Yummy Minced Beef And Eggplant.

If you know me, you know my love for this purple vegetable also known as aubergine. I like it’s color, flavor, texture and its versatility in different dishes. It also doesn’t hurt to know it’s good for you, being chock full of antioxidants, as well as other nutrients.

A major challenge for many people is how to get their family to eat it. Roasting it is great and also as a curry. In this simple weekday meal, I roasted then mashed it and added to a spicy beef mince curry simmering and it was a hit with the kids! Try it with your fussy eaters and let me know how it turns out.

Our ingredients are:-

500g beef mince, two ripe tomatoes, two medium eggplants, garlic ginger paste, crushed coriander seeds, and Kenyan curry powder.

So this curry powder has been in the Kenyan Market for as long as I can remember and it’s found in almost every Kenyan kitchen. I don’t think it’s ever rebranded. It’s always found with that distinctive green and yellow and red can that makes it easy to pick out anywhere. And the flavoring and aroma it lends to food is amazing. (Watch out for counterfeit ones though).

Back to the recipe. Clean, slice and sprinkle egg pant with salt and set aside.

In a large saucepan, add some coconut oil and cumin seeds, once they splutter add roughly chopped onion and let cook for a while.

Once the onions are softened, add the mince and let it cook till brown and dry, before adding the ginger garlic paste and spices.
Once the spices are cooked, add your grated tomato, cover and let the sauce cook.

Meanwhile, roast the eggplant at 180°C for about 20 minutes till soft. Let cool a bit then mash into a paste.

Add the pureed eggplant and blanched peas to the beef mince mixture. Cover and let cook for 20 minutes on medium low heat. Check your seasoning, Squeeze juice of half a lemon , garnish and serve.
Final plate garnished with coriander leaves.

You can have this with rice, any bread of choice, pasta or even mashed potatoes. Enjoy!

Practical Skills To Teach Your Kids.

As a parent, what practical lessons would you like to impart to your children? Every moment spent with our young ones is a teachable moment. Keeping in mind kids learn more by doing and watching.

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We are privileged to be living in an era where information is at our fingertips; there are lots of resources on how we can parent which is invaluable at this time when the world seems to be a very confusing place. However, we must acknowledge that when it comes to parenting, experience is best. There is no perfect manual to doing this right.

I came across a list on the parents. com website on practical life skills we can teach our kids, and thought I could share my interpretation of the same.

1. How to do laundry. If you have a washing machine, depending on their age, they can learn how to load it. I haven’t done this with my kids yet (both under 10 years), but at their ages they can wash their handkerchiefs, inner wear and a few small clothing items by hand. They can also learn how to sort their laundry, fold and put it away.

Do not leave them alone at the laundry area and make sure the machine’s child lock is always on.

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2. Plant a seedling. A lot of times this is done in school as part of learning, but now that the kids are home, it is a great time to do this with them. Best thing is you do not even need a garden, a small pot will do and it is a great lesson to teach them how to care for a living thing and how things grow.

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3. Wrapping a gift. This is a lesson in patience for parents (read me) who prefer doing this fast, and noting that these days we often get our gifts wrapped at the store. But it is a fun activity to get those little fingers busy and see their creativity in wrapping. The festive season is here, let’s make the best of it with the extra pair of hands to help his wrap the gifts.

4. Hammering a nail. Will it hurt? Yes. Some tears will flow and maybe two or three drops of blood. And speaking from experience, the kids may get a little bit carried away when the tool box is within reach. Getting a smaller sized hammer is good for them as well as designated zones and materials (smaller planks of wood) to be hammered. There are lots of crafts videos online that one can choose to do with them and they can practice hammering away.

5. Writing a letter. This is an invaluable skill for anyone to have. As much as technology has made it a bit too easy to communicate, there is something about a handwritten letter that conveys much more depth and emotion than a text or email. When I was younger we had penpals from all over the world. Writing the letter, slipping in photos, adding the stamps and posting the letter and waiting weeks/ months for a response was so much fun. So do not wait till they learn how to write letters in their grammar class, teach them earlier and they will learn to appreciate the beauty in written words.

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6. Preparing a Simple Meal. Fruits and sandwiches qualify. And making an egg. With supervision of course. Let them be your little sous chefs, let them touch, stir, mix, sniff and taste. It is a great way to teach them how their senses work too. How food comes together is art, science, a love language, and so much more. It is also a relaxed way to communicate with them. And what could be possibly wrong about knowing how to feed yourself?

