Nothing Goes To Waste


When preparing a meal that has potatoes, do this for a change;

  1. Before peeling your potato, wash the potatoes thoroughly.
  2. Peel as normal.
  3. Deep fry or bake the skins to a crisp.
  4. To bake, glaze the skins with olive oil and bake at 170ยฐC. Keep checking on them so that they don’t charr.
  5. Season the crisp peels with sugar, salt and pepper.

A quick, healthy snack that everyone in the house will enjoy.

NB. Just in case you’re doubting the ‘healthy’ part of the last statement, please Google ‘what are the health benefits of potato skin?’

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Ugali 911


A liitle boy stole my heart when he was born and he did this on mother’s day. This boy has had his share of experiences and his best is when he encounters good food be it ugali, veggies, snacks or whatever it is.His eyes light up and well……he will gobble down that food like someone who has not seen food for the past 72 hours. Then came the corn dogs.Every mother will tell you how uninteresting cooking can be at times. The interest and the passion at times demands a vacation but the boy’s appetite demands a pay increase.This is how we stumbled across the corn dogs recipe on YouTube one day and I was that season that declared me persona non grata in the kitchen. Even cold water with popcorn could have passed as a meal.After several days of bargaining for the corn dogs, I finally bought the smokies pack but the kitchen still rejected me. It took a week and a half for the kitchen ban to be lifted………psychologically.Sigh.Today morning, I march to the kitchen armed with love and passion for this boy, and whip out all my ingredients, soaked the skewers and decided to watch one particular tutorial video that I loved, one last time. You know that feeling you get when just before an exam, you decide to go through your revision notes for you to discover that there is a chapter you had not read then you get an epiphany that this is the topic that will most likely be in the exam. You freeze coz you don’t know if you should have a panic attack, scream, feign illness or acquire a don’t care attitude because you can always repeat the exam the next time it will be offered.That’s what I felt when the narrator said ‘if you don’t have corn starch, you’re on your own, I can’t tell you anything else‘ .At the time I went shopping, my list was;

  1. Buy smokies coz frankfurters are way too expensive for the cost of a dozen. Smokies would give me more than 2 dozen.
  2. Corn starch….. I secretly wished that I could bump into a smaller pack since what is available in the market is way too large for my usage.
  3. Milk but I had not registered for fuliza, I crossed it out when mentally calculating my bill.

Well, I suffered a severe case of amnesia at the supermarket due to the therapeutic effect of being inside a supermarket.Back to the last minute tutorial, a quick glance to alternative breakfast items, I only had eggs and leftover ugali. I thought of making what used to keep me going in campus but my boy would have joked at my survival skills. I swiped to the next tutorial video and the tutor said, corn meal, I rewound that part thrice to be sure I heard the right thing because corn meal on this part of the world is also known as maize flour.Ugali to the rescue. Ugali 911.Ugali is the staple food of my nation, household inclusive.Taraa!You need:

  1. 1 cup all purpose flour
  2. Half a cup corn meal
  3. 3 teaspoons sugar. Reduce to a favorable measure to your liking.
  4. 1 teaspoon baking powder
  5. Half a teaspoon of honey (optional or replace sugar with honey)
  6. Pinch of salt
  7. 1 tablespoon melted butter….. I used margarine
  8. 1 cup milk…… I used coconut milk leftover from making kuku wa kupaka.
  • Soak your skewers in warm water for 20 minutes roughly.
  • Add oil to your pan and heat. Oil level should be at the level of deep frying.
  • Remove skewers from the water and pierce each smoke like this

  • Mix the dry ingredients and make a well.
  • Add in the butter and gently mix in the coconut milk.
  • Check for a thick batter without any lumps.
  • Get a tall glass and pour your thick batter. The tall glass shall be taller than your skewer like this:

  • Pour the thick batter into the glass and check if your oil in the pan is hot enough by dipping the tip of a dry skewer into it. If bubbles form all around it, it is ready.
  • If the oil is ready, reduce heat to medium high.
  • Dip each skewered smokie into the batter, swirl it round and make sure each side is well and evenly coated before placing it in the ready oil.
  • Once in the oil, turn it around using tongs to ensure that it is evenly browned. I could only do three at a time.

