Tuesday, November 17, 2009

This month, I’ve got a favorite season, pod cast, food, a website, song, tv show …
November Top 10 List
1. Fall- Nine years in the relatively invariable climate of West Africa gifted me with a mad love for seasons. These days, put me in a temperate zone and whatever season I’m in is my favorite, just because I know it will all change in just the course of a few months.
So, right now it’s autumn in the Haute Savoie and all I can say is: gorgeous.

2. A Way With Words- I want Martha and Grant to come visit me, tell me interesting stuff and be my bestest friends 4ever. Is that creepy? Is it inappropriate to feel so strongly about two public radio hosts that I’ve never met? Probably, but I’m powerless against the charms of their hour-long show that examines all the oddities and foibles of the English language. I laugh and learn something new every week. If you are curious about English slang, grammar, old sayings, word origins, regional dialects, family expressions, and just speaking and writing well, this is the go-to program…

3. Burkina-style Peanut Sauce - This is the national dish of Burkina Faso. Cooking it brings my four kids down to the kitchen saying « Smells like Ouagadougou !». It also has the advantage of impressing guests, as most people have never eaten it before- especially not an authentic version. You need: chicken broth, tomato paste, Maggi seasoning cube (but use it appropriately!!) , peanut oil, chicken (thighs work best), vegetables (for sure cabbage, also sweet potatoes and green beans. Eggplant, potatoes, and carrots are also good) You also need a bunch of peanut butter- preferably one made specifically for African dishes. Skippy or Jiff won’t work. Fresh-ground stuff from a health food store would do nicely.
All of this is assembled into a sauce and then usually served with tô. But rice works, too. If this sounds tasty, leave me a note in the comments section and I’ll give details on the recipe so you can make it at home…a bit of Burkina chez vous.

4. Cake Wrecks: Many thanks are owed to Joy and a few other readers that led me to this endlessly fascinating blog that documents the worst in professional cake decorating. Today, for example, it features a birthday cake that is « ornamented » with a pile of dead leaves on top of the icing. Not marzipan foliage, mind you, but actual dead, rotting leaves. Must be seen to be believed, really… Go check it out and consider it your « Cake Tuesday » offering from me.

5. I Gotta Feeling- I don’t usually get popular songs stuck in my head. My strange brain tends to add only oddities to my inner soundtrack. For example, when a pal burned me a cd with a song in on it about trapped miners committing cannibalism, I was humming it for days. And a more recent brain-worm tune for me has been the old hymn « In the Sweet By and By ». So, I’m not generally a Black Eyed Peas-ish kind of person. But when I took the kids to the cinema a few weeks back, I ended up wearing funny glasses, listening to talking guinea pigs wishing I were in the next room over watching Surrogates . But that was only appropriate for my older kids and, so I was keeping the twins company as they enjoyed G-Force. It turned out to be tolerably cute, as I am rather fond of guinea pigs. So, now the song I Gotta Feeling (prominently featured in the film) makes me think of secret agent rodents speeding down the highway in over-sized hamster balls and I smile… Plus, this is the only song that I know the words to that has the phrase "mazel tov" in it.

6. Glee- I’d seen it mentioned a few times on the web by bloggers I like, so I downloaded the first episode of the series. Then, I settled down with my three daughters to watch it. It’s kind of like High School Musical, right?
It’s clever, scorchingly mean, amazingly funny and SO not for 11 year olds. So, the twins don’t get to watch, but Tya and I are enjoying it. As someone who was in the school music scene back in high school, I find it particularly enjoyable. I think Tya likes it because the world of a US high school looks so exotic to her…there’s no cheerleaders or swing choirs in French lycées- not ever. Quelle idée!

7. Asphalt- Maybe it smells a bit dreadful, but it is still my favorite paving material for the month of November. As I write this, a team of eight men is outside my house, putting the finishing touches on our newly-paved driveway and parking area! It’s actually fascinating to watch (to me, anyway…but then, I don’t get out much) and I just spent an hour leaning out of Tya’s bedroom window, watching them work. JP was teasing me, saying that only old men like to stand around and watch construction projects. I begged to differ. Small boys like to, as well.
By Friday, it will all be cooled, hardened, and ready to drive on. Yippee!

