When I think of the word food, it evokes liquid memories of love.
Memories of wonderful days with my sister and my cousins at grandma’s house.
Food represented love.
Each Saturday my grandmother would prepare to bake fresh bread, pastries, and other treats.
I, along with my sister and cousins would gather at our grandmother’s table. We knew there would be laughter, food, and fun.
Golden rays of sunlight streaming in through the muslin fabric added magic to the dance of grandmother’s hands as she wrestled with the dough. Next, she patted and covered it on a large wooden tray to rest and rise.
The heady fragrance set our taste buds alight with the promise of joy.
Our shiny sun-kissed faces marveled with the wonder of youth as the doughy mixture seemed to come alive before our very eyes.
Later, grandma would set the dough into rolls and loaves. We would get small pieces of the raw dough to play with as an artful form of learning.
We would try to make each tiny bread look like my grandmother’s, but ours never seemed to come out quite right.
Next came preparing the oven for baking.
Earlier that day, we ran around collecting bits of old wood and dead branches from the trees. Coconut shells and fiber make wonderful kindling for the fire.
The oven is located in the yard and is a structure made of mud, cow patties (dried cow poop), and water mixed together in a manner reminiscent of an adobe-like structure.
My grandma would artfully light the oven using the bits and pieces we had collected until they formed red hot bits of coal.
The dough is then placed in the oven and the real magic begins. The intoxicating scent of fermented yeast explodes as heat invigorates the fungi causing its energy to dissipate overpowering the palate of the waiting children.
We eagerly await the opening of the oven door, a signal for the salivary glands to let it all hang out — literally.
The golden goodness is freed from the ovens bowels and presented to the salivating kids.
The heat emanating from the too-hot rolls causes us to change hands constantly, like a clown juggling way too many balls in the air.
We love it warm from the oven as the heat causes the fresh cheese or salty butter to dribble down our fingers as we enjoy this yeasty goodness with some freshly made lime drinks.
Afterward, we would rest in the shade of the veranda, now replete.
The older kids would tell us scary stories until one by one we doze off dreaming of playing hide and seek in the coming moonlight.
I remember gazing upon these soft umbrella like plants nestled upon a rotting log in the front corner of our yard. They boasted differing colors, shapes and sizes.
They seemed to appear on damp days, after a night of heavy rains this strange plant would appear.
To a child they were enchanting. Though they evoked the tiniest of fear. They were reminiscent of images we had seen in our story books. usually of a leprechaun or a toad in close proximity to one.
The oldfolks said the spirits used it to shelter from the rain.
Jumbie umbrella as they were called, usually found a home on old logs, under trees and in the dark underbrush of our gardens. The logs were so old that they were well into their process of natural disintegration. If one took hold a piece of the decaying log in your hand and if you rubbed your fingers together, it became dust.
The folk lore told that the jumbies’, ghosts or spirits (words used interchangeably), use the ‘umbrellas’ to hide under during the rain. The reasoning behind why they came out after a night of heavy rains.
Kids will believe anything. The absurdity in retrospect is laughable.
I do not know the names of the mushroom species that grew so abundantly everywhere back then. They were pretty much taboo in our part of the world.
No one I knew ate mushrooms, they were undesirable and the word on the street was that “they ate these things in other parts of the world”. They went on to tell us they were poisonous.
So we would play with them. They were so delicate that it was easy to crush them under our feet.
Years later, I began travelling and was introduced to edible mushrooms. I immediately fell in love with their musty taste and meat-like texture.
An edible fungi
Mushrooms according to Wikipedia are the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus, typically produced above ground, on soil, or on its food source.
Mushrooms are a low-calorie food rich in nutritional value. Loaded with many health-boosting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they can be an important addition to your diet.
Note, their particular circumstance of growth impacts their nutritional components, for eg., mushrooms grown with exposure to ultraviolet light are a good source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is an important component for optimum health.
Mushrooms, according to the FDA, contain, sodium, potassium, fiber, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamin C, iron and various trace elements.
Benefits of eating mushrooms
Aids weight loss
Lowers blood pressure
Nutritional value and trace elements
Though my first encounter with mushrooms were negative ones. I am glad I kept an open mind when it came to trying new things.
In making a decision to try something new, I found a new low calorie food that I now love.
It is important to take some time and see another perspective, to give new experiences, new places a change, new things a try.
Back in early April before our lives got turned upside down. My Gee was always the chef du jour, and not for just that day either.
We were home deciding what to cook for dinner and finally settled on was Gee’s Beer Battered Chicken. In our current climate we are trying to raid the refrigerator and the freezer and come up with innovative ways to eat what was already in the home. So here is Gee’s twist on things.
2 large chicken breasts
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 beer or seltzer water
1 Tsp baking powder
Sazon seasoning (gives color & flavor)
Salt & pepper to taste
Mix all dry ingredients together, you may use a whisk.
Add the beer or seltzer water (your preference) to the dry mixture
Gently fold beer / seltzer into the dry mixture (do not beat the mixture, you want to keep the bubbles)
Mix gently for smooth consistency
Clean, wash and prep chicken breasts, pat dry with paper towel and place in a bowl. Slice the thickness of chicken breast in half. Add seasonings to your taste. You may allow to marinate for about 30 minutes.
