Moroccan Beef- My style.

My dearest friends, my love for potatoes is no secret. I love them boiled, baked, fried, stewed…

It has been a while since I shared a recipe so here goes last night’s dinner.

My take on a Moroccan Beef stew, accompanied by potato wedges and coleslaw.

Moroccan Beef Stew

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Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1kg beef, cubed
  • 2 onions
  • 1tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • ½ tsp each of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves mixed together
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt to taste

Method.

  • Heat oil, add meat and saute for about 15 minutes till it turns a beautiful brown colour.
  • Add onions and mix well till soft, then add the ginger garlic paste and cook till the raw smell is gone.
  • Add the ground cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, mix well but make sure they do not burn.
  • Add the pureed tomatoes, honey, paprika, salt and water. Stir everything well and bring to a boil then lower the heat and let it simmer for an hour when covered.
  • End result is a thick rich stew, serve with starch of choice.

PS: You can add raisins or dried apricots when done, then let it simmer for 15 more minutes uncovered.

For my potatoes, I parboiled them with garlic and salt then pan fried to get the crispy and charred taste. Served sprinkled with salt and freshly ground black pepper. My coleslaw is the easiest, shredded cabbage and carrots, salad cream and a bit of sugar to enhance the flavour.

Kindly try it out and let me know how yours turned out. 🙂

 

It Takes a Village.

This past Saturday, H and I attended a parenting forum that had been organized by one of our Church departments. They had sent out texts about three weeks earlier and has asked folks to RSVP to confirm attendance.

It was an early meeting, from 8-11am, So we were able to plan that day well in advance to be there on time. Not much information had been given, but since it had been billed as an open and free parenting forum, I assumed many parents would sign up. Wrong. We were exactly 12 people. TWELVE! Out of a church with many members, most of whom are young parents. TWELVE. And these twelve included the facilitators and church staff present. Never mind that the texts had been sent to all church members with kids aged 12 and below. TWELVE. To say I was shocked and disappointed is an understatement. I know some had work and urgent commitments but 12 is such a low number.

Anyway, those who did not come missed out on a lot. The forum was basically an open discussion on how we are raising the children we have now, to be the proper adults of the future.

A lot has changed in the world culturally, socially, technologically, scientifically, education wise, but there are still core issues that need to be ingrained in the children we are raising.

  • What values are we instilling in them, and how will they be able to maintain those values? Exposure is key, but there have to be boundaries set on the same.
  • What determines our children’s self-worth? How will they know who they are? From a young age, they are taught everyone is a winner, till they grow a bit older and realize it does not always work that way. We need to start celebrating the right successes in them and with them.
  • Do our children have a relationship with God? This is taught by the parents, not the Sunday school teachers. They need to know how to pray and that God answers prayers. God does not make mistakes, and He listens, even if He does not answer immediately.

Role modeling.

Are we appropriate role models? Who are your children’s role models? In our parents’ time, our aunties and uncles, even neighbours had a right to call us out when we did wrong. It is not the same these days. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” has changed, or is no longer even valid in some places.

Fact is, as parents we NEED that village. You need fellow parents to encourage you, your child needs village members to learn from as you may not be able to do it all. You could have a grandparent, an auntie, an older cousin and an older friend who know your values, agree with them and are able to impart the same to your children in a way that it does not seem to come from you directly. There was even a great example given to observe how our children treat those younger than them, who look up to them. Observing such interactions speaks volumes on what our children are learning from us. Remember the saying, “Monkey say, monkey do?”

We need to be deliberate and intentional about the people around our children.

