Monday, August 23, 2010

the white on rice

After eating out for every meal as a group of 43+, I finally cooked a meal for myself last night! I cooked up some of that brown rice with dried mushrooms and some carrot and onion. I soaked the rice overnight before cooking (as per usual) but when I went to bring the water to a boil I noticed that most of the "brown" part of the rice had fallen off and tinted the soaking water. After cooking and eating the rice, I have come to the conclusion that it is just white rice with brown magic marker on top. I'm only kidding (I hope) but this definitely is not normal brown rice and I can't seem to find it anywhere!!! I don't understand why a. it is so hard to find brown rice and b. why it is more expensive if is actually less processed than white?! I came across this article that describes brown rice vs white rice from an environmental and health perspective. Everything here appears to be the least nutritious version, yet more expensive and environmentally damaging.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

wait, am I actually in Africa?!?

Today we had more orientation stuff. One of our professors, Nat Amarteifo, (who used to be the mayor of ghana!) told us a bit about the history of Ghana and then we went on a bus tour of the city. They took us through Jamestown, which is one of the poorer parts of the region, and it was really sad to see. The houses were literally one room boxes made out concrete with tin roofs held in place with rocks. There were people bathing in dirty water holes and emaciated goats everywhere! Definitely not at all like the area we are staying in, and seeing this way of life made me appreciate everything I have back in New York so much. Regardless of their horrible living situations, all the Ghanaians waved and smiled at us through the bus window. They would crowd around the bus and try and get us to buy stuff from them by shoving like, bracelets and crazy sculptures in our face and grabbing our hands. I’m thinking it wont be as intense when I am no longer traveling with 42 other (mostly) white American kids...

After the tour we went for lunch to this place called Frankies and they had hummus!!! Which they spell it "homos" (and when I told this to my mom via email, she wrote back asking if they had “lesbos” on the menus as well. haha mom!) I freaked out! It tasted so good and I was so happy to have protein/ anything besides white rice!

Dinner was at Sunshine Salads in Osu (they have a branch in Lebone which I’m sure I will try very soon as our meal plan covers dinner there on Tuesdays and Thursdays). I had salad (!!) a noodle dish, yellow rice and this amazing spicy, mushroom-veggie-gravy-saucy stuff. They also brought out some veggie somosas that they has left over and it was the most amazing somosa everrrr! Hints of cinnamon and cumin mmmhhmm mmm! I think I’m going to try and steer clear of deep fried foods from now on though. I feel like all the meals I have eaten here are really heavy and we’ve been shuttled around on a bus everyday. Not walking + heavy foods = blaahh.

organic brown rice!! yeee :)

After we finished eating, my friend Kate and I ventured out to find some groceries to bring back to the house. The school stocked our kitchen with a few basics like toast, crackers, and lots of juice J but I realized that because it is going to be a challenge to find protein in many of my meals (why does everyone think that vegans only eat vegetables!?!) I bought a banana (plantain? I shall find out…) at a stand for 40 pesewas. We also checked out Qwick Pik, pretty much a mini mart, and I found organic brown rice for c4.40**sigh of relief** There is no official certification symbol anywhere on the label, so I’m gonna have to trust Kiki’s on this one…I’m going to chop up my banana (or plantain, still dunno) and freeze is so I can make a hemp protein smoothie tomorrow!! Yummm. I’m so exhausted and have to wake up at 7am, yet again.

P.S. For my class The Art of Travel I have to write a blog post on varying aspects of my semester abroad in Ghana. You can read those entries over here.


Today (ok, so yesterday, but the internet wasn't working then, something I will be getting used to) was my first day in Ghana! First we went to the academic center. It was pretty basic, two classrooms, a library, photo printing room and a kitchen. We sat outside and were introduced to the program coordinator, the teachers, security guards etc… After sitting through that for a few hours, we went to lunch at Headlines Hospitality. It was served buffet style outside. They served us the most amazing juice before our meal. I had watermelon juice and it may have been the most delicious thing I’ve ever had. They’re really into juice in Ghana (maybe because the water is so bad??) There was so much food! A bunch of different rice dishes; plain white rice, and “yellow rice” which obtains that color from the spices it is cooked in, not artificial coloring, they assured us. There were also rice balls, made from rice that is soaked for days, and then pounded and cooked so that it turns into dough. You are supposed to rip off a piece and use it to scoop up soup, but the peanut soup had chicken in it so I ate mine with this salsa-ish stuff. However, they ran out of the normal rice balls and only had this one kind that is prepared differently, and it tasted a little fermented so I only had a bite or two. In addition to yellow rice, I had some spinach-mushroom stew that was sooo good and spicy and some simply sautéed vegetables and my new favorite thing….fried plantains!! Holy crap so good! Not at all like the ones I’ve had in the US. No, these were super sweet and practically melted in my mouth!