Yesterday my mom and I went to Lowe’s Hardware Store to stock up on our plant food and I was amazed and pleased to see this wall of soil. It seems a lot of folks are planting and the demand for plants and planting items have drastically increased.
I have been seeking some onion plants so I keep checking, none so far.
As avid planters, we have never seen this much soil being stocked or sold. The gardening section is currently one of the busiest at the stores.
Apparently many of us are returning our roots and in the process finding joy in the work of our hands, watching them grow and eating healthier in the process.
Plus our kids get to help while learning how to doing new things, which will serve them well in the future.
Planting is also great for our mental health.
Yellow Squash flowering.
Isn’t this just lovely to watching things grow?
So WP folks, please show us some pictures of your gardens…
Okra – originated in Ethiopia and scientifically known as Abelmoschus esculentus. From Ethiopia, okra had journeyed to North Africa, the Mediterranean, Arabia and India all by the 12th century.
A hardy plant, okra can be cultivated almost anywhere. This vegetable is known as gumbo in America, lady’s finger in England, guino-gombo in Spanish, guibeiro in Portuguese and bhindi in India, to name a few.
In its original home of Ethiopia it is also called Kenkase, Andeha, and Bamia.
According to MedicalNewsToday, one cup of okra weighing approximately 100 grams contains a whopping 20 vitamins and minerals. Sounds like a superfood to me. I have been eating this vegetable all my life. I did not always appreciate its gifts.
Now at this time in my life I truly appreciate its versatile culinary preparations, this was not always the case.
What I did not know back then was that okra was chock full of most of what our bodies requires in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and cancer fighting compounds.
We are all well aware that our bodies work at its optimum when we consume a diet rich in the recommended amounts of the various food groups.
Diabetes by lowering blood sugar, it regulates the rate at which sugar is absorbed in the intestinal tract.
Reduces kidney damage.
Toxin removal – utilizing the mucilage found in okra
Cancer – contains a compound lectin that can kill cancer cells.
Cardiovascular – its high fiber content aids cholesterol expulsion from the body.
Osteoporosis – its vitamin K content helps keep bones healthy and strong.
Gastrointestinal – prevents constipation and more.
Seeds contain oil and proteins.
Kidney stones – okra is high in oxalates
Gastrointestinal upset – contains fructans a type of carbohydrate that can cause gas, bloating etc.
Joint pain – contains solanine a compound that may trigger joint pain.
Blood-thinning properties – due to the presence of vitamin K.
Okra seemingly has numerous health benefits. It is great for helping to keep your liver and kidneys healthy. It reduces oxidative stress, promotes healthy skin and blood and from personal is great for hair as well.
Check with your healthcare provider if you are taking blood thinners due to the presence of vitamin K a known blood thinner.
Below are some pictures of okra in cultivation from my mother’s kitchen garden.
My mother is the primary gardener, these are the fruits of her hands.
The rest of us are “the helpers”. My mother is blessed to grow things, anything grows that she plants. She planted these okra from seeds and they have been doing what they do. For myself I derive so much pleasure from helping and just observing things growing under the heavens.
I talk to the plants and I am always the first one to see their fruits … a gift of mine my mother says, lol.
The babies are thriving and flourishing. It is a thing of beauty.
Growing and looking so nice and healthy.
Flower bud in progress above.
Same day these images taken from different angle (below).
The view from another angle. They are so healthy. I love it!
This morning this flower decided to open up to see the sun. The first fruits of the labor of love. My favorite time of the growing cycle. Soon we will be consuming these babies.
Dated 06/04/2020 – for some reason, I could not get this image any clearer, the day is over and the flower has done its work, by tomorrow it will wither and reveal the new okra.
In picture above, the okra tree is doing what nature has designed it to do, grow and produce.
This is my mother proudly displaying the fruits from the works of her hands (July 2020). The long one is a variety from South America.
The smaller ones below are the regular variety found here.
Stay safe, stay well, lets learn to live in peace and respect …….. IF we cannot live in love.
Well my dears, today I am off work. I have been researching the benefits of turmeric for a post.
My mom and I had been using turmeric for over several years now for its anti-inflammatory properties.
She makes a drink of turmeric, ginger, lemon and honey. We have been consistently drinking this concoction, especially since the coronavirus, I try to have some every day, just to keep the immune system running at its optimum.
So I cooked some turmeric rice with chickpea or garbanzo beans. See picture below.
Turmeric rice with garbanzo beans, grilled chicken and a sprinkle of bacon.
Now I am no Julia Childs, Gee is the official cook, but he is currently doing a travel nurse stint in NY.
Closer look at the turmeric rice.
In an effort to keep my mind off life I am finding “filler” things to do.
Began this in cups of water
Now happily growing in their “beds”.
A little update, mr. celery is happily growing along with some basil and parsley for company. I love basil as well, love all herbs really. We had a few cold days last week so they took a little beating. One day it seemed like spring then we reverted to winter.
I love love cucumbers and I eat them almost every day. We’ve tried to grow them in the past with not too much success, they would be the picture of health one day then just drop dead the next.
My mom currently has a few cucumber plants in some pots and we will see how they grow.
But just a little on what I have been doing on my off days and of course being on WordPress, I could not get through the difficult times without you all. There is such a community of support here, it’s simply beautiful.
Take your vitamin supplements including zinc, selenium, vitamins C and D.
As always my friends pray, stay healthy, stay safe, keep your immune systems at peak performance.