Ugandan Breakfast Porridge and Matoke

I typically work a M-F schedule (though sometimes I save lives one information need at a time during a weekend shift).  A M-F work schedule means breakfast is usually quick and easy during the week, and slower and more relaxed on the weekends.  There is some time for reading the paper news online (I am of the Net Generation, after all), brewing some tea, making porridge, etc.  The small things matter.

When researching breakfast recipes lately, I was intrigued with all of the porridges I was coming across when researching the cuisine of various African nations.


Ugandan Breakfast Porridge is so easy to make.  Two ingredients: orange juice and millet flour.  You can make you own millet flour for cheap, if you do not want to buy a full bag.  Follow the instruction for water:millet ratios for cooking millet, but instead of using water, use orange juice.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer, stirring the whole time.  We ate ours with tahini paste, cane sugar, almond milk.

The porridge was good, but I am pretty into breakfast.  I know, I sound very much like a spoiled westerner when I say things like the following.  Porridge is good, but I want more for my breakfast.  I was thrilled to find the following Ugandan dish that could also be used for breakfast.

The above dish is called Matoke.  There are oodles of variations on this dish, mine being one of the most basic.  Matoke can be made by using bananas or plantains.  I could hardly believe I’d never thought to use bananas in a savory dish before.  This is one easy recipe I will certainly repeat a few times.

Easy Breakfast Matoke (Vegan if not using Greek yogurt) Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 bananas or plantains (I’m reserving my plantains for later this week)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 medium chopped tomato
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 chile in adobo sauce (This stuff is amazing. If you cannot find a can of them, use any chile with some heat)
  • 1 T oil
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 strips of tempeh bacon (cooked)
  • Optional: Greek yogurt for garnish

Directions:

  1. Peel the bananas, cut into uniform chunks (about 1/4 inch in size). Sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent from browning.  Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan on medium. Add the onion, tomato, bell pepper, chile with adobo sauce, garlic, salt, and coriander.  Let cook together until onion is translucent and bell peppers are soft.
  3. Add bananas. Simmer over low until bananas are soft.
  4. Crumble cooked tempeh bacon into matoke.  Top with Greek yogurt if desired.

I highly recommend this next time you are looking for something interesting to do with those extra bananas laying around the house.  Or plantains, if you happen to stockpile those.

I’ve still got a few errands to run today, but happy Sunday to you.  (Golf’s on the TV.  Now even I miss football…)

A Morning at Meigs Creek and an Afternoon in Townsend

Recently, we ventured out to attempt another hike: Meigs Creek.  Up until this point, much of our hikes have directed us through the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg entrance to Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  However, to get to the Meigs Creek trailhead and the Sinks, you enter through Townsend and Blount County.  It was a nice change of pace.

When we arrived at the parking area/trailhead, there was not another soul to be seen.  We should have been suspicious at that point, but instead we were simply grateful.  The parking area has a great view of “the Sinks.”

After I was satisfied with my shutter speed experiments, we stretched for a little bit before heading out on what we believed would be a 7 mile hike.  Along the way, I moseyed along, taking quite a few photos of our surroundings.  We had gotten an early start and 7 miles without ice didn’t sound hard compared to the 8 with ice from our Charlie’s Bunion hike.

I am very proud of the following photo.

Here’s [the other] Jordan taking a photo of the same stump.

Initially, the hike is uphill, but not too tough thanks to some switchbacks.  The trail, which we learned was used by old time surveyors, cuts up through a green forest.

Things were going well.  We knew we would have to cross Meigs Creek many-o-times (actually 18) throughout the course of the hike.  But I thought it would be a bit more manageable than it was.

We had some trouble with the following crossing…which took us a good while to decide how to cross.  There has been a lot of rain lately, and we vastly underestimated the creek’s width.  Nevertheless, we tried to go on.  We built a bridge.  I tried crossing.  And the decaying tree slipped.  In went my right foot.  It wasn’t so bad, though, since I had my nice wool hiking socks on and two extra pairs with me.  Still, the makeshift bridge needed more fortifying.

Building bridges at remarkable speed…or something.

We all made it.  And walked maybe a few hundred feet before having to cross again.  And then again.  We were moving at a slow pace, since none of us had the footwear to simply walk through every crossing.  I am not one to turn around during the middle of a hike, but I couldn’t see us crossing 15 more times with any sort of speed, grace, or respect for nature.  The guys eventually acquiesced to my request to turn around and head toward home or another trail.

