Ekpang Nkukwo

Lord knows how much i enjoy eating Ekpang Nkukwo. You see there is something about food that is made with a lot of love and attention to detail.

As a foodie, the first time i learnt of Ekpang Nkukwo i was intent on trying it out. Growing up i couldn’t stand any meal made with water yam. I never even tried cocoyam.

Ekpang Nkukwo is a beautiful marriage of water yam and cocoyam. It’s a pottage meal native to the Efik and Ibibio people of Nigeria and some parts of Cameroon.

Its similar to Ifokore/Ikokore of the Ijebu people which is made with only wateryam and without vegetables.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 slices of Wateryam (after this is grated it should come to 1 cup of paste)
  • 3 medium sized Cocoyam (after this is grated, it should come to 2 cups of paste)
  • 6 Cocoyam leaves (Ugu leaves can be used instead)
  • 4 Efinrin leaves shredded. (Utazi leaves can be used instead)
  • 1 cup properly washed unshelled periwinkles
  • Assorted Meats (beef, tripe, ponmo) – (about 200g)
  • Assorted Seafood (Smoked fish, stock fish, fresh prawns, crabs)
  • 1 cooking spoon of palm oil
  • 1 table spoon of ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups of rich beef stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 bouillon cubes
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp ground crayfish

So I’m growing cocoyam in my garden just because of Ekpang Nkukwo. I have never been able to buy cocoyam leaves in the market, so i always have to end up bush diving. I stubbornly insist on cooking Ekpang with only cocoyam leaves.


Procedure

  • Wash the cocoyam leaves and cut them into segments.
  • Using the grater, choose the smallest perforation to grate the yams to a paste. To avoid nicking off your fingers while grating, you can use the grating disc of your food processor. The one with the smallest holes.
  • Mix the cocoyam and water yam paste together, add about 1/2 a cup of water to the mix to help loosen it up.
  • Using spoon, scoop the paste into the cut up leaves, and wrap
  • Line the bottom of the pot with some palm oil and periwinkle. I usually add my stock fish to the bottom of the pot too.
  • Place the rolled paste on top of the cocoyam on top of the periwinkle base you created.

  • Turn on the heat. You don’t want to cook Ekpang Nkukwo on high heat. So set the heat to between medium and low.
  • Add your crayfish , your cayenne pepper, beef stock, water, palm oil, salt and seasoning. You can also add the pre-cooked assorted meats, and smoked fish.
  • I usually check on my pot at 10 minutes intervals and shake the pot using it’s handles to lift it, so as prevent it from burning. I don’t use a ladle so as not upset the rolls.
  • I also leave adding my fresh seafood to the last 5 mins of cooking so as not over cook them.
  • Taste while cooking to know if you need to adjust the taste.
  • Add the shredded efinrin leaves or utazi leaves. Add fresh seafood, shake the pot.
  • Take it off the heat 5 mins after adding the fresh seafood. Let it rest. Stir and serve.

Tea Time; Let’s Have Homemade Herbal Tea

Did you know you can make your own tea using a blend of your favorite herbs and spices?

I do that all the time and i want to share one of my mixes with you.

The beauty of this is that, this is made with locally grown spices readily available in the market, especially from the Hausa spice vendors.

Tea is a beverage so popular it’s one of the most consumed in the world. It’s an aromatic beverage commonly prepared by pouring hot or boiling water over cured tea leaves. Mostly had for breakfast, however in some cultures, tea is had at any time of the day.

In Nigeria tea is most popular as tea bags, and because of our British colonial past, we have our tea with a handsome helping of milk and sugar.

I really like using Zobo leaves to make tea, not only because it makes such a beautiful colour of tea, it’s also very aromatic and zingy.


Health benefits of this herbal tea.

Herbal teas are good detoxifiers. So is this tea. All the ingredients play a key role in metabolism, detoxification of xenobiotic and flushing toxins out of the body

It Aids in digestion, Treats nausea & headache, Prevents respiratory disorders, Aids in breast feeding, Helps in weight loss, Helps allergies , Improves skin health, Improves kidney health.

