The Proven Platter
19
Nov

The Proven Platter – December 2019

We travel back to the eastern part of Africa this month – to Kenya, the country of origin of December’s featured grantee. Jacaranda Health offers Kenya’s first nurse mentor training center, which trains top nurses from Kenya’s public hospitals to mentor hundreds of peer nurses and sustainably improve maternal outcomes for mothers and babies. That sounds like a cause to celebrate! So, this month I tried to think of a recipe that could accompany celebrations of all kinds, including the holidays. Guess what it is? Details

14
Oct

The Proven Platter – November 2019

In doing research about Swaziland, the country of origin of Young Heroes Foundation, November’s featured grantee, I learned about a dish called sidvudvu. It’s a thick, nutritious porridge made of mashed cornmeal and pumpkin. In other words, corn and winter squash. That particular combination of ingredients seems not unlike something that could be served at a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner. So I had those ideas in mind as I tried to come up with a recipe for this month’s Proven Platter. Details

13
Aug

The Proven Platter – September 2019

September’s featured grantee, Edu-Girls, Inc., is located in India, a vast country with so many distinct culinary regions. If I spent the rest of my life cooking only the foods of India, I’d still have a lot to learn about the foods of India. One thing I definitely know is that cooking and eating the flavorful vegan and vegetarian dishes of India have a positive impact on my taste buds, my food budget, and my health. Details

14
Jun

The Proven Platter – July 2019

Pakistan is the home to this month’s featured grantee, Irqa Fund. Just imagine the culinary possibilities of a country that’s bordered by China, Iran, Afghanistan, and India. Wow! From a cooking perspective, the recipe options seem so exciting, so full of creative possibilities. Truthfully, it would be entirely possible for me to go totally overboard. Details

4
Apr

The Proven Platter – May 2019

It is impossible to think of Afghanistan and not think of war – multiple decades of war. It’s also impossible to think of the shape-shifting role the United States has played during the last 40 years of Afghanistan’s continuous conflict and not consider how impossibly complex the world is. What’s painfully easy to understand? That such protracted political and economic instability has drastically impacted the lives of Afghanistan’s women and girls. Thank goodness for Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation, May’s featured grantee. Details

12
Mar

The Proven Platter – April 2019

We travel back to the western part of Africa this month: to Mauritania, south of Algeria and Morocco, with miles of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean.

I absolutely love the name of April’s featured grantee: Mindleaps! It makes me think of exactly what my mind was doing – all while developing a recipe that was inspired by thieboudienne, the national dish of Mauritania. Here’s what I mean: Lots of sources indicate thieboudienne is a “coastal dish of fish and rice, usually made with tomatoes.” Seems easy enough. But, even a simple-sounding, tomato-based dish of seafood and rice can send my thoughts bouncing around like they’re in a sort of competitive-recipe ping-pong match. Details

6
Feb

The Proven Platter – March 2019, India and Tanzania

It’s such wonderful serendipity that the countries of origin for March’s featured grantee (Her Future Coalition, in India) and sustained grantee (African People and Wildlife, in Tanzania) are inexorably linked by geography and ancient trade routes—and, by extension, food. Details

9
Jan

The Proven Platter – February 2019, Tanzania

It just dawned on me: The very first thing I consult when I think about the cuisine of a country other than the one I’m from isn’t a cookbook – it’s a map! The country of origin of this month’s featured grantee is Tanzania. One brief peek at the tattered world atlas that’s taped to the back of a door in my home office is all it took to set my culinary imagination about this East African country on fire. The mouthwatering geographical cues? The mainland of Tanzania has miles of coastline along the Indian Ocean and is home to Zanzibar – the entry point to East Africa used by spice traders and merchants as early as the 8th century. Not surprisingly, the flavors of India and the Arabian Peninsula are especially prominent in the dishes of this part of Africa. Details

8
Nov

The Proven Platter – December 2018, Around the World Appetizer Party

Hello Diners!

I can’t believe it’s December already! We’re taking on India this month!

Usually, I like to do an “Around the World Appetizer Party” for my last post in December. I think we need to keep things simple in December since we’re all so busy. It feels right for appetizers instead of a full meal. I’ve got some ideas for you, but I also think it’s a great time for you to try out any new appetizer ideas on your friends and get great feedback before the holidays. Details

4
Sep

The Proven Platter – Afghanistan, October 2018

Hello Diners!

This month we are traveling to Afghanistan. Naan, a type of flatbread, is the most widely consumed bread in Afghanistan. But for something more interesting I discovered the Afghan “bolani,” or filled turnover. The most common filling includes mashed potatoes and lots and lots of green onions. For a very earthy flavor, try a Swiss chard filling. Fried or baked, cut into wedges, they make a delicious appetizer. Details

2
Aug

The Proven Platter – September 2018, Malawi

Hello Diners!

