WHATS IN YOUR CUP OF TEA ?

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“Black or white?”is a question increasingly being asked when you walk into a restaurant and ask for tea.

Black is what it sounds like black tea while white is if you would like  a dash or two or three of milk.

Tea holds a special place in Kenyan households and hearts,it is the drink of choice that we give to welcome visitors into our homes and is a sign of the high esteem with which we hold them .

Tea is the preferred beverage o choice in most Kenyan households and many people will swear that their mothers way of preparing tea is the best.There have been broken hearts where tea was involved and it was brewed not quite up to perfection.

Some people do take their tea up a notch by adding spices like tea masala,cardamons,cinnamon or fresh ginger or rosemary.Al little while back I had a recipe for Chai Tea .

Tea drinking is embraced across many cultures in Africa,Europe,Asia the middle East and in the Americas.

Countries like China,Japan,Russia,England,India,Turkey,Egypt and Morocco have tea drinking traditions spanning hundreds of years.You have not really enjoyed tea until you have  attended a Chinese or Japanese tea ceremony where in both of  of these cultures  tea holds a special seat of honor .

The tradition of tea drinking as a way to maintain a healthy lifestyle goes back hundred of years .According to early Buddhist texts,tea was described as a potent medicine for promoting good health,aiding digestion and relieving the  symptoms that accompanied the common cold.

There are many varieties of tea available apart form the black tea,there is green ,white ,herbal  and more recently we have been hearing of purple tea and its benefits.

For a country of tea drinkers like Kenya as well as for anyone who enjoys their tea,are there any benefits to a daily cup of your favorite hot beverage?

Apart from the effects tea has of refreshing and restoring us (I am sure you know a few people who cannot function without their favorite hot beverage),science is just now discovering the health benefits that accompany tea drinking.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,the biggest evidence in support of tea drinking has been attributed to the antioxidants it contains that have been found to improve heart health.

These anti oxidants found in both green and black tea which are different from what we get from fruits have been attributed to have disease fighting capabilities.

The work of antioxidants is to look for free radicals roaming around your body and to get rid of them.These free radicals are the cause of many degenerative diseases and also occur as a result of aging.

Antioxidants work by  detoxifying the body of  these free agents so that they do not cause disease through the damage of body cells.

Countries like Japan and China that have a tea drinking culture reportedly have less incidences of heart disease and some cancers according to John Weisburger, PhD, senior researcher at the Institute for Cancer Prevention in Valhalla, N.Y.

Caffeine is the stimulant found in tea as well as coffee is a mental booster ,elevates our moods and gets us started in the morning .Like all good things  to be able to enjoy the benefits of tea it should be taken in moderation.

Drinking more than 3 tea cups(not mugs) of tea is advisable and it should not be given to young children and adolescents as it hinders the absorption of iron which young and growing bodies need lots of in order to grow.

Just out of  curiosity I would love to know just how many cups anyone reading this takes of tea and how best they like it,brewed or instant though I must say instant tea has nothing on brewed tea(I might be biased).

As always we love reading your comments and suggestions,looking forward to seeing you in the comments later.

 

UGALI WITH OOMPH!

It is strange that my spell check does not recognize ugali…a Kenyan delicacy like that needs to be put in the Oxford dictionary.

In my younger days i hated ugali because the wooden stick used to stir it frequently found a home on my derriere when i was extra naughty.

The more glorified form of ugali that plays is in the  league of gourmet food is the Italian polenta.

Instead of boiling water and mixing in with your usual maize flour try the following tips to add some oomph to kawaida /regular  ugali:

1.Add desiccated coconut to your ugali,fresh i s best but if you cannot get fresh the store bought variety works fine too.The flakes add crunch to your ugali and an absolutely out of this world  nutty  aroma will fill your kitchen as you cook.A tablespoon or two for each cup of water should do.

Coconut milk or cream will also give you great results ,bye bye bland ugali.

2.Add fresh cream to your ugali halfway during the cooking time ,adding  it too early causes the ugali to burn before it is ready.

3.Grate some cheese into the ugali ,stir it into the ugali  then serve.

4.Add sour cream,use it in the same way you use the cream.

5.Mix in millet flour with your regular stir  ugali flour,this should be thoroughly mixed before you start making the ugali or else you get lumps.Cook ugali made from millet flour on medium high heat it burns very  quickly.

6.If you have left over ugali,don’t throw it away,cut it into cubes make an egg/milk and chopped coriander  mix,then fry or bake and have them for breakfast

What other unusual ways do your cook ugali….please share.

