Savory Saturday – Tanzania

Mmmm…so excited to try this today!

Inspired by Dr. Jane Goodall:

COCONUT BEAN SOUP

    Yield: 2 quarts (8 cups)

In Tanzania, as in other African countries, soups and sauces are served in a consistency that is as thick as our stews. Coconut Bean Soup would be used there as a meatless main dish by increasing the quantities of beans and rice. However, in adapting this recipe in our test kitchen we thinned it to soup consistency with additional water and served it as a delightful soup course. Any dried beans such as black-eyed peas or pea beans can be used in this soup. Just cover with water and cook until tender before combining them with the other ingredients. Coconut milk and the delicate use of curry give the soup its unusual flavor.

In a 3-quart saucepan:

Saute: 1/2 cup ONIONS, chopped finely

  • 1/2 cup GREEN PEPPERS, chopped finely1 tsp. CURRY POWDER1 tsp. SALT1/4 tsp. PEPPER in3 Tbs. MARGARINE OR BUTTER until soft but not brown.

    Add 1 cup FRESH TOMATO cut in 1/2-inch pieces.

    Simmer for two minutes longer.

    Add: 2 1/2 cups KIDNEY BEANS (24-oz. can with liquid)

    2 cups COCONUT MILK (see page 226)

3 cups WATER.

Simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup COOKED RICE.

Correct the seasonings to your taste.

Serve one-cup portions in attractive soup bowls.

Garnish each bowl with 1 tsp. shredded coconut

Fantasy Friday – Gombie National Park

I am – probably for the rest of my life – in shock and awe that I met Dr. Jane Goodall, my hero.

So let’s go to her ‘home’:

Gombie National Park

An excited whoop erupts from deep in the forest, boosted immediately by a dozen other voices, rising in volume and tempo and pitch to a frenzied shrieking crescendo. It is the famous ‘pant-hoot’ call: a bonding ritual that allows the participants to identify each other through their individual vocal stylisations. To the human listener, walking through the ancient forests of Gombe Stream, this spine-chilling outburst is also an indicator of imminent visual contact with man’s closest genetic relative: the chimpanzee.

Gombe is the smallest of Tanzania’s national parks: a fragile strip of chimpanzee habitat straddling the steep slopes and river valleys that hem in the sandy northern shore of Lake Tanganyika. Its chimpanzees – habituated to human visitors – were made famous by the pioneering work of Jane Goodall, who in 1960 founded a behavioural research program that now stands as the longest-running study of its kind in the world. The matriarch Fifi, the last surviving member of the original community, only three-years old when Goodall first set foot in Gombe, is still regularly seen by visitors.

Chimpanzees share about 98% of their genes with humans, and no scientific expertise is required to distinguish between the individual repertoires of pants, hoots and screams that define the celebrities, the powerbrokers, and the supporting characters. Perhaps you will see a flicker of understanding when you look into a chimp’s eyes, assessing you in return – a look of apparent recognition across the narrowest of species barriers.

The most visible of Gombe’s other mammals are also primates. A troop of beachcomber olive baboons, under study since the 1960s, is exceptionally habituated, while red-tailed and red colobus monkeys – the latter regularly hunted by chimps – stick to the forest canopy.

The park’s 200-odd bird species range from the iconic fish eagle to the jewel-like Peter’s twinspots that hop tamely around the visitors’ centre.

After dusk, a dazzling night sky is complemented by the lanterns of hundreds of small wooden boats, bobbing on the lake like a sprawling city.

Is a fantasy and a dream different?

Dr. Jane Goodall – in love

One amazing thing that happened to me in my March Break lifetime was meeting my hero Dr. Jane Goodall.

Who can say that they met their hero in their lifetime, someone they looked up to, aspired to be, and researched hour after hour about?

Not me!

