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Food: Where Heart, Hearth and Health Meet

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“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: Where Heart, Hearth and Health Meet

Food: Where Heart, Hearth, and Health Meet

Food: Food is any nourishing substance that we ingest (eat, or drink) into the body to give energy, promote growth, and sustain lifeFood is central to our lives because it is the common denominator that most families can agree connects our heart, heart, 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, 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

Food: Where Heart, Hearth and Health Meet

Food: Where Heart, Hearth, and Health Meet

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 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 that 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

Food: Where Heart, Hearth and Health Meet

Food: Where Heart, Hearth and Health Meet

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)

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 lunchtime 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.

More below!

“Give me books, great wine, fruit, fine weather, and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know.” John Keats

Food: Where Heart, Hearth and Health Meet

Food: Where Heart, Hearth, and Health Meet

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.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: Photos –  Pike Place Market Seattle, Seattle Market by Tcc8, Fruits and Veggies by Eric Hunt, Rhubarb Crumble, via Wikipedia and Food Network,  & from my Personal Collection

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

70 Comments leave one →
  1. Goz permalink
    03/08/2009 2:06 pm

    You didn’t mention your love of plantains? An entire article without a single reference to sweet plantains? I’m
    spooked! :o) …nice one! Is there a Part 2?

    Eliz says: Thank you Goz, I must remember to add those plantains in my next edit. You are right! They are delicious with Jollof Rice and I do love them. 😉 Maybe Part 2 in the fall…

    • 20/12/2010 11:17 am

      Thank you Goz, I must remember to add those plantains in my next edit. You are right! They are delicious with Jollof Rice and I do love them. 😉 Maybe Part 2 in the fall…

  2. 08/08/2009 10:39 am

    Hi Elizabeth,

    This is another interesting post. And you have such nice photos here too.

    I don’t take food for granted. We live in the countryside and we have a garden and we plant some food including peppers and tomatoes for ourselves.

    I thought I had posted a comment about the double rainbows last time, but apparently I just made a draft of it and didn’t post it.

    Eliz says: Thanks again Deana or your positive support. I appreciate your comments and goodwill. Do share a photo or two of your garden when you have a chance. 🙂 Cheers!

    • 20/12/2010 11:18 am

      Thanks again Deana or your positive support. I appreciate your comments and goodwill. Do share a photo or two of your garden when you have a chance. 🙂 Cheers!

  3. 24/08/2009 1:21 pm

    I just wanted to say that I appreciate the fact you are highlighting my products in your article. I still think it’s weird that so many people have fallen in love with my products. I hope all of you continue to enjoy my line of products and continue to support the store at Pikes Place. Everyone there is doing a heckofa job.

    Thank you again!


    Eliz says: What a wonderful surprise to hear from you John and thank you for your comments! Your Bistro Blends Products (vinaigrettes and more) are fantastic and were a major discovery when I visited Pike Place Market. I bought several flavors and they were a hit when I came home to NY… I still have some left. My ultimate fav is the Barrel-Aged Heirloom Balsamic. Thank you too!

    • 20/12/2010 11:19 am

      What a wonderful surprise to hear from you John and thank you for your comments! Your Bistro Blends Products (vinaigrette and more) are fantastic and were a major discovery when I visited Pike Place Market. I bought several flavors and they were a hit when I came home to NY… I still have some left. My ultimate fav is the Barrel-Aged Heirloom Balsamic. 🙂
      Thank you too!

  4. Masshole Mommy permalink
    13/09/2015 3:32 pm

    In our house, all those things come together at the dinner table. We love to just sit and talk.

  5. miss (@thedealmatch) permalink
    13/09/2015 4:30 pm

    I have so much love with foods. I love foods so much, I spent so much money on foods and I travelled just for foods 😉

  6. Debbie Denny permalink
    13/09/2015 4:33 pm

    I love growing and cooking my own food. Each new recipe is an adventure.

  7. Joely Smith permalink
    13/09/2015 4:34 pm

    My daughter was involved in a humanitarian effort in college. They put on an amazing program for anyone to participate in. The idea was everyone shows up and at random they were divided into groups. Some of the people were served a feast, others served rice and beans, some only rice. They all had to sit with strangers, share food, and talk about how others in the world eat. I am sure there was more to it but I did not attend. I was grateful my daughter belonged to such a wonderful group and was a part of it.

