Namibia Dreaming

I have been studying the dietary habits of a group of hunter gatherers in Northwestern Namibia for the last three years. I spend months at a time camping in the bush, hiking, running at dawn, learning how to forage for wild foods, and dreaming about salad and brownies. During my time in Namibia, I have been lucky enough to travel around the country in search of beautiful scenery and sample many local culinary delights. Below are some of my favorites. In the next several months, I will try to re-create these recipes in my American-German kitchen.

1. Rusks

My favorite Namibian treat, with tea.
My favorite Namibian treat, with tea.

DSC_0623eRusks are like a bland, less sweet biscotti. They come in many flavors and are best enjoyed with hot, milky tea. I find them extremely addictive, which might explain whyI have yet to try making my own. While camping in the bush, I often eat commercially made ‘breakfast’ rusks or ‘buttermilk’ rusks in the morning, but when in town I’ll buy fancy brands in the supermarket. Some of my favorites are muesli rusks, and buttermilk health rusks, but I’ve even tried chocolate chip! The best rusks are home-made at my friends’ farm. Freshly baked, these treats can be stored a room temperature for several weeks, which makes it easy to bake up a huge batch.

2. Malva Pudding

Malva pudding is a British style, steamed pudding that is soaked with a sweet, buttery sauce after baking. I’ve had some success making my own, but haven’t yet achieved the right combination of moisture without sogginess or the right level of sweetness. My last attempt was sickeningly sweet and left me guzzling water.

This decadent dessert is warm, gooey, homey, and best enjoyed with liberal helpings of cream and ice cream.
This decadent dessert is warm, gooey, homey, and best enjoyed with liberal helpings of cream and ice cream.

3.ย  Craft Cafe Apple Crumble

This is my ultimate Namibian craving...warm, cinnamon-y apples with a buttery crumble topping.
This is my ultimate Namibian craving…warm, cinnamon-y apples with a buttery crumble topping.

American apple crisp is one of my all-time favorite desserts, but this crumble gives crisp a run for its money. As fall approaches I am planning many buttery-apple baking experiments. This crumble topping is quite different from the brown sugar and oat based crisp topping that made me fall in love with apple desserts. As you can see, there is more crumble than apple in this dessert, and dried currants hidden among the crumbles are a pleasant surprise. I think that my version will reverse the crumble-apple ratio, but I hope to retain the same buttery decadence and strong cinnamon flavor.

ย 4.ย  Health Scone

I love muffins, and tweaking my favorite muffin and quick bread recipes to support a healthy diet was what initially excited me about baking. These muffins are not whole grain, but the contain bran for a bit of fiber, and are moist without being buttery or overly decadent. They are strewn with mixed dried fruit and seeds, and one muffin is a big enough breakfast or lunch for two. I might add a bit of whole grain flour, and perhaps some dried cranberries for the fall, but first I’d like to nail the original!

These giant muffins at the Craft Cafe in Windhoek are filled with seeds and dried fruit, and are wonderful accompanied by a hot mug of coffee with brown sugar and steamed milk.
These giant muffins at the Craft Cafe in Windhoek are filled with seeds and dried fruit, and are wonderful accompanied by a hot mug of coffee with brown sugar and steamed milk.

I am featuring my favorite Namibian baked treats, but the local seafood and game steaks are even more impressive. I am currently land-locked in pork-country, so re-creating my favorite meat and seafood delicacies will have to wait ๐Ÿ™‚

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