We loved growing our own vegetables and believe you me, that is my first priority the moment I say good bye to this apartment dwelling lifestyle. As a young girl, during holidays, we accompanied my mother to the farm. I must confess, the planting season was no fun. Rising at the crack of dawn, packing up lunch, trekking a few miles , sowing seeds and patiently waiting for the fruits of our labor. Come time for harvest, we couldn’t wait. Groundnuts, coco yams, corn, huckleberry, cabbage, you name it. From seeds to bags of fresh vegetables, herbs, tubers and more that would feed the family for months to come.
We are blessed with the riches of mother nature I tell ya. Rains from the sky, perfect temperatures, mineral packed soils, little to non existent pollution. Probably wondering where this place is. I am talking about Wum, a small village located in the Northwest province of Cameroon. That is where I spent some of my humble early beginnings. Haven’t been there in over twenty years. Sometimes my sister and I reminisce and picture where what was located; school, church, farm, best friend’s house and more. A lot has probably changed since I was there , one can only hope things changed for the best.
Huckleberry leaves or Njama Njama was one of my favorites. My mom just knew what to do with these the moment they were harvested. You look at her ingredients and wonder how she could create such wonderful flavors. Onions, tomatoes , garlic , maggie cube and some palm oil. This was then paired with fufu corn. Corn we cultivated, harvested, dried and ground to cornmeal, talk about self sufficiency!
Life does take us to different places. Change is inevitable; adapt and work with what you have. “No huckleberry leaves?” Well I have fresh spinach leaves. You can use frozen chopped spinach leaves but that takes away the home feel for me, I taste the difference (But you can definitely make the substitution) .I wanted to create a dish similar to my mom’s Njama Njama recipe with fresh spinach.
Wash leaves thoroughly , cut off hard stalk, then roughly chop spinach.Blanch spinach for about about a minute. Squeeze to remove excess water and this is ready for stewing.
Stewed Spinach w/ Grilled salmon
- 2 bunch fresh spinach leaves
- 1 cup diced Roma tomatoes
- 1/2 small yellow onions sliced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon
- Vegetable bouillon to taste.
- Bring water to boil in a 3 quart saucepan. Throw in spinach, gently stir to ensure its well soaked in water. Cook for about a minute, strain and let cool. Squeeze out excess water and set aside.
- In a medium saute pan, heat oil. Add in onions and let cook for about 1 minute or until translucent and starts to turn slightly brown. Add in garlic and tomatoes and let cook for ~ 5 minutes.
- Add spinach, stir well to completely mix spinach with sauce. Let cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. ( Longer if too watery from spinach). Season to taste with bouillon and a little pepper if desired.
- Serve with fufu corn or boiled ripe plantains.
- 2 salmon fillets ~ 1/2 lb
- 1 tablespoon Essiespice Meko Dry Rub
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Rinse and pad dry salmon with paper towel. Season with salt and meko dry rub.
- Heat stove top grill, drizzle olive oil and sear skinless side of salmon for ~ 3mins. Flip and cook for another 3 minutes. Carefully move to oven and bake for about 7 minutes (This depends on thickness of the pieces). Serve on spinach stew.
For the not so faint at heart, you might not want to try this, but for the thrill seekers out there; traditionally we add some heat by adding whole scotch bonnet peppers when adding the spinach ( Careful not to break it while stirring, they really do pack some heat ). Leave part of the stem on. If you dare, remove stem after cooking and squeeze a few drops for that extra heat.