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7. Navigating. Thanks to Google maps, and other satnav apps it is not easy to get lost and worry about having to ask strangers for help these days. It is however important for our children to know how to get home from the nearest shop, or street without these apps. We all don’t live in areas with physical address numbers on our gates, but there are landmarks that can help the kids identify their way home. A police post, a communication mast, a coloured gate or roof, a funny shaped tree or post. If the street where you live has a name, let them know it. Also let the kids know where they can go for help if lost. When in a new area, it is important to know where the nearest police post is or local authority office and emergency services.

8. Treating a Wound. This is dependent on age, but let the kids at least know where the first aid box in the house is. Also what to do when they get a bump, a cut or graze, that they can clean it under running water if possible, and use some disinfectant. Let them also know what to do in case of nosebleeds.

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9. Cleaning the bathroom. Please DO NOT let your kids use the cleaning supplies. They should be always out of reach. But they should know how to rinse the sink when done, clean the toilet seat before and after use. Rinse out the tub or shower area and mop up. If they can brush their teeth and wash themselves, this is not hard for them to do.

10. Finances. The website called this ‘comparison shopping’ but with young kids they may not understand this. This is also an interesting one as we do not usually talk to our kids about finances. It doesn’t have to be a complicated lecture. Let us talk to our kids about what money is, and how it is used. There are so many resources online on how to talk to kids about money. On comparison shopping, if you shop with the kids, they will be sure to note what is on sale (the placards are pretty big and colourful), you can explain to them what it means.

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This is by no means an exhaustive list of practical skills to impart to our children. There is so much we teach them on a daily basis and they are always learning even when we or they are not aware of those teachable moments.

These things may be also obvious to some of us, and enlightening to others. Let us not take things for granted as parents.

What other practical skills do you think should be included in this list?

Instant Pot Vegetable Biriani

As I have shared here before; there are many ways of making biriani.It is all about your tastebuds and the time you have to make it. The Instant Pot comes in handy in this, as you do not have to spend hours in the kitchen slaving over this dish. I have shared two biriani recipes here and by now y’all can tell I really love Indian rice dishes 🙂

This dish is so straightforward you can make it for weeknight supper, it is great for a meatless Monday meal as well as a tasty way to load up on those veggies.

You can use the vegetables you have on hand, just chop them into more or less equal sizes so they cook through and evenly.

Ingredients: 2 cups Rice, 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste, Whole spices (bay leaves, cinnamon, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, 1/2 a star anise, cardamon and black peppercorns), ground spices (1/4 tsp ground turmeric, 1 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp ground Dhana jeera, 1/2 tsp paprika), Vegetables (a cup each of chopped sweet potato, carrots, green pepper, peas and French beans, Coriander and mint leaves, 2 sliced onions, salt to taste, 1 tbsp of raisins and cashew nuts (optional). 2 tbsp ghee for cooking. You can substitute the sweet potato with Irish potato.

Wash and soak your rice for 20 minutes. Then put instant pot on sauté mode.

Heat a bit of the ghee and roast the cashews till brown, add the raisins and let them puff a little then set aside.
I always struggle not to snack on them, hahaha.
Add your remaining ghee, add the whole spices, mix well then add the onions.

Add the ginger garlic paste and the ground spices.

Mix well to ensure they don’t burn.
Add your vegetables and the coriander and mint (you can reserve some for garnishing).Mix well.
Add a splash of water to ensure nothing is stuck to the bottom of the pot otherwise the pot will indicate the food is burning.
Add the drained rice and two cups of water.

Do not stir once you add the water. Cover the instant pot, cancel sauté mode and set pressure mode on. Set it to cook for 6 minutes on high pressure. Once done, let it release pressure naturally for about 5 minutes then do a quick pressure release.

Doesn’t it look yummy?

The next step is purely optional but if you want the authentic biri feel, mix a little yellow food colour or saffron if you have in in a tsp of rose water.

Pour over the rice in a kinda cross shape.
Add the remaining mint and coriander leaves and the cashews and raisins after the rose water and cover the pot again, for a few minutes until ready to serve.
Fluff the rice gently before serving.
Serve with a cucumber and tomato raita.

I am enjoying using the Instant pot to make various dishes and was glad with how this turned out. Definitely worth a try!

