Friday, 27 January 2012

SugarHiGh: Red velvet cake

Been thinking of what to bake for Vals day and I settled on Red velvet cake...a little cliched because it's red but it ticks all the boxes!( it was either that or Strawberry champagne cupcakes, but saving that for a significant other,lol)
 Had loads of fun making a batch and hope to get the chance to make some more this weekend.
I've been looking for the perfect red food colouring for that festive red colour and not dark pink or brown (yes, brown!). I've tried the brands I could get my hands on around here:
Dr Oetker's expensive 'Natural red' came out as brown -_____- 
Sugarflair's Christmas red wasn't festive enough for me. It's ok for small quantities though.

The Wilton Christmas red wasn't bad.

Moirs was more pink than red

* drum roll!!!* my perfect Red! 

and I've finally found had to come all the way from the States! Haven't found any in Ghana yet.

I love the perfect glossy red colour that it gives the cake!

I'm happy now. 

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

You Lazy (Intellectual) African Scum!

(had to repost this) let this INSPIRE you to ACT!

So I got this in my email this morning…

They call the Third World the lazy man’s purview; the sluggishly slothful and languorous prefecture. In this realm people are sleepy, dreamy, torpid, lethargic, and therefore indigent—totally penniless, needy, destitute, poverty-stricken, disfavored, and impoverished. In this demesne, as they call it, there are hardly any discoveries, inventions, and innovations. Africa is the trailblazer. Some still call it “the dark continent” for the light that flickers under the tunnel is not that of hope, but an approaching train. And because countless keep waiting in the way of the train, millions die and many more remain decapitated by the day.
“It’s amazing how you all sit there and watch yourselves die,” the man next to me said. “Get up and do something about it.”
Brawny, fully bald-headed, with intense, steely eyes, he was as cold as they come. When I first discovered I was going to spend my New Year’s Eve next to him on a non-stop JetBlue flight from Los Angeles to Boston I was angst-ridden. I associate marble-shaven Caucasians with iconoclastic skin-heads, most of who are racist.
“My name is Walter,” he extended his hand as soon as I settled in my seat.
I told him mine with a precautious smile.
“Where are you from?” he asked.
“Zambia!” he exclaimed, “Kaunda’s country.”
“Yes,” I said, “Now Sata’s.”
“But of course,” he responded. “You just elected King Cobra as your president.”
My face lit up at the mention of Sata’s moniker. Walter smiled, and in those cold eyes I saw an amenable fellow, one of those American highbrows who shuttle between Africa and the U.S.
“I spent three years in Zambia in the 1980s,” he continued. “I wined and dined with Luke Mwananshiku, Willa Mungomba, Dr. Siteke Mwale, and many other highly intelligent Zambians.” He lowered his voice. “I was part of the IMF group that came to rip you guys off.” He smirked. “Your government put me in a million dollar mansion overlooking a shanty called Kalingalinga. From my patio I saw it all—the rich and the poor, the ailing, the dead, and the healthy.”
“Are you still with the IMF?” I asked.
“I have since moved to yet another group with similar intentions. In the next few months my colleagues and I will be in Lusaka to hypnotize the cobra. I work for the broker that has acquired a chunk of your debt. Your government owes not the World Bank, but us millions of dollars. We’ll be in Lusaka to offer your president a couple of millions and fly back with a check twenty times greater.”
“No, you won’t,” I said. “King Cobra is incorruptible. He is …”
He was laughing. “Says who? Give me an African president, just one, who has not fallen for the carrot and stick.”
Quett Masire’s name popped up.
“Oh, him, well, we never got to him because he turned down the IMF and the World Bank. It was perhaps the smartest thing for him to do.”
At midnight we were airborne. The captain wished us a happy 2012 and urged us to watch the fireworks across Los Angeles.
“Isn’t that beautiful,” Walter said looking down.
From my middle seat, I took a glance and nodded admirably.
“That’s white man’s country,” he said. “We came here on Mayflower and turned Indian land into a paradise and now the most powerful nation on earth. We discovered the bulb, and built this aircraft to fly us to pleasure resorts like Lake Zambia.”
