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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New blog post. Check it out @
I will not be denied!!!
After much heartache with the computer I finally got a chance to log on to finish this blog. Check out part 2 of my Christmas food memories. Thank you all for the support. Please do leave your comments, they help a lot. And why not, follow the blog for sure.

Feasting on Christmas Memories - Xmas gone mad part 2

I will not be denied.

Hello there, yes it is now boxing day, the day after Christmas (yes, I wrote this two days ago, leave mi alone nuh, cho) and I will now commence the part Deux as promised. Okay, so that is not quite what I wrote the first time before I accidentally deleted my blog but I will recapture what I wrote becuase I liked what I wrote, damn it !! As best I can that is, bloody ass computers. alright, enough of that. Yes it is Boxing day and when I was growing up for me that meant a day at the movies. Oh please, put on new clothes that came in the barrel my sister sent down. Me push gawn a town to see the triple or quad martial arts (kickers) bill at either Carib, Odeon or State theaters. But alas, I can't really expand too much on that because the only food I would talk about it is that putrid tasting popcorn they had back then along with the gas infusing soda water. Mi hear seh dem a style now, all have imported flavored water, cooyah, sclaaatt!!
In my last blog we were looking forward to having Christmas dinner at my house. Well, let's get on with it already.  Now that the table is now cleared, time for some cousin to cousin catch up and maybe get some nibbles from the kitchen, see what mama can let off. Maybe a little fry up chicken neck, gizzard or something. I must try tief off a piece of cake, from the bottom of course silly..pardon me, professional at work here..and of course at sometime during the day I will try and lend a helping hand. My cousins and granny are here but I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the family. Christmas is a family treat for me seeing as it was only me, papa and mama in the house. I'm excited to see my Uncles (R.I.P. gentlemen) because dis boy is getting a little pocket change. Hey, I'm just keeping it real man, always hustling bro. I will also see the rest of my cousins and any other family friend that may stop by. Knowing my mama, even some of the estate workers will be fed today, beats some dry bread and D & G soda. mama used to sell dat pon payday but that is another blog coming soon at an Irie Spice blog page near you.
Dinner time..oh hell yes, we have to fast forward this ting ya man, for the xmas food memories dem wreaking havoc on my craven belly...well former craven belly that is, for you know that as a yute I could put it away. Dinner is almost ready but in the mean time, let me give you a run down on what the feast will be like. Did I mention that it is now 4.30, just four or so hours after breakfast? Mama got skilz - please, pay no never mind to my Ebonics. I now understood though that everything was not all done within that frame time for she knew how to plan and prioritize, both important tools in any kitchen I dare say.  Wicked carrot juice made with lime juice, brown sugar and rum; Sour Sop (Guanabana) juice made with condensed milk, nutmeg and need I dare say it, rum of course. And you wonder where I get my love for my favorite brown liquor. Sorry, that Baccardi white stuff just won't do. Can't have Chrismas without the jewel of Xmas beverages. Yes man there MUST be Ginger Sorrel (refreshing beverage made from the fruity flowers of the Hibiscuss plant) drink on the ready, nice and cold mi seh. Just not the same without it. So those are the libations, now for the really gooood no particular order that is.
Rice with coconut milk and Gungo (Gandules) peas, salad with shredded carrot, tomatoes and whatever else mama want to throw in with a quick vinaigrette of lime juice, sugar, vinegar and oil served on the side. One big roast chicken, free range of course - what di hell we did know bout free range back then. We would just ketch di little ras and chop off im head. Dip him in some hot water and pluck off feathers - you better recognize. Nice well done roast beef wid all kind a sinting stuff up in it...yes it was well done. Rare meat at Jamaicam table!! but u musi waan get your cook card revoked and get fling out a kitchen. Curried goat, some oxtails, potato salad with; green peas, onion and eggs. Man, I could eat a whole bowl of that just by itself right now in the wee hours ya right now. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that killer home cured ham that was scored, laced with pineapple and implaled with tiny cloves. I mention the ham because this leg came from the pens in the back of the house. Yes bless you Jerry, weeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!  We had fun times wathcing you grow from a piglet to squirly beast with almost human like personality, but Christmas was coming and I needed new school clothes, did you not see mi big toe a pop out a mi boot?...Sell him, a pound a pork please!!! Lawd gesam pees, Can't wait fo New Year fi Nyam di ham bone Gungo peas soup, you fenne. Boss soup is coming y'all, nutin can't touch this. Yes my Haitian bredrins, I will not infringe on your rights to have Soup Joumou. Rounding out the usual suspects would be some green beans and mac & cheese - don't hate I say. Oh yeah, I can't forget the fry snapper fish, I told you Christmas was the one time of the year we do it up big. Whatever your means were, even if you are knocking two cans of bullybeef with some rice & butter and two piece a slice salad. That would be tomatoes for you wana be yardies or non islanders. Chalk it up to island pride. Well, it sounds like everyting deh pon di table. I guess we need to dig in after Papa say grace. I need to mention that from the chicken, Papa always got the breast, man a house buisness. Mama would take some bony part like the back or wing for herself and everything else for our guests. For me, I had to have a chicken leg. What! but after you never waan see me screw and wrinch up mi face. I remember one Christmas while eating dinner I had my chicken leg hanging over the side of the table and the dog jumped up and snatched it and bolted out the door..Hear mi man, I run him down and grabbed it from his tiefing mouth. I believe that damn dog did lose him mental faculty for a brief moment. Don't worry for I did straighten him out. I shat him a bax and proceeded to just wash off the leg to blousecup. PETA, get the hell off a mi ass.
So dishes are being passed, spoons are serving, forks are clanging on plates, chatter fills the room. I am happy. I am happy because my family is here, my house is filled with familiar genes and DNA. We will dine and later have dessert, for the Christams cake and more sorrel must be unveiled. Lawd gosh, a hope mama nuh look under the bottom a di cake..I guess this would be a good time to mention that I created some new memories this Christmas in 2010. I took a way long overdue trip to go see my Aunt and Uncle on the west coast of Florida in North Port. The fact that it was surprise was fantastic but even more of a blessing for me was that I hadn't seen my aunt in over 20 years and my uncle her husband in over 35years..Wow is right. I won't bother get into the why, let's just say I own that. After hugs and long looks to see what I now looked like, Aunty made me breakfast of fried bacon, eggs, toast, sliced avocado and coffee. Dinner was at friend;s house that evening and my dear peoples was a thowdown. Yes, yu know weh a come, sclaaattt!!! The next morning she made me Ackee and saltfish with fried bacon in it and fried dumplings, toast and sliced avocado with coffee on the side. Yep, I feel a little De Ja Vu tugging on my sleeves. To top off the day there was roast beef with gravy and rice with coconut milk and Gungo peas, steamed broccoli and juice for dinner. At this moment I must take a deep sigh, ahhhhh!!!!

