experiments in cooking

Outdoor dining and a VAL-inspired meal

Unless you’ve spent the last year alone on a deserted island or in a coma, you’ve probably noticed that dining with people who live outside one’s own household has not been a thing so much, because pandemic.

And, in case you haven’t been here on this blog long, I’ll let you know that I’ve been keeping my pandemic sanity, such as it is, in part by counting my steps and pedaled miles to make a Virtual African Loop (VAL).

Original route (subsequently extended).
Current virtual location: Nigeria

But here in the northern hemisphere it’s late Spring — that delightful time when the weather can do literally anything at any time. Snow is not super likely here but is not unheard of, not too terribly far north of here. And the temps have dropped below freezing, then soared nearly to the 80s, and swung back again. It rains, it pours, the wind blows, the pollen spews all over us. Any minute now the cicadas will emerge like a Biblical plague as if we need one more thing.

And … every so often it calms down enough that we can eat outdoors!

WE – because (a) outdoors and (b) the invitees are fully vaccinated and I’m partially so, and with all that in mind, why not just make a VAL-inspired meal?

I’ve been making meals all along, and sending some of them to Mom and Dad’s when there’s too much of it (or when it’s made of ingredients more to their liking than mine). I’ve send over Yassa several times but that’s not mom’s favorite so I’m leaving that one off the menu.

So what shall I make?

Now that’s a mix of western African dishes planned. How did they go together?


So: the Jollof chicken was a hit. The plantains, less so. The rice – the recipe would easily serve 10 people – is being divided so some can go home with the folks.

I made another batch of the Benin bananas in orange sauce and it was very nice. With ice cream, because why not? Everything is better with ice cream.

🎶 Oh I don’t like the smell of bananaaaas 🍌 🎶

🎶 No I don’t like the smell of bananas 🍌 at all! 🎶

But overall it was a nice meal and nicer still to be able to eat together outside. It was a cool but pleasant evening and we could be outdoors and they’re vaccinated and I’m halfway there and it was so nice to feel things be almost kind of … normal.

Normal? 10/10: highly recommend!