I grinned. “There is no Lake Zambia.”
He curled his lips into a smug smile. “That’s what we call your country. You guys are as stagnant as the water in the lake. We come in with our large boats and fish your minerals and your wildlife and leave morsels—crumbs. That’s your staple food, crumbs. That corn-meal you eat, that’s crumbs, the small Tilapia fish you call Kapenta is crumbs. We the Bwanas (whites) take the cat fish. I am the Bwana and you are the Muntu. I get what I want and you get what you deserve, crumbs. That’s what lazy people get—Zambians, Africans, the entire Third World.”
The smile vanished from my face.
“I see you are getting pissed off,” Walter said and lowered his voice. “You are thinking this Bwana is a racist. That’s how most Zambians respond when I tell them the truth. They go ballistic. Okay. Let’s for a moment put our skin pigmentations, this black and white crap, aside. Tell me, my friend, what is the difference between you and me?”
“There’s no difference.”
“Absolutely none,” he exclaimed. “Scientists in the Human Genome Project have proved that. It took them thirteen years to determine the complete sequence of the three billion DNA subunits. After they
were all done it was clear that 99.9% nucleotide bases were exactly the same in you and me. We are the same people. All white, Asian, Latino, and black people on this aircraft are the same.”
I gladly nodded.
“And yet I feel superior,” he smiled fatalistically. “Every white person on this plane feels superior to a black person. The white guy who picks up garbage, the homeless white trash on drugs, feels superior to you no matter his status or education. I can pick up a nincompoop from the New York streets, clean him up, and take him to Lusaka and you all be crowding around him chanting muzungu, muzungu and yet he’s a riffraff. Tell me why my angry friend.”
For a moment I was wordless.
“Please don’t blame it on slavery like the African Americans do, or colonialism, or some psychological impact or some kind of stigmatization. And don’t give me the brainwash poppycock. Give me a better answer.”
I was thinking.
He continued. “Excuse what I am about to say. Please do not take offense.”
I felt a slap of blood rush to my head and prepared for the worst.
“You my friend flying with me and all your kind are lazy,” he said. “When you rest your head on the pillow you don’t dream big. You and other so-called African intellectuals are damn lazy, each one of you. It is you, and not those poor starving people, who is the reason Africa is in such a deplorable state.”
“That’s not a nice thing to say,” I protested.
He was implacable. “Oh yes it is and I will say it again, you are lazy. Poor and uneducated Africans are the most hardworking people on earth. I saw them in the Lusaka markets and on the street selling merchandise. I saw them in villages toiling away. I saw women on Kafue Road crushing stones for sell and I wept. I said to myself where are the Zambian intellectuals? Are the Zambian engineers so imperceptive they cannot invent a simple stone crusher, or a simple water filter to purify well water for those poor villagers? Are you telling me that after thirty-seven years of independence your university school of engineering has not produced a scientist or an engineer who can make simple small machines for mass use? What is the school there for?”
I held my breath.
“Do you know where I found your intellectuals? They were in bars quaffing. They were at the Lusaka Golf Club, Lusaka Central Club, Lusaka Playhouse, and Lusaka Flying Club. I saw with my own eyes a bunch of alcoholic graduates. Zambian intellectuals work from eight to five and spend the evening drinking. We don’t. We reserve the evening for brainstorming.”
He looked me in the eye.
“And you flying to Boston and all of you Zambians in the Diaspora are just as lazy and apathetic to your country. You don’t care about your country and yet your very own parents, brothers and sisters are in Mtendere, Chawama, and in villages, all of them living in squalor. Many have died or are dying of neglect by you. They are dying of AIDS because you cannot come up with your own cure. You are here calling yourselves graduates, researchers and scientists and are fast at articulating your credentials once asked—oh, I have a PhD in this and that—PhD my foot!”
I was deflated.
