13 December 2008 Cooking for 20+

Today many of the new volunteers will be passing through the KSO. Lenore and I arrived Friday night but the new volunteers stayed in Kukurantumi for the swearing in parties. They will travel today and some will spend the night at the KSO. I wanted to welcome them with a dinner so I planned chicken catchatori (No No No)


The project tok all day. Luckily I had many helpers. My first helper was Mike. He is the PCVL at the KSO. A volunteer but a leader because he runs the KSO. In the morning we caught a tro to central market in Kumasi. On a good day it takes 40 minutes. Today was a good day. We arrived at central market did a few errands then went food shopping.


Tomatoes for sauce were the first thing on my list. We headed to the vegetable section of the market. To get to the vegetables we walked across a set of unused railroad tracks. The market is on both sides of the tracks. On the way to the tomatoes I bought some limes to make limeade.


We reached the tomatoes. I tossed Mike the limes. He headed off to buy a bag for our items. Guess he understood he was the mule in this expidition! I started the social transaction which is part of every business transaction. Was beginning to ask about prices and Mike gives me a hand motion. I think it is goodbye it looks something like American good bye then realize it’s the Ghanaian come here gesture. I go over and he says “Don’t you think these tomatoes look better?” They did so I bought them there.


Next I found onions. I begin the transaction and again the come here hand motion.


“I have plenty onions at the KSO.” says Mike.


So I get wise and consult the man on the next purchase.


“Do you have garlic at the KSO?” I ask


“Yes I think we do.” he replies.


I press him and say “An italian meal without garlic is no meal at all are you sure?”


“Yes” he replies.


The purchase of green peppers goes fines.


Now the chicken. We walk across the train tracks through a few sections on that side of the track. We reach a place with many cages of chickens. Mike starts to bargain with one woman. She is abrupt and asks way too much 8.50 GH Cedis for the live chicken.  He leaves and talks to the boy next to her. She is still trying to sell the chicken but Mike ignores her.  We get the chicken for 6.5 GH Cedis.


I tug on Mike’s arm.


“Will he clean and chop it.?”  I ask.


Really it might be fun to learn but not today or the next or even next year!  We leave the chicken with the boy he will clean and chop it for us for free.


We go eat a brunch of rice and beans at a place Mike knows well. Since I already ate breakfast I don’t want much so I tell Mike I will eat bites of his. Mike is a man who knows women and so he buys a lot extra for my bites. We sit on a bench behind curtains to eat.


When we return to get the chicken we have a surprise. There is an egg in the bag of parts. I think the boy gave it to us.


Mike says “It must have been in the chicken.”


Phew I am really close to the food I eat.


We move across town. I follow as Mike weaves in and around people, cars, buses, puddles and bikes. We get cursed when we step over one woman’s wares. At times I grab Mike’s elbow to avoid moving with the tide of people on the streets.


We arrive at the Opuko Supermarket. It is about the size of an average American classroom. But it has shelves, baskets and a check out line. I can actually wander the store on my own and look at the products. Oh I could stay here all day. I buy my pasta and score some strawberry jam. As we are waiting in line Mike says


“They have cheese here.”


What a time to tell me now I will just have to go back next time I am in Kumasi and get some cheese. Cheese is unavailable in most places. I can get Laughing Cow in Bolga but it’s a spread not real cheese. opp off track. back to the meal.


Then we went home. It was 1:00 pm so I decided to start cooking. Kerri came into the kitchen to see if I needed help. Kerri is Rachel’s husband. They are a cool couple who live in the Upper West Region. Kerri loves to cook. He even has a coal pot oven to bake in.


I wantd to puree the tomatoes in the grinding bowl. It was working small small. Kerri saw I was having trouble and kindly instructed me how to do it. I am not supposed to try to grind the tomatoes but to drag them across the ridges. The ridges do the work. Kerri cut tomatoes as I ground and we talked. I ground for 1 1/2 hours.  Four GH Cedis of tomatoes is a lot. My reward was American chocolate from Rachel. YUUUUMMMMMM! 


New volunteers began to arrive. Questions were asked about the meal. People were pleased when the learned they could partake for 1 GH Cedi.


Kerri had cut up tfhe onions and garlic. There was only 1/4 of a bulb of garlic. Oh I let Mike have it. Of course he took no responsibility what so ever for the lack of garlic. Or for telling me I didn’t need to buy. Well some was better than none. I  began grinding but was tired so he took over the grinding.


The tomatoes, onions and garlic went into two pots (one vegetarian) with some oregano. Why didn’t I bring my basil that Mel sent me for my b-day. Drats! I added salt, pepper and some small small sugar and set the tomatoes to simmer.


Next the chicken. Mike was eager to have me boil the chicken before I cooked it with the onions, peppers and sauce. He says it’s much more tender when you do that. Since I have seen many women here do that I decided to try for myself.


I cut up the chicken into smaller pieces. I only had about 12 pieces. We figured there would be 20 or more people at the KSO tonight so I needed more chicken. I got my phone and called Lenore. She had gone into town and I hoped she could get more chicken. I heard a phone ring somewhere in the house. No answer from Lenore. I waited about 10 minutes and tried again. Again no answer from Lenore. Rachel, who was in the living room, comes in with a ringing phone in here hand. Vicky are you trying to call someone! It was Lenore’s phone. She had forgotten it while charging it. Oh we laughed and laughed!


But Kerri and Rachel saved the day. They agreed to go down the road to find a cold store and get more chicken as well as a can of tomato paste.


After Kerri and Rachel left I tossed the chicken into a pot. Then I took a much needed rest.


Rachel and Kerri returned. The had gotten the needed items and two more bags of pasta. Yeah Rachel and Kerri!  The chicken immediately went into the pot.


It was time to make the limeade. Lenore had returned. We told her the story of the phone and laughed again. She offered to help so I set her to cutting and squeezing limes. I chopped carrots to add to the sauce. Then did some dishes.


Mike walked through and approved the process especially the carrots in the sauce and the boiled chicken. I think he was looking forward to the meal as well.


The chicken was done. I dumped some broth out but left a little in the pot with the chicken. I added sauce small small and put the chicken back on the stove to simmer some more.


Then Lenore and I cut up the onions and peppers into rings. Lenore was an artist with the peppers. I added the onions and peppers to the chicken. And put a few in the vegetarian sauce.


I found the biggest pot at the KSO and filled it 3/4 full. Then waited and waited and waited and waited for it to boil.  I was getting hungry and it smelled so good.


As the pasta was boiling Lenore cut up two loaves of bread and buttered them. JJ, a new volunteer in my region, came in and asked if there was any garlic. I told him now and silently cursed Mike. JJ said he would heat the bread anyway. Good idea. Warm bread is better than cold!


At last 6:00 pm and dinner is ready.


A line of 23 people snaked out of the kitchen into the hall and out into the living room. The meal recieved rave reviews. BUT you have to remember that these people have been eating Ghanaian food for 10 weeks so anything American would get rave reviews.


Mike comes out of his room and oh no there is nothing left for him. Really Mike it has nothing to do with the garlic. I could hardly fend them off they were like locusts. No no it’s not because of the garlic…..


1 Comment

  1. Krista said,

    January 19, 2009 at 1:55 am

    Miss Vicky, I am so happy to have found your blog! I am reading it with so much pleasure and I’m glad to read that things have been going so well for you since you went to site. It sounds like you are the favorite with all of your children and I can’t believe you organized such a boxing day gaming session (not to mention an italian feast for PCVs)! You are truly an awesome PCV.

    Rick and I wish you well and know that we are keeping up with you!
    -Krista & Rick

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