Sunday, December 10, 2017

What's under your Christmas tree this year: also sankofa and gye nyame tea biscuits

What's under your holiday tree this year? Consider The Ghana Cookbook.

On another front:  I'm finally also almost (~11 tries later) there on the development of a Ghana-friendly gluten-free tea biscuit using only cassava flour, brown rice flour, tigernut flour, tapioca starch, corn starch, sugar,  salt, vanilla, ripe plantain, and coconut oil (plus a little xantham gum). Hope to share soon. Plus, I'm finalizing  3-D printing of those cookie stamps of adinkra symbols. Very excited! The rating are going up and up with my taste testers. Really getting in the holiday mood.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

If you're looking for an idea for a good international cookbook this holiday, here are some of  Hippocrene's suggestions

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving, and more attempts at Ghana biscuits and designs

As we head into a week of remembering all we have to be thankful for, I'm grateful for all of you who have become friends and colleagues in the effort to help African cuisines take their rightful places at the global table. Well done, but the battle is no where near over.

On another note, my two latest efforts with Ghana gluten-free biscuits/cookies, and my current prototype of a cookie cutter, can be seen below. The cookies on the right use a gluten-free multi-flour base and a little mashed ripe plantain. The one on the left is my first effort at blending cassava and tiger nut flours with coconut oil and sugar. Still working on getting it right. Any suggestions welcome. Working on flour combinations, thickness of dough, baking temperature, sugars, chilling, oils, etc.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

2nd, 3rd, and 4th attempts . . .little by little

As you may remember, I'm trying to develop a Ghana-style gluten-free shortbread cookie recipe.

I first tried using a couple of recipes from gluten-free friends/sites, but substituting coconut oil for the butter, and various blends of rice/millet/tapioca flours, etc. first for the main replacement of wheat flour and adding proportions of various gluten-free flours as indicated. Won't go into the specifics here, just say that the sugar didn't blend the way it does with butter, and the "tapioca flour," being tapioca starch, turned the dough either into a solid brick that I had to throw away and couldn't even roll out, or the cookies/biscuits were so gritty and crumbly they were not worth keeping.  I tried once with xantham gum and that still didn't work. Also, I was mixing the dough with a wooden spoon.

Yesterday, I tried substituting half powdered sugar for the sugar, and used a mixer, plus just cassava flour from Brazil (not the tapioca starch), and chilled the dough before rolling it out on parchment paper. This was the best yet, but according to Kwadwo, my reliable tester (and to myself, too), they still tasted gritty, and dry, and still were very fragile.

I'm going to keep experimenting and will keep you in the loop, but I'm wide open to suggestions: just remember I don't want to use things that aren't easily and cheaply available in Ghana. I'd like shortbread, because it uses only flour, sugar, butter substitute (like coconut oil--please no margarine), a little salt, and possibly a little flavoring like vanilla. If I can perfect this, I'll next try a gluten-free sugar cookie.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Waiting , . .

I began about a month ago to launch a new, updated site, but I've run into some snags moving to a different platform without losing all my archived material, so please be patient for a few more weeks. I plan to share soon my latest work on gluten-free cookie recipes,  moringa, and Ghana chocolate, as well as a news about a network of African food writers.

Hint: version 1 below was a disaster. The cookies fell apart as soon as you touched them, and they tasted gritty. Ugh! Using a different flour blend next.

Monday, July 10, 2017

We're back! Calling all African food writers, bloggers, videographers and other professionals

Special Alert July 11, 2017! Don't miss this:TODAY ONLY The Ghana Cookbook  is an Amazon Prime Special of $5 off. Use code PRIMEBOOKS17 See Only $11.95 with code. World Gourmand 1st Place winner 2016.

It's been months since February and the trip to Ghana to the African Diaspora Homecoming Conference in Accra. That was a fruitful trip, and there is more to come about that, especially emerging Ghana chocolate-makers and the growing moringa market.