Increases Immunity;
The presence of vitamin C in sorrel is pretty impressive.
Vitamin C also referred to as ascorbic acid, increases the production of white blood cells and stimulates the immune system, which is the first line of protection against pathogens and other free radicals present in the body, hence helping to prevent cancer.


Ingredients

  • Dried Zobo leaves (Hibiscus Sabdariffa, Roselle, Red Sorrel, or Jamaican Sorrell.
  • Fennel Seeds
  • Dried Mint leaves
  • Cinnamon

Procedure

Blitz them all together in the dry mill of your blender, a food processor or coffee grinder. I don’t have a measurement for this. Just eye ball it and go with your gut.

To make a brew

  • Add 1/2 teaspoon of the tea a cup of boiling water. Allow it to infuse. You can use a tea infuser or strain using a seive.

Sweeten with honey or any non-nutritive/zero calorie sweetener e.g Stevia or Truvia.

You can enjoy hot or cold. Do not add milk to this tea because the acidity in the zobo it will cuddle the milk.

Mango Lassi

#UnrepentantMangoAddict

The season came early this year and I’ve been enjoying every bit of it. A facebook friend even sent me the most precious delicious tasting mangoes all the way from Benue State. Oh i had a ball!

On the way back the Lagos from Ilorin, were my family and i spent our easter holiday, we stopped on the Ogbomoso highway to buy freshly harvested premium Ogbomoso mangoes.

I’m even brewing some Mango liqueur, which will be read in a few weeks and I’d be blogging about it.

Lassi (pronounced [ləsiː]) is a popular traditional yogurt-based drink from the Indian Subcontinent.[1] Lassi is a blend of yogurt, water, spices and sometimes fruit. (Culled from wiki)

Recipe

  • 2 medium Mangoes (Peel and dice)
  • 1 cup unsweetened Yogurt
  • *1/2 cup Coconut Milk
  • 1 teaspoonCardamom seeds

Instructions

  • Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend to a smooth puree.
  • Serve in highball glass and garnish accordingly

Ofe Oha

Oha soup is native to the South Eastern Nigeria. Oha (also spelt and pronounced as Ora) is a delicate vegetable and has a very unique flavour.

The first time I tasted Oha (Ora) soup was in 2009 in the restaurant of the High Court of the FCT. I had gone to court early that day and by lunch time I was famished, especially after sitting through all the proceedings, I was in the mood for something more exciting. Food is exciting, that is why I don’t miss practice.

So back to my story, they had Oha on the menu, I had no idea what it was but I was willing to try. I was hooked!
I remember when I had my son in 2011, I came down with a bad flu, adjusting to my new life as a mum was stressful. My husband’s aunt made me a bowl of spicy Oha Soup. That was the only food I could ingest, it worked like a charm and my appetite came back. I love Oha Soup.

Recipe
Credit; Allnigerianrecipes.com

Ingredients

• Oha leaves a handful

• Cocoyam – 8 small corms or Alternatively 1 1/2 tablespoon of ground Achi

• Red Palm Oil – 2 cooking spoons

• Assorted Beef meats

• Assorted dry Fish

• Fresh peppers (scotch bonnet / habenero /ata rodo) – i like the flavour of fresh Cameroon/Nsukka pepper so i use it. It’s yellow scotch bonnet-.

• Salt to taste

• Crayfish (powdered)

• Bouillon Cubes

• 1 teaspoon Ogiri Igbo (for the traditional taste but optional)

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Procedure

  • Grind pepper and set aside.

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  • Wash and boil the cocoyam corms till soft.
  • Remove the peels and in a blender , blend to a smooth paste you can also use a mortar and pestle , that is the more traditional approach.

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Blended cocoyam.

  • Wash oha leaves. Using your fingers, cut the Ora (Oha) leaves into tiny pieces. It is said that this technique is to prevent the vegetable from becoming darker in colour which happens when you cut the ora leaves with a knife. I’ve tried cutting oha with a knife and it didn’t turn dark, but then i cut and used immediately. I’d say whatever rocks your boat. Set it aside.
  • Season and boil the meats, when then are tender add stock fish and dry fish.
  • Add the pepper, ogiri Igbo and ground crayfish and cook for 10 minutes. Add the cocoyam paste in small lumps and then the palm oil. If using achi, just stir it in, starting with 1 tbsp first. Achi is a thicken and it sometimes has a slightly slippery consistency.

