Thursday, January 3, 2013

Saltine Crackers

For Christmas, we were given brie and gouda cheese as a gift. It was decided that these mouth-watering cheeses that we cannot easily find in Tanzania would be saved for New Year’s Eve. IMG_8376Tanzania offers a different variety of cracker. They call it “biskuti” and is a copycat of British biscuits. In the past, for no reason than a lack of cracker, we tried combining cheese and biskuti. It’s not a good combination. The biskuti are too sweet and often sold stale. New Year’s Eve is a special evening. I decided that I am going to bake a saltine cracker for these delicious cheeses. The Peace Corps cookbook provides a saltine recipe, however, it calls for cream of tartar, an ingredient I will never find near me. I googled a substitute for cream of tartar and received varying responses. Some state there is no substitute. Others state that you can use lemon or lime juice with baking soda. In the end, I decided to just find a new recipe. I found one off and it was exactly as I had hoped it would be.


  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Step 1: Combine all dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda)


Step 2: Cut in butter, then stir in milk


Step 3: Round into a ball and knead for a few strokes


Step 4: Divide dough into several pieces and roll out very thin on a floured board. Take care to use just enough flour as necessary to prevent your crackers from being too floury after baking.


Step 5: Lay sheets on ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with salt and prick with a fork. Cut into 1 1/2 inch squares with a sharp knife or a pizza cutter.


Step 6: Bake at 375 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes or until lightly browned.



Variations: On my last batch, I put a few pinches of rosemary and thyme in addition to the salt before baking. The result was delicious! I will definitely do more rosemary and thyme variations when I do these next!

What other spice combinations do you think would make these crackers extra tasty?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Homemade Bread

At Thanksgiving, Jon and I really wantedIMG_7078 some good homemade bread. Certainly, we are able to buy bread in Tanzania, but it is always just white bread and not great for a Thanksgiving dinner. So, the day before everyone came over to our home to celebrate Thanksgiving, we made bread. It turned out great and I want to share the recipe with you.


  • 3 1/4 cups flours
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1/8 cup room temperature water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil


  1. Dissolve the yeast in the water and let it sit for about ten minutes. It is ready when the yeast water has become foamy.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the yeast water, milk, sugar, salt, and oil. Add 1.5 cups of flour and start stirring until well blended.
  3. Stir in additional 1.5 cups of flour. The dough will become stiff and sticky.
  4. Knead the dough for about ten minutes. To decrease the stickiness, during kneading, dust the top of it with about 2 tablespoons flour.When the dough becomes sticky again, add another 2 tablespoons flour. You may need to use more flour than the recipe calls for. If your hands become covered with sticky dough, use flour to remove it into your dough ball.
  5. Knead your dough into a ball and brush the top with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Place into a large bowl and cover with a wet towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 60-90 minutes. After about 60-75 minutes, your ball should have doubled in size.
  6. After 90 minutes, remove the dough from it’s rising place and back onto your work space. Punch in the risen dough. You are trying to remove all of the air out of the dough with your hands.
  7. Knead again for 5 minutes.
  8. Place it into a greased bread pan. Put a wet towel over the bread again and place it back in a warm spot to rise again. Allow to rise again for 60-90 minutes. Again, the dough will double in size.
  9. When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. and bake the bread for 45 minutes. It is finished when the loaf has a golden brown color. You can also test it by tapping on the crust. If it is ready, the bread sounds hollow.
  10. Allow the bread to cool before removing from pan.

Notes: You can add spices or vegetables to this dough. This picture you see above has onions and garlic added into the dough. Simply add to the dough when you knead for the first time. Some options include: minced onion, garlic, dill weed, rosemary, basil, roasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds, cinnamon, raisins, etc.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New Vegetarian Cookbook!

For Christmas this year, Santa brought me an exciting new cookbook. Not only do the dishes look fantastic, but the book is inspirational for me as well. I am not a full-time blogger nor do I really have realistic access to be a full-time blogger from Tanzania, however, I do have some small pipe dreams of maybe making it as a blogger. Well, the author of this cookbook started out his success as a blogger. I really enjoy that he has also done all the photography for his own book. That is something else I would be interested in doing. In addition to all of this, I love that he has chosen to create vegetarian dishes that come from all over the world. As most people know, I have lived on several continents and indulged in flavorful vegetarian dishes from all over. I love his worldly approach to vegetarian food.