“Wake up you all!” he exclaimed, attracting the attention of nearby passengers. “You should be busy lifting ideas, formulae, recipes, and diagrams from American manufacturing factories and sending them to your own factories. All those research findings and dissertation papers you compile should be your country’s treasure. Why do you think the Asians are a force to reckon with? They stole our ideas and turned them into their own. Look at Japan, China, India, just look at them.”
He paused. “The Bwana has spoken,” he said and grinned. “As long as you are dependent on my plane, I shall feel superior and you my friend shall remain inferior, how about that? The Chinese, Japanese, Indians, even Latinos are a notch better. You Africans are at the bottom of the totem pole.”
He tempered his voice. “Get over this white skin syndrome and begin to feel confident. Become innovative and make your own stuff for god’s sake.”
At 8 a.m. the plane touched down at Boston’s Logan International Airport. Walter reached for my hand.
“I know I was too strong, but I don’t give it a damn. I have been to Zambia and have seen too much poverty.” He pulled out a piece of paper and scribbled something. “Here, read this. It was written by a friend.”
He had written only the title: “Lords of Poverty.”
Thunderstruck, I had a sinking feeling. I watched Walter walk through the airport doors to a waiting car. He had left a huge dust devil twirling in my mind, stirring up sad memories of home. I could see Zambia’s literati—the cognoscente, intelligentsia, academics, highbrows, and scholars in the places he had mentioned guzzling and talking irrelevancies. I remembered some who have since passed—how they got the highest grades in mathematics and the sciences and attained the highest education on the planet. They had been to Harvard, Oxford, Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), only to leave us with not a single invention or discovery. I knew some by name and drunk with them at the Lusaka Playhouse and Central Sports.
Walter is right. It is true that since independence we have failed to nurture creativity and collective orientations. We as a nation lack a workhorse mentality and behave like 13 million civil servants dependent on a government pay cheque. We believe that development is generated 8-to-5 behind a desk wearing a tie with our degrees hanging on the wall. Such a working environment does not offer the opportunity for fellowship, the excitement of competition, and the spectacle of innovative rituals.
But the intelligentsia is not solely, or even mainly, to blame. The larger failure is due to political circumstances over which they have had little control. The past governments failed to create an environment of possibility that fosters camaraderie, rewards innovative ideas and encourages resilience. KK, Chiluba, Mwanawasa, and Banda embraced orthodox ideas and therefore failed to offer many opportunities for drawing outside the line.
I believe King Cobra’s reset has been cast in the same faculties as those of his predecessors. If today I told him that we can build our own car, he would throw me out.
“Naupena? Fuma apa.” (Are you mad? Get out of here)
Knowing well that King Cobra will not embody innovation at Walter’s level let’s begin to look for a technologically active-positive leader who can succeed him after a term or two. That way we can make our own stone crushers, water filters, water pumps, razor blades, and harvesters. Let’s dream big and make tractors, cars, and planes, or, like Walter said, forever remain inferior.
A fundamental transformation of our country from what is essentially non-innovative to a strategic superior African country requires a bold risk-taking educated leader with a triumphalist attitude and we have one in YOU. Don’t be highly strung and feel insulted by Walter. Take a moment and think about our country. Our journey from 1964 has been marked by tears. It has been an emotionally overwhelming experience. Each one of us has lost a loved one to poverty, hunger, and disease. The number of graves is catching up with the population. It’s time to change our political culture. It’s time for Zambian intellectuals to cultivate an active-positive progressive movement that will change our lives forever. Don’t be afraid or dispirited, rise to the challenge and salvage the remaining few of your beloved ones.
Field Ruwe is a US-based Zambian media practitioner and author. He is a PhD candidate with a B.A. in Mass Communication and Journalism, and an M.A. in History.

