The best of our foods, 127pp.
by Christine Joyce Boahene
Afram Publications (Ghana) Ltd, Accra, 2003
Cooking on page 64 (32 x 2)
I bought this cookbook in Ghana when Poor John and I spent most of a year on the back of an overland truck travelling through Africa. What an adventure that was, and a good excuse to explore the world of food.
I’m not embarrassed to admit that I came home from that trip with 14 cookbooks, including another Ghanaian one that I cooked from—fish caldine—in the early days of this blog.
Another purchase was a 28-ounce tin of Ghana Fresh Palmnut Cream Concentrate (an essential ingredient in many Ghanaian dishes) that I bought in an African shop in England—our last stop on that trip.
So that tin has languished at the back of my cupboard for more than five years while I’ve tried to figure out what to do with it.
Then along comes Liss, a good friend to our daughter, Petra, and a recent youth ambassador to Ghana. Liss and Petra came to dinner a while back and conversation turned to Liss’ year in Ghana.
Ding! I thought of the palmnut cream concentrate hiding in the cupboard. Wait until you see what I’ve got, I said to Liss, as I headed to the kitchen to grab it. And that’s when we began planning for an African/Ghanaian feast.
Everything came together last week. Liss brought her Ghanaian cookbook and two bags of groceries including plantains, chicken drumsticks for jollof rice and an array of other goodies. I contributed a pile of goat meat, smoked cod, rice, tomato paste, jollof spice, the tin of palmnut cream concentrate and a Ghanaian meat stew recipe to follow.
So what about this corn bread recipe. We didn’t make it, at least not that night. I went to four supermarkets that day and not one had cornmeal.
Finally went to the farmers’ market and bought some at the grain shop, and made this recipe last night for us to eat with the African leftovers. Also made the fried rice recipe on page 32 in the Ghanaian cookbook that belongs to Liss.
After all that, this recipe is on page 64 (32 x 2). The book is designed for young people studying home economics, and recipes don’t start until page 42. Interestingly, page 32 discusses various kinds of food poisoning, such as salmonella, staphylococci and botulism.
And on that cheery note, let’s get cooking.
Corn bread (Ghana)
1 cup of cornmeal
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
¾ teaspoon of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
1 cup of flour
2 eggs (well beaten)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 1/2 cups of sour milk
1/4 cup of margarine
Measure flour and sift with baking soda, salt and baking powder. Add cornmeal and mix well.
Mix margarine, sugar, eggs and sour milk. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. Beat until smooth. Fill well-greased shallow pan 2/3 full of dough. Bake in hot oven.
How it played out
While this is a super easy recipe, my first task was to choose between the author’s two sets of measurements. You’ll note that I have supplied only one above. She provided metric and ‘handy’ measurements, with the latter using cups and spoons.
Most of the metric weights were wonky. For example, she had a cup of flour weighing 200 grams and the 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda weighing 18 grams. Both amounts are way out.
I figured kitchen scales aren’t widely available in many Ghanaian kitchens, so I used the handy measurements. My only changes were to use butter (which I melted and cooled) instead of margarine and buttermilk in place of sour milk.
I used a 20cm x 20cm (8in x 8in) baking tin lined with baking paper, and baked the corn bread for 22 minutes in a pre-heated 220°C fan-forced oven. It probably needed a few more minutes, but it was fine as is.
The handy measurements are the way to go. This made a delicious, dense corn bread that went well with the other African dishes.
By the way, I can highly recommend using baking paper. Makes clean-up so easy.
P.S. I haven’t posted much yet about Africa on my travel blog, but here’s some poetry from the Sudan.