I am happy. I am happy I took the trip for this was indeed a merry Christmas. My Christmas food memories have certainly gone mad. Interesting to see what a Chef Irie Christmas menu would look like...ummmm!!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Yes folks, the first part of the blog is up. Do take a look see, drop a comment or two, definitely appreciate it for sure.
From myself and the staff of Irie Spice Personal Chef Catering Services I want to wish all my FaceBook and Twit family a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. Happy Holidays everybody.

Feasting on Christmas memories - Xmas gone mad, part 1

Ackee & Saltfish with fried Plantains
Breadfruits roasting on an open fire
So, here we are again  the eve of the great day of the birth of Christ. The time I hear also for "Santa" to start checking the gear for his sled and the harnesses for the reindeers for world wide gift deliveries. If he passes by Jamaica let's hope his rotundus rear doesn't fall into another mango tree to bawl out, "Lawd wat a Chrismus tree".  Alas, enough about homie in the big red suit. Invariably it seems that most of us are here from somewhere else or we know someone from another country.  We've all invited them ourselves or been invited to partake in Xmas culinary delights, be it a figgy pudding, curried goat, black cake, sage pumpkin sausage stuffing, powda bone oxtail, tamarind glazed roast beef, bad bwoy herbed roasted goose, succulent glazed clove studded ham, truffled chestnut puree, potato salad with; eggs, sweet peas, onions, thyme, creamy mayonnaise. Oh hell, orange Fois Gras terrine with dehydrated raspberries sounds good too, let's throw that in as well.  Breakfast usually got the ball rolling and this wasn't until my grandmother and my two cousins, (Paulette and Maureen) that went to church with her, had arrived. I now find it incredulous that there was so much food around this time of year.  When granny arrived mama released the belly pleasers, but only after we set the table. Unless of course you're from an island paradise like myself,  indulging on the likes of the following could prove to detrimental to your health; boiled green bananas, sauteed kidneys and liver, ackee and saltfish, fried and boiled dumplings, steamed callaloo, scrambled eggs with tomato and sometimes saltfish, roast & fried breadfruit, hard dough bread wid some nice soft butter, chocolate (choklit) tea, blue mountain coffee....sclaaaaat!! and this was only 11:30, let the feast begin. I did say this was breakfast right because dinner still lef fi come. Not from Jamaica, you better recognize, mek somebady adopt you please. Yes sir, my Christmas food memories are in full effect.