Mind Over Matter - I am Sin.

Mind Over Matter - I am Sin.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Admitting Failure...gracefully

I am a perfectionist of sorts, I always, stubbornly want to do my best- if my lazy self will actually bother to do something. You see I'm lazy, so when I decide (and painstakingly plan) to do something I want to do it so well that: 
a. I do not have to do it a second time, and 
b. it's fabulous at first instance (so I can go back to being lazy). 
I hate to fail. Failure irritates me. If I had my way I would bury all record of that incident, preferably with a superb, flawless sample of whatever it is, erasing all memories of previous attempts from all minds. I try until that 'otoolege' stage when everyone wonders what is wrong with me. If unsuccessful, I will wish to annihilate all evidence of the attempt so I can carry on my life with practised indifference toward that 'thing'. 
I do this with (real) friends too: since it is illegal to kill that person because relations have broken down, I can only try to bury the past record by replacing it with a better one. (Most will wonder why I am still bothering.) If all attempts fail, I will carry on with my life, practising indifference until it becomes my reality. 
I've realized I'm not spurred on to do 'better', (just) because of how much I want to hold on to that person/relationship or the value I attach to it, but I'm usually trying (in a desperate frenzy) so that I have not failed... I want to be the great life long friend, not the friend who faded away; That amazing girlfriend who stuck through it all, not one of the exes; the indispensable business partner who saved the business, not the one who bailed. I stick stubbornly to this 'plan' till even I can't remember why I'm trying so hard. 

I've also discovered that when you give people "too many chances they start playing you like they have 9 lives". This leads to disappointing 'results': I'm putting in 110%, they are putting in little or nothing; I'm trying harder and harder and only getting less and less. *sigh*
I am learning a new trick, (better late than never *talk to the hand smiley*) "how to be thankful for 'regrets' ". I think it's naive to think you'll go through life without making any mistakes or actions that you will regret, but depending on your attitude towards them it technically wont be a regret! I can't stop myself from feeling bad about giving up on certain things/people, that's just how I am because I've been made to feel really selfish about looking out for only myself...
* talking to self* You cannot win 'em all, try as hard as you might. You will lose some! The plan is not to hate yourself or beat yourself up for that. The plan is to forgive yourself; move on to better things, using the failure as a lesson... first-hand digg? Applicable to all failures and  disappointments in life: people, places, things, actions, reactions, purchases, non-purchases, risks... Everything! 

"we need to learn to love the flawed, imperfect things that we create and forgive ourselves for creating them. Regret doesn't remind us that  we did badly. It reminds us that we can do better"(well it should remind us that we can do better not that we did badly! so from now on it will)

ps. Achiaa and Ruthy, this is me being emo :) *yaaay!!!*

Sunday, 8 January 2012

"Forbidden food" and Cancerous oil

forgive the title, feeling dramatic :D )

I enjoy eating things that I am not 'supposed' to: 'Forbidden Food'. This is probably because when I was in primary school (and J.S.S) my parents did not allow me to eat "outside food".
I went to St Theresa's in North Kaneshie but we lived at Cantonments, where there was almost no chance that I would encounter any of the 'banned' foods without supervision, but at North Kaneshie the waakye, yam and tsofi; the rice in leaves, kenkey, banku, etc - all prepared under unknown conditions were in abundance - so I guess I understand their trepidation.
I remember looking sadly at my classmates polishing off waakye, littered with colourful 'accessories,' in leaves or wolfing down kenkey, fish and  other accompaniments, but never participating in the festivities. Immediately, the bowl of cornflakes or weetabix or scrambled eggs&toast or whatever I had eaten for  breakfast would pale in comparison, becoming decidedly dull and unpalatable. Soon enough (when I finally shook off the belief that my dad had eyes on me everywhere) I grew teeth and began to eat the forbidden foods with relish.
Fast forward to the present, my favourite forbidden food is that unnaturally yellow yam with the  dangerously red tsofi from Nsawam. I honestly dunno what's wrong with me because I can feel disease oozing into my blood stream whenever I eat it.
You're wondering why you care right?
In September last year I read a news story about China's struggle with recycled oil. The Chinese authorities were clamping furiously down on restaurants which were reusing their oil. I was concerned for a day or two until some juicy donuts (read as bofrot) allayed my fears.
Mrs A (watcher of all news channels and avid follower of all health studies) called my attention to a news item on GTV, Station of the Nation on reused oil and the risks that it poses to health. Awurade angua na ashie sei!!! proper Black gold!
One woman actually said she used the black oil to make shito for better flavour!! 0_o (Runs to Aunty V for shito making lessons)