FRESH BEANS GITHERI

Image

Ingredients

1.5 par boiled green maize/corn kernels

2 cups fresh beans

4 medium sized potatoes,peeled and cubed 

2 medium sized carrots,peeled and cubed

1 medium sized red onion,chopped

2 cloves of garlic,minced

1 medium sized zucchini,grated or chopped

1 teaspoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

salt and back pepper to taste

3-4 tablespoons chopped spring onion/coriander leaves

Method

1.Heat a medium sized saucepan over medium high heat and then add your vegetable oil,red onion and garlic,fry for 30 seconds.

2.Add your grated zucchini,potatoes,chopped carrots,cubed tomatoes and a teaspoon of tomato paste,add salt and black pepper to taste and lower heat to medium low and fry the  vegetables for 3-5 minutes till tender.

3.Add your fresh beans and corn/maize then add enough stock or water ,simmer covered for 20-35 minutes till stock reduces and you have a thick sauce.

4.Add the 3 tablespoons of chopped spring onions/coriander for garnish,stir and serve

Other variations to having this Kenyan staple include having it as a salad.

TURMERIC FLAVORED MASHED POTATOES

I love the earthy smell of turmeric and the fact that my star sign is Virgo may have something to do with it.

Virgos are said to be very health conscious and are known to have very refined palates,this may explain my obsession with preparing food well.

I love potatoes a lot and my kids seem to have taken after me,they eat potatoes in all their forms,fried,baked,roasted and they especially love mashed potatoes.

Yesterday i decided to indulge them with their favorite food but this time i would add some turmeric and it worked like a charm…they cleaned their plates.

You can read about turmeric benefits and why for me it defines Indian cuisine for me.

Hello food  delivers traditional Indian food that contains spices like turmeric ,try their amazing food and see why turmeric is such a definitive spice for this culinary style.

This recipe could be tried with baby potatoes ,just make sure you thoroughly clean them without bruising the skin and boil them as is,without peeling .

Ingredients

1 kilo of Irish potatoes,washed peeled.

1 small red onion,chopped.

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 cup frozen peas

salt and ground black pepper to taste.

METHOD

1.In a mediums sized saucepan add,1 and a half tablespoons of vegetable oil then add your chopped red onion and saute on low heat till soft.

2.Add the turmeric to the onions and stir,let cook for 2 minutes then add your  potatoes,stir the potatoes till they are coated in the oil,onions and turmeric.you get lovely looking turmeric kissed potatoes.

3.Add salt to taste and black pepper,stir ,let cook for a minute.

4.Add enough water to cover the potatoes then cover the saucepan with a lid ,bring to boil and let simmer for 15,add your frozen peas,then let boil for a further 5 minutes to cook the peas.The potatoes are ready when a fork easily passes through .

5.Remove from heat and drain the potatoes reserving a cup of the liquid.

6.Using the back of a wooden spoon mash your potatoes till smooth,then serve.

We had the mashed potatoes  with a beef stew that had blanched broccoli.

Buon appetito!

BLANCHED BROCCOLI WITH BEEF

What can i say about broccoli that i have not said already….

They are most beautiful, gorgeous vegetables in the whole wide world…

Back to cooking now..

On a recent trip to Nairobi from Nakuru,at Soko Mjnga(fools market) located just before Kimende,you get a lot of vegetables.Cucumbers,broccoli,red onion,garden peas and many others.The reason for this is the cool  and sometimes cold climate of the highland areas like Limuru and its environs  that favor the growth of such crops.

It is such a pity that these farmers for all their hard work get a pittance for such high value crops.

Be warned though,you have to put on your best negotiating demeanor with these guys as they  swarm up to your window the minute you make a stop at the market which is literally on the roadside.Be sure also to park off the road as the place is a known blackspot .

I was brought for about 2 kilos of broccoli by someone special and it has been a joy to eat as much of these vegetable as i could dream up recipes literally daily.

I even thought i should open up a restaurant that served only broccoli in al its delicious forms..

The secret to perfectly delicious broccoli or cauliflower is to blanch the vegetables before adding them to any stew.

That way the vegetables retain their color and all their nutrients.

For these stew you need the following….

Ingredients

1 and  1/2 cups blanched broccoli

5oo grammes cubed beef meat

2 medium sized red onions,sliced

3 medium sized carrots,cubed

2 tomatoes,chopped

2-3 medium sized potatoes peeled,washed and quartered

1 medium sized chopped zucchini

1 level tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 teaspoon crushed black pepper

salt to taste

water/beef broth

Broccolini in beef stew
Broccolini in beef stew

Method

1.In a saucepan add beef and a cup of water then set to simmer covered  till beef becomes tender and no water is left in the saucepan.

2.Add your oil,red onions,tomatoes and carrots,tomato paste ,potatoes,black pepper and salt then cover till the vegetables are softened and there is a thick gravy/sauce in the pan.

.Add your water beef broth enough to cover the meat and let simmer on low heat till it thickens with saucepan still covered.

4.After 10 minutes add you blanched broccoli,slices of cucumber,cover saucepan and turn off heat.

Leave covered for 5-7 minutes,stir the stew then serve.

Serving suggestion:great with turmeric rice,chapatis and any other flat bread.

VEGETABLE SAUCE PASTA DISH

Do you know what goes really well with spaghetti especially if you are not a meat lover like i am…

It is cumber,carrots,red onions and lots of tomatoes.

My son loves this dish so much he almost always scraps his plate clean.

And it is a very very cheap dish too,no exotic ingredients in this dish.

Orange,green,red and pasta!!!
Orange,green,red and pasta!!!

Ingredients

1 medium sized red onion,chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic chopped finely/minced

1 medium sized zucchini sliced

2 carrots grated/chopped

2 tomatoes

1 teaspoon of tomato paste

1-2 tablespoons olive oil/vegetable oil for frying

 200 grammes of spaghetti

Method

1.Boil a medium sized saucepan half filled with water,then add a tablespoon of salt once its starts boiling.Don’t worry you will not taste the salt.

2.Boil till al dente about 6-7 minutes.

3.Drain the pasta but retain a cup or so of the pasta water,you will add it later to the vegetables.

4.In the same saucepan add some olive oil.vegetable oil then add your chopped red onion and sauté till tender,.

5.Add the minced garlic,sauté for 0 seconds,then add your tomatoes,carrots fry for a minute or so till softened then add your tomato paste and salt and stir.

6.Add the cucumber slices and cover for a minute to let the steam tenderize them.

7..After a minute add a few tablespoons of the pasta water,enough to cover base of sauce pan,let simmer for a minute to thicken the sauce then add your drained paster and stir then cover for 30 seconds and remove from heat.

Add a splash of olive oil and toss then serve.

Bouon  appetito!

ROSEMARY BEEF STEW

Last week  there were some sprigs of rosemary on sale at my local supermarket ,the inspiration behind this recipe.

I had already had rosemary in my tea in oven roast potatoes but had not prepared any meat dish with this herb .

Garlic and rosemary go really well together and you can try this dish with the this mukimo recipe .

Read more about the health and side effects of rosemary .

Whenever I buy meat in bulk letting it sit in the refrigerator overnight before i portion it and always gives me tender cuts  of meat that do not have to be stewed for long .

Here goes the recipe:

 

Ingredients

400grammes  of cubed beef.

2 large tomates,cubed

2 medium sized carrots,cubed

1 large onion cubed

5 cm sprig of rosemary .

salt to taste

Sprig of rosemary in beef stew..

 

Method

1.Place a suitably sized saucepan over medium high heat and add  1 and a half tablespoonfuls of oil,then add your cubed onions,fry till the onions are softened and changed to an almost transclucent color.

2.Add your beef,let it brown then add your tomatoes and carrots ,cover and let cook for about 5-7  minutes.

3.Add  enough water to cover the meat and let simmer on low heat ,once the stew starts bubbling add a sprig of rosemary to your dish and let it simmer way for 10-15 minutes till your stew thickens and your meat is tender which may take longer for tougher cuts of meat .

4.Remove the rosemary sprig from the stew before serving

Buon appetito!

MY RUBBED IN BUTTER AND SPRING ONION CHAPATI RECIPE

Chapati chapati..how many ways do i love thee…

I could go all Shakespearean and spew odes about chapati

This Asian delicacy tha is a favourite of mine is something I could eat all week.

In a forum that I am a member of,someone asked how she could make the perfect chapatis.

Everyone gave her ideas on how to make them but they forgot to give her the measurement of the ingredients she would use to make them.

Like cake making,chapati making is a precise art,once you get the measurements wrong nothing ever seems right after that.

In a bid to correct this I have written out my fool-proof chapati recipe that has everyone asking for more.You can find a another recipe chapati recipe where i mixed wheat flour with  gram flour here .

I need also to mention that to be great at making chapatis,you need patience and lots of practice,i will never forget how first chapatis  were as hard as biscuits with time I have become good at it.

Butter and spring onion chapatis

Ingredients

2 cups each white and brown flour plus an extra 1 cup for rolling out and needing

3 level tablespoons softened butter

1.5 cups warm water

2 tablespoonfuls of chopped spring onions

1 level tablespoon of sugar

1 level teaspoon salt

1 cup corn oil

Method

1.In a bowl sift flour,sugar and salt together then add your butter.Using clean fingers rub in the butter in the flour till it looks like fine breadcrumbs.

