Senegalese cuisine in my personal opinion is the best on the continent (even though I have not visited the whole of Africa at this writing). I have eaten many African dishes in the States from different associates of mine throughout the years, representing many different countries. Senegal cuisine, personally speaking, outdoes all! I am sure my son, Abdullah, will agree. Al Hamdulilah! I have had a personal cook everywhere I traveled to in Senegal over the years and I am inviting you to come take breakfast, lunch and/or dinner with me.
Setting the table is easy: a tablecloth or mat to place on the floor and one large bowl are all you need. No utensils, no chairs and no individual table mats. How simple is that!
Food is served out of a large communal bowl or platter which is the focal point of the meal. This common tradition connects family, elders and ancestors. Senegalese rarely do things by themselves and mealtime is no exception.
The vegetables and meat are placed into the center of the bed of rice. You may eat only what’s in front of you. It is custom to eat with the right hand only, as the left hand is considered unclean for eating purposes. The food is squished into a ball with the hand before eating. And yes, you may request a utensil until you get the hang of it. Practice makes perfect! My first experience with this was at home in the States. Throughout the meal you may be served with broken off bits of chicken, etc., by the person across from you or beside you. Laying your utensil down on the edge of the platter indicates you’ve had enough and often you may be prompted to continue. It’s really how I gained so much weight! This common gesture is the Alabama way of continued eating to please the cook.
Fresh juices made with natural herbs are great and very popular. My favorite is bissap (sorrel) with coconut juice, fresh ginger and mango.
I am also adding a word of caution: Do NOT use the ice in restaurants or elsewhere unless you know where the water came from — period!
fish, rice and vegetables served at lunch time
Cheebu jen is the national dish of Senegal. This boldly flavored combination of fish, rice and vegetables simmered in tomato sauce is a hearty one–pot meal. You can make it with any fish or vegetables you have on hand, including potatoes, cassava, squash or pumpkin, and plantains.
Get your copy of Return to Glory today at the link below!
Summer is well on it’s way and before you know it the new school year will be upon us. What are your children reading this summer to get ready? Here are some great reads from Mindworks Publishing for reinforcing Islamic and moral values with fun, color and meaningful stories. 🙂
The A Quranic Odyssey chapter book series by Umm Muhemmed is the first of its kind at Mindworks Publishing. Khadijah is taking a hands-on approach to teaching her children Ibrahim and Amna to memorize verses from the Quran by utilizing their environment and every day tasks to reinforce the true meanings behind the words and lessons contained within. Written with humor and narrated through the voice of an American Muslim mother who is doing her best to balance family, work and religious duties, A Quranic Odyssey: Towards Juz Amma and Ya Seen: A Hifdh Journey in America are a great read for all ages!
I can’t think of a better way to reach young children than with song and Author Elizabeth Lymer seems to have mastered the ability to write Islamic and religious nursery rhymes that engage young children with song while simultaneously teaching and inspiring them. Mindworks Publishing has been fortunate enough to be a part of Sister Elizabeth’s writing journey and has published five books of her nursery rhymes, two of which are coloring books!
You Are Beautiful and Your Life Matters are two timely story books that address some of the challenges of racism in American society in a way that builds bridges of understanding, acceptance, compassion and peace.
Authors Robyn Abdusamad and F.A. Ibrahim have done a wonderful job at addressing this sensitive issue in a way that is easy for children to understand and implement.
Hijab has to be one of the most talked about and one of the most misunderstood aspects of Islam. We at Mindworks have made a conscious effort to promote understanding of hijab, not only because we are Muslim women who wear hijab but also because we see the need for a voice that speaks about hijab without judgement, bias, or negativity. Here are our story and coloring books on the topic.
Spring is here! This time of year always reminds me of trips to the public library and enjoying a new book!
A lot of people utilize the spring weather for getting back on track with their exercise regimens, but did you know that reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body? Science has proven that reading can improve concentration, improve your memory and reduce stress?
And most significantly, one of the first commands to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was to read!
Pick up a book today, or give the gift of reading to someone! We hope you’ll consider and recommend our books in your efforts!
Peace and blessings to you!
Here’s an excerpt from my first attempt at contemporary women’s fiction. 🙂 The book is titled Full Circle and is the first installment of a series – I’ve already started working on book two. I hope you like it!
