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About Al

Born and bred in Germany, growing up in the years following WW II was not easy for most families. People had to rely on their resourcefulness to make ends meet. So, naturally, everyone who was lucky enough to have the tiniest bit of bare ground or the luxury of a balcony, kept a few chickens and rabbits! At the same time vegetables of all descriptions were raised for home consumption.
Likewise, it was not easy to just go to a store to buy clothes and other home essentials, not only for financial reasons but because things were not available!

So from a very young age I watched my grandmother and mother knitting socks and stockings, sweaters and cardigans. They darned and patched holes, used only needle and thread to create new garments from worn-out bed sheets. Using hammer and screwdriver, axe and saw was child's play for them.

As soon as my grandmother deemed me old enough I was taught the needle arts, including embroidery and darning and everything else in between. At that time I had attained the mature age of five years. When I was eight years old crochet work and knitting were everyday activities!.

But I was only 4 when my love for growing things developed. Watching mum or grandma putting in seeds for rows of carrots or cabbage I wanted to have my very own little seedbed, so I was given some flower seeds to do with as I pleased.  I raked my little plot, made rows in it, put in my seeds and covered them and finished by watering. Then I squatted in front of my flowerbed . After a long while my grandma called me from the kitchen window and asked what I was doing. "Waiting for my flowers to grow!" I answered. I am still like that!

Over the years I became interested in various crafts like collage, macramee, machine sewing, string art and many more. Painting was taught at school but everything else I taught myself. That was the time before computers. Books were the learning tools then and I think I must be the original bookworm, having read more than 1500 books at the age of 15.

Apart from that I was also taught cooking and baking by my grandmother. I still have some of her cookbooks which by now are well over a 100 years old.

All this knowledge came in very handy when I got married and followed my husband to his country, Nigeria. My husband, being the jealous type, didn't fancy my going out to work, not even at the university. So I became a stay-at-home mum, raising the children and developing my business at the same time. For years I created fashion for children and adults, eventually only making wedding gowns. That brought another challenge! Often brides wanted special jewellery to match their gowns.. So naturally I taught myself how to! You see, that way learning never stops.

So in my blog I have put together the things I am most passionate about and which I hope my readers will enjoy!


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Baked Akara!

Akara in Yoruba and Kose in Hausa, these deep fried bean cakes are enjoyed all over Nigeria. Traditionally they are made from dried black-eyed beans or honey beans, soaked overnight and skins removed. Then they are put through a grinder with onion, salt, tatashe ( a large type of hot pepper) and maybe one or two other ingredients, depending on locality. Then oil is heated in a large basin and the mixture is dropped in by the spoonful, turned over once or twice and fried until golden brown. When done they are drained on newspaper which does take up the excess oil to a certain extent. Finally wrapped in fresh newspaper the akara are sold to the waiting customer.
For a long time I was racking my brain how to recreate the deliciousness of akara without the process of deep frying, because any food saturated with fat is an absolute taboo for anyone with heart problems, high cholesterol and/or diabetes. So a healthy version was needed, especially since beans are highly recommended for anyon…

Happy Healthy New Year!

Now we have left Christmas and overindulgence behind and are well into the new year, which we hope will be a prosperous and healthy one for everyone.

Unfortunately many have a health challenge like diabetes which puts serious restrictions on what to eat. Good cookbooks are available that make it a lot easier to plan meals, but to re-create favourite dishes of family members takes a lot of research and experimentation!

One of those favourites in our home is pancakes with all possible variations. Today I will show you one of them: Potato pancakes originally, now called coco yam pancakes. The change was necessary because coco yam is lower on the glycaemic index than potatoes, therefore better for diabetics but just as delicious!

You will need:
1 medium sized coco yam (malanga coco)
1 small onion
1 egg
1 heaped tbsp wholemeal flour ( wholewheat )
a pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
about 1/2 cup water
vegetable oil for frying

Peel and finely grate the coco yam and onion in…

More Baked Akara!

After making a baked version of akara with yeast I experimented using baking powder instead. For the first attempt I only substituted the yeast (see previous post) with 1 tsp baking powder. The mixture baked well and was tasty but a little dry. So I decided to reduce the amount of water and add egg instead. It worked!

Since I was expecting a few guests I decided to make a double portion to surprise them. Here is the recipe which will yield two dozen beancakes:

3 cups bean flour
2 cups water maximum
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 large onion
1 large tatase or 2 scotch bonnet peppers
4 Tbsp olive oil or any other good quality vegetable oil

Grease 2 muffin tins lightly and set aside.
Preheat oven to 180C or gas 4
Finely chop onion and peppers, removing seeds. Heat oil in a small pan and saute onion and pepper for a few minutes on medium heat until onions become translucent and the oil turns red from the pepper. Turn off heat and allow to cool a li…