  8. LizZ H. permalink
    13/09/2015 6:39 pm

    What a great reminder. I love food. Growing and eating it all.

  9. Liz Mays permalink
    13/09/2015 8:12 pm

    Your memory of the rhubarb crumble has me drooling over it. It’s so true that some of our deepest and fondest memories surround food and/or mealtimes.

  10. Esme Sy permalink
    13/09/2015 11:41 pm

    We never take food for granted. I always make sure my family eats food that are healthy and filling. We love plantain, too.

  11. RonRon permalink
    13/09/2015 11:49 pm

    A gathering without food or drink is incomplete. Great information and connection you made around food!

  12. Kathy Ngo permalink
    14/09/2015 2:13 am

    Food is one of the things that I truly enjoy. My family and I always celebrate with food.

  13. Jaclyn Anne permalink
    14/09/2015 4:19 am

    Those desserts sound amazing – I love bread pudding but haven’t had it in forever!

  14. Rosey permalink
    14/09/2015 6:04 am

    We used to gather together for casual eating and visiting when my grandmother was alive. It is a tradition I miss very much.

  15. Shann Eva permalink
    14/09/2015 6:48 am

    I think we do take our food production for granted here in America. It’s a resource we really need to pay attention to.

  16. 14/09/2015 7:10 am

    Always look forward to reading motivational Monday inspirational ….Also like this saying Food is where heart, hearth and health meet a powerful statement. Through food many people gather together a share a like bond for me its at the dinner table. Food provides different cultures to come together and share….At my work once a month one person will cook a meal from their homeland….I love green & ripe plantains.

  17. Claudette Esterine permalink
    14/09/2015 7:17 am

    I am big on having small gatherings at home, where we come together around food. Love the pictures and the dishes/food featured.

  18. Autumn @ Stay gold Autumn permalink
    14/09/2015 7:20 am

    I loved your story about what food meant to you growing up as a child and to your family. I grew up in a very southern family and so food was a huge part of our lives and culture. I loved hearing about your experience going to the market with your Mom 🙂

  19. lbosworth permalink
    14/09/2015 7:39 am

    I love the quotes you have provided about food. It’s so important to have a respect for food, including food preparation and cultivation. I think we have taken food for granted in the western world, but more people are now becoming concerned about food quality and production.

  20. MsCrookedHalo permalink
    14/09/2015 8:19 am

    I’ve always found life’s relationship with food interesting especially how it has changed through the generations. My Mom and Grandmother loved to cook and provide for their family. My sister and I, not so much. And I think my daughter is going to be even worse than us.

  21. JessicaACassidy (@wifetoalineman) permalink
    14/09/2015 8:20 am

    I cannot live without food 🙂 so many foods to choose from.

  22. upliftingfam permalink
    14/09/2015 12:27 pm

    Yummy, everything looks so delicious. I need to start eating healthier.

  23. taylorgilmore permalink
    14/09/2015 4:17 pm

    I could never take food for granted. Every meal is an occasion to acknowledge the Source of our supply and give thanks.

  24. Catherine Curti permalink
    15/09/2015 3:07 am

    I miss my family were always eating together and talking some plans in their lives.

  25. Michelle F. permalink
    15/09/2015 5:25 pm

    All of that food looks amazing. thanks for the rice recipe. Great new way to eat rice.

  26. Jennifer S. Mitchell permalink
    15/09/2015 7:43 pm

    We are huge lovers of food – we love all kinds. Thanks for sharing these recipes – I can’t wait to try them out soon!

  27. tara pittman permalink
    15/09/2015 8:58 pm

    my boys sneak food out of the cafeteria too. Usually boxes of raisins

  28. The L's Mum permalink
    16/09/2015 12:43 am

    Great recipes. I love the sound of them and think my family would love it. Can’t wait to give them a try.

  29. Mel Blake permalink
    16/09/2015 6:42 am

    Those recipes are so delicious sounding. I like your photos too.