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Ogiri

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  • Cover the pot and leave to cook on high heat till all the cocoyam lumps have dissolved. You can add more water if you feel that the soup is too thick. * Remove smoked catfish Ifyou are using any at this point to prevent disintegration
  • Add the oha (ora) leaves and leave to cook for about 3 – 5 minutes with the lid off.

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Serve with your favourite starchy side dish.

Imoyo Alatasuesue (Spicy Imoyo Stew)

Imoyo is a light watery fish stew. I’m hoping it did the stew enough justice while taking the pictures and editing it, i know i had to work on optics. So I’m wondering if it looks light and fluid enough in the pictures.

Well Imoyo is light and more runny than your regular rice stew, or beef stew.

I like my Imoyo stew to be a little spicy because i find that pepper helps to improve the flavour of fresh fish. I also like to cook my Imoyo with a combination of vegetable oil and palm oil, just because i like that.

Recipe

  • 1 litre blended pepper mix [Tomatoes/Tatashe (Red capsicum)/Ata rodo (red Scotch Bonnet)/Onion] {I use a ratio of 8:2:4 for the pepper mix and you can tweak the pepper quantity depending on how spicy you like it}
  • 1 small Onion
  • 1 cup Vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup Palm oil
  • 2kg Fresh Obokun (Blue Catfish) – you can use your own fish of choice.
  • Salt
  • Bouillon cubes
  • Stock (optional)

Procedure

  • Clean and salt your raw fish and set it aside while prepping for your stew. Doing this will allow the fish to be seasoned through before adding to your stew. Just salt is okay, no over the top marinate so as not to lose the flavour of the fish and even the flavour of the stew
  • Chop the small onion and set aside.
  • Set a clean dry pot on medium heat and heat up palm oil. As it heats up add the onions and allow it to fry till it sizzles, (you may take it out if you leave it till it crisps) . Add the vegetable oil and let it get hot.
  • Pour in the blended pepper mix. Season with salt and bouillon cubes (i will use 2 cubes)
  • Bring the stew to a boil, the oil and the stew will mix. If you have stock, add it now.
  • Cook on medium heat for about 20 mins with the lid of the pot on. If you cook with lid off, you’d lose steam and water will vaporize from the stew. Remember its a runny stew.
  • Now add your fresh fish, turn the heat down and let it cook for 10 mins with the lid on. Please taste your stew before you add the fish because, when you add raw fish (especially if it isn’t frozen) it can easily disintegrate in the pot.
  • Don’t stir, just shake the pot using it’s handles.
  • *It’s okay to add a little water if you find that your soup is starting to thicken.

Once cooked, turn the heat off. Imoyo gives definition to “Omi Obe “. It pairs well with Ewedu soup, okra soup, and can be eaten as a broth too.

Nkwobi

Nkwobi is a happy hour meal.

Busy as Lagos is, it has an interesting night life. After the stress of the hustle and bustle of the day, people seem to find a way to unwind after. Hence you’d find a lot of out door cool/happy hour spots and night bars scattered across the metropolis of Lagos. The city is a sort of melting pot for people of different ethnicities and culture across Nigeria, thus you’d find the influence of different cultures in the cuisine.
Popular amongst them is Isi Ewu, Nkwobi, Point and Kill Pepper, Asun, Suya which feature prominently on the menus of most outdoor (indoor too) night bars and cool spots.

There seems to be a sort of marriage with alcohol and spicy food, which might be responsible for there popularity. Personally I’ve found spicy food to be my alcohol antidote, once i start to feel light headed i hit it with something extra spicy.

Recipe

Ingredients

• Cow foot (cut into sizeable pieces, I used 12)

• 50 grams Stock Fish

• 20cl (200ml) Palm Oil or Palm nut Cream.