The recipe could do 12 smokies however smokies with crooked tips will either be trimmed or skipped coz they tortured me in their coating process.In Kenya we say, shape wachia models and inner beauty ni ya worms. The English translation will water it down.A few out of shape ones….But they were all good…. I mean sweet.& the last biteHere’s a toast to love and motherhood.Happy Mother’s Day doesn’t mother whether you biologically are a mother or circumstantial. You’re a mother.Happy Mother’s Day.

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Shades of Black ๐Ÿ–ค


After visiting Asmara a few years back , my view of coffee and hospitality changed.

Only a former Nairobian can confess this coz Nairobians and hospitality do not always fit in a sentence.

In Eritrea, and Ethiopia, any valued guest is always seen off with a coffee ceremony. This ceremony is done at home, at the hotel, at the restaurant, at the end of a baraza as well as ceremoniously. In the event, you did not have done in your honor by your Eritrean or Ethiopian friends, akufukuzaye hakuambii toka ๐Ÿ™„.

On matters hospitality, I learnt it is good to be hospitable and appreciate whatever level and type of hospitality is given especially in a culture different from yours. Remember, mkono mtupu haulambwi. Not to mean I am the most hospitable. No. In fact, there are times I just want to be with my husband and kids, only for someone to show up unexpectedly ๐Ÿ‘พ๐Ÿคฆโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™€๏ธ.

Just be hospitable otherwise you may end up turning away someone who might have a solution to whatever is eating up memory space in your head at that time……reminds me of the Bible story of Sarah hosting the 2 angels. Had she ignored them, Jacob the swindler may not have been part of present day history.

This packet of coffee beans was purchased more than a year ago and stashed in the fridge conveniently……..in other words I placed it there and forgot that it ever existed till today.

Today morning, I wanted something different from the usual black tea punched with lemon & apple cider vinegar, homemade juice or ginger milk tea with whatever accompaniment is available.

Today’s different was strong black coffee with boiled maize.

Before we go any further, I am team Kenya all the way meaning 90% of the products, ingredients and etc in my kitchen are Kenyan. Proudly Kenyan.

Ingredients

  1. Coffee beans (unroasted)

What to do

  1. Get a wide pan and place it on high heat on your widest burner if using a gas/electric cooker.
  2. Caveat: work in an airy space.
  3. Place your coffee beans in the pan and wait for the crackling sound before starting to stir. The sound similar to that of groundnuts.
  4. Start stirring as often as the sound is there.
  5. The beans will start changing colour to a darker tone. Continue stirring till all of them get evenly dark.

If you zoom in, you will note that shades of black are uneven.

  • The more the crackling sound, the more the smoke. Do not be scared that you are burning the kitchen down. Refer to pint #2 above.

  • Keep stirring, despite coughing your lungs out {pun intended}, as you keep checking on the evenness of the shades of black.
  • One trick. I use is that the wooden cooking stick has an oily glare like this ๐Ÿ‘‡

Hiyo sio cooking oil (Google translate).

  • Switch off the heat, stir for 1 – 2 minutes as the pan cools down. This is because the beans at the bottom are still absorbing heat from the pan directly.
  • Let it cool down for an hour or two.
  • Grind in a grinder or blender.

  • Transfer to an air tight container and place in the fridge to retain the freshness and aroma.

Brew your coffee whenever the craving strikes.

Enjoy

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Chillies O’clock


My routine is such that I go to the market every two weeks and do a complete stock of my kitchen from the vegetable market. Yesterday was no different especially since I was getting the different yet scarce varieties of chillies that have been playing hide & seek for the longest while with me. I could get only one type and less than a kilo….I would be distraught most times while others times I wouldn’t not be having my kitchen mojo.

My truth was that I needed to restock my chillies before the only akubanga remaining in my pantry mysteriously disappears coz it seems not to have any fans this season.

As I was saying, yours faithfully, armed with gunny bags, ciondo and reusable bags marched to Kongowea some minutes before 8am and begun my routine. Quarter a pakacha of onions from Mwangi, oranges, pineapples & green maize from the truck, kienyeji veggies from another hidden corner, carrots, capsicum, ginger, garlic, half a crate tomatoes, arrow roots, sweet potatoes, dhania, mint, green beans, mint and of course my treasured chillies.

I got 3 varieties specifically.

After ticking off everything in my shopping list, I dashed back home & prepared for church as though I was being paid to attend church because I was late. Yes, I was late because it was intermittently pouring heavily in Kongowea meaning that I had to stop and let the rain pass. 4 different times.

I arrived in church at 10.50pm whereas service starts at 10.30am.