8. The Nation- a brilliant magazine that keeps me in touch with US politics and helps me not be (too much of) an idiot.

9. The Annemasse Conservatory of Music- It’s a small school run by the city of Annemasse, just about a 20 minute drive from my house. In September, I joined the choral group there and am really enjoying it. It’s not just the singing itself and the nice new friends I‘ve made- it’s the whole ambiance of the place. It’s heavenly to be in a building full of nothing but musicians who are busy learning and improving. Very inspiring.

10. Top 10 Lists- They are so very appealing. Make one and you automatically feel organized and authoritative. The only problem is that, while 10 is a nice, round number, it can be hard to come up with that many good items….


Teacher Mommy said...

The peanut sauce may be the national dish of Burkina, but it may as well be the national dish of Cote d'Ivoire as well! (I'm not sure what that actually is, if there is one!) We've made that time and time again here in the states. I just miss the foutou (our version of to) that should be going with it...

oreneta said...

OK, I am not even sure where to start....I LOVE fall, and it is what I do miss from Canada, we sort of have it here.

I so will love that show, indeed I am going to recommend it to everyone I know! I may have to get an ipod just to hear it!

You HAVE to give out that recipe...must have it pls.

I love I got a feeling, though I think that boom boom pow is better....

Glee I don't know, I may try it, ditto the nation...


Bridget said...

I have a Top 1 list anyway, reading your blog and would you please make peanut sauce when I visit??
Love, Mom

Maryon said...

The peanut stew sounds delicious and I am always game for new recipes. Would love the details. I have eaten something similar in Botswana which is quite southerly - if I am not mistaken peanuts/groundnuts are a staple of north and central Africa.I like Gado gado which is Indonesian and sounds similar without the meat addition.
Peanut sauce would have made the cat treats palatable - I thought that little post priceless.

Joy said...

I am glad to spread the joy (hee hee) of Cake Wrecks with as many people as I can.

PLEASE DO! share the recipe - it sounds like something we will enjoy very much!

I haven't yet watched Glee, although it is highly recommended from several sources now. And I will check out the language show. Sounds like something we would enjoy.

I, too, would enjoy the smell of asphalt if it meant a new driveway! I'm so happy for you that it's almost complete.

And I agree that Boom Boom Pow! is a superior song to I've Got A Feeling... :D

Anonymous said...

I would love to have your recipe . I tried to make it but it wasn't as good as the one of my mother-in-law.

Haze said...

Dear Burkinamom,

Just a quick message to explain cyber stalking from Kigali.

I met my (Dutch) husband overlanding 15 years ago, spent the next 12 years as an expat in Holland - learnt the language and integrated, only to have him join the foreign service, and since 2007 we've been based in Kigali, Rwanda.

Our next round of posting is coming up, and Ouagadougou is looking pretty likely as our home for the next 4-5 years, but we won't find out until April.

Anyway, I stumbled on your blog as part of my cyber research, and ended up reading from start to finish. I have no kids so our lives are very different, but there are many experiences and emotions that struck a chord with me, so I kept reading on.

Thanks for letting me stare through the window into your life for a while..

Kelly said...

I have yet to check out the bad cakes. Oh, but I did check out Glee last Wednesday. I liked it! I'm going to watch it tonight. I just love the actress who plays the cheerleading coach. Did you ever see Best in Show? She's in that movie. Anyway, fall is nice but I'm dreading the cold and snow of central PA.

Alison V. said...

Delurking to say that I enjoy your blog very much and please share the recipe. "In the Sweet By and By" is one of my daughters favorite hymns--preferably sung by old ladies at a funeral.

Heidi said...

Burkinabe-style peanut sauce is a favorite at our house, although my mom does manage it with commercially-available American PBs and, in our part of the country, it was generally made with beef instead of chicken (if possible) so we use beef stew meat instead of chicken.

And yes, yes, yes to having seasons!