I just took off my shoes and socks, gritted my teeth, pretended to be walking on hot coals, and crossed through the stream barefoot three times.  My first go at barefoot hiking!  Once we crossed Meigs Creek for the last time, we stopped for some photos and trail food (we only hiked about 2.5 miles, but we still earned our trail food, right?)

So the guys can still look back and remember their construction days–a photo of the “bridge.”

Once we were back the parking area, we noticed that there was a bit of commotion going on with some kayakers.  We hung around to watch the show.  Only one dared the fall.

And he makes it!

The other kayakers dove in from a small cliff.

Once the kayakers were on their way, so were we.  Heading back to Knoxville through Townsend.

Now, when we drive through Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, we easily resist the plethora of fudge shops and the “country stores.”  But when there’s just one fudge shop along the way, we decide we must stop.

We stopped at the kind of store that sells fudge, candy by the pound from old-fashioned barrels, strange lawn ornaments, pancake mixes, etc. Think real kitsch.

The Sioux City carbonated beverages and the fudge could not be resisted.

The weather was lovely in the afternoon, so we sat outside to enjoy our treats.  In case anyone was wondering, we went with Salted Nut Roll.  So good.

We all had the sugar shakes.  Yikes…

I cannot wait to attempt Meigs Creek again when the weather is warmer and I’ve got my water shoes on.  Everything we saw along the trail was beautiful and now I’m already anxious for warm weather.  And it’s January!

Charlie’s Bunion Winter Hike | GSMNP

There really was a Charlie.  And he really had a bunion.  That apparently was shaped like the rock at the end of this four mile (8-round trip) hike.  But don’t let that distract you.  It is a lovely hike.

We stopped at the Visitors Center at about 10:15 AM to talk to the park staff about trail conditions.  One woman told me that our 8 mile hike would take us 8 hours, so we probably wouldn’t be able to do it, since sunset was about 5:40 PM.  Thankfully, there was a younger, more friendly employee who stepped in and said that if you’re strong hikers, you can hike it in 4-6 hours.  I’m not quite pleased enough with my cardiovascular and quad strength at this point to claim to be a strong hiker, but I know the pace we usually keep, and 4-6 hours seemed more like us.

The trailhead leaves from the Newfound Gap Parking Area.  The trail is 4 miles out on the Appalachian Trail to Charlie’s Bunion with a bit of elevation gain, and then 4 miles back.

No, there is no snow here in Knoxville, but as you can see, there is plenty of snow in the higher elevations of the mountains.  I loved being around the snow, because it made it seems like we have traveled to a completely different location for our hike.

(Jordan’s going to be thrilled with all the blog face time…wish me luck).

There were many spots along the way to catch spectacular views.  The sun was not exactly shining for most of the hike, but the clouds did make for some nice photos.  The clouds stayed high, so we could see quite far.

Over halfway up the climb, hikers have the option of adding a little over half a mile to head to the drop off.  We took the bait, but the wind was strong and the trail winding and we could have sworn we’d gone longer than it said we should have had to to reach the jump-off….so we didn’t actually make it there before turning around.

Good views anyhow.  Even if we didn’t make it to the jump-off.

Not long after the jump-off trail, we basically had to hike over a frozen stream.  I recommend ice gear…..though we didn’t have any.  :/

I did fall once.  I’ve got a sore wrist.  But it is pretty much healed at this point.  No worries.

Not long after this, we crossed a ridge…(quite windy)….

Once you cross the ridge, you reach Charlie’s Bunion.

It does look like a bunion, doesn’t it?

It is best to be sure of your footing.

Jordan did venture out to the bunion eventually.

We spent probably 20-25 minutes at the top, snacking on our PB&Js and trail mix and chatting with a Knoxville couple who made the trek.  The conversation was good and we were partially shielded from the wind, so it was a great break.

All together, we were on the trail 4h30m, including our break at the top and the brief excursion toward the jump-off.  Ice gear would have definitely been beneficial, and I may be doing a little investigating on REI’s website.  Even with a few slips and the fall, this was an excellent hike.  I wouldn’t mind finding time to do it again without the snow and ice, but alas, there are so many other hikes to try before I start repeating them.

Though we’ve hiked in Shenandoah, Harper’s Ferry, and GSMNP, we haven’t really been on the AT much at all.  After the mile we put in at HF and this hike, we’ve only got 2,177 miles of the AT left to hike!