Saturday, October 31, 2015

Nkatie (peanut) "cakes": easy sweet snack

You'll find a photo of these on the cover of The Ghana Cookbook (with instructions on making them and coconut cakes, too, inside). 

They're quick and easy to whip up from peanuts, a little water, and sugar. Here's a 27-second preview.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

No budget. No publisher. No photographer. No problem!

I am humbled and excited right now, and want to share a bit of the story behind The Ghana Cookbook. I hope it will encourage you.

For years, publishers and agents told me "there's just no market for a sub-Saharan Africa single-country cookbook. Why don't you do a regional Africa cookbook instead?" For years I declined. A writer friend warned me "No agent will pick up a book like that that no one will buy."

I kept saying  "that's like doing a regional "Europe" cookbook, or a regional "Asia" cookbook, and lumping Italian, French, German, British, Dutch, Spanish, etc. together, or Chinese, Indian, Thai, Japanese, Korean, etc. all together.

Finally, I started the cookbook myself.  Proposals came back, rejected. "There's no market." I didn't give up. I kept working. I learned to photograph food. I kept writing and speaking. I kept blogging. Along the way, many of you found me and urged me on. New African culinary voices arose. The International Association of Culinary Professionals gave me a boost with a pre-contract grant to pursue my dream. Barbara Baeta in Ghana joined the project. We kept working, fueled by belief and love that someday its time would come.

Finally, in 2014, visionary Priti Chitnis Gress at Hippocrene Books decided to take a chance.

Let's all prove those gatekeepers were wrong--may this cookbook open the floodgates to a realization of the vastness and variety of this huge second-largest continent, with over 4 dozen countries, and the culinary riches it has to share.

Incidentally, "betumi" comes from the Akan word "tumi," meaning the ability to do
something. It alludes to a kind of power that comes from the concentration of ability, the way strands come together to make a broom or a rope strong. To my thinking, "betumi" means "we can do it."

(p. s. please remember these photos are copyrighted.)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Cookbook Update: From then to now

Fran & Kwadwo 1972

Cookbook update: Yay! Friends, it's finally happening. We're just days away from The Ghana Cookbook's  release. Thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered. (Note: Hippocrene increased the size of the  print run given the enthusiasm and advance orders.) Here's a link to more information from the publisher (it should be in stores by Nov. 9, 2015).

All remains a labor of love on my part, and many, many hours of work, which is why I've basically ceased blogging these past months.
Projects currently underway:
  • Updating BETUMI's website (a long-overdue project)
  • A trailer for The Ghana Cookbook (stay tuned)
  • Events, articles, and signings to be arranged. Already planned:
    • November 13, 2015: cooking demonstration and luncheon at New Leaf Initiative in State College using recipes from the book. 
          • January 28, 2016:  Accra, Ghana. Book launching at Flair Catering (with Barbara!) Hopefully, events will also take place in the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Portland, Oregon.
 A team at Penn State's Happy Valley Communications (HVC) is helping to get the word out, and has set up a twitter account to help with the countdown and offer tantalizing tidbits to whet your appetite for the book.  HVC is also working with me on an instagram site called The Ghana Cookbook. I'll update folks here as things roll out.

Many of you know one of my favorite sayings from Ghana that has long been my mantra:
"Little, by little, the chicken drinks water." 
The family keeps growing