  30. 204 Park permalink
    16/09/2015 9:41 am

    That rhubarb crumble recipe sounds delicious!! I have lots of rhubarb from my dad’s garden so I might have to make some! 🙂

  31. Shannon P permalink
    16/09/2015 10:22 am

    Food is definitely a way to my heart and soul, and is a huge way I connect with people!

  32. Anushree Ganguly permalink
    16/09/2015 12:14 pm

    I love health and recipes posts . And the food looks yummy

  33. Daileo Paleo (@DaileoPaleo) permalink
    16/09/2015 12:59 pm

    I really like the quotes that you have chosen to go with your recipes and photos. Eating and the process of nourishing our bodies shouldn’t be downgraded to something we grab while multitasking. Thank you for your lovely post.

  34. Camesha | Mama Motivator permalink
    16/09/2015 10:41 pm

    I want to try these recipes. They sound really interesting. I wonder if I could get my picky daughter to try them? 🙂

  35. joskibyrne permalink
    16/09/2015 11:52 pm

    I’m Loving the images in your post today. 😃 I have never tried jolloff rice, I may have to give it a whirl!

  36. Stephanie Pass permalink
    16/09/2015 11:58 pm

    I always love your stories! I like to remind myself how lucky we are to have plenty of food in the place we live. I make a point for our family to sit together for dinner every night. It’s a great way to relax and talk about what happened during the day.

  37. Deshawn Keiner permalink
    17/09/2015 9:43 am

    Having family dinner is very important in my house. It gives us a chance to bond without the interference of electronic devices. I will definitely add the recipes to the recipe book in my kitchen. I am always looking to try new things to keep my family guessing. Thank you for posting this.

  38. Maria Lianos-Carbone (@amotherworld) permalink
    17/09/2015 7:24 pm

    Food is entertainment – we love to cook, and eat! We spend most of our money on food – what a surprise 🙂

  39. maggiesblog2 permalink
    17/09/2015 8:15 pm

    Food always brings people together. The kitchen in my house is the most used room!

  40. marly_ms (@mgmhar) permalink
    17/09/2015 9:17 pm

    I love food. Who doesn’t? It nourishes the body and mind. The recipes are interesting.

    Mhar Sefcik

  41. Karlyn Cruz permalink
    18/09/2015 5:03 am

    I think I’ll try the jollof rice dish first. Yum!

  42. Shann Eva permalink
    18/09/2015 8:50 am

    Those recipes sound delicious. I will have to give them a try.

  43. Boho Chic (@TotallyTerris) permalink
    18/09/2015 11:06 am

    Thank you so much for the recipes. I’d love to try the rhubarb crumble, it brings back memories of gathering rhubarb from the garden and watching my mom make pies from it.

  44. Katya permalink
    18/09/2015 12:17 pm

    Rice, rice, rice…. can live on it! Thanks for recipies, was looking for smth new to cook this weekend.

  45. thewomentalk permalink
    18/09/2015 12:37 pm

    Everything looks so delicious, and what a great presentation! Bookmarked, these recipes look like they are a must try!

  46. jenniferclay795 permalink
    18/09/2015 4:25 pm

    Food is everything! I love trying new things. I think these recipes look very interesting. I am going to have to give them a try.

  47. Tee permalink
    18/09/2015 6:05 pm

    Goodness, I love these vibrant photos of food. Thanks for also providing some recipes in this post too!

  48. sacha permalink
    20/09/2015 2:23 pm

    Everything in this post looks so good and healthy. I’m going to print the recipe to try it.

  49. The Stay-at-Home Life permalink
    20/09/2015 5:06 pm

    Fresh, non processed food is the best tasting and best for you. Plus it’s fun to cook.

  50. Maria Teresa Figuerres permalink
    20/09/2015 10:17 pm

    I love how you were able to interweave the three concepts together: heart, hearth and health. Indeed, cooking begins at the hearth and the nutrients from the food that we eat nourishes our health and revitalizes our heart, Such a nice read as always!

  51. Yona Williams permalink
    21/09/2015 4:14 am

    I’ve been hearing a lot about desiccated coconut lately in a few recipes that I’ve come across, and now I’m reading it in this post. Now I am curious about it.

  52. momglenz permalink
    27/09/2015 10:19 am

    Awesome photos and looks so yummy! thanks for sharing!


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