Transferable Skills

There are those things we can be able to teach our children to equip them for the world ahead:-

  • Communication skills. Both verbal and non-verbal. When we teach them how to communicate, they are able to express themselves successfully. For younger ones, understand but do not encourage the tantrums.
  • Taking Initiative. Do not decide everything for your child. Allow them to verbalize what they want.
  • Creativity. That is, encourage free flow and expression of the ideas they come up with. Do not schedule their every minute, it is alright to allow them to get bored a bit.
  • Integrity. How do we handle the first “white lie?” Do we lie to them?
  • Attitude. “Talk to the hand” should be nipped in the bud as soon as possible, they need to learn how to have the right attitude.
  • Work Ethic. Always think about the adult your child will become. Let them not think that work tires and is a drudge. Work can be fun, work is rewarding. Encourage them to learn and enjoy work.
  • Team Work. Teach them how to work within a team, how to partner with others. How to interact well with others. Let each have a turn in doing something and celebrate the joint successes.
  • Leadership.How to lead themselves and lead others. Also comes in with patience, honesty, attitude, taking initiative and working well in a team.
  • Time management. We need to teach them how to divide time between different things. Schedule but do not overdo it. Routines are good and teach them there is a time for play, for chores, for others, etc.
  • Listening skills. Reading to them hones their listening skills. Also listen to them as a parent, expect a response from them to know whether they are paying attention or not. Ask them if they understand what you have said. Use age appropriate language and terms so as not to confuse them.
  • Personal Development. Appreciate the milestones. (Do not reward) Make them look forward to each stage of development.
  • Research and Critical thinking. Let them find solutions, do not always give them the right answers.
  • Information Technology. Let them know what it entails just limit the exposure.

There was a lot more and some of these skills were expounded in detail that each would probably need a blog post on its own.

It was a great session, H and I as well as the other parents in session learnt so much and agreed to another forum in future, but most importantly, agreed to share with others what we learnt.

It is never too early to prepare your child for the adult they will become in the future. We are not just raising future scientists, teachers, politicians, engineers, chefs, musicians etc. We are also raising future fathers, mothers, aunties, uncles, workers, and role models.

As I look at our two children right now and how H and I are raising them, we are now conscious that what we may not nip now, will rear its ugly head in a few years, and what we water now, will blossom wonderfully in a few years too.

Have you been to any parenting forum? How was your experience?

The Folly of Being Human

2017 is turning out to a very interesting year. Interesting and revealing. Both about myself and other people too.

It has had its highs, but the lows have faithfully trudged along too, unwilling to be left out.

A lot of things have been revealed about people close to myself, both consciously and unconsciously, and I am learning to guard my heart. It is not easy but it has to be done.

Human beings are generally good, but some of us are downright evil, conniving, jealous, envious, just bad. To be kindhearted, a person of integrity, humble and just have a good heart is turning out to be a tall order for many.

Why are we not happy for each others’ successes? Why do we feel like we always have to put each other in a box and clamp down real quick and fast on the other person as they try to break free of what we are constricting them to be?

You think you have real friends or support from family? Try being at your lowest….. even better, try being at your highest and see how quick some will drag you down. 19554823_1105430506259451_5948960505584611437_n

 

 

My Java Relationship

I know I am not the only one in this town who has an abusive relationship with Java House.

Java, our beloved coffee house that used to have real nice brownies, great pepper steaks, fries and great coffee to boot.

Despite lousy service, lowered standards, slugs/ worms in salad, we still trudge back to Java as it has sentimental value to many of us. For some, it was the first place you had that great date (that ended in marriage a few years later), where you would meet friends and catch up over chocolatey milkshakes, prepare presentations over giant samosas. Sigh. Those were the days.

Java is still a great meeting place but to be honest the standards are not the same. Whether this has to do with the rapid expansion, or the changing of investors, who knows? But I know I am not the only one who misses the old Java.

Recent incidents have just made me mad. From two cockroaches at their sister outlet, delayed and orders delivered piecemeal, (the whole brunch ended up being on the house courtesy of / due to intervention by their marketing manager who was present at the time), soup overloaded with white pepper at Java Yaya, what is not happening to this source of pride for many Nairobians? Despite this, my two feet and silly brain keep returning.