This opportunity arose when Dr. Goodall was in town to discuss the new documentary on her life Jane’s Journey and the Jane Goodall Institude of Canada provided me with a ticket to the movie:

This documentary was great. Aside from the story about Jane Goodall growing up; her research with the chimpanzee’s; her love’s; her losses; and her son – who’s relationship has met hardship in the past – the movie was outstanding. The music, screenplay, and cinematography meshed so organically.

So, there she was. Standing amongst a throng of admirers who paid $$$ to join the pre-game schmooze fest before the movie, for the opportunity to meet her and shake her hand.

Yes – there she was. There I was.

She had so many people to meet and greet and I was thinking – WOW how does she do this all the time, every day (and travel 300 days of the year), but still have this calm poise as this young girl comes up to stare and shake her hand; as some man approaches and compliments her accomplishments; as this mother bursts into tears and describes how her entire family is in awe of her accomplishments.

Anyway, Thursday evening – I was placed in front of her and, despite all my days of training when I knew I might meet her, I gawked when I looked into her kind, wise eyes. I shook her hand and mumbled something like, “such a pleasure to meet you” and ran away.

Oops.

I was so embarrassed – but what could I do, in such a setting? People crowding around, waiting for their chance. Plus I knew I would see her again the following evening at the same type of event. Perhaps a chance to redeem myself? Let’s let all these other fans get their chance.

Ok – Friday evening now – I’m set to see Dr. Jane again.

Who gets this? Two days in a row to meet your hero? JGI Canada – thanks so much, again!

Nice – I show up super early when no one is around at the Ontario Science Centre. Quickly, I am escorted to a room where Dr. J would be appearing from.

Wait – I’m too early, and there she is, arriving in style – which means, she calmly walks toward the room in her elegant shawl/caftan so peacefully…how does she do it?

Anyway, I met her yet again. She remembered me, (me thinks/me hopes). And as I listened to her opening speech again and admired the way she was so easily able to tell a story and how sweet and peaceful her voice sounded, I was sure I could never get enough of hearing her.

Please see the movie Jane’s Journey – it is well worth the 2 hours.

I DID get a photo with her – I just have to wait for the photographer to send along the picture I will cherish for the rest of my life…

All I need now is to go to Egypt for a month or two, experience the life-long draw I have had toward ancient Egyptian culture, and I’m good.

Too much to ask?

Photo of the Day – Devil’s Tower

Devil's Tower - Wyoming

This crazy laccolith was a “must-see” as both my father and boyfriend recommended.

So on the way home last summer from my summer camping adventure I decided to take the small detour off the I-90 to view this national monument which was knee deep with porcupines and prairie dogs.

It’s quite awe inspiring to see this geological formation rise straight up in an otherwise flat area.

The legend of the tower is quite neat as well. According to natives in the area, two girls were playing near the site and a grizzly bear began to chase them. The girls climbed onto a rock and prayed to their god to save them. The god answered by raising the rock skyward away from the threatening bear.

Neat! And definitely glad I took the time to check it out on my way home.

Sail Away with Six Unique Cruises

If I were to go on a cruise, I would prefer something a bit more intimate and more interesting than one of those mass market, gigantic Caribbean style set-ups.

This article from Huff Post Canada left me drooling from the right side of my mouth…

The Dahabia Nile Cruise

You’ll feel like a pharaoh as you cruise down the Nile on this traditional Egyptian style boat, the Royal Cleopatra. Some of the sights you’ll see will include the markets of Esna, the Temple of Khnom, a horse drawn carriage ride to the Temple of Horus in Edfu, the ancient sandstone quarries at Gabal Elsisilah, Kom Ombo, Aswan and more.

Explore ancient ruins and tombs. Your private Egyptologist will be available to guide you and answer questions. During the day, as you are sailing to another port down this exalted river, you can relax in your swim suit and enjoy the warm, sunny, blue sky as you watch the scenery and all of the history roll past. Your boat accommodates up to 8 people in triple or double cabins with private baths. This is a casual cruise with a small crew to meet all of your needs – a tour guide, captain, sailor, cook and housekeeper. Many of your meals will be eaten on board, but you’ll also have the opportunity to dine in local restaurants, luxury hotels and have a barbeque on an island in the Nile. What a way to experience this magical country.