Tasty and beautiful to look at!

Goat Cheese Cottage Pie.

I recently found out the difference between cottage pie and shepherd’s pie. Apparently, shepherd’s pie is made with lamb mince and cottage pie is made with beef mince. So I have been making cottage pie and calling it shepherds pie all along! Well!

Moving along, let us get started on another of my comfort food classics. I love this recipe as it reminds me of home, has my favourite goat cheese and is delicious and filling. My kids love this dish too and if one of them had their way, we could be eating this every other day.

I already had some leftover mashed tubers from this recipe, (you guys have to try it please)and the mash made a delicious topping for the filling. You can also use good ol’ mashed potatoes.

Ingredients: 1 chopped onion, minced garlic, coriander stalks, carrots, courgettes (chopped into small pieces), two grated tomatoes, 1 cup green peas, about 1 kg beef mince, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp mixed ground spices, 1/2 tsp black pepper and salt to taste.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan, add the beef mince and break it down as it cooks, once it is dry and brown, add your onions, coriander stalks and garlic, then add your mixed spices and mix well. Then add the tomatoes, and let cook a bit.
Add your vegetables and the Worcestershire sauce.
If too dry, add a splash of water, cover and let simmer for about 40 minutes till its completely cooked and a bit dry, but not too dry.

Preheat your oven to 180°C. And prepare your baking dish.

I really really love this cheese. It is fresh and has some rosemary mixed in that makes every bite a delight. The mash is tasty too with pumpkins, green bananas, potatoes and arrowroots; the two blend in so well together.
Mix in the Goat cheese with a fork into the mashed tubers.
Arrange your mince and vegetables into your baking dish. Top with the mash and bake for about 25- 30 minutes or until Browned on top.
MY little sous chefs enjoy ‘decorating’ the mash before it goes into the oven. Let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

This is a complete meal on its own, so I usually serve it as it is. It has all the food groups and you really don’t want other flavours competing with the main star do you?

A perfect comfort food that is pleasing to adults and kids, easy to make and so delicious!

Weekend Recap: Uganda Reptile Village, Entebbe.

It has been a while since I posted about being out and about. Now that a few places are slowly opening up, we can move around a bit more. Which is great for the kids; being cooped up in the compound is not a very pleasant experience.

The Uganda Reptiles Village is a community based organisation located in Entebbe, committed to the rescue, conservation, and releasing back to the wild, different reptile species from all around the area. It is also an information centre to learn more about different reptiles. It is not hard to get to, about 2-3 kms off the main road, and is open daily.

Their entrance fees are 8 and 5 dollars respectively for adults and kids. Some may think it is a bit pricey but given that it’s a community based initiative, it is ok as the money is being utilised by those around, and assists in conservation of these species that may have been killed by humans too.

It is definitely worth a visit when one is in the vicinity. Where else would you be able to see the Nile monitor lizard side by side a couple of young Nile crocodiles, an old leopard tortoise and a black tortoise (which my son thought was shaped like a spaceship), and various snakes from the lethal Gabon Viper, boomslang, the deadly Jameson Mamba, and forest and Egyptian cobra?

A Forest cobra. Very elusive, rarely bites but it’s venom is both neurotoxic and cytotoxic. Likes dense bushy places.
Gaboon viper. I couldn’t get a clearer picture. But look how huge it is. It is the heaviest snake in Africa. Has the longest fangs and is venomous. It is also unique as it gives birth to live young, like humans!
This Egyptian cobra had its hood up when it sensed our movement. Also venomous.
A couple of crocodiles basking in the afternoon sun.
The Nile Monitor Lizard. Large, powerful and stout and very good climbers, don’t be surprised if you see one on top of a tree. It is listed as a threatened species.

The reptile village is not a very big place so it might not take you more than an hour to get around, and you can hold a tortoise, a chameleon and a snake if you want.

This black tortoise has sharper claws and can bite when provoked. My son said it’s shaped like a spaceship. 😅
This leopard tortoise is said to be more than one hundred years old!

There is a playground for the kids, and one can take short boat rides to watch tens of different beautiful bird species in the area, but this is not possible at the moment due to the rising lake levels that have submerged some of these areas.

All in all, it was a nice informative visit. The kids and I learnt so much, our guide Lawrence was very knowledgeable and answered our questions with patience too.

It is definitely worth a visit for kids and adults alike.