I ignored the stares and gallantly took my strides and sat at my usual seat. Front row with my army of 5 children. I am a mother……to these and many more.

It must have been fatigue or lack of breakfast but my mind kept wandering during the service but I can remember the sermon. It was a beautiful one. Just the details in between our arrival and the sermon that seem hazy.

Unlike normal, I left early because the army needed to feed, I needed a nap, I wanted to undo and redo my hair and nails.

None of that was achieved :/

The army I was fighting for dumped me, sleep vanished and since it was my domestic manager’s day off, she opted to literally take the day off unlike the past few weeks.

After a lone lunch of boiled green maize, groundnuts with black tea, I stared at my chillies in a purple bowl on the counter. They stared back at me and smiled. I smiled back.

The rest, they say, is history;

Ingredients

Chillies – 2 kilos

Salt to taste

Ginger, size of 2 index fingers

Garlic, 1 bulb

Onion, 1 huge bulb

Lemon juice, 10 medium sized lemons

Vinegar, 1 glass

Cooking oil

Remove edges from the chillies. I had roughly 2 kilos in the bowl.

Cut up your ginger,peel garlic and onion as well as juice the lemons.

In a blender, add salt, chillies, ginger, garlic and lemon juice.

Blend to a paste. Add onions and just zit I.e. pulse the blender for 10 seconds or so.

As you are doing this, place oil in the pan and let or warm up. Do not allow it to burn because the chillies will splatter when they come into contact. That’s an accident in waiting.

Add your blended paste gently as you stir.

Let it cook under medium heat until all the liquid dries up and the oil floats or shines. Keep stirring frequently so that it does not stick to the base of the pan.

Add the vinegar and repeat the same process as above.

Voila!!!!

Homemade chilli paste that will last me over 3 months. This is ready to eat, so serve it with your dishes as you desire.

Be warned, every area of my body that came into contact with the chillies was burning and itching for half the night.

Quick hint on how to clean the blender afterwards; add some water and liquid soap into the blender jig and blend for a minute or so like this.

It does all the wonders since it reaches all the corners that are unreachable.

Why do I have two blender jugs in this photo? Let’s just say, my response requires a mug of porridge to tell you how I ended up with 3 blenders on that day.

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When everything tastes like chicken, please buy one.


I don’t like meat. I love meat.This is what I mean, I eat meat for its purpose not the company. I eat meat because my body has demanded for it and not because I have stayed for 2 months as a herbivore.I am a herbivore of sorts i.e. I can survive on salads and cereals for the longest while. When it comes to my meat, it becomes my love. I treasure it and hence do not go for the traditional stew, instead give me curry. Don’t give plain choma, give the meat rub then slowly grill. If it has to be rojo, aka stew, give it a twist and a kick.My love has to be thorough, well prepared, pleasing to look at and adventurous to the taste. If meat were a man, then he’d better have class ๐Ÿ™‚Ingredients

  1. Soy sauce
  2. Paprika
  3. Turmeric
  4. Cayenne pepper
  5. Salt
  6. Ginger & garlic paste
  7. Lemon juice of one lemon

Nb. Measurements to your taste. I hope you’ve noted that I am team Kenya all the way. Turmeric is from Marikiti market.MixThen add your chicken.Let me digress and say this, you can get an 8 piece pack of chicken thighs from Naivasha Nyali at 500/-. Who’d have thought???I love their new look and innovation on the area cut out for cereals and snacks that’s measured rather than the traditional prepacked ones. I guess what I love most is that they have not attempted to be like Nakumatt in its absence. Rather, they have created their own brand. Way to go!!!!Now, where was I?Add your chicken pieces and ensure all areas are covered with the paste.Let it marinate for at least 1hr or overnight.Heat your oil.When ready, deep fry in hot oil.You may notice that once the chicken is in the hot oil, the ginger and garlic may separate from the chicken. That’s okay. The taste will still be there because of the oil now takes up the fragrance and transfers it to the chicken.To obtain the golden brown finish, deep fry a second time but for half the time as initial.What to do with the oil;

  • Let it cool down
  • Strain
  • Place in a separate container
  • Use on veggies & any other foods that will not get stained by the oil since tumeric loves to leave a trace on everything.

For the health freaks, I reuse my oil. Am on a budget. Hush!

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Swahili Pilau


Easy pizzy, lemon squuezy!!!

Now say it louder, but this time imagine you don’t have your two front teeth. Eathi pithi,lemon squegee!!

