Macedonia a beautiful mixture of cultural contrasts. Part Balkan, part Mediterranean and rich in Greek, Roman and Ottoman history this combination makes Macedonia a fascinating country. Ohrid is the place to be in Macedonia. Best of all is that you can be skipping through historic monuments one minute and lying on a deck chair with your toes in the water of Lake Ohrid the next. The reconstruction of the capital Skopje following the 1963 earthquake was mainly conducted by the Polish architect Adolf Ciborowski, who had already planned the reconstruction of Warsaw after World War II. The plan turned Skopje into a modernist but grey city. At the end of the 2000s, the city center experienced profound changes. A highly controversial urban project, “Skopje 2014”, was adopted by the municipal authorities in order to give the city a more monumental and historical aspect, and thus to transform it into a proper national capital. Several neoclassical buildings destroyed in the 1963 earthquake were rebuilt, including the national theatre, and streets and squares were refurbished. Many other elements were also built, including fountains, statues, hotels, government buildings and bridges. The project has been criticised because of its cost and its historicist aesthetics.
Things you didn’t about Macedonia:
- Alexander the Great, the once-king of the Kingdom of Macedonia was the world’s first conqueror, who extended an empire across Greece and Persia to India and Egypt.
- Macedonia was one of the only countries during the break up of Yugoslavia to remain at peace throughout.
- Kokino, to the north of the country, is one of the world’s oldest observatories, as recognized by NASA and dating back to the 19thcentury BC. It is inscribed on a Unesco “tentative” list of protection.
- Skopje, the capital, is said to be seven thousand years old and was known in the Roman period as Scupi
This recipe is perfect if you’re having vegetarians or vegans over for dinner or just as a side dish. The spices are just right! and it’s great to eat with just a piece of toast. My best friend is a vegetarian, and she loved this because it is often hard to find something that is filling and easy to make!
Lesotho, a tiny tiny tiny country completely surrounded by South-Africa. Lesotho is a very mountainous country, hence it is often called The Mountain Kingdom. The entire country is at least 1000 meters above sea level. Which makes it the highest country in Africa. And don’t think just because it’s Africa it’s hot. No way!! Up in the mountains, it gets pretty cold, but don’t worry you can buy traditional beanies everywhere! That’s not the only thing you can do up in those mountains. This
might be is very touristy but they have donkey pub crawls!!! Imagine being completely wasted going from pub to pub on a freaking donkey!! That just sounds hilarious and totally something I would do with some friends!
Things you didn’t know about Lesotho:
- Lesotho is ruled by a constitutional monarchy and is one of the 3 remaining kingdoms in Africa. (The other are Morocco and Swaziland). King Letsi III is the reigning king of Lesotho since 1990.
- Not many countries can say that their traditional dress is a blanket. The Basotho blanket is a very common sight in the kingdom of Lesotho, often with colorful patterns. The blanket is not only used to protect the Basotho against the cold but is also worn as a status symbol and cultural identification. Almost entirely made of wool, they protect very well against the harsh cold winter. Another typical feature is the woolen balaclava (which only leaves their eyes free) and the gumboots
- Lesotho is home to the highest altitude pub in Africa in 2874 meters above sea level. It’s located right at the border with South Africa, and the end of the iconic Sani Pass (or the beginning if you come from Lesotho). A cold beer is very welcome when driving this scenic pass starting in South Africa and to top it all off, you’ll have an amazing view from the top (while sipping that cold beer).
- You would not immediately associate Africa with snow, but Lesotho is home to the highest ski resort in Africa. Afriski is situated at 3050 meters above sea level.
Lesotho has 28 airports. Only three of them have properly paved runways. Hold on tight…
Well, this was surprisingly good I never knew putting tangerine in a soup would be so amazing! A great meal for a healthy quick mid-week meal!!!
Haiti, it’s impossible for anything you’ve seen on tv to prepare you for what Port-au-Prince (capital of Haiti) looks like after the earthquake in 2010 that killed about 300.000 people in a day in 2010. And it’s cliche the worst kind of cliche to say life goes on, but of course it does. This is a city of 2.000.000 people as in so many places in the world you do what you need to do get by, you fight to live. Six years after the earthquake many of the damage that the earthquake caused is still there. The main religion in Haiti is Voodoo, on of their gods in Baron Samedi he is the keeper of the gateway between this world and the next, to the believers certainly a creepy guy. Would it help you if I told you his also the saint of procreation and humor? On the day of Baron Samedi, parades are organized with the cemetery as a destination. Although I can’t imagine going to cemetery is a happy occasion, the Haitians see this differently. On the day of Baron Samedi they celebrate life and bring offers to their ancestors. Offers like food and coffee.
- Haiti produces Rhum Barbancourt, an award winning brand of rum that is referred to as “the rum of connoisseurs”.
