Hi everyone and please click on the title of this post to read more. Before I start, I want to let everyone know that our PWR show for a local soup kitchen on Saturday brought in enough money that the soup kitchen can feed its patrons for a year! Thanks to everyone who came!
Today, I am going to discuss the topic on many people’s minds these days: Addiction to Facebook. I confess, I am addicted. Who can resist being reconnected with their 6th grade classmates, many of whom we have not spoken with for decades? It is instant fun finding out who is popping up on our P.S. 59 group every time we turn on the computer.
One drawback for me , however, has been the memories conjured up along with these new found old friends, not all of them great. Let’s face it, we were not all treated well by our young friends, nor were we perfect angels ourselves. I, for one, have been gradually remembering my own bad behavior, like when I pulled a chair out from behind a “friend” to be funny (in retrospect, it was because she was beautiful and I was jealous of her), causing her to have to miss her ballet lessons because her back got injured. When I think about these painful moments, I want to run.
This brings me to the cooking part of my convoluted post: Have we made cooking mistakes, gotten discouraged and wanted to give up or avoid cooking altogether? Is it to painful to think about the burnt casserole dishes from a past dinner party because of too high a heat or the looks of disgust on the faces of our children when they dislike our homemade chicken fricasee?
These are experiences that make up who we are and we need to explore them to see not only where we need to go but also to remember how far we have come. These experiences are part of a learning process in life and we need to see them as such to become the people that we want to be.
I made mistakes, I was a child, and I hope these old friends forgive me , especially before our reunion. We all make mistakes, even Bruce Springsteen who gave the exclusive rights to his Greatest Hits CD to Walmart:
In the end, what is important is not that we made the mistakes but how we deal with the mistakes later, by acknowledging them and trying to repair the relationships. This applies to the people from our past as well as with food and cooking.
Lets start a new and positive relationship with this healthy and deliciously easy Vegetable peanut Stew , a Senegales Dish, called Mafe. I used to make it at a restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin about 20 years ago named Le Baobob, and it is nice to see that my new friends enjoy it just as much as my old ones did. I hope you like it:
2-3 TBS canola oil
5 large cloves garlic, minced
3 med. sized onions, chopped
2 large butternut squash or3-4 very large sweet potatoes
3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 large , peeled potatoes, cut into one inch pieces
4 big handfuls of fresh spinach or 8 oz. frozen spinach
3 plum tomatoes, chopped or 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
3 oz. or 1/2 tiny can of tomato paste
1/2 cup peanut butter mixed with one cup of water
cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
salt to taste
optional garnishes are chopped cashews, peanuts or chopped cilantro
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. If using squash, slice horizontally, take the seeds out , and roast skin side down, covered in tin foil, for about 40 minutes to an hour until tender. Scoop out squash and set aside.
If using sweet potatoes, peel them , cut into 1 inch chunks, spray with an olive oil or canola oil spray and roast until tender, on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. May take 20 minutes to a half hour. Do the same with the white potatoes and the cut up carrots. I would suggest using two baking sheets because the carrots may take longer than the potatoes. At least separate them on the baking sheet so you can remove some of the vegetables when they are done.
While all the above vegetables are roasting, heat up the oil in a big, heavy pot. Add the onions until wilted, then add garlic. If the vegetables are not done yet, turn off heat on garlic and onions and set aside. When vegetables are done, add the squash or sweet potatoes, white potatoes, carrots, tomatoes,spinach and stir. When all are combined, add the peanut butter water mixture and stir. Add salt and cayenne if you like (I don’t put cayenne in unless it is just for my family-I serve with hot sauce so people can spice it up themselves). keep stirring and adding water if need be if you want it thinner. Be careful because there is a lot of starch in that pot and it can stick to the bottom if you don’t keep stirring and adding a little liquid. Serve with couscous, brown or white rice or just as is with a salad. You can garnish with chopped peanuts or cashews and even some chopped cilantro. Enjoy!