• *1 tablespoon powdered edible potash (Akanwu/Kaun/Keun) – you won’t need this if you are using palm nut cream-

•1 teaspoon ground Ehu seeds (Calabash Nutmeg)

• 2 tablespoons ground crayfish

• Yellow Scotch Bonnet / Habanero peppers (to your taste)

• 1 medium onion

• 2 big stock cubes

• Salt (to taste)

• Ugba

To garnish

• 1 medium onion

• 10 Utazi leaves

Procedure

– Wash and season your cow foot along with stock fish, and cook.

– Add the bouillon cubes (crushed) and the chunks of onion.

– Add a small quantity of water and start cooking at medium heat till well cooked. Add just enough water to prevent burning as you cook. There should not be any stock (water) in the pot when the meat is done. If the meat is tough, I’d recommend you cook with a pressure pot or just cook for longer. I prefer to use a pressure cooker to cook the cow foot as it can be tough.

– While the meat is cooking, pour the palm oil or crean into a clean dry pot.

* If you are using palm nut cream, skip the next 3 steps.

– Mix Potash with some water to dissolve and seive. Pour in the potash mixture (sieved) into the oil.

– Stir with a wooden spatula as you pour the potash. You’ll notice the palm oil begin to curdle and turn yellow.

– Keep stiring till all the oil has turned yellow.

– If you are using Palm nut cream ensure there is no water contained in the cream. To achieve this you can either use the canned ones or, after extracting your cream from the palm nuts, set it aside for the cream to collect at the top or put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes for the cream to set.

– Heat up the cream for about 5 minutes and proceed to the next step.

– Add the ground crayfish, pepper and ehu seeds. Stir very well till they are all incorporated.

– Add the well done meat and Ugba to the palm oil paste and stir very well with the wooden spatula.

– Leave it on heat till the Soup is piping hot, stirring all the time to make sure it does not burn.

– To prepare the garnish, cut the onions into rings and cut the utazi into long thin slices.

I served it traditional style in a wooden mortar
Add the thin slices of utazi and onion rings on top for the full effects.

Normally Nkwobi is served alone accompanied with alcohol or soft drinks but for some reason I also enjoy pairing it with white rice.

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Eat, Love, Pray, Choose Joy: God got me covered.

“Her husband is here”, i heard a nurse say in my drug induced haze. I had wanted to pee, so i had staggered slowly into the bathroom. I didn’t think i needed help, so i didn’t call for a nurse. I had overestimated my balance, so as i was walking back to my bed in the pre-surgical cubicle, I felt myself free falling and he caught me. “Help me lift her”, i heard him say to the nurses as i blacked out, only to come -to minutes later, after being resuscitated.

Have you found out what is wrong with her, Bode (my husband) asked the doctor, who told him we had to wait for the results.

Timeline : January 24/2017
I had called him at about 1.30 pm asking if he could get off work early to go and pick the kids (our son and our god-children). His tone told me, he was not in the mood for my “Get-out- of- school runs” tactics. But he paused when he heard me catch my breath. I blurted out, “I’m in a lot of pain”, when he asked me what was wrong.
I was having my braids taken out, when the worst pain i’ve ever felt hit me. I broke out in cold sweat, i thought it was horrible case of food poisoning, i asked for a glass of water, i could barely drink it, i wobbled to the toilet. I groaned and pushed and hoped whatever was in me would come out. The pain got worse, it was worse than labour pains {i’ve been in labour twice, so i know the pains of labour}. I was hot and cold at the same time. I stripped completely, doubled over from the pain, then i called him, my voice broke into a sob as i tried to put words to what i was feeling.

He got off the phone and called his mum to go and get me. My parents in law were in my apartment in less than 2 mins (they live in front of my house). “Labake, o kin sick, kilo se e” – Labake you are rarely ill what is wrong-, MIL said. I couldn’t speak, i could manage tears and i gesticulated. “E bami wo so fun” -Help me put clothes on her- she told my staff who were there with me.
Daddy went to get his keys, before i got out, he had started the car ready to take me to the hospital. Typically, Dad’s fastest speed is 60km/hr. On this day he drove like a maniac, we made it to a 20min drive hospital in 10mins!
I told the nurse at the reception, “I’m in a lot of pain!”