2.Add your chopped spring onions and using a fork mix them into the flour.

3.Make a well in the centre of your flour and add the warm water and working from the centre outwards mix in the flour till you have a soft lumpy dough.

4.Turn the dough onto a clean surface and working with clean hands use your palms to kneadt he flour turning it over  frequently and making sure to dust flour  your working  surface to prevent the dough from sticking.

5.Chapati flour does not need to be kneaded for too long just work it till you have a soft ,elastic dough that does not stick to your work surface.

6.Once your dough is read,shape it into a ball .Clean your bowl,dry it and return the dough to the bowl , drizzle a tablespoon and a half of your cooking oil onto the dough then roll your dough round the bowl to make sure every inch is covered with oil.

7.Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and set it aside for 20 to 30 minutes to give it time to rest.This is what gives your chapatis a soft texture as the gluten strands have had enough time to rest from all the kneading .

Rolling out

After 30 minutes get your round ball of dough and using a sharp kitchen knife divide the dough into 2 equal halves then quarter it,each quarter gives your about 4-5 balls each of dough.

Rollout  each ball of dough out to about 1/8 of an inch round ,drizzle about half a tablespoon each of good vegetable oil and spread it evenly all over your rolled out dough, using the back of a spoon or a pastry brush.

Roll your dough into a thin  cylindrical shape and then into a spiral and set aside,repeat this with each of your balls .

Cooking

Heat a heavy skillet over medium high heat,get each chapati ball and roll it out into 1/8 of an inch  round ,put it on the heavy skillet till you see bubbles on the surface then you know its time to turn,oil the cooked side then turn it over oil the second side,turn again and once it lightly browned your chapati is ready to be turned onto a flat platter and covered with a clean kitchen cloth.

Repeat this procedure with the rest of the balls of chapati.

OLIVE OIL:GIFT OF THE GODS

Olive oil is a favourite of mine,i use it for salads,for my skin and even at times for eczema .

I love the Pietro Coricelli brand and whenever i have money to spare i get myself a bottle.

Olives are mentioned in the Bible,they are synonymous with the holy land ,the  trees are native to the mediterranean region and in classical greek mythology it is said  the goddess Athena gifted the Greeks with the Olive tree.

Olive tree photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

The tree which bears fruits from which olive oil is pressed from can live for as long as 3000 year.

Olive oil has many uses outside the kitchen,I have used it on my hair ,as a moisturizer on my skin and on my little pumpkin Emma.

For the kitchen it is great especially when making pasta sauces,sauteing vegetables,making chapati/flat bread dough,in salads as  dressing,on bread,oven roasted chicken……..  the list is endless.

I imagine heaven smells of garlic sauteing in olive oil…

A gramme of olive oil gives about 9 calories and like all good things you should not gulp it down no matter how good it is,use a minimal amount to give your food the delicate flavour for which olive oil is famous for.

As a rule you never ever over heat olive oil especially the extra virgin and virgin oils as they easily burn.

Do you have any uses of olive oil you can swear by.

Share them  in the comments section

OATS

Oats have been cultivated for about 2000 years which is pretty young in grain years.

They were  a weed beforethey were domesticated.

They became very popular in Scotland and Ireland  as a food before their use spread to the rest of the world,interestingly in England oats were given to …livestock!

I was looking up ideas to help with breastfeeding when someone mentioned oats boost breast milk production and i decided to do some more research on their health benefits, to humans ofcourse.

Oats are great for breastfeeding moms as they boost milk production but they are also an awesome cereal for anyone looking to eat and live a healthier  life.

Immediately I went and got myself a pack of quick cooking oats which you can find in any supermarket

Here are the ones i got.

The oats…..

Cooking oatmeal porridge is fairly easy  and the pack I got had a recipe on its side ,after  modifying it to make a small bowl of oatmeal porridge, Emma was one well fed baby.

Read  some more about  the  benefits of oats here.

 

Oatmeal porridge

Ingredients

5  heaped tablespoonsfuls  of oatmeal(1/3 of a cup)

1 cup water

1/4 teaspoon salt

some milk/cream

sugar/honey to taste

Method

1.In a small saucepan on medium high heat  bring the cup of water to boil then add the quarter teaspoon of salt.

2.Once the water comes to a  boil add the oats and stir then let simmer for 5 minutes  on medium low heat.

3.Remove from heat and cover for a further 5 minutes then add cream or milk  and honey/sugar to taste.

Alternatively slices of fruits like bananas,a tablespoon of some dried fruits would be great too.

Bon appetito!

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