- Haiti issued free visas and passports to 70 Jewish families during the Holocaust, about 300 lives saved. It has been speculated that one of the reason they couldn’t give more was the debt Haiti was paying to France, which was basically money the French decided Haiti owed them for freeing themselves from slavery. Haiti’s debt was “forgiven” after the devastating earthquake that hit the country in 2010.
- In 1791, Haitians began what became the only successful slave revolt in the history of the world. Yes, the only one.
- The English word barbecue is that it’s a derivation from the Haitian word barbacoa. The Haitians were referring to the framework of sticks used to cook meat over fire, but Spanish explorers who encountered this cooking method also referred to the results – the cooked meat – as barbacoa.
- Colorful busses called taptaps take you from place to place named after the tap a passenger makes on the bus when they would like to get on or off.
Guinea has a very tough history! They’ve gone through many struggles over the centuries. Nonetheless they are a very brave nation. During their struggle for independence one of their slogans was: “We prefer poverty in liberty to riches in slavery!” and who can blame them. Freedom is one of the most important basic human rights! But when the French let them have their independence they immediately cut off all financial and physical support which let to a disastrous fall into poverty. After gaining independence from France, Guinea turned to the Sovjet Union for support. The first president introduced a socialist government. Thousands of people were killed or tortured during this time. Today, the country is trying to become a democracy, but the process is not easy. At this moment there is still no light on the horizon for Guinea. The most recent disaster was the Ebola virus which wiped out a chunk of Guinea’s the population.
- Guinea was a part of the Mali empire between the 13th and the 15th century.
- Guinea was the first country gaining independence from the French on October 2nd 1958
- The literacy rate of Guinea is very low.
- Guinea has a rich musical tradition like other West African countries.
For Guinea I made an African snack called puf puffs. You can compare them with beignets only there is onion in them which strongly seems to work perfectly!!!!
Ingredients: 2 cup of all-purpose flour,, 1 and ½ cup of warm water, 1 tbsp of dry yeast, ½ cup of sugar, 1 tsp of salt, ½ tsp of vanilla extract, 1 tbsp of finely grated onion (optional)
- Dissolve the yeast in the water and pour on the flour. Mix it really well .
- Add the sugar, salt, vanilla extract and onion. Cover with a napkin and let it rise for at least 2 hours
- Heat the oil and use your hand or a spoon to drop the mixture in the oil, fry until each side is brown.
- Tips: To get the puff puff right make sure that the batter is not too thick nor too thin. And the also the temperature of the oil is important. The oil should be hot enough but not too hot.
The Gambia, tiny English speaking country surrounded by French speaking countries. It was the first British colony in Africa. For many, The Gambia is a country with beaches that invite visitors to laze and linger on package tours. But there’s more than sun and surf. Small fishing villages, nature reserves and historic slaving stations are all within easy reach of the clamorous Atlantic resorts. Star-studded eco-lodges and small wildlife parks dot the inland like a green belt around the coast and The Gambia is a bird lovers’ utopia: on a leisurely river cruise, you’ll easily spot more than 100 species.
Things you didn’t know about Gambia:
- Punctuality is not often observed in The Gambia and the business concept of ‘time is money’ is approached in a very relaxed and flexible manner. People can arrive for a meeting up to four hours later than originally scheduled.
- Gambia was the first nation conquered by the British in West Africa. It was 300 years before independence would be granted on Feb. 18, 1965. When it became independent, The Gambia became the 37th sovereign African state.
- Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa and is slightly smaller than Yorkshire.
- The official title of The Gambian president is Sheikh Professor Doctor President.
- People cast their votes in elections in The Gambia by dropping stones in holes.This vegan stew is a delicious healthy weeknight meal. I can guarantee kids will love it (peanut butter duh)Ingredients: 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 1 onion chopped, 1 garlic clove minced, 1 chili finely diced (seeds in for an extra kick!), pinch of kaloniji black onion seeds (optional), 250ml Maggi vegetable stock, ⅓ jar peanut butter (about 110g), 1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g), ½ small butternut squash diced into 1cm cubes, 4 medium mushrooms quartered, 1 red or green pepper deseeded and chopped, 2 small carrots peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes, 150g rice, to serve, 1 star anise
- Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and soften. Add the chilli and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Pour in the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.
- Stir in the peanut butter until creamy. Add the chopped tomatoes.
- Add all the vegetables and simmer for 25-35 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the sauce has reduced to a thicker consistency. Some of the peanut butter oil may rise to the surface; this can be skimmed off if desired. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- While the stew is cooking, boil the rice according to pack instructions. When the rice is al dente, drain the rice with a sieve, saving the water into a separate bowl. Pour the water back into the pan the rice was cooked in (this saves you re-heating more water) and place the sieve over the top. Add the star anise to the sieve of rice and place a lid over the top. Steam for 5 minutes.
