Yes, pause to read that for a second, turn your head to one side, look up at the words again, and then remember that Dunni is crazy like that, and then you continue reading. Hahahahahaha. Yes of course, why not.
I am writing this on Oscar night, a few hours to the main event and watching one of these programmes in the run up to the event, and watching these people at the top of their game, watching their experiences, and hearing them tell their stories, is so inspiring. I laughed hard at some bits, some made me smile, and others darned near made me cry, some I found myself clapping for. Not to be arrogant or anything, but I could see myself in these people. I get asked all the time how I do what I do, and my default answer has always been “I don’t know”. After watching this programme, where past, winners, past and present nominees were interviewed, I can finally say I know how I do what I do. I push myself. I watched that show, and thought back to famous actors and actresses, that have never even been nominated before, and I can see why these select people have been. They are different, they aren’t just the MVP’s by luck, but sheer hard work and dedication to their craft. There is always going to be a select few at the top, that is how nature works. The Steven Spielberg’s the Martin Scorcese’s the Tom Hanks, the Meryl Streep’s The Judi Dench’s, The Daniel Day Lewis’s, I can go on and on. I mean to get to the pinnacle of your craft must be a very special thing. One thing that echoed through all of their words was, no matter how hard it is, it is so rewarding, and here I am, this 80’s baby, and I can finally say, this is the most rewarding thing I have ever done with my life. Of course when the roles of being a wife and Mum get added to my life, they hopefully will be equally as rewarding.
So, why am I cheesing over an industry that is so far removed from me, technically it is not that far of, because there are things we have in common, such as talent, lights, cameras, and connecting to large audiences, and just being a super star, hehehehehe. Even if you take away all that, the Oscars have always been inspiring for me. Last year was the year of Lupita, and I remember exactly what I was doing this time last year. I remember repeating those words, and 1 year later, I still find myself chanting it. When I get all these images of what I want to do with my gift and I get scared of how they will manifest, I say back to myself, Dunni, your dreams are valid. No matter if you are technically this not found person yet, outside the Nigerian environment, if Lupita can go from Shuga to Drama School to Oscar winner in such a short time, nothing is impossible. I woke up to hear the Oscar winners, and I was screaming for Eddie Redmayne. He doesn’t know me, but I wanted him to win. Yaaaaaaay, I am in a good mood today, because a BIG announcement is coming up this afternoon, like MAJOR.
Anyways, how did this cray cray idea come up. Quinoa. Yup, from the most disgusting of foods, came this sweet, spicy and salty baby. Please Quinoa is nasty, don’t even try selling me the idea. Someone dropped a comment on IG about Quinoa tasting like Pestilence and Grief, and It is the funniest thing I have heard so far this year. I put up a post on IG asking for ideas to like Quinoa, and everyone came back with a savoury option. I don’t like it when an ingredient defeats me, so I thought of my granogi parfait and said, okay, Quinoa, I will make you sweet, maybe just maybe I will be able to tolerate it. I searched on IG for sweet Quinoa ideas, and I came across this gorgeous picture of Quinoa porridge and candied almonds. My brain locked in, and looking at the almonds, I remembered that almonds are a good substitute for Egusi, and then I thought, wait a minute, what if I flip it backwards. If almonds can be used for egusi soup, then egusi can be candied, in the place of almonds. Oooooooooh, yessssssss. I did think it was crazy for a second, but hey, I do crazy. I do it weeeeeell. So last night, with oscar buzz going on tv, I pushed myself to try this out. Batch one burnt, because I wasn’t watching it, but batch two was so perfect, I wanted to scream, where is my food Oscar. Loooool.
What does it taste like? Like a nutty, buttery, sweet version of Egusi. The first few chews will confuse your brain for a bit, then when understanding sets in, you will not put this down, I promise. Make sure you make a decent portion batch, because once you start munching, you won’t stop. Let’s candy some Egusi, shall we.
- 1 cup of Egusi
- 1 tablespoon of cold Unsalted Butter - optional
- Dry pepper - cayenne pepper
- Melt butter and Egusi in a pan. I chose to use butter, because it provided some much needed moisture. My first batch was without butter, and the Egusi burned much quicker, and the candy was drier. You can use margarine or leave it out completely. If you do, watch it closely on low heat
- Once the butter has melted with the Egusi, keep stirring, and add dry pepper and salt. Keep stirring until well combined, and you will also hear and see the Egusi start to pop in the pan.
- Before the butter gets completely absorbed and the egusi seeds starts to burn, add the honey. I wasn't measuring the honey, but pour enough to cover the egusi seeds
- Keep stirring and you will notice the honey starts to deepen in colour.
- At first, it will look like the Egusi is swimming in the honey, but as the colour of the honey deepens and thickens, it starts to coat the Egusi. This is also when you should turn down the heat to medium
- Keep stirring and the egusi will bind with the honey, such that you can scoop up without any drizzling, then you need to turn down the heat further and watch it, because it will go from golden brown to burnt so fast.
- Pour from the pan unto a baking sheet and spread out as much as you can. Bake in the oven at 200 for 10 - 12 minutes. Slightly longer if you wish, but not more than 2 - 3 minutes.
- Take it out of the oven and allow to cool. Be careful, this will be very hot. The honey will melt in the oven pooling across the Egusi, and as it cools down it will harden. You can leave it to harden and break out into barks, like this
- Or, before it totally cools down and hardens, mold it into small bite sized balls
- Or you can have a bit of both
- While it is still warm, you can also roll in some desiccated coconut, for extra flavour
- Serve as a snack, or with your oatmeal porridge, tapioca porridge or quinoa porridge. That is if you can wait, because as soon as these pop into your mouth, the chewy sweet goodness is unstoppable
It reminds you of coconut candy doesn’t it
Now breathe, and remember again that Dooney is a gangster cook, nothing is off limits. You can accuse me of many things, not having original ideas, is definitely not one of them. The End.