It’s always hard to lock down a price on a Nile cruise, but these are competitive and tend to be fairly cheap.

Vietnam Explorer Cruise

On this small ship cruise you’ll sail out of Ho Chi Minh to explore Vietnam and the area around it for 11 sensational days. You’ll have a team of experts on board with you explaining everything from botany to marine biology and history. You can listen to their talks in the theatre or lounge, and you may even find them accompanying you on some of the sightseeing excursions.

In Vietnam, your ship will stop in Da Nang, Nha Trang and Vung Tau, before sailing on to Cambodia, Thailand and finally Singapore. Your ship, the Orion, has 53 staterooms and suites and is a 5-star luxury ship. Just because you’re looking for adventure doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the good life. There is a crew of 75 people to take care of all your needs. You’ll enjoy meals that reflect the flavors of the areas you are visiting. You’ll discover the other passengers on board, like you, are not just tourists but curious about the places you are visiting. While you relax, you’ll enjoy discussions of the countries you’ll sail past, and the fertile, green scenery of the coastline.

This kind of luxury never comes cheap. The 11-night cruises start at around US$6,000 per person.

Flavors of Burgundy & Provence Cruise

If you’ve been to Europe, you have probably noticed the smaller flat ships that move leisurely up and down some of the rivers. On this particular cruise you’ll spend 11 days moving along the Saone and Rhone rivers through France. You’ll begin your cruise in the enchanting city of Paris. After breakfast on board the ship each morning you’ll dock in various villages including Beaune, Tournus, Macon, Lyon, Avignon, and Nice. In each of these cities you’ll have time to wander the streets or a guide will take you on a sightseeing walk.

In Beaune you’ll enjoy a tasting of delicious Burgundy wines. Your vessel, named the Avalon Scenery, holds just 138 passengers and is one of the smallest ships in Avalon Waterways fleet. The ship may be small, but details have not been overlooked. The staterooms are generously sized, with individual climate control, large closets, private baths and beds that are covered with luxurious cotton sheets and European duvets. You’ll enjoy fine foods and wines from the region you are sailing through. This is an easy, leisurely way to visit some special cities of France.

Prices for the 12-day trips start around US$2,200 per person.

Maine Sailboat Cruise

What a great adventure this would be! You can sail on the Schooner Timberwind on your choice of a 3, 4 or 6-day cruise. Sail out of Rockport Harbor through Penobscot Bay with the winds rustling the sails and the fresh smell of salt water soothing your senses. The Timberwind specializes in family vacations and you can take children as young as 5 on this adventure. On this all-inclusive vacation, you’ll enjoy large, delicious meals cooked on the wood-burning stove, including scrumptious chowders and a traditional Maine lobster bake. Perfect, since you’ll be hungry after breathing in all of that fresh sea air.

The schooner is family owned and operated, making it a pleasant, safe, comfortable adventure. The owners are eager to share the splendid sights of nature and the history of the area and their boat with you. The schooner has 2 triple cabins and 7 double cabins on board, all with plenty of space to store your belongings and large opening windows. Bring along a pair of binoculars to watch the sea birds and other sights as you sail by.  There are many types of trips available for you to choose from, including specialty trips like the Schooner Gam, which kicks off the summer season with the entire fleet; the Marine Windjammer Parade in July; or a Perfect Health Cruise. You can choose the trip that best fits your personal desires.

The 3-day trips on this 20-passenger vessel start at $495.

M/C Galapagos Journey

The Galapagos Islands have been called “the last wildlife sanctuary.” You can enjoy a cruise through this incredible part of the world on a luxury class motor catamaran that sleeps 16 passengers. Sign up for a 4, 5 or 8-day cruise which will take you to some remote excursion sights, research centers and tortoise breeding projects. You’ll walk by nests of blue-footed boobies and frigate birds; see giant sea turtles; swim with penguins and snorkel close to sea lions and manta rays. Marine iguanas will wander past and flocks of seabirds will fly overhead.

