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Archives for June 2014

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Pickapeppa Sauce, a Jamaican Original

I hadn’t thought of Pickapeppa Sauce until my friend, Susan, asked me to pick up a bottle for her. Her supply had run out and she couldn’t find the popular sauce in her neighborhood grocery store.

Her simple request brought back a flood of memories reminded me how beloved this original Jamaican sauce is. It is the only prepared sauce my mother and grandmother used.

I remember being fascinated by Pickapeppa Sauce, from its distinctive label of a bird contemplating a bright red bird pepper to the unusual name of the rural community, Shooter’s Hill, where Pickapepper Company is located.

Pickapepper Sauce, a Jamaican Original

Pickapepper Sauce

Pickapeppa is versatile. You can use it as a marinade, a meat sauce, a steak sauce, barbecue and pepper sauce, and to flavor everything from vegetables to scrambled egg.

Slightly thick and dark, more sweet than peppery, Pickapeppa is made from onions, tomatoes, tamarind, mango, raisins, sugar, cane vinegar, salt, pepper, and spices. The ingredients are blended and left to age in oak barrels for a year before bottling.

The Pickapeppa Company has been making Pickappa Sauce for 93 years at its location in Shooter’s Hill, Manchester. The company, which has been family-owned since 1945, employs about 50 people and purchases approximately 80% of its raw materials from local farmers.

Pickapeppa exports 95% of its products and earns approximately US$1.5 million annually, primarily from exports to the US. This local favorite can be found in restaurants and pantries worldwide and, I’ve discovered, is even sold at Walmart and on Amazon.

Pickapeppa Baked Buffalo Style Wings
Serves 20
The easiest way to make hot wings that are crispy without being fried. You can add more cayenne or Pickapeppa Sauce to butter ratio if you like them spicer.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Total Time
2 hr
Ingredients
  1. ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  2. ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  3. ½ tps garlic powder
  4. ½ tps salt
  5. 20 chicken wings
  6. ½ cup melted butter
  7. ½ cup Pickapeppa Sauce (your choice of heat and flavor)
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly grease with cooking spray. Place the flour, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and salt into a resealable plastic bag, and shake to mix. Add the chicken wings, seal, and toss until well coasted with the flour mixture. Place the wings onto the prepared baking sheet, and place into the refrigerator. Refrigerate at least one hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C)
  3. Whisk together the melted butter and Pickapeppa Sauce in a small bowl. Dip the wings into the butter mixture, and place back on the baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until the chicken is not longer pink in the center, and crispy on the outside, about 45 minutes. Turn the wings over halfway during cooking so they cook evenly.
InsideJourneys http://insidejourneys.com/
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The Short-Lived Night-Blooming Cactus

I thought it quite an achievement when I caught the once yearly flowering of the night-blooming cereus last year. I had experienced a phenomenon many flower lovers would probably give a vital body part to see.

Visiting a family friend over the weekend, I noticed several unopened buds on a cactus on the periphery of their property. How unusual, I thought to myself. You should get a photo. But I returned my attention to the people with whom I was speaking, people I hadn’t seen in a while.

During a lull in the evening’s activities, I looked over and saw that flowers had replaced the buds I had seen earlier. I didn’t have my camera so I grabbed my phone and practically dragged my cousin, an award-winning flower lover, over to where the night-blooming cactus was. She had seen it too and told me after that she planned to ask our family friend for a cutting.

The Short-Lived Night-Blooming Cactus

Cactus

(Jamaican women are passionate about their gardens and will willingly trade cuttings with friends and other flower lovers. So you’ll see the same flowers in the gardens of women who are friends.)

The flowers looked similar to the cereus I had seen last year. It was surprising to me then I remembered that the cereus is from the flowering cactus family.

Here’s a photo of the night-blooming cereus for comparison.

Night Blooming Cereus

Night-Blooming Cereus

While the night-blooming cereus lasts only one night, this genus of the night-blooming cactus lasts two. Both attract a special moth that causes them to pollinate.

As I write this I realize that one thing was different — the cactus didn’t have the subtle fragrance that accompanied the cereus. But it had rained, no poured, that evening so the rain could have washed away the scent.

Have you seen a night-blooming cactus?

This week, I’m linking this post to Budget Traveler’s Sandbox and  Travel Photo Monday. Be sure to check out the other photos that are posted there.

Mannish Water Soup, An Aphrodiasic?

Though it seems simple enough, I’ve never made mannish water soup. I’ve never even tried to. Perhaps because it’s one of those Jamaican dishes that is best to cook outdoors over a wooden fire – sweat pouring down the face, arms and back, smoke stinging the eyes.

