpasses my own. Here is a typical example of some vegetarian dishes she shared with us yesterday (from right to left).

Tikur Gomen (black cumin seeds with collard greens)
Tikil Gomen (cabbage)
Misir wat (red lentil stew)
Azifa (green lentil dip)

And, of course, Injera (Ethiopian sour flatbread) at the top.

Her food has been featured at  Tap Root Kitchen. 



For more information, she may be reached by phone at 717-618-2346 or email at   zenebeetayehu@gmail.com.