On board you’ll find a 9-person crew to take care of all your needs, plus a bilingual nature guide who has gone through extensive training, and a cruise director. There are 8 air-conditioned cabins with private bath and picture windows. In the evenings, you will have the chance to learn more about the sights you are visiting at the evening nature lectures. Then dine with a choice of delicious meat, poultry and seafood, along with fresh salads and fruits and wonderful wines from around the world. If you are a vegetarian or have special dietary restrictions, your needs will be met. Your yacht comes equipped with snorkel gear, wetsuits and sea kayaks for your use and enjoyment. What a way to spend time in these spectacular islands.

There are many ways to travel and see the world. If you are looking for something new and exciting, with a hint of adventure, a small ship cruise may be just what you need.

The company doesn’t seem to like to quote prices on its site, but you’d have to expect this one to cost quite a bit, so it’s probably not an option for most backpackers.

Caribbean Classic Sailing Cruise

The Sea Cloud II will be your home away from home on this fantastic 8-day sailing cruise through the Caribbean. You’ll sail out of Barbados, stopping to port in several bays like Terre-de-Haut on Iles de Saintes and Port Elizabeth on Bequia, before returning back to Barbados. The beauty of sailing on a ship like this is that the itinerary, like the winds, can be flexible and you’ll find yourself exploring unexpected beaches that can only be reached by boat.

You’ll have time to visit historical sights, take walks along the white beaches and meander through quaint towns. While on board the Sea Cloud II, there will be a lot of opportunity to swim and snorkel in the pristine turquoise waters or sip champagne as the warm trade winds carry you to your next destination. Your magnificent sailing yacht holds only 86 people in beautifully adorned staterooms with private bathrooms, some with fireplaces. On board you’ll discover a library full of travel guides and art books where you can relax and enjoy the view through the large windows, a gym, a lounge and a dining room where you’ll savor fine wines and tempting meals all at unassigned tables. You’ll truly enjoy this informal, relaxed sailing experience.

This cruise isn’t cheap. Prices start at almost $11,000 for the 15-day trip, but at least they pay carbon offsets as part of that total.

May I try all of the above?! But if I had to chose one it would be the Nile cruise! My #1 dream is to go to Egypt, so of course I would like to arrive in style on the Royal Cleopatra. Again, may I borrow some moola?

Back to the grind

Well, March Break is now over and it’s time to get back into the classroom and teach like there is no tomorrow…

Stuffed chicken with goat cheese

Unfortunately I did not have an opportunity to travel as my bank account is holding on to my money until the summer, but I did have a nice relaxing time in Toronto.

Aside from wandering around the city as the gorgeous weather dictated us to partake in, one of the other main forms of entertainment over the past 2 weeks, my boyfriend and I experimented with our culinary skills in the kitchen.

Let’s see – what did we make:

1. Fish tacos (with spicy basa fish) (boy)

2. Greek stew (me)

3. Mussels with spicy tomato sauce (we like spice!) (boy)

4. Stuffed portabello mushroom caps with roasted rosemary garlic potato fingers (me)

5. Stuffed chicken with goat cheese and asparagus on a bed of garlic kale (me)

6. Homemade deep dish pizza (from scratch – all of it!) (boy) – we had this twice, as it was – in my opinion – as good as Giordano’s in Chicago

7. Scotch Pie (me)

8. Seafood pasta with garlic bread (boy)

9. Australian style mussels (me)

10. Carolina style ribs with cornbread, corn and green beans (boy)

11. Seasoned flank steak fatijas with homemade pico de gallo and guacamole (boy)

The other thing I did a lot of over the break was WORK OUT. Much needed after a few heavy meals!