Mūkimo ya Mbaazi.

This is basically mashed pigeon peas. We call pigeon peas ‘mbaazi’ and can eat them as fresh peas or dried, but you have to soak overnight. I like the dried ones better. Pigeon peas are a great source of protein and rich in minerals too.

You can have this dish with a hearty stew, a vegetable side or plain. It is quite filling and is on my list of comfort foods that bring back fond memories of home.

Let’s get started.

I soaked the pigeon peas overnight and boiled them till soft. The maize is optional. But this is from my little kitchen garden so why not include it, and some peeled and chopped potatoes.
Boil the potatoes in salted water, when ready, add the pigeon peas and maize and return to pan so they can heat through.
Mash well to a smooth mash like above. That’s it! Your mūkimo is ready. You can add some butter if you want as you mash.

Let us get started on our stew. We had this with an easy beef stew with roasted garden vegetables.

one tbsp of ginger garlic paste, two chopped onions, 350 g beef, chopped, two chopped tomatoes,one tbsp tomato paste, one green pepper chopped and two eggplants and two courgettes, chopped, and some coriander for garnish. The spice quantities are 1/2 tsp each.
Heat oil in a pan, when really hot, add the beef and brown well then set aside.
In the same pan, add your onions, once soft, add the ginger garlic paste, mix well then add the spices.
Add the green pepper, coriander stalks and the tomato puree, mix well.

Add your tomatoes, lower heat and cover and let cook till tomatoes are soft.

Heat your oven to 200degrees C, toss your chopped eggplant and courgette in some olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

As the vegetables cook in the oven, add the meat to the softened tomatoes and a cup of water or broth and cover to let them simmer together.
Add your now ready roasted vegetables to the simmering stew, mix well and check seasoning. Cover and cook for ten minutes till its a thick sauce.
Garnish with chopped coriander, and a tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice, cover and let sit for a few minutes before serving.
Final plate: Mashed pigeon peas and a hearty beef and vegetable stew. Perfect comfort food!

Quickie Couscous.

Couscous is one of those foods that is a pantry staple. Like pasta. Keep it stocked and it will come to your rescue many times when you want to whip up something in a hurry. All you have to do is follow the instructions on the pack.

Another plus is you can flavour it as you wish. You can use beef stock, veggie or chicken stock, water, cinnamon, dried fruits, cumin, turmeric, butter; the options are endless.

Here is a favourite recipe from an old Kenyan cookery magazine for spiced couscous.

Boil the raisins with some water and 1.4 tsp each of the spices, and a tbsp of butter. Once the dried fruits have softened, add the couscous and cover to cook as per instructions on the package.

Remember to fluff with a fork before serving.

Couscous goes well with any vegetables. Here we had it with roasted butternut.
Toss your chopped butternut and roast in the oven for about 20-25 minutes till its ready.
Make the couscous as per the first recipe, remember to check for seasoning.
Served the butternut as a side and some leftover chicken stew. Yummy and filling.

Couscous is a great alternative to rice. I like having it with githeri (our version of succotash), fried with tomatoes and lots of onions. You can serve with some avocado on the side.

I steamed the couscous in some left over beef shank broth. The rich beefy flavour really comes through in the couscous.

It is also great as a light dinner when you don’t want something too filling. Just top it with some greek yoghurt and some vegetable or protein option.

Another way I like serving couscous is with roasted eggplant then top with some lemony yoghurt. Grate some lemon rind in a cup of greek yoghurt, add some lemon juice and mix well and serve on the dish. Gives a great tang to the dish. So easy the kids can make this themselves.

Couscous is a good addition to your diet as it is rich in fibre, and great for sustaining energy as it is rich in protein and carbs. It is one of the best sources of selenium, which is an essential mineral. Selenium is an antioxidant, keeps your heart healthy, helps your thyroid gland work properly and enhances your immunity, among other great benefits.

Why not swap some couscous for your usual starch and gain some of these benefits?

Grief Etiquette 101.

I first shared this post in 2018 after my younger sister’s death on my old blog and social media pages.

Sometimes it takes going through something yourself to make you aware of what is the right thing to say or do, and what is not.

