Two years ago I spent a summer volunteering in Ghana. The experience was overwhelming, I grossly miscalculated my ability to deal with small children on a daily basis, and I still absolutely loved it all.

I put being vegan on pause while on this trip, but I had some vague idea that vegetarian would be possible. You know what Ghana interprets vegetarian as? Feeding you the same food as everyone else but with hard boiled eggs on the side. After living on a diet consisting of plain rice and hard boiled eggs 95% of the time, I can quite easily say I am cool with never eating another hard boiled egg. Foods I miss as a vegan: not hard boiled eggs.

But the food wasn’t all bad! What I do miss are the simple palm-oil stews and the presence of yam (not sweet potato) in everything. And so I decided to try making (horribly unauthentic) Ghanaian food myself.

I found fufu at the international market, and I knew I had to buy (and make) it.

The women I cooked with in Ghana (by “cooked with,” I mean they let me stir the stew sometimes) scoffed at the city women who didn’t have the time to make fufu from scratch (a process that involves hours of pounding yam), but I’ve gotta say–this five minute boxed version was pretty darn easy.

I beefed up the classic dish Red Red by adding some less than authentic chickpeas. I also didn’t have palm oil–which is a brilliantly red oil that makes it’s way into almost every dish in Volta–the region of Ghana where I stayed. I used 1T veg oil and 1T sesame oil instead. Almost the real deal.

The stew was great hot–simple, tomato-y and delicious–and I love the mess of eating with fufu (and my fingers). This also made great leftovers-on-lettuce the next day.

I can’t wait until I can travel again.

Let’s pretend I have all the money in the world–where should I travel next? Where would you love to go?