Or, perhaps as the name suggests, it should be prepared by men, which it is. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of or seen a woman making mannish water soup. (Maybe with Jamaicans who live abroad, roles might have changed. Ditto the preparation. It’d be difficult to build a fire and cook outside.)

Considered an aphrodisiac, mannish water soup, is made from goat’s offal – the intestines, head, feet and testicles – which are scrupulously cleaned then washed (now, that I’ve seen women do), the head and feet roasted over an open fire then scraped to remove hair (I’ve seen boys no more than 10 do this part).

The meat is then cut into small pieces, mixed with green bananas, coco, yam, carrots, spinners (dumplings), seasoned with Scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, etc., and left to reduce to a delicious soup.

Mannish water soup gets its distinct flavor from the bananas with a light smoky taste from the goat.

Mannish water soup is served hot as an appetizer, in paper cups at large gatherings, like the weddings, parties. For less casual dining, like the event I attended this week, it is served in soup plates. You can even add white rum to kick the flavor up.

Admittedly, mannish water soup isn’t for everyone so I was surprised to see a recipe on the Food Network, even more surprised that it suggested that lamb could be substituted. Wonder what the purists would think.

So is mannish water soup an aphrodiasic? Well…it probably depends on how much you end up drinking.

Mannish Water Soup
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Ingredients
  1. 4 lb. goat’s head, tripe and feet (get butcher to cut in small pieces)
  2. 12 green bananas
  3. 1 lb. flour for spinners
  4. 3-4 hot peppers
  5. 1 lb. coco
  6. ½ lb. carrots
  7. ½ lb turnips
  8. 3 chochos
  9. 3 gallons water
  10. ½ lb scallion
  11. 4 sprigs thyme
  12. 2 lb. yam
  13. Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Chop meat into small pieces (if not already chopped)
  2. Wash and place in a 5-gallon container with 3 gallons of hot water.
  3. When the water returns to a boil, simmer until meat is cooked soft (about 2 ½ -3 hours).
  4. Peel green bananas and add all other ingredients, except for flour, i.e. vegetables, seasonings etc. cook uncovered for one hour more.
  5. Use flour to make spinners. Add to stock.
  6. Correct seasoning and remove hot peppers. Add more water if necessary.
  7. Serve hot.
Adapted from The Real Taste of Jamaica
Adapted from The Real Taste of Jamaica
InsideJourneys http://insidejourneys.com/
Have a foodie post you’d like to share? Join the #FoodieTuesday linkup and add it here  –

  • Add the link to your foodie post in the link tool below.
  • As a courtesy, please include a link back to this post.
  • To make it a fun linkup, don’t forget to leave a comment here and comment on as many posts as you can.
  • If you Tweet, G+, Facebook please use the hashtag #FoodieTuesday.

 

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A Subtlety, Provocative Sugar Sculptures by Artist Kara Walker

I suddenly remembered Kara Walker’s installation of sugar sculptures last weekend and rushed to the Domino Sugar Refining Plant in Brooklyn to catch it.

Called A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby an Homage to the Unpaid and overworked Artisans who have refined our Sweet tastes from the cane fields to the Kitchens of the New World on the Occasion of the demolition of the Domino Sugar Refining Plant, it left me a bit confused.

I knew the US didn’t grow sugarcane. What I didn’t know was that the Domino Sugar Refining Plant, which was built in 1856, was by 1870 processing 3 million pounds of sugar each day – more than half the sugar used in the U.S. – from sugar that was shipped there from around the world.

The plant, which is located on an 11-acre spread on the East River, and employed 4-5,000 people, ceased operation in 2004 and is now slated for demolition. Luxury residential units with spectacular waterfront views of Manhattan will sit in its place.

Walker, who is well known for her black cut-paper silhouettes, makes good use of the plant’s expansive space and 10-story high ceilings to construct the centerpiece of the exhibition: a massive 35-foot tall sphinx made from 4 tons of white sugar. Its face made me think of Aunt Jemima, its body a cat.

The other sculptures were of children – sugar-coated babies – toting straw baskets of the raw sweetener.

A Subtlety is thought provoking and smelly. The unmistakable aroma of carmelizing sugar, of cut sugar cane baking under a tropical sun took me back to my childhood on my family’s sugar cane farm. I left with more questions than answers. Several days later and I’m still processing the images I saw, the messages they conveyed to me.

A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby is on view weekends only until July 6 at the Domino Sugar Refining Plant, South 1st Street at Kent Avenue in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. It is free and open to the public. There was a line when we went on Sunday but it seemed to move quickly. Go early and take a hat to shade you from the sun.

 

Linking up this week with Travel Photo Thursday that Nancie organizes. Be sure to stop by to see other photos from locations around the world.