Jamaican Christmas Black Cake
Ok, let me back up a second cause I man nuh waan you miss nutin zeen... Si, Xmas prep started about three weeks or so before when there was the annual pig string up -sounds a little more humane heh- where one of the pork shoulders was going to be cured for ham. That's right, mama made it all from scratch and I never saw a recipe book. When that shoulder was seasoned for curing with appropriate spices and wads of salt petre, wrapped in newspaper and burlap and refrigerated it was now time to ready the wine soaked fruits for cake baking. This meant if there wasn't enough in the jars from last year they had to be topped off, more fruits, more wine, more rum needed to be added. Raisins and prunes soaking in wine and rum with spices, marashino cherries and dried candied fruit cut up in another...shet yuh mout bwoy, what you kno bout, you is blaspheming I say. I mention this because it's my preamble to enjoying what I can now call my Holy Grail of kitchen confidential. And what is that you ask?  If I were to close my eyes and let myself drift away, even as a sit here in Marcia's Cafe on State Road 7 in Ft. Lauderdale finishing up some saltfish salsa wid crackers - don't hate, I know I can see that three stone fire place outside, embers popping off into the night, the criss-crossed metal rods outside my kitchen with hell a top, fire a bottom and halle-looooooo-jah in di middle..corn or sweet potato (pitata) pone anyone?

I can smell the fragrant aroma of varying spices: nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, I can smell burnt sugar, melted butter and raw eggs.  For now I can smell the assembly of my favorite cake in the whole world, black Christmas cake. My lips and mouth tremble now because in as much as I loved and still love eating this cake, the prize for me was the ceremonial licking of that damn bowl..lawd jesam pees..nutin nuh sweeta dan dat yuh hear mi. If you have ever been around people that bake, the left over dough and batter is priceless for a kid or some unsuspecting adult. Yep I would lick it now if I could.  God bless you Mama, R.I.P.  Of course, how much I licked was dependent on the skill and dexterity of the index finger of the my mama the baker, and also how tired she may have been at 1 AM. So mama is up shaking and baking and after licking the bowl just like any hungry belly lad that just got a snack my eyes now have started to get dark, heavy and my body is now filled with lethargy. I am sleepy, I can't hang anymore, I am a late night early Xmas morning wuss. I must crawl into bed.  Lawd, is a wonder mi never get belly hot... Soon the morn arrives for then it will be time to give my mother that blue Xandu powder set and my papa that tie I bought earlier the day before. Of course papa is asleep for he will rise early to ride the company issued Honda 50 to go to sunrise service at church. Before he leaves though he will concoct his contribution to Christmas day.  He will make his famous Christmas guiness punch. He would warm that up when he came back and we would all have a sip..of course before granny came. Extras for me..

Ok, so I was talking about breakfast earlier because my granny and cousins are now at the house. Now hear this, Christmas is no joke because all the fine wares are out. Di good china pon di table, new curtains bought or made pon the window frame dem, new slip covers for the settees and hassocks and di nice chenille spread dem for the bedrooms are adorning the just pledge polished mahogany beds. After we have eaten and got caught up with stories and how everyone was doing - no we didn't have no damn telephone, email or fassbook - the dreaded aftermath looms in the air. With belly full the table must be cleared and reset for later. We the rented free labor related slaves must now wash dishes. Well my cousins will for I inevitably must find an excuse to rid myself of this task that I have done so many a night before. The ritis or the i'm your favorite cousin line gets digged out of the back pocket around this time.. Dirty rotten scoundrel I am. Hee hee he heh heh heeeeee!! 
I have thought many times about our Christmas food escapades since I became a chef but I never thought that the connection of Christmas and food was so important to me until now.  This was one of the few times if not the only time of the year I knew I would see most of my family. The day is not done yet for big tings lef fi come for in a few hours Christmas dinner will be served at the Sinclair's residence on Farm 2 in Caymanas Estates. Stay tuned for you must come back for the rest...You must I say..

Monday, December 20, 2010

My blog about My Christmas food memories coming to a page near you soon!!! look out for it..may even throw in a recipe or two..fiyah!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

- If you can't see it does that mean it is not there
- How big can nothing become
- Everything big started from a small thing, sometimes almost nothing at all
- Make it small and it will become the biggest thing you ever created
My thoughts Tuesday night after listening to Willard Wiggan, the micro sculptor showing at Art Basel.