Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Liberia - Sweet Potato Cookies

Liberia has a fascinating history and a unique link with the United States. It was founded and colonized by freed American slaves in 1822. They had the help of an organization called The American Colonization Society. They transported over 13,000 free blacks from the United States to Liberia, which isn’t many considering there were 4 million free blacks in the U.S. after the Civil War. The colonization had the support of president James Monroe; the new colonists named Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, after him. But there was fierce opposition to the society and the shipping off of free blacks calling it a slaveholder’s scheme. Today, only about 5% of the population is comprised of the descendents of slaves.

Liberia is on the west coast of Africa and bordered by Sierra Leone, Guinea, Cote d’voire and the Atlantic Ocean. In 1980, a military-led coup overthrew the government and it began years of civil war. But in 2005 the country elected their first female president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and things are improving.

For our Liberian meal I made Dry Rice with Smoked Fish and Sweet Potato Cookies. We didn’t like the fish and rice dish but, surprisingly, we loved the cookies - even some of John’s friends loved them.

Dry Rice with Smoked Fish

1 1/2 cups of rice
225g smoked fish (or salted pork)
1 onion, chopped
2 litters boiling water
3 hot chilies (eg Scotch Bonnet), pounded to a paste
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground black pepper
2 bouillon cubes
2 tsp oil

Add rice and salt to the water and bring to boil. Then add flaked smoked fish (or chopped salted pork). Add bouillon cubes, pepper and chilli paste. Bring to a boil again, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes or until the rice is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed. Add more water if required. Serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Cookies

1 sweet potato, mashed
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup margarine
1 1/2 cup sifted flour
2 tsp salt
1 TBSP cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
4 tsp freshly grated ginger

Cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy then add the egg and beat until thoroughly combined. Now add all the ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Form dough on a floured surface, and then knead and roll out until it’s about 1cm thick. . Cut with a pastry cutter then place on a well-greased baking sheet. Place in a 350 degree pre-heated oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven, dust with icing sugar and set aside to cool.

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