They swiftly sprung to action, the doctors were by my side, set an IV line, gave me pain meds that knocked me, took blood work and ordered tests, by now i was drifting in and out of a meds induced sleepy haze. The sonographer, told me it looked like i had a twisted cyst but it shouldn’t cause me that much pain or make me bleed.
That morning, after my regular fitness walk, i had noticed i was bleeding so i assumed it was my period, so i cleaned up, put on a sanitary towel and took a nap.

A more senior doctor came back into the ward and said to my husband and i, “We have to do an emergency Exploratory Laparotomy, your pregnancy result came back positive, you have Ruptured Ectopic Pregnancy that’s why you are bleeding and you are in a lot of pain.”

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An ectopic pregnancy occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself in a place other than inside the uterus. Almost all ectopic pregnancies occur in the fallopian tube and are thus sometimes called tubalpregnancies.

“Pregnant!!” Bode (my husband) and I exclaimed together! How was that even possible? I still took a pregnancy test the week before, it was negative, how is it even possible?

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Since we resumed trying to conceive (TTC) after losing a pregnancy in 2014, I’ve been doing pregnancy tests religiously on a weekly basis. Firstly because of the treatment plan i was on, then for the heck of it and also because i occasionally indulge in liqueur. And yet I didn’t even know i was pregnant. In fact i had gone 2 weeks before for my routine check up with my doctor and i had a routinely done a blood PT.

While the doctor spoke i realized my tummy had doubled in size and it was uncomfortable, the pain was subliminal, and i was woozy. I would later find out that the increase in size was due to my bleeding internally. I looked at my palms and realized my palms were pale!

The team was called, gyne-surgeon, general surgeon, the anesthesiologist (a wonderful pleasant woman), nurses, and others, the blood bank…
By 9pm i was taken to the theater (I had to wait for a set of twin boys to be delivered by emergency CS and brought out of the OR).
I came out 3+hrs and 4 pints of blood transfusion later, with a PCV of 21 looking like something out of “Greys Anatomy” with all the gadgets hanging on my body.
I opened my eyes at about 2am, saw my sweet darling with his head on a desk, trying to catch a nap, he woke up as soon as i stirred, told me i had to lie still on my back for about 8hrs/12hrs or so. He kept an eye on my fluids, my temperature with was low, and he kept adjusting the cooling system. I felt sorry for him.
He told me later he had been invited into the surgery and he froze at the sight of my insides open like a butchered cow on the operating table. They wanted him to know they also took out the cysts i had in my ovary
So now his favorite saying is , “I know you inside out, you that i’ve seen your intestines”. So he calls me “Intestines” sometimes!
The doctors estimated the gestation period of the fetus based on its size at 8-10wks. Trapped in my fallopian tube till it grew too big to grow there. A baby i didn’t even know was there, never had time to bond with, had to be yanked out with parts of me, to save my life, leaving scars behind.

I didn’t even have time to process any emotions, it was a roller coaster of so many all at once, trumped by the greater desire to live and not die.

Support System

Through all of this my amazing support system kicked in. My friend Marie got off work and went to pick the kids from school, my sister Fifi and my bro-in-law Theo, were in the hospital shortly after my husband arrived and they didn’t leave until 2am. My bff Olajumoke (JBK) called a circle of sisters whom we pray together and raised prayers for me, she was in the hospital with my favorite Pastor Kenny at close of work.
By 6.30am (the next day) my mum was by my side from Ibadan with my brother in tow, my dad who was on the phone with me at least three times a day.
My amazing parents in laws who took shifts checking on me through my 1 week + stay in the hospital, bringing food and love. They had our son with them throughout the time, woke up early to get him ready in time for school and pack his lunch, checked homework. My sweet sweet son Mumila, who though didn’t have a full grasp of what was happening always asked to stop by the hospital to check on mama and pray for me.
My friends, Jumoke Leo, Mojola, Bunmi, who literally flew to my side when they heard 2 days later.
Dunni (Dooneyrooney), she said, all i can think of right now is that your family would need food while you are convalescing. She ordered 5 different types of soups in 7 litres and spicy hot pepper soup from a Nigerian food business and had it delivered to me. Her mum even came to visit.
Many more people i can’t readily recall. The calls, the messages, the love. Priceless.