- When cooked, spoon the rice into a small, round bowl and tip onto the serving plate to form a ‘rice dome.’ Serve with the cooked peanut stew.
This week another isolated archipelago, The Faroe Islands. They are autonomous islands under the protection of Denmark. They are not part of the European Union and they speak their own language. A lot of Faroese would like to be independent. Half of the Faroese population lives in the capital Torshavn. The problem with the Faroe islands is that the young people all go to college in Denmark, most of them stay there. Despite being so far away from the rest of the world, the music, art and culture scene in the Faroe Islands is booming! They have a lot of music festivals.
Things you didn’t know about the Faroe Islands:
- Soccer is really popular the 1 in 20 men is semi soccer pro! The country’s football team won their first competitive match against Austria in September 1990, which prompted a massive Faroese party.
- The Faroe Islands are one of very few countries in Europe to have no McDonalds. You can, however, find a Burger King, in Torshavn if you’re in need of fast food.
- There are three traffic lights on the Faroe Islands. All are in the capital Torshavn and are very close to each other.
- The weather in the islands changes so quickly and frequently that a well-known Faroese saying is ‘If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes’.
- The Faroese drink in sheebeens, known as key clubs – set up in secret when alcohol was banned on the islands. These dens were so popular they stayed open when prohibition ended. There is an Irish pub called, imaginatively, ‘Irish Pub’. It is said to serve the best beer on the islands.
Wash and cut the washed rhubarb into fine slices. Cut about 1/2 inch cubes.
In a large pot add the rhubarb, water, sugar and a stick of cinnamon. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce heat, put the lid on the pot and cook the mixture for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the rhubarb because you want the rhubarb tender but not mushy.
Next, combine the cornstarch with 1/4 water in a small bowl. This will be used to thicken the rhubarb porridge
After the rhubarb has cooked for 5 minutes, turn off the stove. Remove the cinnamon stick out of the rhubarb mixture.
Add and stir in the corn starch mixture. Add a little at a time and the rhubarb mixture will start to thicken.
Taste to see if it is sweet enough. If not, stir in a little more sugar.
Pour into a heatproof glass bowl to cool down. Sprinkle sugar to prevent a skin from forming. Cover and chill in the refrigerator.
Once ready to serve ladle into bowls and garnish with either milk or cream. Enjoy!
Compared to the rest of Africa Ethiopia is a bit of an exception, because has never been colonized by a European power, except for a small period of time by the Italians. during the Second World War. For 44 years Ethiopia was peacefully ruled by one man Emperor Haile Selassie. He did a lot of good things for the country in terms of modernization and making them part of the UN. Unfortunately border conflicts and famine got the better of him. After the coup Ethiopia was ruled by dictators for 22 years. There are more then 70 different tribes in Ethiopia which makes it very difficult to please them all.
Things you didn’t know about Ethiopia:
- Ethiopia is about 7.5 years behind the United Kingdom. This is because Ethiopia is the only country in the world to have 13 months in a year. Ethiopians also celebrate New Year in September.
- The legendary Ark of the Covenant, the relic said to hold the 10 Commandments, is claimed to be housed in a church in Ethiopia. Only one man, the guardian, is actually allowed to see the ark, so whether or not it is actually there remains a mystery.
- Ever heard Rastafarians talking about Haile Selassie? He was an Ethiopian Emperor, born in 1892 and is worshipped by followers of the Rastafarian movement. He is not to be confused with legendary distance runner Haile Gebre Selassie!
- Clocks are set differently! Many Ethiopians measure time from when the sun rises and count time based on dawn. So when the sun rises, it can already be 12:00. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it pretty quick.
If their is one expert in Ethiopian cuisine, it’s celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, that’s why I chose to make one of his recipes. I knew it would be good because it came from him, but in general I don’t really like lentils, to my surprise I loved these. Perhaps it’s combination of the spices or the bite of edamame beans. But this is an amazing recipe and so quick!
Ingredients :1 c. dried lentils, 3/4 c. frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans)
2 T. olive oil, 1 1/2 c. red onion, minced, 3 garlic cloves, minced, 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained, 6 T. fresh lemon juice, 1 T. chopped fresh parsley, 1 T. chopped fresh mint, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. ground cumin, 1/8 t. ground red pepper, 1/8 t. ground cinnamon, Dash of ground cloves
- Place lentils in a large saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above lentils. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well, and set aside.
- Place edamame in a small saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above edamame. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until edamame are tender. Remove from heat; drain well.
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and tomatoes to pan; sauté 6 minutes or until onion is translucent, stirring often. Stir in lentils, edamame, juice, and remaining ingredients. Cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring often. Serve with flat bread.