However, in January I mentioned over a million visits to betumiblog, and floated the idea of forming some kind of association/ network/alliance/
affiliation/organization for Pan-African (African?) culinary professionals. Several people expressed interest and there have been preliminary talks. I was able to meet up recently with Nigerian Ozoz Sokoh (of Kitchen Butterfly) in NYC, and we had further discussions. We want to propose to you, our fellow African food writers, bloggers, and others serious about promoting and preserving the culinary legacy and innovations of Africans, to join us. This would not be the same as a chefs association. Are there already similar organizations we do not know about? Let us know.

The official name? To be decided. Send your suggestions by commenting here, and letting us know you support the idea. Tell us what would be most helpful.  

Just think what it could mean to have our own industry voice and support groups. Please help us spread the word. Let others know via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Eventually we may grow into something more official, but right now we're interested in establishing  a base.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Urgent! Correction on date and time of Exhibition Booth at Conference in Accra


Hello all. I'm in Ghana and have now seen the actual program for the African Diaspora Homecoming Conference, and realize that I had some information wrong. BETUMI and Fran will be at the exhibition booth on WED, not Tues as I originally thought. You can find us at the TRADE EXHIBITION IN LABADI BEACH GARDEN MARQUEE FROM 8 a.m. until 19.30 on WEDNESDAY, MARCH 8, NOT TUESDAY.

Sorry about the mixup. We'll be there with several of Osseo-Asare's books (i.e., copies of The Ghana Cookbook, published by Hippocrene Books, Nov., 2015 @100 cedis or 20 US dollars, plus a complimentary snack bag), A New Land to Live in  (published by Intervarsity Press in 1977 and now out of print, but with a few copies available), A Good Soup Attracts Chairs: A First African Cookbook for American Kids  (published by Pelican Publishing in 1993, reprinted in paperback 2001; a very limited number of copies), and Food Culture in Sub-Saharan Africa (published by Greenwood Press in 2005 as part of the Food Culture around the World series) again, a few copies available).

Still hope to see some of you there.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Come See Us in Accra

Alert to all our friends in Ghana!   Fran Osseo-Asare, from BETUMI: The African Culinary Network will be in Accra, Ghana, on   March 7th at 4:30 p.m. at the Labadi Beach Conference Hotel as an exhibitor at the African Diasporan Homecoming Conference to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Ghana's Independence. Pick up your autographed copy of The Ghana Cookbook  or a snack from recipes in the book, or just stop by and say hello. Hope to see you there.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Alert on Autographed Book Labels

This is just a quick update for those of you who wish to receive the autographed book labels  of The Ghana Cookbook signed by both myself and Barbara. I should have mentioned that the signed labels  are only 4 inches by 2 inches (about 51 mm by 102 mm)  and fit easily into a small normal envelope, with regular first class postage (49 cents in the U.S.). There is no need to send an oversized self-addressed envelope.

Thank you, and I apologize for not making this clear to those of you who have already requested them.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Over 1,000,000 hits and A gift to my friends

I just sat down at the computer this afternoon, January 27, and see Betumiblog has just passed the one million visit mark (1,000,408 at 5 pm, EST) since we started counting visits. It's a milestone and I'm grateful.

I'd like to say "thank you" to the folks who've supported this site over the years, and just thought of a way. Several of you have already asked how you could get your copy (or a copy you want to give as a gift) of The Ghana Cookbook autographed by both Barbara and me.

When we published The Ghana Cookbook in November, 2015, I was still in the U.S. and Barbara was in Ghana, but we managed to both sign 50 book plates for the book.

In honor of Black History Month, Valentine's Day, and surpassing the 1,000,000 visit mark, I'd like to give them away to the first 50 people who send me a stamped, self-addressed envelope and proof that they've already purchased the cookbook, or ordered it. One per person, please.

You can send them to:
Fran Osseo-Asare
P.O. Box 222
State College, PA 16804  USA

Be sure to enclosed a self-addressed, stamped envelope (you can email me any photos of you with the book or a receipt to if you like). For any of you outside of North America, I'll not expect you to include a stamped envelope, but do include a self-addressed one.

Please tell your friends, as I expect the book plates will go pretty quickly. After all, The Ghana Cookbook is, according to Jessica Harris, "destined to become an African culinary classic" and chef Pierre Thiam calls it "the definitive Ghana cookbook."

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

1,000,000 visits and a call for an African Culinary Association

Did you know that "BETUMI" was originally called "Ananse's Web" back in the 1990s? To the right is a screen shot from an early Dreamweaver version of this "online newsletter and
forum." In 2005 BETUMI began what I believe were the first African food podcasts, and quickly branched out to videos. Today , BETUMI can be found on facebook, youtube, twitter, and instagram. Oh, and there have been a few books, too (A Good Soup Attracts Chairs (only the hardback version is recommended), Food Culture of Sub-Saharan Africa, and The Ghana Cookbook [with Barbara Baeta]), plus numerous articles and chapters.

I began counting visits to BETUMI: the African Culinary Network  a few years ago. BETUMI was not  a "big name." I taught myself to make a very simple, basic website and start an online "journal" (this was before blogging).   "African Food Culture" was not a trendy topic--it was not even on the horizon. BETUMI was not a money-making venture, just a voice crying out in the culinary wilderness. 

In the 20 years between 1997 and 2017, the scenery has changed dramatically. Hurray! The world is finally paying serious attention to Africa's culinary legacy and innovations. There are myriad African voices now claiming and celebrating their African heritage and educating others. From Senegal's Pierre Thiam to Nigeria's Ozoz Sokoh and Zimbabwean Cordialis Chipo, to name just a few, there is a flood of interest in learning  what  Africa, including sub-Saharan Africa, has to offer beyond North African or Ethiopian dishes (not that those aren't wonderful and noteworthy).

Glancing at my visitor count today, I see that people still come to Betumiblog: the counter showed 999,182  combined visits to and betumiblog.  Only 818 more visits to make it to a million. It makes me happy to have been a part of this burgeoning awareness of and interest in African cuisine. Thank you all for your support, and I pledge to continue to support you.

Here's to another 20 years of growth! I'd love to see an African-based culinary organization emerge. A kind of "African Association of Culinary Professionals," that includes chefs, African food writers and bloggers, caterers, restauranteurs, farmers, food processors, teachers, scholars, manufacturers, etc. It could provide a unifying industry voice. What do you think?

Monday, January 23, 2017

1 year anniversary

Happy 2017! 

As you may have noticed, we have been silent online at Betumi: the African Culinary Network for the last 7+ months.

Our life has been anything but quiet: after the excitement and drama of The Ghana Cookbook's debut at the end of 2015, followed by  a flurry of travel (Ghana, Brazil, and back to Ghana), we (Kwadwo and I) returned to our U.S. home in early August to discover a broken water hose had been flooding much of the house for over 2 months. The house was a disaster, and had to be gutted, remediated, and rebuilt.


We spent months cooking  in a microwave in our upstairs bathroom and eating on a card table in our upstairs bedroom while the restoration of offices, the laundry/mud room, kitchen, dining room, and much of the basement continued. It was a difficult time, compounded by a car accident and cancer scare.

On top of everything else, there was the US election, which was its own story.

As of Friday, January 20th, the green dumpster has  finally been removed, the last worker packed up his tools, and I'm back at my computer.  Let me belatedly remind everyone how thrilled Barbara and I have been at the reception of The Ghana Cookbook, and how pleased we were to have it awarded the 2016 Gourmand World Cookbook Award for the "Best African Cookbook Published Outside of Africa." Thank you for all the word-of-mouth marketing that has kept it on Amazon's African cookbook best-seller list throughout 2016 and into 2017.

What lies ahead in this new year? I plan to first share some interesting conversations I had in Ghana with a couple of young entrepreneurs from Ghana's Ashesi University.