My amazing staff who kept business running seamlessly and diligently whist i was away.
The wonderful team in the hospital

My priceless, priceless husband Olabode. Can’t put to words how much of a rock, a pillar and support you were to me while we had to both go through the difficult times.

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God had my back

After my ordeal some things started making sense to me. I’m a person of faith and i believe in Jesus, my religious expression is Christianity.

  • In December 2016, my friend Shalewa called me. She relayed a weird encounter her sister Bolanle had the day before to me. Bolanle, had gone for a prayer vigil (in Abuja where they live), whilst at the vigil, the presiding pastor called her out and asked if she knew anyone called Labake. She answered that though she didn’t have a friend called Labake, but her sister’s friend bore the name. She said the pastor asked the congregation to pray to avert any evil concerning Labake and gave her the instruction to call me to pray. I thanked Shalewa, said a little prayer of thanksgiving and protection and trusted that God had heard me.
  • On my birthday January 10th 2017, i had gone to drop my son and was heading off to a business fellowship, when my friend Aisha, turned back sharply and grabbed my arm. She looked uncomfortable while she was trying to say something to me. She said “Labake, i don’t know what is making me do this, i never do this, but i feel strongly that you should wait and pray at the altar before you go”. I said I’m going to fellowship I’d pray there. She said, do it now! Truth is, first i woke up that day feeling “bleh” in spite of it being my birthday, i struggled to get in high spirits. Secondly, I’ve always believed going to a church altar to pray was ceremonial and unnecessary. But i did nonetheless, i broke into tears when i got to the altar, poured out my heart, my pain and gave thanks. ( School is Church owned and so church is right opposite the school) I felt relieved and my spirit was lifted and i headed to fellowship. A special prayer of preservation was said for celebrants that day.
  • January 14th at the Leaders meeting for a small prayer circle i belong, the leader, called me out and asked the other sisters to start to pray for me. I can’t remember what she said but it bordered around safety, protection, mercy etc.

It was when I got home after the admission, and I was tearfully reading my daily confession from Isaiah 60: 1 – 22. I particularly broke in to tears when I read verse 17b- 18

17 b) I will also make your officers peace,
And your magistrates righteousness.
18) Violence shall no longer be heard in your land,
Neither wasting nor destruction within your borders;
But you shall call your walls Salvation,
And your gates Praise.

I was angry, that after believing and confessing these words, God would allow me to suffer the loss of a pregnancy again (i had lost a 22wks old pregnancy in 2014) and this time, a Fallopian tube as well. Then all of these events made sense. I could have easily died, ectopic pregnancy accounts for many maternal mortalities. God kept me for a purpose. God had my back all along! He actually kept his word.
This helped to strengthen me during the course of 2017, when i had to face other challenges in 2017, even when i was down and low and shut down, the assurance that God had me covered gave me strength.

Towards the end of the 2017, I realized how much i had let things get to me, i didn’t know i shoved and bottled things, left it unprocessed. I realized that the hopeless optimist i was, had given room to negativity guised as reality.
I was looking for the happy-go-lucky girl who never really worried about a thing. I tried not to dream too much for the fear of having my hopes dashed. I let the year and all the misadventure that came with it get to me!
Then I remembered how i started my year, how God had my back, then it opened my eyes to see how he did still, in the midst of it all.
It was while I was convalescing, that i finished filling and submitted my Tony Elumelu application, i was selected and became a fellow, later in the year. My business misadventures led me to a new model and structure and pushed me out of what I’ve always known. I wore the strong woman toga, while i let my weakness almost cripple me on the inside.

With the realization that God always had my back, I walked my way back to deliberately choose Joy.

So this year I celebrated my birthday on a high! I’m walking on sunshine through this year.

 

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So I’d EAT, LOVE, PRAY, CHOOSE JOY, because GOD got me

 

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Happy Independence Day Nigeria

To commemorate this celebration I made a simply smoothie with

Avocado, Rice Cereal, Milk and 1 tsp of lemon juice. Sweetened with Truvia.

Both the Green and Creamy coloured part are Avocados.

I used only the fleshy yellow part the avocado for the middle and for the Green I peeled it with the vibrant green layer

Blend, separately and layer.

