Nigerian Jollof Rice

One of the most difficult things about being a new wife in a culture that is not your own is the eternal struggle of trying to figure out how to feed my husband without breaking the bank. There are a great number of Nigerian/African restaurants in and around the New York City area. However, it is not wise or even healthy to eat outside of the home frequently. To save money, I am trying to learn how to make the Nigerian dishes that my husband loves for those days when he just wants a taste of home.

So recently I spent some time with my mother-in-law in the kitchen to learn how to make correct Nigerian Jollof Rice. For those of you who do not know, Jollof Rice is a staple spicy and flavorful dish frequently served in West Africa. There are so many “war stories” around West African about who make the best version of Jollof Rice. Each country has it’s own flavor (pun intended) and I am always excited to taste the differences in rice.

With all that said, Jollof rice is sacred. You will be judged fiercely by the way you make this rice. It needs to have spice and flavor. Too much greasy is frowned upon. No one will fault you if it’s a little burnt on the bottom.

Back to the my own Jollof –

I wish I could share all the jokes Mommy made towards me in jest. From the way I cut tomatoes and onions to my hesitation with stirring rice while it cooked, it was a fun time.  Here is a video I created for the YouTube channel showing me actually cooking Jollof Rice from start to finish.

Complete List of the Ingredients used in the video:

(6) cups of parboiled rice

(2) onions

(2) Tatashe (big red bell peppers)

(4) Tomatoes (plum size)

(5) habanero peppers

(5) pices of garlic

(1) cup of vegetable oil

(1) tablespoon of Butter

(2) Maggi Seasoning Cubes

Goya Sazon Seasoning (not necessary but we like it)

All Purpose Adobo Seasoning (not necessary but we enjoy it)

4 pinches of Ground Nutmeg

4 pinches of Curry Powder

¼ cup of Thyme

2 pinches Garlic Power (we already used fresh garlic cloves earlier)

2 pinches of salt (remember we use maggi seasoning and chicken stock)

3-4 Bay Leaves

2-3 cups of Stock of your choice – Chicken, Beef, etc.

**We were missing our Tomato Paste, but ordinarily would have 3 oz of Tomato paste to fry with onions before we add the blending peppers.

Try it and let me know how it turned out for you.

Enjoy!

We Made it!

Finally. We made it to church yesterday for the first time in weeks — as a whole family. I know this isn’t exactly groundbreaking news, but work with me people. My husband claimed it on Friday night. My daughter was happy to get out of the house. My son slept very well through the service. And I actually got a chance to hear the word – LIVE. And we didn’t miss praise and worship.

I’m grateful.

Generations

I was listening to Bishop TD Jakes during my commute on Monday morning when he was preaching about Generations. He basically explained that sometimes our adversity is not just about us. It’s about how God is preparing for the generations to come. Can I be a bit selfish for a minute? A little human for a bit?

Everyone is talking about the generations to come — the politicians, Beyoncé and Jay-Z, even the church!

I heard my myself saying during the sermon, but I’m praying for relief with _____ right now. Not for my children’s children! **Hands on Hip**

Now, that I got that out of my system… I get it. Bishop says God is not worried about an incident we are trying to navigate at work. He is God. He knows about the incident but needs us to go through it for the benefit of our unborn (insert familial title).

How selfish is it to think that our problems are just about us. I’m learning that my season of distress may help my children learn a valuable lesson but my fear is that they will be somehow damaged as a result of it. But God knows!

His grace is sufficient for me.

What I don’t know, God does!

Wow.

I just hope my great-grandchildren will show appreciation and gratitude for the struggle, as I appreciate everyone who has come before me.

Jumping the Broom

This featured photograph is in the top 5 of my favorite wedding photos. I always wanted to “Jump the Broom” when I got married. But I never knew the one God kept for me would be African. Why would an African man want to Jump the Broom?

Wedding Planning causes so many unnecessary disputes for newly engaged couples. So when it came to the Broom subject, I just had to prepare for a showdown like any lawyer would, right? Well. Not really! In my researching the origins of Jumping the Broom, I learned a ton of information about marriage rituals in other countries and how they also use the Broom.

Apparently, jumping the broom was not a custom of slavery, but it is a part of African culture that survived American slavery. To be specific, Ghanaians used brooms. According to the African American Registry, brooms were waved over the heads of marrying couples to ward off spirits. The couple would often but not always jump over the broom at the end of the ceremony. Jumping over the broom symbolized the wife’s commitment or willingness to clean the courtyard of the new home she had joined. Furthermore, it expressed her overall commitment to the house. It also represented the determination of who ran the household. Whoever jumped highest over the broom was the decision maker of the household (usually the man).”

However the most interesting part of the history is that the broom in Asante and other Akan cultures also held spiritual value and symbolized sweeping away past wrongs or removing evil spirits. I’d like to think that Lekan and I jumping the Broom symbolized forgiveness towards an Institution — slavery — that might have kept us from joining as husband and wife. But by the Grace of God, here we are. We literally jumped over the pain of the past wrong doings of slave traders and sovereigns to be spiritually re-connected with one another.

Sit with that for a minute.

I was thinking of Proverbs 31 after my devotions the other night and recalled the history of the Broom and how it reinforces what the Bible says about a virtuous woman. The Bible essentially challenges women to be the Queen of the Castle – always keeping an eye on the household. We are charged with being the spiritual protectors of our home from literally sweeping away evil spirits to supporting and anticipating the needs of our husbands to improve his standing in the community.

To be honest, my feet were killing me after the wedding ceremony. So I’d say my husband had an unfair advantage to jumping higher than me. I was just trying to land with out stumbling.

Clearly, we don’t need to jump higher over the broom into the land of matrimony to show who runs the household. By being a Wife, our role is God ordained.

Take care!

Sister Friends

I thank God for my sister friends. The ones that hold the phone. The ones that understand. The ones who can finish the sentence and hold your hand. The ones who can relate. The sister who knows you and truly knew you before you knew yourself. Thank God for them.

Girl yes. Uh huh. Exactly. And you know it. Mmmm hm. Girl. I know. For real? Well look at that.

Reassuring love. Unconditional love. Supportive love. Affirming love. Reminiscent love. Crazy talk love. Unfiltered love. Warm love. Enlightening love. Hold-You-Close love. Biological love. Philosophical love. Remarkable love. Generous love. Understanding love. Committed love. Forgiving love. Sacrificial love. Heard it all before love but will listen again love.

I adore you. I love you. I thank God for you. What would I do without you. Thank you. Celebrate you. Surprise you. Reciprocate love to you. Hear you. Love you too.

I just can’t thank you enough.