A friend lost her sister recently and when she told me how some folks just don’t understand how insensitive their words or behaviour can be, it took me back to 2018 all over again.

A grieving family.
Photo by Viajero on Pexels.com

There is no complete handbook to grieving. Yes, resources are available and do help but we need to remember it is not a cookie cutter version for all. We all grieve differently, and need to be more sensitive to those who have lost loved ones by being there, and letting them grieve the best way they know how.

Here is what I shared back then and I think it’s still applicable.

Grief Etiquette 101

In no particular order:-

• When you visit a bereaved person be conscious of what you say and ask. Let them speak first if they want to. If they do not want to give more information on what happened, DO NOT PRY. It is perfectly fine to sit there in silence.

• It is not the time to bring gossip and what other people are saying into a grieving home. Why would you even do that? Why?

• Do not say “ I know how you feel,” you don’t. You may have lost a loved one too, but the pain is different. You could have both lost spouses or children, and can console each other on the same without assuming the pain and anguish is the same.

• Do not force the grieving person to tell you what they will do next. If a spouse dies, do you tell widows and widowers to change beds and houses immediately? It is NONE of your business, and they most probably haven’t even gotten round to thinking about it.

• Don’t tell a grieving person “vumilia!” (Meaning ‘be strong’ in Swahili) If they want to laugh, scream, wail, roll, let them do it as long as they are not endangering themselves and others. There is no textbook way to mourn.

• Respect the grieving person’s culture. Every culture has a way they deal with grief and bereavement. Do not be condescending. Seek clarity from a friend familiar to that culture instead, if there is something you do not understand.

• Grieving is not a platform to compete about who knew the deceased better and who knows the family more. Hatushindani kwa machozi tafadhali. (meaning, we are not competing in who grieves best). Be sensitive to the loss. With increased social media use, when a person dies, there seems to be a competition online on who knew the dead person more and who posts more photos with the deceased. Appalling to say the least.

• Some help to the family goes a long way, be it financial or just helping take out trash, stock groceries, cleaning up, cooking them a meal, running some errands for them etc. It does not hurt to also ask HOW you can help. In my culture, arranging a funeral takes about a week. At this time, there are people visiting to console the family who have to be catered to. This help doesn’t have to be food, even soap to wash dishes, serviettes, extra tissue etc, they all go a long way. Check and ask how you can be of assistance to them during this period.

Please, for the love of God, help from the heart. You do not have to help if you do not want to. Do not give any kind of help and expect to be rewarded for it. You help from the heart. Don’t expect a medal for it!

• Let the family determine the legacy they want for their loved one. AT their own time. Do NOT rush them into making decisions. God knows I can write a whole book on this!

• If the deceased person had indicated how they would want to be disposed. RESPECT IT! Who are you to question how and why someone is being cremated or buried in a certain way or at a certain place?

• After the funeral, it is ok to check on the family but don’t linger. Sometimes they also need some privacy in their mourning and as they try to cope in the absence of their loved one. If I’m bereaved and you come and find me out shopping, don’t accuse me or make me feel guilty for doing normal things.

There is no textbook way to grieve so if a long drive, retail therapy, or swimming will help me cope, let me be! Stop making bereaved people feel guilty for doing normal things. Life continues for them no matter how hard it is.

• Be silent and open to non verbal nuances. If the bereaved person wants to talk about the deceased, let them do it at their own time and shut up and listen. Do not offer opinions and answers unless asked, as sometimes the person just wants to be listened to.

• Confidentiality and sensitivity is so important. Recording committee meetings or conversations taking place, taking photos and sharing them without express family permission is a BIG NO! Only vile human beings derive pleasure from sharing others anguish. Are you the type? Please stay away from grieving families if you answered yes.

• There are different stages of grief and family members and friends who have lost a loved one are rarely at the same stage at the same time. Respect that too.

This is not an exhaustive list. I came up with this as a result of what we experienced as a family back then, and with talking with others about what they have gone through.

Grief and loss really bring out the best and the worst in us humans. Let us strive to do better, be better, more helpful, more sensitive and less judgmental when those around us lose their loved ones.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Presently, the Covid 19 pandemic has affected they way we mourn and grieve.

