Sunday, December 19, 2010


I've been really struggling to find my groove with food here in Liberia - it's hard to shop, etc. Non-Liberian food is available at supermarkets, but expensive (cream cheese for $9) and hit-or-miss. Even things regularly stocked, there's no guarantee it will be there. Liberian food is sold in markets, but none seem to be walking distance from me or I can't find them. It takes knowledge that I don't yet have and time to prepare that I definitely don't have.

So, I eat a lot of fake Pringles and cheap Turkish cookies. A lot. Too many dinners.

Chili is now added to my repertoire. Note to self: if I'm carrying the bags of cans home, they're heavy.

onion (4 small Liberian ones)
garlic (4 cloves)
3/4# ground beef (even the cows are skinny here: that was some lean beef)

Find a can opener (or a knife, or whatever works):
2-3 cans beans (or cook up a bag of black beans)
1 small can tomato sauce
1 large can peeled canned tomatoes (chop if whole)
1 1/2 T cumin (but I am a cumin freak)
1 tsp paprika*
1 tsp cayenne pepper*
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Add the beans & tomatoes & spices to the beef & onions/garlic and let it simmer for at least 15 minutes (longer is better).

I like to eat it on rice or with cornbread.

(*Or if have chili powder, use 1 1/2 Tbsp in lieu of paprika and cayenne pepper.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Liberian-style cabbage soup

So, the secret to Liberian cooking?

Use a TON of oil, Maggi seasoning cubes, MSG, hot peppers, and boil meat and vegetables together and serve with rice.

I omitted the MSG but otherwise was pretty authentic.

*Fry chicken in about 1/2" of oil. (I used two large chicken legs, and it took a long time until it seemed nearly done.)

Remove chicken.

Add chopped* onions (3 small), garlic (5 cloves), peppers (4 long hot ones) to the oil.
Toss in a couple of bouillon cubes and a small can of tomato paste.
Allow to saute over low-medium heat until onions are transparent.

Add chopped cabbage. (I used a small head, but I needed at least twice that much.) Saute for a few minutes. When cabbage starts to wilt, add back the chicken and allow to cook over med-low heat for about 30 minutes, until the cabbage softens and flavors meld.

Chicken should fall off the bones, which is how I like it, but pull chicken out earlier if you don't like it so soft.

Serve with rice.

*Liberians use a mortar and pestle to pound the peppers, onion, and garlic. The flavor is superior that way to chopped, but I use what I got.