“For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst? Verily, when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts it drinks even of dead waters.” Kahlil Gibran
Food: Food is any nourishing substance that we ingest (eat, or drink) into the body to give energy, promote growth and sustain life. Food is central to our lives because it is the common denominator that most families can agree connects our heart, hearth and health. Whether we have fond memories of the abundance of food or painful memories of its scarcity, food plays a very important role in our collective histories from birth to burial. We use food to comfort ourselves and others, celebrate important occasions, pay respect to our dead ancestors, maintain cultural connections and above all, to nourish our bodies. Yet, how often do we stop to give thanks for the gift of food and ask: where does all this food come from?
“I have long believed that good food, good eating is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime ‘associates,’ food, for me, has always been an adventure.” Anthony Bourdain
JOLLOF RICE RECIPE – INGREDIENTS & INSTRUCTIONS
2 ½ cups Vegetable or Chicken broth
2 cups Water
¼ cup Vegetable oil
½ cup Tomato sauce
4 cups Converted Uncle Ben’s Long Grain Rice
Serves about 4-6
1 cup chopped Green/Yellow/Red Peppers
1 cup chopped Carrots
1 cup chopped String Beans
1 cup diced Onions
1 cup diced Scallions
½ cup crushed Garlic
¼ cup chopped Basil
2 cups diced ripe red Tomatoes
½ cup desiccated coconut
½ teaspoon powdered nutmeg
1 teaspoon all purpose Seasoning
Salt, Black or Cayenne Pepper to taste
Place a large, non-stick cooking pot with lid on stove-top. Add vegetable oil to pot and set burner on medium heat. Warm the oil for 1-2 minutes, and test the oil with a small piece of onion. Once the piece bubbles slightly, fold in cups of the fresh ingredients* and slowly stir contents with a wooden spoon. Sauté for about 5-7 minutes.
Add vegetable broth, (or chicken/beef broth if you wish), water, tomato sauce and rice to the pot, cover with lid and cook at medium heat for about 10 minutes then set burner at low heat. Add dry ingredients** to pot and simmer for about 20-25 minutes, stirring contents every few minutes to ensure rice is cooked properly, remains soft/fluffy and dry of excess liquids, not hard or sticking to the pot.
Taste the rice for softness and flavor and add a little water or more salt and seasoning if preferred. Once the rice is cooked to your satisfaction, turn off burner and serve hot with grilled fish, chicken, or a side of green salad. Fried plantains are also very popular with this dish. via PositiveKismet Blog
Hearth: The floor of a fireplace, usually of stone or brick that extends a short distance into a room; symbol of home; fireside: the joys of family and hearth. Growing up in a large African family meant I had many occasions to gather around food. During the planting, tending and harvesting of farmland, my extended family collaborated in the process, and in the subsequent celebrations of cooking and eating the first crops of yam, corn, and other plantings from the land. The harvested foods were divided up among the family heads and kept in special storage spaces. Some of the foods were sold at the marketplace or exchanged for other goods and services.
Gathering with friends and family to enjoy casual meals and to celebrate significant events was routine. Traditional foods were always prepared and served as a big part of our gatherings and – Jollof Rice – was a mainstay of almost all important celebrations. Jollof Rice is a very popular savory dish and its origins can be traced back to the Wolof ethnic group of Senegal and The Gambia. Adults and children alike love this delicious dish as it is colorful and fairly easy to prepare. It is often accompanied by fried sweet plantains. My mom, who studied catering/food management during her student years in England, often prepared a unique version which included the addition of desiccated coconut; she made her version on special occasions; birthdays, religious holidays, and even on days when she felt particularly in a celebratory mood. She would spend hours at the local market carefully selecting her fresh ingredients; tomatoes, hot peppers, onions, garlic, peas, thyme, groundnut oil and exotic spices for this dish. Like Anthony Bourdain, my mom thoroughly enjoyed the adventurous roads her unconventional cooking style led her.
“Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.” M. F. K. Fisher
RHUBARB CRUMBLE RECIPE – INGREDIENTS & INSTRUCTIONS FOR RHUBARB MIX
¼ cup Lemon Juice
¼ cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
½ tablespoon melted butter
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger or ½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
3 ½ cups chopped rhubarb (fresh or frozen* or substitute Granny Smith Apples)
FOR CRUMBLE MIX
½ – ¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ stick cold, sweet butter
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of salt
Heat oven at 375.
Place chopped rhubarb in a lightly buttered 8-9 inch Pyrex baking dish. Add lemon juice, sugar, vanilla, butter, and ginger to the dish and fold in ingredients with a wooden spatula. Set dish aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine flour and baking powder. Chop cold butter into flour mixture and using your hands, knead/blend the ingredients to form a coarse, loose texture. Add sugars and salt and mix lightly with a fork.
Top rhubarb mixture completely with crumble mix. Place in heated oven and bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes until topping is browned and rhubarb mix bubbling up. Remove from oven and let stand for about 5-10 minutes. Serve hot or warm with hot custard**, whipped cream, or Ice cream. Enjoy!
* If Rhubarb is unavailable, you may substitute Granny Smith Apples for an equally tasty Apple Crumble dish.
** Bird’s Eye Brand – Powdered Custard mix is an easy substitute for making great custard if you choose not to make one from scratch.
Heart: The hollow muscular organ that by rhythmic contractions acts as a pump maintaining the circulation of the blood; the most vital organ.
Some of my fondest memories of High School days in England revolved around food; especially lunch time desserts in our refectory. I loved all our mealtime desserts; Trifle, Bread Pudding, Mince Pies, Apple Tarts and my absolute favorite – Rhubarb Crumble with Hot Custard. I called it Heart Food because it was made with love and got our hearts pumping for more; plus the red rhubarb color sealed it. The golden crunchy crumble was served piping hot with large chunks of rhubarb; a deep burgundy delight, covered with hot, yellow custard that had the texture of creamy soup.
The serving ladies knew me and my friends well, as we would often go back to the dessert line for 2nds and 3rds. We even tried sneaking some out of the refectory which was completely against school policy. Our school had a no-bags-in-the-refectory rule so we always had to think of ingenious ways to sneak food out! I have always enjoyed sharing food, especially desserts, with friends and family, and have fond memories of many a meal shared here in NY at an excellent restaurant like Meli Melo or some small hole in the wall food joint elsewhere.
“Give me books, great wine, fruit, fine weather and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know.” John Keats
Health: The condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit.
On my trips around the US and other countries, I always look for great places to eat or markets I can visit so I can savor the local fare. A visit to a traditional French “le marché,” a German “Christkindelmarkt” in England, a Moroccan bazaar or Pike Place market in Seattle, produces the same heady experience of being swept away by the glorious smells, colors and tastes of exquisite, unadulterated foods. Obviously, I love good food and if you’ve read this far, so do you. However, is our joy for a good meal enough? Shouldn’t we pay closer attention to the supply chain? Shouldn’t we consider the value of knowing that our children will cherish and share their memories around good, hearty food?
Recently, I saw a very powerful film – Food, Inc – about the food we produce, buy and eat and the alarming challenges that affect us all. The movie made me pause because it was a reminder that most of us take our food supply for granted and have become complacent about both nutritional health and food safety. If we wish to continue to partake in the joyous moments that heart, hearth and health bring together, it is imperative that we become advocates for ensuring our foods reach us safely. What are your fond memories of enjoying good food? And your thoughts on our food supply chain?
More on the Food Files Page
Positive Motivation Tip: Let heart, hearth, and health meet with love in your home.
- Family Heirloom- and Home History-Themed Blog ‘The Houstory Hearth’ Joins GeneaBloggers Community (prweb.com)
- Anthony Bourdain gets roasted for a good cause (eatocracy.cnn.com)
- Anthony Bourdain Bids Farewell To ‘No Reservations’ (gadling.com)
- Anthony Bourdain’s Series Finale: His Last Layover with No Reservations at Travel Channel (gonzogourmands.com)
- Hearth and home (druidlife.wordpress.com)
- Hearth & Soul at Savoring Today (savoringtoday.com)