Based on his book, he is admittedly a better chef than I. This is the first time I have ever seen Chiang Mai noodles in another cookbook. His recipe looks far more complicated and far more delicious than my own. My version can be found here:

I can't wait to try his. I think the first recipe of his that I will try first will be chickpea fritters. I tried a version of this recipe a few months back and it failed. I am anxious to use his. The other dishes that immediately caught my eye and will be the first to attempt are his Spanish lentil and mushroom stew, asparagus with nori butter, and his kimchi dish.

If you're looking for a good new cookbook that will take your vegetarian taste buds all over the world in your own apartment, might I suggest Herbviracious by Michael Natkin?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Top Vegetarian Recommendations in Cape Town, South Africa

I thought I would give this blog a bit of a unique twist. One of my passions of being a vegetarian of course is creating mouth-watering, unforgettable vegetarian food. That's why I created this blog; to share easy and delicious recipes of tasteful food. It is, however, also a real pleasure to go out to eat and find restaurants that are not only vegetarian-friendly, but also create vegetarian food that makes you green with envy that you can't make it in your own kitchen! If I am eating out with a large group of people, I am never opinionated on where we go, as long as there is one vegetarian option. Many other vegetarians will agree that the common dishes in these "we offer one dish of vegetarian" places is often spaghetti, salad, or a vegetarian wrap. But, there are so many restaurants these days whose chefs have designed innovative and fantastic vegetarian menus. It gives vegetarians an idea of what it must be like to be omnivorous with a plethora of delicious looking dishes to choose from. When I am going out to eat with my husband alone, I am very picky on the place we eat at. I will not have spaghetti, salad, or a vegetarian wrap. I want a delicious concoction of vegetables, sauces, and a meat-free protein (my favorite? lentils). Recently, my husband and I vacationed in Cape Town, South Africa where we ate at several restaurants. I would like to share my top 8 restaurants that were vegetarian friendly and budget-conscious. If you ever find yourself vacationing in the mother city of South Africa, please keep these restaurants in mind! They are not ranked in any order, simply just listed as great options for vegetarians. Click on the names of the restaurant for a menu, if the restaurant offers it on the internet:

1. Takumi - Japanese food with some Asian fusion. Unique sushi options that cater to the vegetarian lifestyle, especially with their starters. Located in Gardens, Cape Town.

2. Timbuktu Cafe - contrary to what the name suggests, this is a cafe' devoted to Ethiopian food. It offers a vegetarian sampler for only 55 rand and you will not leave hungry. There's cute balcony dining. We ate here twice. They are located at 76 Long Street on the second floor of the Pan African market. Follow the loud music.

3. Galbi - a Korean/South African infusion. Come for authentic Korean food or a South African braii or both! They offer bimbimbap - a Korean vegetarian staple or a vegetarian braii for 2 platter. I was excited to learn they make all of their cocktails out of soju - the great Korean alcohol! Located in an arcade off of Long Street.

4. Saigon - as the name suggests, it offers Vietnamese dishes and a whole section of the menu is vegetarian. It is Asian fusion, however, so you can still get sushi or other Asian dishes. Might I suggest the rainbow noodles? Located in Gardens.

5. Jewel of India - Indian food is an easy answer to all your vegetarian dining woes. Thanks to the beliefs of Buddhism within India, there are always a great variety of vegetarian options at Indian restaurants. The Jewel of India located at the V&A waterfront offered great Indian food for a reasonable price.

Around Cape Town

6. Knead - located in Muizenberg on the Cape Peninsula, this bakery offered a large variety of vegetarian options and great cafe' options for the coffee lover as well. I was pleasantly surprised with the many options available to vegetarians!

7. Cafe Caprice - located at Camp's Bay this hip cafe' offered pricey but tasty vegetarian options. The service was mediocre, but the location was perfect.

