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And Let Perpetual Light Shine Upon Him

6 Jul

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When Life Hands You Rotten Fruit…

11 Apr

… you make some Banana Mango bread.

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pay no mind to the cranberry cake in the corner– that’s a post for another day

My sweet husband is forever adding bananas to the grocery list, despite the fact that he almost never eats them before they go bad. Last week, our fruit bowl pile of  three-seconds-from-rotten fruit also included two mangoes, despite Mr Kef’s sworn plans to make a smoothie with them. So, I consulted the oracle of the internet for inspiration and, once I saw a recipe for this mango banana bread, I knew this produce hadn’t gone past its prime in vain.

20180402_084711The original recipe can be found here. I toyed with the spices, turned the muffins into a bread loaf, and omitted the glaze– my final recipe is below. I also cannot explain the bizarre order of ingredient incorporation, but it made for an incredibly moist and not overdone bread, so I left strange enough alone and kept the original order. It smelled so.good. and got rave reviews from my coworkers, MrKef’s coworkers, and my favorite neighbor. If that’s not a reason to run to your nearest grocery store, buy some fruit, and let it get within a day of rotting, then I just don’t know what is.

Mango Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 c mashed very ripe bananas (this was about 2 medium ones for me)
  • ¼ c  Greek yogurt (just get the Fage)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 c  ripe mango, cut into as small cubes as you can
  • 1-2 tsp ground ginger powder, based on taste 
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 TBS dark rum

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a loaf pan.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together eggs, bananas, sugar, yogurt, and vanilla.
  3. In a separate large bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Gradually fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined.
  5. Add mango and ginger; stir with spatula until incorporated, then add oil. Scrape down sides and mix thoroughly.
  6. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for about 60-75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
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The Nuts

3 Apr

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9 Mar

cherryl

Grant unto thy servants
a place of solace,
of peaceful rest,
of glorious light.

It’s a Dog-Eat-Dog Cake

6 Mar

There is a enough room in my feline-philic heart for exactly 5 dogs: Bailey, Blue, Ryley, Murphy, and Cosmo. And though I love each of them with the exact same amount of reluctance (seriously — what is with the licking?), Cosmo is the only one small enough to let me treat him kind of like a cat, and so he gets some shine today.

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Don’t be fooled by Cosmo’s less-than-Mastiff stature: he’s smart, sassy, and commands an impressive following on Instagram.  ChampagneOnlyKef and CafeKef throw him a party every year with the best birthday treat a boy could bark for: cake that is safe for both dogs and people AND is gluten free. If St. Matthew had to rewrite the Beatitudes for today’s world, it would go something like, “Blessed is the smallest dog in Chef Kefi’s favor: for he will get a social-media presence AND a blog post written about his 11th birthday.” With a promise like that one, who really needs to inherit the earth?

Before a lightning bolt strikes me down,  I better tell you about the recipe. This cake is safe for both dogs and humans, is refined-sugar-free AND can easily be made without gluten … just the thing you never knew you needed. CafeKef says the homemade version below (original recipe here) is one dogs LOVE and that humans “won’t mind” — she also suggests this canine cake mix that comes with its own frosting. Cosmo had no problem cleaning his plate with either version!

Doggie Birthday Cake

Ingredients

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a bundt or cake pan.
  2. Combine the egg, peanut butter, oil, vanilla, and honey, if desired, in a large bowl; blend well. Stir in the carrots and mix thoroughly. Sift together the flour and baking soda and fold into the carrot mixture. Spoon cake batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes; then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

9 Books I’ve Read Since the Last Book Report

20 Feb

Two things I do in random and unpredictable spurts: read and blog. So, if you want something that’ll really keep you on your toes, just try and figure out when the hell I’ll blog about the things I’ve read. Here’s a not-all-that-well-thought-out rundown of the last 9 books I’ve read:

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Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — I’ve been a fan of Adichie’s writing since college, and really, really looked forward to her first full-length novel in awhile. And, for the most part, this one was worth the wait. Americanah splits its time between America and Nigeria, and it’s not always clear which is more comfortable for the author or her characters. Where Adichie focuses her attention on the peculiarities of experiencing a new nation for the first time as an immigrant from Nigeria, the writing is sharp and the observations are as funny as they are true. But the clarity of wit loses its focus in the middle section of the book, where critical views of liberal whites feel like watered-down tellings of jokes from White Teeth, and in the final section, which takes place in Nigeria and feels a bit like a Nollywood production of The Notebook. All that said–I’d read Adichie’s second-string writing anyday, and think you should read this one, too.

Behold the Dreamers, Imbolo Mbue — While we’re talking about West African immigrants, let’s chat about this guy. I am, of course, biased to any book by and about Cameroonians in America, but I can say with certainty that this book is enjoyable even without a serving of fufu on the side. Behold the Dreamers follows a Cameroonian family living in New York City just before the financial meltdown of 2008. There are immigration status struggles, examinations of what it means to live the American Dream, and a variety of representations of the choices one family makes to integrate into American society while maintaining the parts of Cameroon dear to them. Despite those big topics, Behold the Dreamers manages to stay just this side of “really heavy” and is about the closest I’ll ever get to a beach read.