This is easier.

All you need is the following;

  1. 3 large onions
  2. A bulb of garlic
  3. Half a thumb size of ginger
  4. Salt
  5. A kilo of meat
  6. 3 cups rice – washed
  7. 1 teaspoon pilau masala aka dawa ya pilau

First, boil your meat. If it is beef. If chicken, no need. Just jump to the frying part.

Second, wash your rice. I place mine on a big strainer and washed it under running water for a few minutes.

Thinly slice onions.

Place your peeled ginger and garlic in a mortar and grind to a fine paste.

Once the meat is done, take a big saucepan (sufuria) and heat oil till it’s silent & near smoking.

Add onions with a pinch of salt. They’ll fry faster. A local would say, siri ya pilau in kitunguu kuungua. Direct translation is, the secret to a good pilau is burning the onions.

If you have to burn them, burn them like this.

Add ginger & garlic paste when the onions caramelise & continue frying for 2 to 4 minutes.

Add 1 teaspoon of pilau masala and let the aroma give you a kick in your nostrils as it wets your appetite. Fry for another 5 or so minutes and add the meat when the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan.

Stir and make sure every piece of meat gets a warm hug from the golden mixture sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. If too dry, add some water and let it simmer till it dries up.

Add the rice.

Stir.

Add 3 cups of water, cover and reduce the heat.

Let it gently boil as the water reduces.

When the water has reduced completely, please avoid the annoying habit of mercilessly combing through the rice to check if the rice done.

Instead,lift lid, cover with a sheet of foil, replace cover and reduce heat to minimum. Let it be for 10 minutes or so. If using a jiko, you can add pieces of charred charcoal on top of the lid.

If you don’t have foil, a clean newspaper will do.

After 10 minutes, switch off the heat and let it rest for 15-30 minutes without opening the lid. This allows the rice to puff up and separate in the steam in a constant temperature.

That’s the science behind pilau.

As this is going on, prepare your accompaniment e.g. kachumbari, eggplants, ladyfingers, bananas, avocado etc.

Serve.

Dawa ya pilau

If you have a supplier who can be getting you the fresh ingredients, then this is for you. If you can only get the supermarket stuff, this is a gamble.

Ensure you have the following;

  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Cardamom
  • Cloves
  • Black pepper
  • Cumin seeds

All shall be in equal ratio except for the cumin. It can be twice the ratio e.g. the ratio of black pepper to cumin can’t be the same, it’ll be too hot. Cloves, too bitter and cardamom or cinnamon, too bland.

Place a pan on high heat for 3 or so minutes. Add your pilau mix ingredients and toss them around the pan.

The cumin seeds will start crackling.

Stir some more, ensure it does not burn.

Remove the pan from the heat once the aroma is strong enough to invite your neighbors.

Let it cool.

Place in a grinder, and grind to powder.

A quarter kilo of the mixed whole spices at Kongowea goes for 100/- and it is A LOT!!!

Enjoy…….see you on Saturday hopefully.

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Kenyan proverb


One of the most common Kenyan proverbs is this;

At the beginning of the month, we eat chicken. Progressively, we graduate to chicken products but by end month we eat what chicken eat.

Truth.

Another Kenyan proverb is utajua hujui loosely translated to mean ‘you will acknowledge that you do not know you are talking about while you’re talking about it’.

The latest one is ‘bora uhai’. Contextually, it means I survived even if I did not bring home the cup. At the end of a bad day at work, encourage yourself by placing your hand over your chest while staring at your bathroom mirror BORA UHAI.

(If Swahili is an acquired language for you, we pronounce the words as it is written) don’t fret.

Quick fix for the health conscious worker.

Ingredients;

Freshly ground black pepper.

Lime

Lemon

Half an onion – thinly sliced

One ripe diced mango

One fat slice of a mature & ripened pineapple

Quarter of a fat juicy cucumber, diced

One medium yet ripe tomato, sliced

Hoho/pilipili mboga/capsicum – it’s the same thing ๐Ÿ™‚

One leaf lettuce

Raisins

After slicing your onion, soak it in lime juice. This retains the color but takes the sting away.

Wash the lettuce leaf, pat dry in a kitchen towel and place it at the bottom of your lunch tin. Do not slice it if you have no intentionally n of eating it there and then. The taste is very different.

Layer your other ingredients,excluding lemon and lime, in whatever order.