We cannot gather as we are used to, our loved ones are dying and being buried in our absence, which is not an easy thing for the bereaved.

We can however choose to show compassion to those who have lost their loved ones, and support them in many other ways. We just have to remember to be kind and sensitive. A little thoughtfulness goes a long way.

It is not too much to ask, is it?

Smoothie Bowls!!

Smoothie bowls are nothing short of a perfect quick breakfast. Great after a workout or when you just want to try something different for your mornings.

They are however not the best to have on a daily basis if you’re watching your food calorie levels. Smoothie bowls are a great way to have your fruits differently and so easy to experiment with depending on what you have on hand with you.

Here are some of my favorite, quick and easy smoothie bowl recipes made using what’s easily available here.

Apple, banana, oats smoothie bowl. I used water as a base and sprinkled some cinnamon for added flavour.

You can use quick cook or rolled oats for this smoothie bowl. Apple and cinnamon go so well together and the banana adds creaminess. I do not add any sweetener as the fruits here are sweet enough. Also remember, blending fruits releases their natural sugar, that is why you cannot have too many of these. You can also use natural yoghurt as a base instead of water.

Avocado, banana, and frozen spinach makes this green smoothie bowl so creamy and green. I topped with chia seeds, baobab powder, desiccated coconut and banana slices.

I like topping with chia seeds as they are an excellent source of omega 3. yes! they are fats! Also provide fibre, iron and calcium. Baobab powder, what we call ‘mabuyu’ here, helps balance blood sugar levels, is high in vitamin C, Vitamin B6, iron and potassium just to name a few.

Avo, beetroot, banana smoothie bowl. Topped with chia seeds, sesame seeds, banana and some grated beetroot.

Beetroots are a great source of fibre, chockfull of antioxidants, and cannot only help in reducing blood pressure, but also improve blood flow. I love beetroots and use them a lot in various dishes. This smoothie bowl is also a great post workout refuel meal. Sesame seeds help reduce inflammation, support healthy bones, contain lots of fibre and great for heart health too.

Avocados are the good fats, so why not have them? Bananas and avocados are rich in potassium, which can help reduce your risk of heart disease.

Choco cinnamon, oats and banana smoothie bowl. I used some natural yoghurt as the base here. A tsp of cinnamon and a tbsp of dark cocoa will have you feeling like you’re indulging in a rich chocolate pudding. Yum!
Cocopine Smoothie bowl; contains chopped pineapple, some avocado, banana, frozen spinach and coconut milk as the base. Indulgent, tropical, fruity and so delicious topped with coconut flakes and dried pineapple! This is a must try!
Remember, you can use different fruits, vegetables, toppings and bases as you wish. These are some of my favourites in addition to some fresh ginger, which is great at reducing muscle soreness, lower blood sugar, great for indigestion and lower risks of infections too.

Smoothie bowls are so filling and delicious, they are definitely worth the fuss. But remember, they are sugar bombs, therefore not so great for daily consumption. Also when using green vegetables, be sure of the source to avoid nasty infections and as always, clean your vegetables and fruits well.


Rice Flour Pancakes with Beetroot Hash Filling.

Pancakes are a great breakfast option. The best thing about this recipe is it’s gluten free and you can prep the night before so all you have to do is cook the pancakes in the morning.

I got the recipe from this site and it’s pretty straightforward.

You can serve them plain with a drizzle of honey or fill them or serve with some fruits on the side. I decided to make a beetroot hash filling for them. Let’s get started.

I made the pancake batter the night before. Heat pan, add a ladle of batter and flip when bubbles appear.
They cook really fast. Keep them in a hotpot so they don’t get cold.
For the filling, chop two apples and one beetroot into bite sized pieces. Add them to a pan with a little water and steam for about 7 minutes.
Drain and cool.
Heat some butter in the pan, add a small chopped onion and mix well. Add the beetroot apple mix. You can add some dried sage here if you like, just a pinch.
Season with some salt, pepper and a pinch of ground cinnamon. Mix well and cook till apples are softened. You can turn off heat and add a drizzle of honey.
Serve as you wish. You can serve the hash on the side.
Or fill in the pancakes and roll them in.

Enjoy your pancakes for a hearty breakfast!