Garden to Table

This year I started my backyard garden after procrastinating for over two years. As a little girl I really enjoyed gardening. My maternal grandmother had a small garden outside her house in Molete for sometime and the highlight of my visit was helping to weed the garden. My parents also had a small garden behind our kitchen in our first house. They grew Patminger , Snake gourd (It’s a climbing plant that is shaped like a snake, when it ripen it turns bright orange or red. The inside is red and tastes better than tomatoes in stew), vegetables etc. Eventually the garden moved to the backyard beside the well where my dad planted Bananas, plantain and citruses. I even joined the Decor Team in church as the youngest member because it was the team that was tasked with beautification and horticulture in the church. The senior members were very nice and kind to me. They gave me cuttings to plant at home too. Since I got married and got my own place I’ve been paying lip service to starting a garden. I even started by collecting containers I never put anything in, until one morning in July. I was just recovering from malaria I was bored stiff from being indoors. On impulse I instructed my staff to get me soil. With no clear idea or direction I started my garden. First as a vegetable garden and then I added ornamental plants.

Like my friend Ugochi said, the gardening bug that bit me left its fangs. I say it left its jaws too. The Efo Tete I harvested today was one of the first set of plants I planted in July. Today it made it to my table. Absolutely organic. No synthetic fertilizers , no pesticides

And it did have a beautiful natural sweetness.

RECIPE I’m sorry I eyeballed all of the ingredients so I don’t have specific measurements

  • Fresh Vegetables (chopped and unblanced)
  • Blitzed Pepper mix (tomatoes/peppers)
  • Chopped onions
  • Blended crayfish
  • Smoked Mackerel
  • Stock Fish (pre soak)
  • Seasoning cubes
  • Salt
  • Meats of choice ( I used snails)
  • Palm oil

Procedure

  • Heat Palm oil to smoke point, add chopped onions. Fry till tender. Then add pepper mix and crayfish.
  • Cook for 10 mins and add all your fish and cooked meats
  • Season with salt and Bouillon cubes.
  • Let the sauce reduce completemy before adding your rinsed and chopped vegetables.
  • Stir in the vegetables. Leave it on heat for not more than 3 mins. Then turn of the heat and leave the lid on for the heat to finish off the cooking

Seafood Ogbono

SEAFOOD OGBONO

I’m in love with seafood and that is no secret. Making this was inspired by making Seafood Okra.

Recipe
1. Ogbono Seeds (a 170g milk tin size)
2. Uziza leaves (a handful of thinly sliced leaves)
3. Assorted Fresh Seafood (shrimps/crabs/prawns/fish)
4. Smoked catfish and stockfish
5. 1/8 cup dried crayfish
6. 1/2 tsp Uziza seeds
7. 5 dried Cameron Pepper
8. Cayenne pepper ( ground dried chilli pepper )
9. 1 tbsp palm oil
10. 1 tbsp ogiri
11. Salt
12. Seasoning cubes

Procedure

I used a slightly different method to cook this. I cooked the Ogbono separately before adding it to a lot of cooked seafood

To cook the Ogbono

  • Grind Ogbono Seeds with crayfish.
  • Blend Cameroon pepper and Uziza seeds together.
  • Rinse Uziza and Ugu leaves .
  • Put a clean dry pot on heat and add palm oil, next add the ground Ogbono and stir till all lumps are dissolved now add your meat stock, if you don’t have meat stock add water. The soup starts to thicken and get stretchy.
  • Now add ground Uziza seeds and Cameroon pepper, and a little cayenne pepper for extra heat -if you can take it-
  • Now add your dissolved -dissolve with water- ogiri, and allow to cook for about 5 minutes now add the Uziza leaves and turn off heat after 3 mins.

Preparing the seafood

  • In another larger pot, cook the seafood starting with the fish, cooked with water, onions, seasoning cubes, salt, shredded stockfish, bonga fish.
  • When the fish is almost done, add the Carbs and cook for 3 mins, then add the Prawns.

At this point pour cooked Ogbono into the pot of Seafood and shake it together to mix.

I stirred very carefully with a wooden ladle , cooked for 5 mins and lastly I added the periwinkle. Cooked for 1 1/2 mins and turned off the heat.

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