Good Deed: Creative Food

Photo credit: Pinterest
Late last month, two couples came over to see my mum. They had a major event coming up, three-in-one actually: their wedding anniversaries and the husbands' school alumni hosting. All on the same day.

 They wanted to cook and host the alumni meeting at the house, and needed permission to do so. They also wanted the food to be memorable. I listened as they discussed the menu, and it included cole slaw.

Now cole slaw in Nigeria is boring. Most usually it's chopped up cabbage leaves and carrots with cucumber and lots of mayo slathered on it. I just had to suggest something more creative.

Why not use a juliene peeler this time? I asked. It would definitely give a new twist to the normal salad recipe. They did not understand what I meant, so I went on Pinterest and found a few pics to show them. They got excited before they realized they didn't have the peeler at home.

 I have been looking for a good deed to do for a while now so I told them not to worry. I went online and ordered one each for them. I took it to them when it arrived, and demonstrated how to use it. They were extremely grateful and happy.

 The food was a success and I was glad I had a good deed 'under my belt'.

We Have An Elderberry Tree…

…so I made blackberry and elderberry jam! If there are any other nutters out there and you have a ton of time to spare, then this one is for you! My neighbour and Google enlightened me this year, that the massive tree we have in the garden is, in fact, an elderberry tree. By the…

The post We Have An Elderberry Tree… appeared first on Isa's.

Three Yummy Breakfast Smoothies

Breakfast smoothies have become part of my staples. They’re quick and easy to make in a blender and don’t need a lot of ingredients. Plus, they’re deliciously yummy and satisfying. So I thought I’d share three of the ones I do most, depending on what I feel like having in the morning. The mocha and…

The post Three Yummy Breakfast Smoothies appeared first on Isa's.

Sinking in tradition, with a Glass of Mursik.

mursik

Mursik is sour milk with a sharp almost bitter taste popular among the Kalenjin community. To the newbies mursik may look “dirty” until they get a good taste of the beverage.

When hit on the palate by the sweet crispy flavor most overlook the “dirt”, which is actually a herb that is burnt and ground to charcoal powder and blended in the milk during fermentation. The milk is typically served from colorful gourds or sotet, a tradition that has fast been elevated to the national psyche as a ritual in honoring Kalenjin heroes and athletes for astounding achievements.

Due to widespread awareness on hygiene standards and changes in lifestyles, pasteurization of milk as a first step is requisite. Earlier on direct milking was done into a treated gourd then the milk would be mixed with blood and stored in a cool place to ripen.

Fresh boiled milk is covered to avoid contamination and allowed to cool down before pouring into a treated sotet. The sotet is then corked tightly with a treated lid and stored in a cool place for several days, usually three but can be up to one week, to allow it to ripen.

New and old gourds are first cleaned and left to dry in the sun for a few days. Cleaning is done using bow shaped branches of palm trees or sosiot whose edges have been pounded until they become brush-like. The inner linings of new gourds and the coating of previous milk stored in old gourds are removed to prevent passing bitter taste to mursik.

Treating the sotet is the hard part and requires extreme care and skill. The skill is passed from generation to another.  Cassia didymobotrya (acacia) or sertwet is the preferred tree for imparting preservative and aromatic effect to milk. The sertwet herb added to the milk helps in quick fermentation and has medicinal value.

Other popular ones include simotwet and wattle but Senetwet is by far the most commonly used because of its availability. Burning embers of sticks from the tree branches are put inside the clean dry sotet and shaken vigorously to drop the charcoal formed and to avoid burning the gourd.

Using the iitet, a tool used as a mortar in many mursik preparation sessions, the embers are methodically pressed and ground against the wall of the sotet in a circular in and out motion of the hand, an action described as suutet. This action is repeated until the charcoal powder is evenly distributed on the walls of the gourd. Excess and large particles of charcoal are discarded and the gourd is allowed to cool down. The sotet is now ready for the freshly boiled cool milk.

The gourd can be filled in one or several portions depending on availability of milk. One portion filling is however the most preferred because it avoids many problems related to milk quality, flavor and exposing to harmful bacteria.

Serving mursik

serving

Shake the sotet to stir the mursik into fine sour milk with smooth and uniform consistency.  White globules of butter occasionally float at the top of the gourd when milk is ripe. A good ripe sotet should produce a popping sound upon tapping the lid, allowing excess air to escape. Mursik can be taken on its own or served as a supplement cold with hot ugali.

Mursik has been around for the last 300 years as a traditional method of preserving excess milk. Popularity of mursik has surpassed all the other versions of sour milk and has become part of the national heritage.

The growing market for traditional foods puts mursik as one of the products that can be harnessed and value added to fetch stable income for the producers.  Issues on quality and acceptability of the “charcoal” by a wide range of consumers can be sorted out.

If you happen to be in Kalenjin land, you have to follow my footsteps, sink in this tradition with a glass of Mursik.


A (Foodie) Weekend in Brighton

My mum pointed out the other day that whenever I go to a place, I find a nice (sometimes unusual) restaurant, some new snacks, dessert places and what not. Basically, I find food and I like to experience new places through food, culture and people. I think it can be magical to fill your belly…

The post A (Foodie) Weekend in Brighton appeared first on Isa's.