Earlier today, H and I decided to have lunch with Njeri at their Upper Hill Branch. We have been there a few times before with nothing wrong happening. But today, despite it not being busy, we sat a cool fifteen minutes without being served. Oh, we had a menu on the table and Njeri had started her coloring but none of their staff bothered to come pick our orders.  A cool fifteen minutes with a hungry kindergartner and two hungry adults. Sigh.  One of their waitresses passed by three times, without a pause. Three couples got served before us. Fifteen minutes was too long a time to wait. So when the same waitress passed by I had to stand in her way to get her attention, but H was not having it, he had already picked our stuff and headed out. The waitress rushed to get the manager who followed me out begging us to come back that she would serve us ourselves. Ooook, I asked her why she would want to serve us, if her staff were not bothered and anyway, it was not going be a pleasant experience after my daughter asked “Why do they not want to serve us?”

How did I know it was fifteen minutes? I had my phone timer set as we had an order at a nearby chemist that we had been told will take fifteen minutes to be ready.

Am I done with Java House yet? How much more can I take? I do not know 😦

Cut off

I cut my hair earlier this year. Really short, shorter than it has ever been.

It was not a big chop kind of thing as I have always been natural.

It was not a sign of emotional distress.

It was not an instantaneous decision. It took time, months even, of me asking friends how I would look with short hair. Checking out different looks, looking for a good hairstylist. When I finally decided to go ahead, I chopped off a bit at home and had the big chop done by a hairdresser.

I love the short hair look, and I am actually headed to the barbers in a few. Hahahahaha. But recent reactions have made me wonder about the perceptions we have of  women who cut their hair short :-

  1. That a woman cuts her hair as she is in emotional distress, or wants to cut off some things in her life.
  2. That she is unhappy with her sex life and wants to reclaim it. *Insert blank stare*
  3. Cutting off societal expectations of her. A way to express her identity, increase self awareness. (Hmm I am more self aware so….)
  4. Cutting of damaged ends. The “Big chop” , getting rid of relaxed hair and wanting to nurture her hair in its natural state.
  5. Because it is a trend. (Hey, Halle Berry made short hair look sexy)
  6. A cry for help; that a woman wants to be really SEEN.

The list is endless and I have been asked intrusive questions on the same. Am I sick? Is my marriage ok? Am I not sending a bad signal to my daughter that a masculine look is better? Am I Depressed? Am I not being selfish as I had really nice hair that grew long so fast while others struggle to grow their hair? Am I broke?

Thing is, women cut off their hair for various reasons. There is no one size fits all.

Sigh.

Why did I cut my hair? Personal Transformation!Because I wanted to.

Do I intend to keep this look? I do not know. I love it. So far, so good.

I have realized though that I spend more time in the mirror looking at myself. Really looking. Seeing my beauty for the first time. I am surprised at how much I had let my hair define me, even if I was not conscious of it at the time.

I know it does not make sense, but I really do SEE myself now.

Pea and potato curry- My Way

A lot of people have the perception that vegetarian meals are boring. Eh, Wrong!

Vegetarian meals are delicious, nutritious, filling and some are easy and quick to make too. Perfect supper for when you do not want to slave in the kitchen after slaving at work. Hehehehe.

My love for potatoes knows no bounds, and as I have mentioned here, I love Indian food too. So combining the two is easy for me and tasty too.

This meal was last night’s dinner, make sure you keep some to carry for lunch the next day…. I know I am not the only one who finds leftovers tasty. Yum!

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Coriander and mint rice and my take on pea and potato curry. Delish!

Mint and Coriander rice

Ingredients

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • I bunch finely chopped coriander
  • 1/2 tbsp mint
  • 4 tsp turmeric
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tbsp butter or coconut oil

 

Method.