This month our good works take us to Malawi. I think we’ve been there a few times before! I picked up one of my go-to African cookbooks, “Zainabu’s African Cookbook,” for inspiration this month. I found a recipe for Beef with Butternut Squash that sounded promising. When I read the recipe, I realized it is very similar to something I’ve made in the past that I’ve really enjoyed. Details

24
May

The Proven Platter, Haiti, June 2018

Hello Diners!

We’re going to Haiti this month. Can you say “pork griot” (gree-oh)? It is one of the most popular dishes you will find there. Chunks of pork are marinated, then simmered until tender and succulent, then fried until caramelized and crispy. You’ll always find it accompanied by “pikliz” (pik-lees), a spicy, vinegared cabbage and carrot relish. The spicy relish makes the perfect complement to the rich and fatty pork. Details

11
Apr

The Proven Platter – Benin, May 2018

Hello Diners!

This month we are traveling to Benin (Beh-NEEN). It is just a tiny slip of a country in West Africa. It runs the long way south to north, and it is surrounded by Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger and Nigeria. The official language is French; however, many indigenous languages are still spoken.

Peanut- and tomato-based sauces are commonly prepared and served over couscous, rice and beans. Yams are a main staple in the north; meats such as beef and pork are used sparingly. In the south, the most common ingredient used is corn, with fish and chicken being the most commonly consumed meats. Details

7
Feb

The Proven Platter – Guatemala, March 2018

Hello Diners!

I am pretty excited about what I’ve got planned for you this month. The country of Guatemala is on the docket. We’ll start out with some guacamole and chips, Guatemalan style, just to whet our appetites. Then it’s on to the main course, Fiambre Rojo. Think of an enormous Italian antipasto platter and you’ll get the idea of what fiambre is all about. And for dessert, how about some dark chocolate crepes filled with a dreamy dulce de leche filling? Yes, please! Details

9
Oct

Proven Platter – The Gambia November 2017

Hello Diners!  

This month we are traveling to a place we haven’t visited yet, The Gambia. You might wonder, why I’ve referred to it as The Gambia, instead of just Gambia. Well, the official name is the Republic of The Gambia, and it is referred to as The Gambia for short. It is just a tiny slip of a country, completely surrounded by Senegal, except for the coastline on the Atlantic Ocean at the western end.   Details

13
Sep

The Proven Platter, Afghanistan, October 2017

Hello Diners!

Afghanistan is the faraway land calling to us to come visit this month!

I’m really excited about the menu I’ve prepared and tested for you. We’ll start with Afghan “Nachos,” for a quick and easy appetizer, followed by the most delicious lamb dish ever, Lamb Kebab with Cinnamon, accompanied by Afghan Flat Bread. Ridiculously easy Afghan Butter Cookies round out the meal. Details

6
Apr

The Proven Platter, Mali – May 2017

Hello Diners!

We are traveling to Mali this month. I think we were just there! For this month’s Proven Platter recipe, I decided to see what was already on the site, and choose a recipe to put through my testing process. The result is that I’ve revamped and replaced the recipe for West African Peanut Soup (Tigua Dege Ne). Details

8
Nov

The Proven Platter – Chad

Hello Diners!

The Republic of Chad, located in northern Central Africa, is the subject of our focus and our dining destination this month.

Okra is one of the most commonly consumed vegetables there. It is used both to thicken sauces and as a vegetable used in preparation of soups and stews. I suppose you either love okra or hate it, but as it happens, I love it! And since I’ve yet to post a recipe calling for okra, I think okra’s time in the spotlight has come. Details

7
Oct

The Proven Platter — Holiday Appetizer Party

Hello Diners!

I’ve got lots of good recipes coming your way this month. I thought I’d share with you a tradition that we have started with my group. Every year in either November or December, depending on what month we are meeting, we plan what we call our “holiday appetizer party.” Initially the idea was to bring a favorite appetizer, or bring an appetizer that you were thinking of trying out for the holidays. There is no better audience for feedback than our enthusiastic DFW members!

It has proved to be really successful and fun. There’s less emphasis on planning a meal and the meeting is a little more casual. We pretty much snack and talk and discuss the whole evening.

Of course, you can bring any type of appetizer you like. But I thought it would be fun, and in keeping with our world mission to plan an “Around the World Appetizer Party!” Details

12
Sep

The Proven Platter – Mali

Hello Diners!

We are off to Mali this month, located in West Africa, in support of the Tandana Foundation. Their Women LEAP program provides literacy and numeracy training, as well as democratic governance and leadership skills.

Often, the program we are supporting will send us recipes that are rooted in their culture. This month we received a very detailed recipe called “Recipe for Toh, (Oro Dja), Traditional Food of the Dogon People,” by Jemima Tembiné. She started learning to cook when she was about 10 years old and has been preparing Toh since she was 15 years old. Near as I can tell, Toh is a dish of millet dough that has been pounded, and served along with different sauces made out of various leaves, dried fish and dried vegetables. Details