Tag Archives: Recipes

Easy Rice and Peas

rice and peas


Recently, we visited Togolese friends  for a day at their pool followed by (what Big Man called) a “family feast” of simple but delicious food:   herbed chicken, black eyed peas, brown rice, salad and a typical West African sauce made of pureed ginger, onions and tomatoes.  Instead of sauteeing the puree in palm oil, our host, Mimi, used coconut oil which  gave the sauce a slightly sweet, nutty flavor.  Others at the table immediately commented on the taste which was a apparently familiar.  Mimi confirmed that coconut oil is, in fact, a traditional cooking fat in West Africa. Our  Interestingly enough, a few days before this visit, we had taken our weekly cruise through Trader Joe’s and sampled Asian dumplings that had also been sauteed in coconut oil with equally-delicious results.

Both of these culinary encounters encouraged me to  try coconut oil for more than an ingredient to mix with melted shea butter to make it more smooth when I put it on my and Big Man’s skin and hair.  I think that adding it to the mix  is the secret to making a yummy, flavorful pot of rice and peas, a dish I’ve made for years but that never tasted quite like I wanted.  Try this easy recipe, and if you’re feeling kind, tell me how it turned out :).



Rice of choice
I used basmati for us.  I love the smell and also that it’s said to have low glycemic index.

Red beans
I used a can of dark red kidney beans.  Some people use pigeon peas.  Proportion is approximately half the quantity of rice.

Spices of choice
I used powdered garlic and onion and chicken flavored bouillon.

Scotch bonnet/habanero pepper (optional)–
Watch out.  This one is super hot.  If you want some of the spice, DO NOT cut or puncture the pepper.  Simply let the whole pepper cook with the other ingredients and carefully remove before serving.

Wash, rinse and drain rice and set aside.  Sauté the chopped onion and bell pepper in the coconut oil on medium heat.  Add rice and sauté.  Add two parts water to one part rice.  Add all remaining ingredients, stir well, cover and reduce heat.  Cook on low heat for about twenty-five minutes or until rice is desired tenderness.

Rice and peas image from http://www.health.com


Quick-to-Make “Cheesecake”


Now that school is about to start again, I’m getting my head back into the game in terms of bedtime, homework, after school snacks and all of that. Our snack menu last year included grilled cheese and fruit, fruit and cheese, pbj, pizza, popcorn and fruit smoothies. The fake cheesecake that I feature in this post is another snack that I kind of free-styled after looking in the pantry and working with what I had on hand. It was a quick and satisfying treat with a fairly low carb count, which is good for me.  I don’t think I’d ever seen this recipe before I made it.  Of course, I’m not saying that I invented it. Just that it’s funny how much foodies think alike.


  • Graham crackers
  • Neufchatel cheese
  • Reduced sugar raspberry jam
  • Kiwi slices
  • Chia seeds (optional)

Break graham cracker rectangle into two squares. Spread with a layer of cream cheese followed by a layer of jam. Top with peeled, sliced kiwi. Sprinkle with chia seeds if desired. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving 2013

Like everyone else, the past couple of weeks have been busy with holiday maneuverings.  A couple of weeks back, Big Man was part of a group of Boy and Girl Scouts who participated in a neighborhood Christmas parade that actually occured before Thanksgiving.  (Go figure.)The float’s theme was “A Camping Christmas” and consisted of a flatbed trailer festooned with Dollar Tree adornments, a leaning Christmas tree and nylon tent in front of which appeared a fake fire made out of tissue paper and old coat hangers.   A hot, creative mess freestyled by us parents :).  Pictures soon to follow.

Right on the heels of the parade came our two days of Thanksgiving.  Two because we enjoyed one in the company of extended family and another quiet one at home.  While I was tempted just enjoy the meal at our relatives’ home and call it a (holi)day, I heeded the internal voice of my mother that said “Always prepare your own Thanksgiving meal” and made this for us:

* Baked red snapper (marinated in tea of ginger, allspice, bay leaves and thyme)
* Rosemary carrots
* Chestnut cornbread dressing
* Mixed greens with turnips
* Minted cucumbers (see recipe below)
* Orange cranberry sauce
* Sweet potato pie
* Lemonade iced tea

Thanksgiving 2013        Thanksgiving (3)     Thanksgiving 2013 (2)

Big Man and I enjoyed our meal after returning from a community Christmas tree lighting– a gesture that, again, seems a premature given the autumn leaves and fairly warm weather.   Afterward, we took our full bellies to the sofa and watched Hugo, a film that he’s now old enough to really enjoy.

In any case, here’s the recipe for


Image from patiodaddiobbq.com
Add Poll Image from patiodaddiobbq.com
  • 1 large telegraph* cucumber
  • 1/2 of a medium red onion
  • Handful of fresh mint, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. balsamic or rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1 c. Asian soy sesame dressing

Slice the cucumber into rounds and then cut the rounds it halves discarding the ends.  Place in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Cut onion into thin half-moon shaped slivers. Add the onion and mint to bowl with cucumber. Add remaining ingredients and toss vegetables in mixture. Cover and chill until ready to serve.  Goes well with grilled fish or roasted chicken and a starch like rice or pita bread.

* A “telegraph” cucumber is also sometimes called “English,” “Persian” or “Lebanese” cucumber.  This seedless variety is long and thin with ridges on the outside.

And, of course, a book:

giving thanks book
giving thanks book 2Giving Thanks:  A Native American Good Morning Message by Chief Jake Swamp and Erwin Printup


                 Cookbook cover                                 Cookbook Title Page

This marks the tenth year (wow…) since I self published the little cookbook whose picture you see above.   It was low-budget and fun– a major accomplishment for me in terms of really going the distance with a creative writing project.  I would really like to update it.  We’ll see.   In any case, posting about Big Man and I at Red Rooster reminded me of one one of my favorite recipes from my Afro-Bohemian cookbook.  couve, or Brazilian style collard greens.   Collards and kale are my favorite greens and I find ways to regularly work them into my home menu in a variety of ways.  Like one of my favorite foodies, the legendary Vertamae Grosvenor says in her book Vibration Cooking or the Travel Notes of a Geechee, “A bowl of collard greens does for me what chicken soup does for others.”    Try the recipe and see if you say the same.

Jene making collard greens (Fall 2011)
Browngirl and a cast iron pan of green goodness

           Collard Greens Excerpt for Blog