My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout — For the love of all things holy, just go buy this book and read it. I resisted reading it based on the been-there-done-that gist alone: a woman is hospitalized in Manhattan, her mother comes to visit from a small town, family secrets come tumbling out. What I found, though, was a sparse novel that could carry the full weight of family dysfunction, unfulfilled dreams, and the ever-shifting line between love and resentment between two people who know everything about one another’s past and nothing about each other’s present. I LOVED THIS BOOK and I hope you do, too.

Hot Milk, Deborah Levy — This is a book to be experienced, not described. It’s ostensibly about a young woman whose mother’s chronic pain have brought them to a revered homeopathic clinic in the south of Spain, but it becomes more surreal as it picks up steam. Levy manages to transfer the task of sorting through symptoms from character to reader — are the mother’s reported ailments real? are the slights perceived by her daughter actual insults? did anything I just read in the last chapter really happen? You’ll have to read it to find out.

Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward — oh, my my my my my. This book was everything. The story largely centers around JoJo, a 13 year-old boy who shoulders the burden of an inadequate mother, as he navigates the complicated terrain of a family both broken and reborn by death and loss. I cried more than once while reading this novel– the juxtaposition of the tender relationship between JoJo and his grandfather and the beyond-his-years observations JoJo makes about his own parents pack a one-two punch that had me all in every ONE of my damn feelings. But don’t take my word for it– Obama loved it, too!

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The Mothers, Brit Bennett — Hm. There are a LOT of things I liked about this book, and the rest of the world loved everything about every line of every page of this book. I am glad I read this story of young love, familial duty, and the struggle to heal scars left by one with the other, but the pacing felt uneven and there are moments where the narrative ties up in ways that feel more cloying than inevitable. I’d recommend it, but if I had it to do over again, I probably wouldn’t have racked up $20 of late fees for it.

Nutshell, Ian McEwan — I had been meaning to read something by Ian McEwan since 2006, and it was the one-line description of this book that finally sealed the deal: a soon-to-be-born fetus overhears his mother and her lover plotting to kill his father. It sounds like a gimmick, but the the pre-natal narrator doesn’t get in the way of stellar storytelling and attention to character detail… though I did have a hard time not reading the whole thing in the voice of Stewie from Family Guy.

The Nix, Nathan Hill — this is an epic.friggin.tome that somehow manages to address the lifelong impact of an absent mother, the challenges of healing dysfunctional family dynamics, annoying millennials, and America’s increasing insistence on self-indulgence. There’s a lot of stories within this book, and I liked some a lot more than others — but even the ones I didn’t like as much didn’t stop be from lugging this 600-page clunker around. And that’s a real endorsement, if you ask me.

Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson — a slim little novel about growing up, friendship, and the things that go unsaid. Great book that unfolds secret by secret, this would be perfect to read in tandem with a teenager (or a whole class of them).

 

Very Popular Peanut & Sweet Potato Stew

30 Jan

One day, I will write up a run down of how wonderful Cameroonian food is. Today, I will share a soup that is truly delicious and has proven VERY popular, but it is “West African” in the way that Chobani is “Greek” yogurt. Which is to say that I’m not bringing this home to MrKef’s mom as evidence of my mastery of Cameroonian Cuisine.

Anyway, I made this for a fun soup night during one of those Arctic Blasts a few weeks ago with my dearest friends. FlailKef and GingerKef suggested this recipe, and I doctored it up a little bit to suit my own preferences because, well, that’s what I do. It goes without saying that a soup is WAY above my paygrade, photography wise– so if you’d like a picture of the stew itself, you should head over to the original recipe. But, if you want pictures of the soup eaters and I on a night I was wearing a dashiki-print dress, then you’ve come to the right place!

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The recipe below was PLENTY for 5 hungry people + leftovers– I had doubled the original, so I can say that this one scales up or down easily.

Peanut & Sweet Potato Stew

Ingredients

  • 10-12 c low sodium vegetable broth (less if you want thicker, more if you want thinner)
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 2 medium red onions, chopped
  • 5 TBS peeled and minced fresh ginger (I am currently really into frozen ginger and used ~5-6 frozen pods)
  •  5 cloves garlic, minced (I used frozen again and used about the same number as I did the ginger).
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 bunch collard greens or kale, ribs removed and leaves chopped into 1-inch strips (I used a 16 oz pre-shredded bag)
  • 1.5 c unsalted peanut butter (chunky or smooth, almond butter if you prefer to spend $8.99/jar vs $2.49)
  • 8 oz tomato paste
  • 1/4 c sriracha sauce (or youre preferred red hot sauce, and you could use wayyyy more if you feel so inclined)
  • 2-4 sweet potatoes, cubed (quantity dependent on how hearty you’d like the stew)

Assembly

  1. In a medium  pot, warm the oil. Add the onions and cook until soft and fragrant, ~ 5 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic, cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add salt, then broth. Bring to a boil and then cook on medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
  2. In a medium heat-safe mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter and tomato paste. Transfer 1.5-2 cups of the hot stock to the bowl and whisk together until smooth. Pour the peanut mixture into the soup, mix well. Stir in the greens, sweet potatoes, and hot sauce sauce.
  3. Simmer for 15-25 more minutes on medium-low heat (or until sweet potatoes are at your preferred texture), stirring often. If you’re working with a West African crowd do not even THINK of serving it without rice (or better yet, fufu)– but I ate it happily on its own.
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