Funje

Funje

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Funje

Funje (Angolan Cassava Flour Porridge) Recipe-

Ingredients:
Directions—Traditional:
  1. To prepare Funje the traditional Angolan way, you will need a very deep saucepan or large cooking pot, and a Funje Stick (also called a Fufu Stick)—a very long-handled and stout wooden spoon that has an elongated, flattened blade that resembles an oar. These cooking sticks are called different names in different African countries, but almost every Western African household has one or more of these
  2. The perfect proportions for making good funje is a ratio of 2 to 1, water to cassava flour.
  3. Bring the water to a rolling boil and, as soon as it’s boiling, remove from the burner and place it on the floor.
  4. Wrap the pot in a towel to protect yourself and, sitting on the floor, hold the pot steady with your legs or feet.
  5. Add in all the cassava flour at once, and beat the mix vigorously and continuously with your Funje Stick. It is important you do not let up even a little while stirring and beating, or you will not wind up with the smooth porridge texture that Funje needs to be—you will have “kernel”-like lumps, and that is considered not very good Funje.
Directions—Modern:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F (180C).
  2. Again using the same 2 to 1 ratio, bring the water to a rolling boil in a casserole dish that has a lid.
  3. While the water is heating up, put the cassava flour into a mixing bowl with just enough cold water to saturate the flour well and, using an electric hand mixer, beat the flour until the texture is smooth, thick and creamy.
  4. Now add the creamed cassava flour into the boiling water, whisking to combine.
  5. Continue whisking until the mixture is well blended and smooth, then cover the dish with its lid and place in the oven to bake for about 45 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened enough to have a nice, doughy texture.

The modern way will not, of course, give you the traditional Angolan cooking experience, but you will still wind up with perfectly smooth and oh-so-tasty funje, which can be used as an authentic and traditional side dish with Angolan stews, greens, fish and meat dishes.

For more recipes, most of which go great with Funje, go to Angolan Cuisine.


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Spinach the Superfood

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Even before the term “Superfood” became vogue, centuries ago, many people knew of spinach’s health and wellness benefits and, if there had been such a term back then, certainly “Spinach the Superfood” would have been three words put together in sentences a great deal.

Moms in the USA during the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, used to have a hard time getting their kids to eat spinach; I know I was one of those kids, because it was usually canned spinach, not fresh, and if not seasoned well or mixed into a tasty dish as one ingredient, well … it just didn’t taste good.

But anyone growing up during that era will remember Popeye the Sailor Man, the immensely popular newspaper and TV cartoon character who, after popping open a can of spinach and slugging it down in one gulp, would transform into a bulging forceps super hero who cud whup bad guys three times his size. US spinach growers reported a 33% increase in spinach consumption in the years right after Popeye became popular, and they contributed that increase to kids wanting to imagine being like Popeye, so they would eat the stuff.

Score one for Mom, thank you, Popeye.Popeye eating Spinach the Superfood

But even with Popeye’s bulging muscles and popularity, spinach did not really catch on in American households as a favored meal dish until the advent of “health foods”, vegetarianism and veganism, and the general rising in awareness of how important what we put in our bodies is to our health. That began with the Hippie movement in the mid-60s, and gained momentum throughout the entire population all the way into the 80s.

Today, people read the (legally required) labels on foods being sold. They want to know exactly what is in it, how many calories per serving, what if any “additives” in contains, its nutritional value, etc. And “fresh” foods are now known to be usually the “best” foods to eat. We have even seen a growth in popularity of eating only raw foods, with study after study confirming that cooking food destroys many or even all of a fresh food’s enzymes, and enzymes are essential to the human body for good health.

Enzymes assist the body in assimilating the nutrients from carbohydrates, fats, plant fibers and proteins. They also play a major role in aiding the necessary chemical reactions that take place in the human body, including elimination of waste products, bolstering the immune system, and the regeneration of cells. For an excellent article on what enzymes are and what they do for you, click here.

But I digress. Back on point …

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