Monday, October 4, 2010

Out of Africa

One of my favorite movies is "Out of Africa".    But this African tablescape was inspired by another love story.  The story is about a West Virginia girl giving three years of her life to move to Ghana, West Africa to set up a distribution center for wheelchairs.  And a California boy going with a friend to Ghana, West Africa to show how to play wheelchair basketball.

My son, Nate, and daughter-in-law, Courtny, are gone on their anniversary trip so I thought I would show a tablescape in their honor.  Their first meeting was in Amsterdam waiting for a plane to Ghana, West Africa.  Nate said he remembers hearing a very excited voice and looking up to see a beautiful woman bursting into the room.  He clearly remembers her eyes.  They were wide with enthusiasm.  The energy in the room lit up when she came in.  That instant, he knew that he liked her.  Nate's friend introduced himself and said "And that's Nate".  Nate waved and went back to a conversation that he was having.  But in an airport on the way home, he was able to talk with her deeper.  Standing in line that day, he knew he wanted to get to know her better.  He just didn't know how.  That first meeting was ten years ago and on October 1st they celebrated their fifth anniversary.  I feel blessed to have such great kids (I will always call them kids no matter how old they are)

Here is my inspired "Out of Africa" Tablescape.

 Courtny made me this tablecloth and napkins using fabric she purchased in Africa. 
I love the way it goes diagonally across the table.

Closer look at the patchwork design.

The silver charger gives some bling to the chocolate Fiesta plate and flatware.
You need to look closely to see the giraffee napkin ring.  
There are zebras and other wooden animal napkin rings.

The three large elephants are traveling across the design.

A wooden hand carved lidded container.

I had to include this vintage safari hat.

A pair of wooden silhouettes of a woman carrying a pot.
Can be used to hold candles, flowers, or trinkets.

Hand carved and painted giraffee.

Some have asked "What do you serve at an African dinner?" 
So I asked Courtny to share some of her recipes

Groundnut Stew (recipe from Extending the Table: A World Community Cookbook)

In a heavy frypan or saucepan, brown in 1 Tablespoon of oil:
1 pound beef, chicken, or goat
When browned, add 1 Tablespoon oil and sauté:
2 cups onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
ground red pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger or 1 Tablespoon ginger root, minced
2 cups stewing tomatoes, or 2 large fresh tomatoes, mashed
1 bullion cube
2 cups water
browned meat
Cover and simmer 30 minutes, or until meat is tender.
In small bowl, mix:
1/2 cup peanut butter (natural, unsalted, unsweetened, no addition oil added)
1/2 cup liquid from stew
Slowly stir peanut butter mixture into stew.  cover and simmer, stirring frequently, another 30 minutes.  Add more water to thin, if necessary.  Add more ground pepper and salt to taste.  Serve with rice balls.  (Recipe to follow.)  Serves 6.

Just wondering "Does anyone use goat?"

Omo Tuo (Rice Balls) (Recipe from Authentic African Cuisine from Ghana)
2 cups short grain rice
4 cups water
salt to taste

Rinse rice thoroughly and put in a saucepan.  Add salt and water.  Cover and cook over medium/low heat until the rice is very soft and still moist.  Add more water if necessary.  Remove from heat and stir with a wooden spoon, pressing rice against the sides of the saucepan to crush the grains.  Continue this unitl the rice is soft and sticks together.  Spoon portions into a bowl and roll into balls.  Serves 4. 

Jollof Rice (Recipe from Authentic African Cuisine from Ghana)
Clean 1 1/2 pounds chicken parts and place in a large saucepan.  Add 1/4 cup diced onion, 2 crushed cloves garlic, 1 teaspoon thyme, black pepper to taste, and 1 bullion cube.  Cover and place over medium heat, steam for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut up 1/2 onion and set aside.  Place other 1/2 onion in a blender together with 1 10 oz. can whole tomatoes and purée.  Set aside.

Add 2 cups water to the saucepan with the chicken and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove chicken from pan and reserve stock.  Heat 1/2 cup oil in saucepan or wok and fry chicken pieces until golden brown.  Set aside.

Keep oil on heat and fry onion slices until soft but not brown.  Add 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, tomato and onion purée, and 1 can tomato paste.  Fry mixture for 15 minutes.  Add to saucepan with stock, chicken, and 8 oz. frozen mixed vegetables (if desired).  Add 1 bullion cube if desired. 

Rinse rise throughly and add to saucepan.  Add water to cover rice completely (water should come about 1/2 inch over rice).  Cook over medium/low heat, stirring occasionally, until all liquid is absorbed and rice is soft.  The should take approximately 20-30 minutes.  

Serves 4-6.

Kelewele (Fried Plantain) (Recipe from Authentic African Cuisine from Ghana)
6 very ripe plantains
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh ground ginger
seasoning salt
1 litre vegetable oil

Peel skin from plantain and slice into two pieces lengthwise.  Then slice at an angle along the length into 1 inch pieces.  Season plantain with cayenne pepper, ginger, and seasoning salt.  Leave in a container and cover for 30 minutes to allow seasoning to permeate plantains.

Preheat cooking oil, and deep fry plantains until they become golden to medium brown.  Remove from oil and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Serve hot as an accompaniment to a meal, or as a snack.  Serves 4-6.

I asked Courtny "What is a plantain?" 
Plantains are in the banana family, and they look like large bananas.  They are common in Latin American cuisine as well, so most bigger grocery stores will have them.  You know plantains are ripe when they begin to have black spots on the skin--kinda like bananas get when they are ready to become banana bread!

Sounds yummy

I am linking to the following parties:
Tablescape Thursday @ Between Naps on the Porch
Vintage Thingie Thursday @ Colorado Lady
Show and Tell Friday @ My Romantic Home
Simple Pleasures @ A Collection of This and That
 Foodie Friday@ Designs by Gollum