After some representatives from the phone store came and sold us some phones. I got a Nokia, which makes me nostalgic because it is just like my first cell phone, only a bit thinner. This took a really long time some how (there were 43 of us!) and by the time we got back to the dorm I had just enough time to body shower (which I really needed) before dinner.

This is where I live. whaaaa!?! (via NYU)

For our group dinner, we went to Tante Marie, which is where our meal plan provides dinner Monday, Wednesday and Friday. They serve African food from different regions and tonight it was Ghanaian. They had salad (!!!) really good rice, sautéed vegetables which a really yummy spicy red sauce and more fried plantains!! I wish I took more of the fried plantains but they were cut into little pieces and looked like home fries which I don’t really like, so ya, I wish I ate more of those but I’m sure there will be many more plantains to come. I am so tired from walking around in this heat and I think my body is still adjusting from traveling so much the past few days.

Tante Matie (via NYU)

The trip over here wasn’t half as bad as I expected. On the flight from New York to London I sat next to this adorable old British man. Only he wouldn’t stop talking and we was telling me about how he was two-time cancer survivor and his wife is so sick etc etc so I couldn’t really cut him off without sounding like a bitch. When I finally got to my house (or should I say palace!!!) I just unpacked and fell asleep! Mmm sleep sounds good right now! I think I’m going to read the trashy magazines I have left over from the airport and do just that!

goodbye prezzy, adorably decorated by my mom. awww

Thursday, August 12, 2010

well, i was huuuungry

when my friend melissa and i lived on 8th street and avenue c together (aka loisaida !!) there were many nights when we opted to stay in and watch movies with snacks and central air conditioning rather than drag ourselves out to a hot, sketchy bar and get hit on by hot , sketchy dudes. one night we made this crazy vegan-pesto-whole wheat-pizza. well, we were huuungry.
(if you don't get my reference, watch this video immediately. it's hilaaaarious!)

i never make the same pizza twice so this recipe is very loosey-goosey 
ingredients you will knead (pahaha i crack myself up sometimes)
1. pizza dough (i've been lazy and using trader joe's whole wheat, but there are so many easy recipes)

2. pizza "base" (the one pictured bellow is an adzuki bean-based pesto that i made because i shit ton of them and also because pine nuts are really expensive right now! there are sooo many different options to choose from like:
-classic tomato sauce either with veggies on top or, although i've never tried this before because i'm not the biggest fan of food replacements, you can sprinkle some vegan cheese on top. i've heard really good things about daiya)
-go mexican theme by using refried beans and then top with avocado, pico de gayo, corn, jalapeno and bell peppers, taco seasoning...ayos mios!
-take a Mediterranean twist with a hummus base topped with mushrooms, kalamata olives, parsley or whateva floats yr boat.

3. toppings!! i kinda covered this already, but ya you can pretty much use what you like/ have on hand. i normally chop up some veggies and saute them in garlic and olive oil so that they're nice and cooked through to avoid burning the crust. another tip is to slice them very thin.
some optional additions:
-nutritional yeast (adds a nice cheezy flava and is packed with vitamin b12, which is hard to find in a vegan diet)
-pan-toasted nuts
-fresh or dried herbs
-dried chili pepper flakes

when your dough is all kneaded and set a side to rise, roll it out on a floured surface and spread your pizza base on nice n thick.

whole wheat crust with adzuki bean pesto and sprinkled with nutritional yeast

add the topping of your choice, here we used sauted veggies
for the left side of the pizza we used leftover veggies we had from take-out!

next, pop the whole thing in the oven and bake according to the instructions on the package (about 10 minutes, or longer if you like it extra crispy!) then, the hard part; letting it cool off before digging in (this is important because it allows the crust to get, well, crusty) may i suggest doing this by an open window (although i think its counter-productive when it's the same temp as your oven outside...but it makes me feel domestic :)
everyone on avenue C can totally smell this thing from the forth floor

i think you know what to do next! mmm i can't wait to make this again. i wanna try making a mexi-cali pizza next time. this is also the perfect dish to make for a non-vegan dinner party (melissa is an omnivore, and two people totally count as a dinner party!) oh, did i mention the left overs freeze really well?

**Linky-Links** 8/12

  • 6 ways to love yourself through food
  • Peep This: Eco-Fashion: Going Green @ The Museum at FIT (I'm going to be really sad if I don't get to see this show before I leave!)
  • Nothing combines fashion and art like the Gulf Oil Spill — at least, according to Vogue Italy’s latest photo shoot.

Monday, August 9, 2010

sharing is caring

i can't remember where i found this poem, but it's full of veggie-puns so obviously i really like it.

Do you carrot all for me?
My heart beets for you.
With you turnip nose
And your radish face,
You are a peach.
If we cantaloupe,
Lettuce marry.
Weed make a swell pear.