Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mama Caruso is heading off to Ghana...

Pounding the casava root into fufu

I am leaving for Ghana, in West Africa in a few weeks and am looking forward to bringing the sounds and flavors to your table. Whether shopping at the market, walking around meeting people or sitting at the table to enjoy great food - the atmosphere is charged with rich exotic energy. I am going to be going into friends' homes and learning to cook some traditional dishes and can't wait to post those experiences...but until then I am sharing with you a few photos of the last time I went about the work of women in West Afruica...pretty hard work!

Pounding the casava root into fufu is really hard work, one person usually has their hands in the bowl and is turning the fufu, but I don't think that this woman was willing to risk her hands to my beat! Fufu is a staple the goes so well with one of my favorite dishes - peanut soup.

Many women in Africa spend a great deal of time transporting water, and they do so in such an elegant manner while balancing the heavy load on their heads. While in Togo on a previous trip I asked some of the people I met with to teach me how to carry is what that lesson looked like - enjoy!

While there may be laughter, this is hard work! If you have a West African dish that you would like me to explore while in Ghana let me know and I will search it out.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Can't wait to do something with these!

It is not everyday that I run into these in the grocery store in the rural mid-west and I just couldn't believe my eyes tonight when I ran in for a few potatoes for clam chowder...and saw these goodies...yummmm...these will go well with the Gallo Pinto I made and with the unseasonably warm weather - I could almost feel like I was somewhere in Central America. Oh by the way, do you know what these are? And more importantly - if they were sitting in your kitchen, what would you do with them???

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Bacon Brussel Sprouts (B&B Sprouts) These aren't your Grandmother's brussel sprouts

Bacon Brussel Sprouts
 I live in rural Minnesota which means that almost any adventure or activity is going to encompass travel - work and play...and it was on one of those trips, that involved both work and play, that inspired this recipe. I traveled to New Brighton, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis and St. Paul...the "Twin Cities", which has so many beautiful parks and bike trails, that you can easily be transported to "another place" while enjoying the trails. Today while taking a break from planning our next trip to Ghana to work with Street Girls Aid, an organization that serves girls who live, work, and sleep on the streets of Accra with their babies, we decided to ride our bikes on the Mississippi River Regional Trail. During the first few miles we navigated through the streets of the city; over train tracks, through alleys and around neighborhoods and then got to a portion of the trail that wound along the banks of the Mississippi River, through thick brush, along parks, up and down the banks sometimes on paved trails, sometimes on dirt packed trails. Over bridges, under bridges, through thick ferns with vines cascading from above, under tall trees...following the Mississippi River. We stopped at a juncture on the trail where several smaller creeks ran into the great Mississippi and took in the massive view...we were only feet away from the River where you can feel the current rushing. It felt like a scene out of Tom Sawyer.

Biking along the Mississippi River
Later as we were getting ready to make dinner my friend Cathy asked me if I like brussel sprouts. Now I love brussel sprouts but can understand the question, because I know very few people who like them. Recently on one of the food shows I heard one of the chefs say in response to another saying that they hated brussel sprouts that, "you've just never had them cooked properly." Indeed, they've certainly never had brussel sprouts cooked this way...

Cathy went on to tell me that her family all loved brussel sprouts and in fact all of the kids in her family would fight over them. I was really excited to try them because anything I can do to introduce a new recipe that will increase my family's desire to eat something that I love is a good thing, and this recipe did not fail to deliver. It is with pleasure that I present this recipe for B & B Sprouts, inspired by my friend's family recipe.

B & B Sprouts


5 strips of bacon cut into 1/2 inch slices
28 brussel sprouts cut in half with bottom stem trimmed off and outside leaves discarded
3/4 teaspoon finely ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
2 tablespoons of butter

  • In a skillet on medium heat cook the chopped bacon for 5 minutes until the fat has rendered down and the bacon has browned slightly;
  • Add the brussel sprouts and stir to coat in the rendered bacon fat
  • Sprinkle the pepper and salt on the mixture and stir slightly to coat evenly
  • Let the brussel sprouts cook for 4 minutes on medium heat until they begin to caramelize, or get a little brown
  • Stir well and add butter
  • Cook for 4 more minutes and stir again - depending on the size of your sprouts, they should be done.

When the sprouts are slightly soft they are done, you may need to cook them a few minutes longer, but remove from the heat once a fork can pass through the entire sprout.

Serves 4 people
15 minutes from preparation to table

Enjoy - from my table to yours...