  • Heat the butter in a pan and add the herbs and spices, make sure they do not burn.
  • Add the rice and stir to mix well. Add the water, cover and let cook till all the water is absorbed.
  • You can uncover once to check seasoning and mix to ensure herbs are well mixed in the rice.
  • You can add a squeeze of lemon too.

Pea and Potato curry. (My way)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • I large onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp. curry powder
  • I large tomato, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 1 courgette chopped
  • Four large potatoes, cut in small pieces
  • 1Cup frozen green peas
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp garam masala

Method

  • Heat oil and add mustard seeds
  • Once they splutter, add the onion and sauté till golden brown. Add the garlic ginger paste and ensure it doesn’t burn.
  • Add the curry powder and mix well, you can add a splash of water here to ensure the spices cook and don’t burn.
  • Add the tomatoes and let cook till mushy. You can add the paste here if you wish.
  • Add the carrots and courgette and potatoes and let them fry in the masala mixture till evenly covered, then you can add the peas.
  • Add ¼ cup of hot water and let simmer on low heat till ready.
  • Once ready sprinkle the garam masala, garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.

PS: I season in stages, a little salt here and there as each layer cooks to ensure taste is to my taste.

Also, add water in 1\4 cups as per how dry or soupy you want the curry to be. Adding to much water will water the flavours down.

Final add, you can add the coriander stalks to the curry; they add a lot of flavour too.

Enjoy.

Weekend Recap: Nairobi Mamba Village.

Saturday

Was Njeri’s day to have her hair done. Nothing much happened. I visited my former work place and it was nice catching up with former colleagues. We stayed in traffic for a long time though. I do not know why I had the not so bright idea of heading to Mombasa Road on the same day as the Mater Heart Run. Sigh.

Saturday dinner was chicken and lemon, chunky fries and coleslaw. I was happy that I would finally get pictures for the recipe so I could update it on the blog but Kenya Power had brighter ideas. Power was gone the whole afternoon till next morning. The food was delicious though. The only photo I got before my phone went off did not do the meal any justice. LOL

Sunday

Went to Church and decided to head to Mamba Village to treat the kids.

Mamba Village is a crocodile farm located along the Langata – Karen Road, just after Stedmark Gardens. The big sign on the road is no longer there so I had to call for directions. We were shocked when we got there. The place has huge grounds but the landscaping and some of the facilities have been severely neglected.

The restaurant grounds are beautiful though, well-kept and clean. And the washrooms were very clean too. Other positives were the service and the food albeit less positive. Service was fast, food was good, though nyama choma was a bit dry (the beef especially), and not marinated as claimed.

You have the option of a la carte or a platter selection. Their buffet is Kes 1500 per person, which didn’t make sense for us to try cause of the kids. We decided to go for a meat platter with three different accompaniments.  That was more than enough for the four of us and we even had to take away some of the meat.

The highlight of the place however are the Nile Crocodiles they have there. They are divided into three sections. The kids, the teens and the mature crocs. The kids were fascinated and Njeri even held a baby croc! Too cute.

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The Mature Crocs basking in the sun

That is a two year old tortoise, isn’t it the cutest?

They also have some tortoises and three female ostriches. Njeri and Leo were bowled over by the tortoises too, especially the baby one that was so small it could fit in her hand. She did not want to let go of it. We had a guide too, Stephanie who took as round, answered all our questions, involved the kids in a little Q and A of what they had seen. Let’s just say we all learnt a lot.

We were also lucky enough to watch the crocs being fed. This is done once a week, every Sunday at 4.30 pm. Messy and stinky affair to be honest but also quite intriguing.

Mamba Village will have to do a lot to reclaim its lost glory, especially now that neighbouring Stedmak Gardens has started a small park too with snakes, ostriches, turtles etc.

Price wise, H and I paid Kes 250 each, Njeri Kes 100 and Leo got in free. Their Facebook page is Mamba village  I found the pricing quite fair and would not mind going there again.

Have a great week ahead and strive to learn something new every day!