Thursday, January 26, 2023

Lost and Found: Barbara Baeta's Historic Recipe Cards

In the 1960s and early 1970s,  Willis E. Bell was a celebrated photographer in Ghana, West Africa. In 1972, he photographed a dozen "cookery cards" for a popular Ghanaian chef and caterer, Barbara Baëta. This was the same woman featured in Laurens van Der Post's  influential  African Cooking in the Time-Life series of cookbooks of the world" featuring in a photo: "Barbara Baëta, one of Ghana's leading culinary experts", "at a Baëta buffet at Jimmy Moxon's Black Pot Restaurant."

They were copyrighted by Moxon Paperbacks in Accra, Ghana, and printed in Great Britain.I have always treasured my set, and occasionally featured them at my BETUMI website.

In early April, 2018, I received an invitation from Aperture in New York to lend them my set of cookery cards to be a part of the cookbook section of their upcoming travelling exhibition "Feast for the Eyes: the Story of Food in Photography" as they had not been able to locate any to purchase. 

I had the cards appraised, and duly sent them to be included in the traveling exhibition, at that point, in Louisiana, Baton Rough; FOAM, Amsterdam, and Berlin, with more sites to be added.

The terms of the loan agreement, were to have them throughout the tour, from the time I sent them, May 3, 2018, until the exhibition closed in March 2021. However, I was never able to contact Aperture due to covid. 2021 came and went. Their offices were closed so I could not telephone them and received no reply to my letters/emails. The organizer of the exhibit, Charlotte Chudy, was no longer at Aperture, and I could not reach her despite several attempts also to call and email her. I have continued periodically trying to reach the New York Aperture office, unsuccessfully.  Finally, as 2022 was ending, I was able to hit every button on the phone and connect with Annette Booth, the current Director of Exhibitions Management, who apologized profusely and speedily located the cards and returned them to me. Whew!!

I am vastly relieved and grateful.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Sister Linda Nadeau recently sent me a painting that she started as a rough sketch and turned into a lovely reminder of four books I have written on/about Africa, and Ghana in particular: 

  • A New Land to Live In: the Odyssey of an African and an American Seeking God's Guidance on Marriage (Intervarsity Press, 1977), written after my marriage in Ghana to Kwadwo Osseo-Asare in 1972;
  • A Good Soup Attracts Chairs: A First African Cookbook for American Kids (Pelican Publishing Company, 1993), written as I was teaching my own children--first Abena, Masi, and DK [and later adopted nephews Sam and Ernest, and children in pre-school, kindergarten, and various elementary school children in PA] to cook Ghanaian food; 
  • Food Culture in Sub-Saharan Africa (Greenwood Press, 2005)
  • The Ghana Cookbook, (Hippocrene Press, 2015), with collaborator Barbara Baëta
 I should mention, too,  my unpublished dissertation, which provided background and context for much of my writing:
  • We Are Magicians: Chronic Stress and the Economy of Affection in Africa (Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, The Pennsylvania State University, 1991)

Thursday, January 19, 2023

 So what IS tiger nut flour?

Ghana’s popular “tiger nuts,” are also known as chufa nuts. They are not actually nuts, but come from a nutsedge plant with tubers that grow underground (cyperus esculents).  In Ghana the tubers are chewed freshly picked (but not swallowed, like sugar cane) or made into a delicious traditional  “tigernut pudding" (atadwe milkye)  


More recently, tigernut flour made from ground tigernuts, is being embraced as a delicious gluten-free powder with a natural sweet taste.  

It contains no lactose or fructose, along with no gluten.   The chufa is said to be a good source of vitamin C and E,  and a good source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and iron. Chufa also contains starch, non-animal proteins, and enzymes that help with digestion.


What’s not to love?

It’s a major ingredient in Betumi’s gluten-free, vegan Ghana-friendly cookie mix.



Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Vegan, gluten-free Adinkra biscuits: Okay, here are two more versions: lemon (with lemon juice and zest), and groundnut (peanut) with peanut oil and cream peanut butter).

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Yesterday I shared a photo of my gluten-free, vegan, vanilla Betumi Adinkra cookies (biscuits); today it's chocolate. When we had our workshop in Ghana several years ago, (July 2019) the participants challenged me to develop other options, such as lemon- or peanut-flavored versions. I'll try those this coming week. Hope to see you again.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

A Long Time Coming

I realized yesterday putting these on a rack to cool, that my 5-year dream of a

gluten-free version of a 
shortbread biscuit (or, as we Americans say, "cookie") made from non-gluten ingredients available in Ghana and featuring Ghanaian adinkra symbols,  is a reality. Today I'll whip up some chocolate ones ;-)

Saturday, December 03, 2022

 November 30, 2022      Never Give Up!

Kwadwo is back in Ghana until January, while I'm still in Pennsylvania. I continue to work on the adinkra biscuits. With Kwanza just around the corner, I wanted to update everyone on where they stand. Once I determined I had to start over printing the stamps with a transparent PLA filament, and stainless steel nozzle, and cover each cookie stamp with a food-safe coating, I had to go back to the printer, so-to-speak. Unfortunately, New Leaf Initiative didn't make it, so I am now working with a local group called The Rivet.

I am beginning production again.

I also need to restock materials for the Ghana-friendly, vegan recipe for making the cookie/biscuits.

I did manage one taste testing, with generally quite positive results--some thought too sweet, some not sweet enough. Go figure.   

 It is slow going, but I'm ready to restock the gluten-free ingredients and start making batches. If you'd like to taste test (for now, only in the US, please), drop me a line at I also hope to develop several other adinkra cutters.

So long for now.