I'm very bothered; the oil they fry kelewele in at Labone junction usually looks dark to me, but I assumed it was because it's dark outside when I buy it. Now, think of the fish, meat or egg you buy with your favourite waakye or kenkey or banku ( i think only the fufu eaters are safe..for now)...maybe even the shito!  95% of the time that the oil will be recycled, simply because oil is expensive.

Apparently, reusing oil in itself is not bad, it just has to be done properly. (But my people must "over do", so you know we've crossed that line right, lol) The oil becomes potentially hazardous when the fat in the oil becomes rancid, if it deteriorates further then the oil becomes potentially carcinogenic - i.e. can cause cancer.

Various oils have different points at which they start to decompose (smoke point) and this point is lowered by factors such as:
  •  foreign matter in the oil (think of batter, the spices used to flavour kelewele, koose, donuts, kakro, tatale, bits and pieces breaking off etc) ; 
  • salt (most sellers sell gloriously salty meat) ; 
  • the temperature to which the oil was heated (picture those blazing hot logs of wood someone is always struggling to position and how she tries to avoid the smoke);  
  • exposure to oxygen and light (oxygen + open air= unavoidable and once the food is fried in the afternoon or morning they would fall into this bracket, right? most do -______- ); 
  • the length of time the oil remains heated (Gosh, I don't want to think about this one) ; and 
  • the number of times the oil was re-used ( I can't bear this one either).

It becomes clear that most of the stuff street vendors sell is potentially dangerous and most probably don't even know it. And if they were told, would be reluctant at best, to mend their ways due to the expense involved.
I  know many returnees have a mental, at times written, check list of food they have to eat whenever they are back in Ghana, perhaps to reassert their 'Ghanaian-ness', and I think almost each and everyone of them is linked in one way or another to rancid, potentially carcinogenic oil. Your favourite guilty/fatty pleasure might be linked to it too, so don't think this is someone else's problem.
The easy way out will be to stay off the streets and stick to restaurants, office canteens, patisserie s and other swanky eating places, right...? Movenpick and co all the way then, lol. I would like to assume the big hotels or chains probably adhere to some international standards and wouldn't want to 'disgrace themselves'.
(But it never tastes the same! not the  'proper' taste anyway *sobs*. Maybe the rancid oil truly has some flavour -_____- )
picture credit: Facebook kelewele group

But  what standards are there? (i'm asking, I don't know)  and how are they being enforced? We can't exactly go round asking the local kelewele seller questions like 'how long has her oil been exposed to light and oxygen?'...well you can, if you fancy a dressing down.  What I do know is there's most definitely a lack of monitoring mechanisms or checks and balances. So, if you see the black oil and buy from there na ese woara but if you don't see how the food is prepared , how do you know it is safe???

Let's hope African 'germs' are still truly friendly and haven't met and learnt from their foreign counterparts yet.

Praying for a Man? You need "Super Grace"

I think this is kinda cute, and she did a wonderful job with the lyrics.

Lyrics to “Super Grace” - The Christian Version of Super Bass  Written and Performed by Raychel Manko.

This one is for the boys with the true religion.
In love with the Lord and done with sinnin’.
When he come up in the church he be praisin’ up.
Always tithes but he’s still savin’ up.
And he still. He real. He knows God’s will.
He don’t pop bottles, but still knows how to thrill.
He’s bold, has hope, and loves God’s folk.
He’s always in prayer and above reproach.
He’s a Jesus-loving man, man.
Trusting in God’s plan, plan.
Waiting for the band, band.
He’ll just hold my hand, hand.
That’s the kind of dude I was praying for.
And I’ll wait on the Lord until I know.