From Chapter Two
“Why didn’t you tell me that he was divorced?” Corinne demanded of Abbie later that night in her old bedroom as she undressed. “A little heads up would have been nice.”
“What?!” Abbie shouted back incredulously from where she lay sprawled upon Corinne’s bed flipping through a magazine, already in her pajamas. “This from the woman who refuses to even say his name? You get so weird when I even mention him. Tell me exactly how you would have expected me to share that little bit of information with you?”
Corinne tossed her discarded clothes into the empty clothes hamper by her closet and pulled on a pair of light gray sweatpants.
“You’ve managed to tell me everything else about him!” Corinne insisted angrily. “He’s the sheriff now, he’s still living on the ranch, and he comes over for dinner every Sunday . . . but nothing at all about his getting divorced from his wife!”
Abbie closed the magazine and rolled over onto her back to stare at Corinne with amusement and Corinne was transported back to the days of high school as she looked back at her older sister, laying there framed by the frilly white drapes upon Corinne’s canopy bed. Pulling on a faded, once violet colored, University of Washington t-shirt and dropping heavily onto the bed beside her sister, she suddenly felt depressed.
“You should have found a way to tell me, Abbie,” Corinne stated firmly. “You never seem to care about how I feel when it comes to him. You just flit around in your own little world and act as if there’s something wrong with me. This is important.”
“I do not!” Abbie objected and sat up on the bed. “You’ve said repeatedly for the past five years that you were over him so I took your word for it!”
“I am over him! So why didn’t you just tell me about the divorce if you took my word for it?” Corinne demanded again; she felt so confused and highly emotional – she hadn’t expected this at all.
Abbie jumped up from the bed and began walking towards the door.
“Because I didn’t want to get your hopes up, ok?” she answered angrily and opened the bedroom door to storm out.
Corinne sat there astounded for a minute before following Abbie out of the room and down the stairs.
“Well, thanks, a lot,” Corinne huffed as she pursued Abbie through the parlor and dining room to kitchen. “So you didn’t tell me because you thought I would make a fool of myself again.”
“I didn’t say that,” Abbie replied stiffly as she rummaged through the refrigerator for something to eat.
“But that’s what you meant,” Corinne accused and sat down at the kitchen table to glare at Abbie.
“No it isn’t, crazy-woman,” Abbie retorted and bit into a chunk of smoked salmon before putting it onto a plate beside several large spoonful’s of potato salad.
“Then what do you mean by ‘I didn’t want to get your hopes up,’” Corinne asked as tears began to inexplicably well in her eyes.
Abbie sighed deeply with exasperation and explained, “He was really into her, Cori. You only saw a glimpse of it. I’m kind of glad that you weren’t here. It turned my stomach to see the way April treated him and I know it would have only hurt you more to watch him. I personally don’t think he’s ready to move on and I didn’t want to tell you because I didn’t want you to think that I was trying to set you two up or anything; and he’s a Muslim now. He converted to the Islamic religion a few months ago and he doesn’t date. Ever. Believe me, just about every single female on the Res has tried to get him out on a date. I figured you’d get to see him soon enough and that you’d decide for yourself what you wanted to do when you got here.”
Abbie’s eyes were sincere and she had stopped eating to make her point clear. She continued solemnly.
“I’ve never thought that there was something wrong with you, Cori,” Abbie said gently and placed her hand over Corinne’s. “You’re my sister. I’m always going to be on your side. I just didn’t want to see you get hurt again.”
Corinne blinked away the tears and smiled half-heartedly. If Abbie was anything at all, it was brutally honest. Hearing her sister recount how much in love Delsin had been with April hurt, but she needed to know that. And Islam – wow. Apparently losing April had devastated him so much that he’d turned to religion, and knowing that he was likely in the middle of a spiritual journey made her feel as if she were being incredibly selfish for even having this conversation.
“Ok,” she finally responded to Abbie. “I’m sorry.”
Abbie smiled and waved her hand dismissively before replying.
“No apologies necessary,” she said and offered Corinne a spoonful of potato salad but Corinne turned up her nose: she was stuffed from eating all afternoon and evening, but Abbie, the bottomless pit that she was, could apparently still eat all day and all night.
“So he was really upset about the divorce?” Corinne probed and tried to appear casual in asking by centering the vase of yellow sunflowers and white lilies on the tabletop.
Abbie was inhaling her food and didn’t notice.