Squeeze quarter lemon and lime on top of the mix. Seal and, if possible, chill in the fridge till lunchtime.

Upon serving, flip the container upside down meaning the lettuce will be up. Slice or tear it to size. Mix.

Jibambe.

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Fishy manenos


Picture this…..rech gi kuon (fish & ugali in the language of one’s calling) with mito & lisebebe (traditional veggies) on a Friday night after a long day in the marketplace.

My ever loving and ever patient trolley pusher, went out of his way and bought five mid-sized, healthy looking, deep fried tilapia last evening for today’s dinner. Let me just say I have been day dreaming about it the whole day today and this was made worse after watching Chef Ali Mandhry prepping samaki was kupaka for Mark Wiens on his migrationology vlogs on YouTube last night.

That’s a piece of heaven I would not mind having its title deed in my name. Jesus, do me good.

Fish ready, I pleaded with my DM to go to Marikiti and get me the ingredients i.e. coriander, mito, lisebebe (pumpkin leaves in the lingua of the first cousin), onions and tomatoes. I got the rest of the spices missing from my ka-pantry on my way home in the evening.

Yaaaaaas!!!!

Ingredients

  1. 2 mid sized onions
  2. Capsicum – 1 mid sized, thinly sliced.
  3. 3 tomatoes
  4. Garlic – 10 cloves pieces
  5. Ginger – half a pinky size wise
  6. Chillies (whole) – birds eye chilli 4 pieces
  7. Tumeric, 2 tablespoons
  8. Paprika, 1 teaspoon
  9. Coconut cream, 800 ml. Kentaste brand specifically.
  10. Curry powder, 1 teaspoon heaped
  11. Salt
  12. Oil – tablespoons
  13. Cumin seeds
  14. Mustard seeds

First, take your ginger, garlic, paprika, curry powder, tumeric,chillies and salt and grind them to a paste using a pestle and mortar. Tedious process but wonderful taste. Saw this technique from an Indian vlog on YouTube. Interestingly, the chilli vanishes in the concoction once it forms a paste.

As below.

The background is just evidence that my kitchen is my lab. Assume, those are titration pipes, test tubes and Bunsen burners with all sorts of concoctions.

Heat oil in a wide pan till it becomes silent – almost smoking.

Add half a teaspoon of both cumin and mustard seeds. You will get a crackling sound as the seeds start jumping out of the oil.

Immediately, add thinly sliced onions and capsicum. Fry till golden brown.

Then add the bronze colored concoction from your pestle and mortar.

That aroma was so enticing till ground floor. I reside on the first floor. 2nd and 3rd floor neighbors are always out on Fridays.

Let it fry until all the ingredients have blended well and there are no lumps. Then add tomatoes and just because it was the last not in the container, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste.

The aroma at this point is outta this world

Fry until the tomato disintegrates into the concoction and isn’t lumpy.

On the side, take your deep fried fish, place in a wide & fitting bowl and pour hot steaming water. If you know how to slaughter chicken Kenyan style, hot water to that level. This helps soften the fish and eliminate the excess oil from the deep frying process. Soak the fish for 5-10 minutes. Then drain completely.

I don’t know why I didn’t take that photo.

For the love of buy Kenya, build Kenya, please get Kentaste products. I am intentionally digressing coz o just have to say this. Foreign products are taking over the supermarket shelves and playing unfairly against homegrown products. I mean, a difference of 10 or 20 shillings between various brands of Thai Coconut milk and even Coconut cream is favorable for those who are living on tight budget made worse by double and triple taxation. Where is the authority in charge of enforcing the Competition Act when we need them most? If you can, buy local products. Why? Your buying is paying salaries and overheads for the person who is next to you compared to cheap imports that may not even be of the required standard for the Kenyan market. Furthermore, if you have feedback on the product, you can engage the organisation directly. Wakenya hatujarogwa. I am not using the road to Shanghai even as I use my simple Infinx phone. Oh, the irony!!!!

Back to rech. Slice finely the coriander leaves and add into the pan. Fry for 2 minutes there about.

No, it ain’t a sponsored post but I miss Nakumatt and its variety of local produce under Blue Label

Empty your 2 cans of coconut cream onto the pan and stir till you get a nice yellowy mixture. Let it simmer. Taste for salt. Add to taste.

Place your fish, one by one, into the thick coconut cream and make sure the fish is well covered on both sides.

Serve.

Hmmmmmm……!

No further comment.

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