I said, excuse me. You’re a heck of a guy.
I mean, my, my, my, my, you’re like a Kappa Phi.
I mean, you’re Spirit-led, and you don’t even try.
You’re like as holy as the guys in Beta Upsilon Chi.


Oh! Yes, I did. Yes, I did.
Don’t even worry ‘bout who I is.
I’m like Proverbs 31, and in Christ I’m satisfied but…
Christian boys got my heart beat running away.
But I need to guard my heart so I’ll pray,
“God give me Your Hallelujah, Hallelujah grace.
God I need Your Hallelujah, Hallelujah grace.
Give me Your super grace.”
Hallelujah, Hallelujah (x2)
God, give me Your Hallelujah, Hallelujah grace.
God, give me Your Hallelujah, Hallelujah grace.
Give me Your super grace.

This one is for the boys with the Bibles.
Trustin’ in the Lord through all his trials.
He can pray in a group or pray solo.
And he know what he wants, but takes it slow though.
And I think I like him best when he get his serve on.
All he has to do is a help a little one.
He just gotta hold a child, any time he help a child,
Then my marriage radar’s coming on, on. Oh!
Excuse me, you’re a heck of a guy.
You know I really have a thing for Christ-centered guys.
I mean, sigh. I’m gonna cry.
I can tell that you have the Holy Spirit inside.

Repeat Chorus


See, I want to be a wife, but I must wait.
Oh, no, no, no, no. I have to wait.
Oh, no, no, no, no. I have to wait. Yeah.

But Christian boys got my heart beat running away.
But I have to guard my heart so I’ll pray,
“God give me Your Hallelujah, Hallelujah grace.
God I need Your Hallelujah, Hallelujah grace.
Give me Your super grace.”
Hallelujah, Hallelujah (x2)

God, give me Your Hallelujah, Hallelujah grace.

God, give me Your Hallelujah, Hallelujah grace.

Give me Your super grace.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah (x2)

God, give me Your Hallelujah, Hallelujah grace.

God, give me Your Hallelujah, Hallelujah grace.

Give me Your super grace.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

25 questions

These are my answers...have a go at 'em
I would probably be an akwaada Nyame 12 year old.

I would tell them about God and the Peace that only He can give and how it confounds me but always,always works no matter what's wrong, and ask them to try it.
Yup, by omission. Easiest lie to 'tell'

"If not me, who?"
I would be more selfish...very selfish.
*drops baggages* :D
Even spending time, just laughing, with a loved one is worth remembering...a canoe trip comes to mind though...
My family, they're all that I have...and I'm going to distribute some free, nothing-attached hugs :D

Now is the right answer. When it suits me and makes me look good is the human answer.( I'm being honest *shrugs*)
Weakness, but out of weakness strength can grow. 
Yes... (I hope I'm still called to the bar after this,lol)
My God, my relationship with my loved ones, my teeth and being at peace with those I come into contact with.
I ask a lot, but maybe not as many as I should.
I try to, hopefully that'll attract more ;)
Done, I hope. Talk is cheap.
I tried a new hairstyle a few days ago and ate a new vegetable,lol

anything that I enjoy...or maybe keeping track of time isn't my best quality  -______-
I should say I needed all that to be who I am now but if it were left up to me I would have avoided some people; made sure I met others sooner and been more open minded. 
Existing: eat, sleep, work, breathe etc. 
Living: all the above and experiencing things! 
Not very long, i'm very critical of myself.
How to cook and serve food or lecture on an area of law that I really enjoy

I'd choose Money! Time is pre-determined, when it's up, it's up.

Acutely aware. 

cute kids, an uplifting hymn, a compliment, shoes, a cute guy flirting, making someone else smile, mischievous thoughts, a funny moment from 3 weeks ago, irony, pork..meat :D ,  *should I stop now?*
Loving. I would hate to be jaded and cynical and not fully capable of receiving or giving love to those I 'love' the most. The kind of love that will make you take chances, swallow your pride, forget and  forgive sins, eat grudges...just live in the moment. I would really regret it if I did