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Travel Photo Thursday: Table Mountain

View of Cape Town from Table Mountain

Table Mountain was not on our itinerary, not for that gorgeous day. After an emotionally charged visit to Robben Island, all we wanted to do was have a meal and take a nap.

But Ian, our guide, insisted. The weather was perfect, he said. There was no guarantee we’d have another one, best to take advantage. If the clouds came in, visibility on Table Mountain would be reduced. I know this mountain, he said. You only have five days, why wait for tomorrow when you could see something else? We’re so close.

We insisted. We huddled among ourselves. We were adamant. We didn’t want a tour guide to commandeer our vacation. After all, for more than a week, we’d had people telling us what to do and when do it. And after Cape Town, we’d have another tour guide shepherding us around. Independent people, we wanted our freedom or a least a little latitude.

I can’t remember now what Ian said that clinched it. But I’m glad he didn’t give up. It was the best decision we made that day. As it turned out, it rained all day the next day and for several days after that, Table mountain looked as if a crisp white tablecloth had been spread over it.

View of Cape Town from Table Mountain

From that moment, we never objected to anything Ian recommended.

Tasty Thursdays: July 4th Jerk

Little Ochie Jerk Lobster - Maynefoto

Jerk is both a style of cooking and the mix of spices used to make jerk. It is a very popular way of cooking in Jamaica that has grown from chicken to pork, fish, sausage, tofu, lobster, etc.

My earliest memories of jerk was of a man who used to sell jerk chicken door-to-door on his

Little Ochie Jerk Lobster – Maynefoto

bicycle. Back then, making jerk was an elaborate affair – it was always slow-cooked in the open over pimento wood, which gave it a distinct flavor. Jerk all but disappeared in the 1960s but it saw a huge resurgence in the 1970s when some enterprising chefs duplicated the sauce and made it available in bottles and packages.

Thanks to Jamaicans abroad who wish for a taste of home, jerk has gone international.

At home, especially in tourist areas, jerk is big business but, as you’d expect, it’s been watered down considerably to accommodate those who are averse to the peppery jerk taste. (Earlier this year, I wrote a post, Jamaica-In Search of the Real Jerk about finding authentic jerk in Jamaica.)

Peppery or not, jerk is still a delicious way to cook. You can bet it’ll be on the menu this weekend at many July 4th barbecues.

Here are two recipes to try.

Stir-Fried Caribbean Vegetables with Jerk Tofu

I discovered this recipe a few years ago. It is one of my favorites and disappears pretty quickly whenever I make it.

Ingredients

1 tbsp Walkerswood Jerk Marinade or Jerk Seasoning (you can substitute any jerk seasoning from the supermarket or the one below)

2 tbsp palm, peanut, sesame or soy oil

500 g/1lb. firm tofu, cubed

1 onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Oil, for frying

For the vegetables:

About 1kg/2 lbs. total of any combination of carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, green cabbage, pak choy, sweet peppers and/or broccoli

Directions

Mix together jerk seasoning and oil, add to tofu and marinate for at least an hour (preferably overnight).

Heat the frying oil in a wok or suitable skillet. Deep fry the tofu cubes for 3-5 minutes and reserve. Pour out most of the oil and stir-fry the onion and garlic; then begin to add the other vegetables, hardest first. Cook very lightly; then add the tofu and stir in gently until hot. Serve immediately.

Serves 4. Preparation time: 15 minutes plus 1 hour (or up to overnight) marinating plus 10 minutes cooking.

Jerk Tofu recipe courtesy of Walkerswood Caribbean Kitchen by Virginia Burke.


David’s Jerk Chicken

Ingredients

½ cup Jerk Rub*

1 onion, finely chopped

1 Scotch bonnet pepper, minced

Leaves from 1 fresh thyme sprig, minced

2 scallions, including green parts, finely chopped

1 chicken (3 to 3 ½ pounds), cut into serving pieces

Directions

Mix together the jerk seasoning, onion, pepper, thyme and scallions. Rub the chicken well all over with the jerk rub. Cover and refrigerate for 4-6 hours.

Prepare a low fire in a charcoal grill using a combination of charcoal and pimento wood. (If you don’t have pimento wood, substitute applewood or hickory, or build a fire with just charcoal. If you’re using a gas grill, preheat it to 225° to 250°F.

Place the chicken on the grill and cook, covered, for 1 to 1 ½ hours, turning every 10 minutes or so. When it’s done, the chicken will take on a very dark color, the juices will run clear when the meat is pierced, and the internal temperature will have reached 160°F.

*Jerk Chicken Rub

1 onion, finely chopped

½ cup finely chopped scallions, including green parts

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground Jamaican allspice

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

4-6 Scotch Bonnet or habanero peppers, minced fine

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Using a mortar and pestle or a food processor, combine all the ingredients and grind to a paste. Store leftover paste in the refrigerator in a tightly closed jar for about 1 month.

Makes about 1 cup; enough for 406 pounds of meat

Jerk Chicken recipe courtesy of Jerk from Jamaica by Helen Willinsky

Enjoy your 4th!

 

Harlem’s Backyard Gems

Facade, Red Rooster

“Harlem’s Backyard Gems is my entry into TBEX Blog Carnival Contest sponsored by Choice Hotels International Services Corp.

When I decided to move to New York in the late 90s, the only place I wanted to live in was Harlem. I imagined myself in a brownstones like the one of a family friend I visited in the 1970s that became symbolic of this historic neighborhood. With sweeping steps that led to beautifully hand-crafted double doors it seemed to welcome everyone in.

But brownstones are just one of many things Harlem is known for. Formerly a Dutch village, Harlem got its name from the city of Haarlem in the Netherlands. It was also once the second largest Jewish community in the U.S. and home to a large population of Italians.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Refreshing

Refreshing - Maynefoto

Refreshing. The glass that sat near my desk as I worked - Maynefoto

 

A few weeks ago, when the temperature hit the mid-90s, all I wanted to drink was water. Normally, I don’t use ice but when it gets really hot, I keep a pitcher of ice cold water and a glass pretty close by.