8. Empire Cafe - located in Muizenberg on the Cape Peninsula, I passed by this cafe' after looking over and considering their few vegetarian options on their chalkboard menu. At first glance and without a description of each item, the vegetarian options looked overpriced and boring. I really only gave this cafe' a second chance because they offered free wi-fi. I ordered their vegetarian option and it was so flavorful, my omnivorous husband ordered it right after tasting mine even though he wasn't even hungry. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Apple Crisp

A few weekends ago, when I visited my mother-in-law, not only did she teach me how to make applesauce using a food mill, she also showed me how to make her version of apple crisp. We made it together and it was so amazing. I brought this recipe home and made it for my cousin's wedding rehearsal dinner and for my family in general. Everyone loves this recipe and my mom specifically asked for me to put the recipe here. Now, as mentioned, lately my recipes have been catered to fit her pre-diabetic diet. I will list the original recipe and the substitutions I use for my mom to make it little healthier. Of course, the best way to serve apple crisp is warmly out of the oven with a dollop of vanilla ice cream! Happy fall!


  • 8-10 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup cold butter (1/2 cup for a healthier dessert)
  • 3/4 cup flour (whole wheat for healthier version)
  • 1 cup oatmeal (don't use quick oats for a healthier version)
  • 1.5 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Peel, core and slice the apples
  3. Slice the butter into about 1/2 inch slices
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except for the apples
  5. Cut butter into the other ingredients or just put your hands into the mixture and squeeze the butter into small pellets with the dry ingredients. Eventually the topping will combine well.
  6. Layer the sliced apple pieces on the bottom of an 9x13 pan
  7. Sprinkle the topping over the apples
  8. Place into oven for 45 minutes
  9. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream

Monday, October 8, 2012

Old fashioned applesauce

This is a food mill
This is the season where it's apple everything! Apple crisp, applesauce, apple pie, you name it. A few weeks ago, I went apple picking with my mom and aunt. We bought some cortland, fuji, and MacIntosh apples. It was fun and took quite a while picking 3 half bushels of each! So far, I have made two apple crisps (recipe to come later) and applesauce. I got quite excited because recently my mother-in-law gave me her old food mill. I had never seen anything like it before and when we made applesauce together, I loved the process much better than the other way which includes peeling and coring apples before cooking them. So, this is the process of how to make applesauce using a food mill. The benefit of using a food mill is you get more nutrition out of the apples since you cook the apples with their skins on.
Use about 8-10 apples which yields about 6 cups of applesauce
 Step 1: Take a large pot and fill the bottom with water. Take care to cover just the bottom of the pot with water about 1/4 inch deep. Put the pot over low heat.

Step 2: Meanwhile, quarter 8-10 apples leaving the skins on and the cores inside.
Step 2: quartered apples
 Step 3: Add the quartered apples to the pot and cover. Allow to cook for approximately 15-20 minutes. The water should be boiling at the bottom. You will notice the water amount increasing from the apples. When the majority of the apple has separated from the skins, you are ready to use your food mill.
This pot of apples is ready to start using the food mill
Step 4: Add the apples to the food mill and place over a bowl to catch the applesauce. Crank the handle clockwise. When it seems the apples are sticking and need to get moved, crank counter clockwise. When the only stuff left in the food mill are apple peels and apple seeds, dump them in the garbage and add more cooked apples to the food mill. Continue this process until all of the cooked apples have been turned into applesauce.

Step 4: apples inside the food mill over a bowl
Collecting the apple peels on top of the blade. You can begin to see the applesauce in the bowl at the bottom.

Completed bowl of applesauce: 8-10 apples yield approximately 6 cups of applesauce

Delicious bowl of applesauce topped with cinnamon
You can add some cinnamon to your tasting. I don't think sugar is necessary with the food mill. Some people tend to add some lemon juice to prevent the applesauce from turning an unappetizing flavor, but I don't do this.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Vegetarian Jumbalaya

This recipe came to me by way of pinterest, the new, cool way to find recipes! I changed up only a few ingredients to make this a pre-diabetic friendly recipe for my mom. The original comes from this blogger here. I think the recipe was good for my mom because she does not like spicy food. If I were making this for my husband, I would up the chili powder to make it spicier. The picture you are seeing is my mom's beautiful handiwork. She made this recipe all on her own (and for any new cooks out there, that's telling you that you could do it, too!)


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4-5 okra stalks, cleaned and chopped OR one cup frozen okra
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (might I recommend Full Circle Organic Vegetable broth - it is more expensive than regular broth, but it has significantly less sodium than other vegetable broths - 570 mg for 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (up this if you like spicy!)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Parsley, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet. Add onion, pepper, carrot, celery, garlic, and fresh okra and cook for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  2. Combine all remaining ingredients in a large casserole dish. Cover and cook for about 45 -60 minutes, or until all rice is cooked and broth is absorbed.