“Yeah,” she answered belatedly in mid-chew. “It was awful. We kept Leotie for a few days while he stayed with Matty at the beach house after he found out about it: the divorce. He hadn’t even known about the divorce until he was served papers when he was at work at the station. She’s such a witch.”
Corinne bit her lip and thought hard about that. She couldn’t deny that hearing about the divorce had given her a little hope, but at the same time, she’d seen for herself just how in love Delsin and April had been, at least how much in love they had appeared to be. She wouldn’t have stayed away for so long if she hadn’t witnessed it for herself. Now she found herself wanting to understand what had happened between them – as far as Corinne had been able to tell during the times when she had visited, the two of them had been mutually in love with one another, but that must not have been the case if April had filed for divorce; and this was the first that Corinne was hearing about April being a witch.
“Why did she file for divorce?” Corinne asked and this time she got Abbie’s full attention.
Abbie raised a perfectly tweezed eyebrow suspiciously and asked, “And why exactly do you want to know?”
Corinne shrugged indifferently and with her most innocent, wide-eyed expression answered, “Just curious. They both seemed so in love. I’m surprised, that’s all.”
Abbie didn’t buy it but shrugged and answered anyway.
For more you can get the book in e-book or paperback format at Amazon here . . .
Our next author in the spotlight is Queen Sheba D. Cisse, a writer and humanitarian that I had the pleasure to meet nearly eight years ago through Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA), the internationally based group for Muslim women writers that we both belong to.
Her work with the non-profit that she runs, Queen Sheba Village Inc. (QSV), was and remains inspiring as it focuses on the well being of women and children in rural Senegal, West Africa. The education, health and business-building entrepreneurship programs that they provide help impoverished families become financially independent, and they seek to create conditions where small villages are modernized, economically stable and better connected to Greater Senegal. It is her work with QSV and her travels abroad which has inspired her to write Return To Glory.
Return to Glory: A Travel Guide For African Americans Returning To Roots is more than just a travel guide, it’s an invitation to African Americans, the descendants of the displaced by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, and to all people of various cultures and ethnicities, to return to their place of birth – the cradle of humanity. Sister Sheba extends her hand, and shares her experience with the readers, leading us along the journey home with wisdom, humor, expertise and warmth. The book also features vibrant, colorful pictures and original artwork.
Elizabeth Lymer was one of the first authors to publish with us at Mindworks but she has since branched out to publish more titles on her own. She writes almost every day, and frequently enjoys reading, singing, and storytelling with her young children.
Her writing centers around young Muslim, Christian, Jewish, and global citizen readership who are interested in fun ways to engage with Abrahamic faiths.
The books that she has published with Mindworks Publishing are:
And her additional titles include:
Author Umm Muhemmed is the writer of the A Quranic Odyssey Islamic chapter book series about brother and sister Ibrahim and Amna and their learning adventures with their mother Khadija.
Book One, A Quranic Odyssey, Towards Juz ‘Amma, introduces us to the adorable duo, Ibrahim and Amna, as they embark upon their journey of Quranic memorization (hifdh) while book two, Ya Seen: a hifdh journey in America, continues a year later during the month of Ramadan as they work at memorizing Surah Ya Seen.
Umm Muhemmed is an American born development economist. Her entry into hifdh al Quran dates to 2010 under the tutelage of Hafidha Rayhaanah. It is an ongoing pursuit, together with her two children, and one which she seeks to share via the Quranic Odyssey Series with Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Her hope and prayer is that the story will be a vehicle of learning and peace for parents, children, and teachers as well.
Robyn Abdusamad is one of the authors that has published with us at Mindworks and she has written a sweetly endearing story about diversity and tolerance. You Are Beautiful explores the cultural challenges that we as a society face when racism and prejudice trickle into the hearts of our children. This story also provides some ideas for eradicating such prejudices through embracing one another and our differences.
Sister Robyn has also written another book, Wahid and His Special Friend, journeying into the imaginative world of a little boy and providing a warm, inviting read for children of all ages.
Both books are available on Amazon.com:
You can still obtain copies through Creative Education and Publishing, we have simply decided to offer copies as well so that they may be obtained as a bundle with our other books from the Faithful Hearts Series, Hannah Habibi Learns About Modesty and the Sameerah and Hannah Coloring Book.
You can purchase copies of the Faithful Hearts Series on Amazon: