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Super Bowl Boulevard is Open

If you know New York City, you know it’s got energy and excitement all its own but with the first Super Bowl in 42 years just four days away, the buzz is even more palpable. 

Broadway between 34th and 47th Streets has been transformed into a pedestrian-only thoroughfare, called Super Bowl Boulevard, where football fans who have registered, can join in the revelry which started on Wednesday.

Even though I love the parties and the commercials, I never got into American football. Learning 30-odd years ago that the football that I grew up watching in Jamaica, and playing recreationally, wasn’t the same game that’s played here made me lose interest, I think. But walking through midtown on Monday, I couldn’t dismiss the excitement in the air over the match up between two stellar teams – the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos.

So despite the cold – it was in the 20s when I left yesterday morning and with the wind chill, it felt like 8 F — I grabbed my camera, bundled up as warmly as I could and headed out to Super Bowl Boulevard.

Though it wasn’t as windy as the previous day, I knew I should limit the time I left my fingers exposed so I switched the settings on my I set my camera to automatic and started snapping quickly, trying to get in as many shots as possible. I did fine for about 10 minutes, then the cold began to chill my fingers. Note to self: need to find thin and warm gloves.

At least I could move around or go into a store to get warm up. The crew that will be managing the Boulevard will be out in the open working 12-hour days. And the people who have to stand on line to register for all-access passes can’t move around or they’d lose their place. Still, it’s no fun when your fingers are so cold you can’t sense the shutter button. 

Are you ready for some football? 

Linking to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.

Super Snacks for this Sunday’s Super Bowl

If you’re in Manhattan this week, it’s difficult to ignore the increased activity in the city as New York and New Jersey get ready to host this year’s Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The Super Bowl was not on my mind as I walked through midtown yesterday but as I got to Bryant Park, I noticed trailers and work crews. At first, I thought they were preparing to shoot a movie or television show. But as I approached Broadway, I knew it had to be the Super Bowl.

Work crews had erected barricades which blocked off Broadway from 34th to 47th Streets, creating a pedestrian-only thoroughfare that I found out later goes by the temporary name, Super Bowl Boulevard. They had also started installing giant television screens and stages for performances.

The whipping up of the winds reminded me of the prediction that the temperature would dropped significantly from the morning’s balmy 40 degrees to the 20s. As I hurried to the subway, I thought about the weekend’s forecast and the thousands of football fans who’d be watching the game from these giant screens on Super Bowl Boulevard, those who’d be sitting in the uncovered stadium and the players who’d be playing outside.

If the predictions hold, it’ll be a cold weekend — the first time the Super Bowl will be played outdoors in a cold environment. So as I settled into my seat for the ride home, I began thinking about the kinds of snacks I’d prepare if I had to host a Super Bowl party.

Whether we get the snow and 20 degree temperatures is anyone’s guess. Either way, it’s still winter so my super snacks will be warming, filling, tasty and most importantly, can be all prepared ahead of time.

I’d keep a pot of chicken soup on a low flame and ladle it out as guests arrive. Then I’d have jerk chicken wings, ackee and saltfish bruschetta, Festival, spinach or vegetable cocktail patties, stewed peas (meatless), roast pork, coleslaw, and macaroni and cheese. For dessert, I’d make a fruit cake and ambrosia, and have lots of Red Stripe beer and rum punch on hand.

Jerk Chicken Wings

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  1. 3 pounds chicken wings
  2. ½ cup Jerk Rub
  3. 1 onion, finely chopped
  4. 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, minced (optional)
  5. 1 spring fresh thyme, minced
  6. 2 scallions, finely chopped
  1. Mix together the jerk rub, onion, pepper, thyme and scallions. Rub mixture thoroughly into the wings. Cover and refrigerate for 4-6 hours or overnight.
  2. Heat oven to 350°F, cook covered for 1 hour or until done. Remove the cover and let wings bake another 15-20 minutes until it turns dark in color.
  3. If you’re using a gas grill, preheat it to 225° to 250°F. Place the wings on the grill and cook, covered, for about 1 hours, turning every 5 minutes. Wings will take on a very dark color and the juices run clear when they are pierced.
  4. Serve with Festival and coleslaw.

What snacks are you making for Sunday’s Super Bowl?

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Ugli, the Fruit

With its lumpy peel and lopsided shape, the UGLI® is the ugly duckling of the citrus family. But don’t let appearances sway you. The ugli proves the adage: beauty is skin deep, ugly goes to the bone, or in this case, the core.

Peel back its yellow-green skin, which is soft and surprisingly easy to remove, and the ugli reveals several light pink pegs bursting with an unusual amount of sweet and slightly tangy juice and few, sometimes no seeds.

Ugli Fruit

The ugli is a cross between the Seville orange (which gives it its dimpled skin), the grapefruit (from which it derives its color), and the tangerine (from which it gets its loose skin), was developed by Jamaican agronomists.

Called ugli because of its appearance, the fruit was found growing wild near Browns Town in the parish of St. Ann about 90 years ago. A commercial variety was later developed. Ugli is registered under trademark and is exported to the US, UK, Canada, Scandinavia and some Eastern European countries.

The ugli has 45 calories, 2 grams of dietary fiber and 70% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.  It can last up to 6 days unrefrigerated, and a week or more in the refrigerator.

If you’re in Jamaica during the citrus season (November/December to April/May), you should ask to try the ugli. It’s not as common as its forebears and because of that, is typically more expensive.

On the other hand, you might be lucky to meet someone who’s got a tree or two in their backyard. I hope you get to try it.

Ugli is perfect for sweet and savory recipes. I’ve used it mainly in juices and fruit salads but I’d love to try this Ugli Duckling from

UGLI® Duckling

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  1. 4 - 4½ lb (1.8 - 2 kg) plump duck, fresh or thawed frozen
  2. A little salt
  3. 1 medium sized UGLI® tangelo
  4. 4 tbsp Cointreau
To garnish
  1. Small bunch watercress, washed and drained
  2. 6 - 8 potatoes
  1. Prick the duck all over with a fork. Rub a little salt into the duck skin and place on a trivet in a roasting pan.
  2. Roast for 1½ - 1¾ hours at 375 deg F (180 deg C) without basting.
  3. Meanwhile cut the skin including the pith off the UGLI® tangelo.
  4. Carefully slice the fruit into slices and cut in half. Gently poach the fruit in Cointreau for 4-5 minutes then pour the remaining juice over the duck when cooked on the serving plate.
  5. Garnish with fruit slices, watercress and Duchess or mashed potatoes.

How to join the #FoodieTuesday linkup –

  • Add the link to your foodie post in the link tool at the bottom of this post
  • Leave a comment.
  • As a courtesy, please include a link back to this post.
  • Tweet, G+, Like, etc., using the hashtag #FoodieTuesday

Gingerbread Houses, Jamaica

With so many Jamaican homeowners embracing modern design, I’m always pleasantly surprised when I see gingerbread houses, especially ones that seem relatively new. Gingerbread houses probably came to Jamaica around the turn of the century.

My friend and I spotted this gingerbread house in Trelawny. We had spotted some lovely green bananas and stopped to buy a bunch. The house was directly across the street from the farmer and the minute I saw it – it was such a delight to see – I forgot why we’d stopped in the first place.

After he cut the bunch we decided on, I asked the farmer who asked the resident who graciously allowed me to take a photo. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the owner and couldn’t tell me much about the house, like the year it was built, for example. We guessed it to be about 50 years old.

Gingerbread houses

Another day, another drive, this time in Westmoreland. I was surprised by the number of houses I saw that had gingerbread designs.

Similar in design as the one above, this sand-dashed house has sash windows, French doors, and detailing on the eaves. Sand dashing is a process that is used to retard fire in homes made from timber.

Residential Styles:
Similar style, Westmoreland

This eye-catching house sits on the side of a hill and at a bend in the road. We had to drive slowly on the way back so I wouldn’t miss it. We called but no one came to the door and a really high gate kept us out. I was a little bummed that I couldn’t get closer but I managed to put my camera on top of the gate, and extended the lens so I could get this shot.

Residential Styles, gingerbread house
Colorful house surrounded by tropical plants

A house like this, with its wooden shingled roof, is rarely seen these days. Wooden shingles are attractive to look at and keep the home cool but are the most expensive roofing material on the market. In addition, the shingles offer no protection from fires and are very labor intensive to install. Eventually, owners exchange them for corrugated zinc, which is less expensive.

Residential Styles
Victorian house with wooden shingles

Devon House and the shops on the property have some of the most beautiful gingerbread designs. When I took these photos last July, workers were replacing the wooden shingles on the shops in the background.

Gingerbread houses, Jamaica
Shops at Devon House


Linking to Travel Photo Thursday, which is organized by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.

Tamarind Season

Tamarind season runs from roughly January to March in Jamaica. The sour tasting fruit grows four or five in a pod, each with a small, flat black seed. When ripe, the pod becomes a light brown brittle shell that breaks easily to expose the sticky fruit.

Tamarind is indigenous to Africa and likely came to the Jamaica and the Caribbean with enslaved Africans. It is high in tartaric acid, B vitamins and calcium. Tamarind grows easily and can be found in tropical countries around the world. Is a favorite with children and adults who savor its sour taste. 

Tamarind Season
Ripe fruit
Tamarind Season
with and without shell

There are many ways to enjoy tamarind, which we call tambrin. The best way by far, is to peel off the shell and eat it. Once the fruit hits your tongue, maybe even before, your mouth will begin to pucker. But that doesn’t stop the tamarind lover who can’t eat only one.

We also separate the fruit from the shell to make tamarind paste, and remove the pulp, add sugar and spices and roll it into tamarind balls (above), or make it into a drink, which is quite refreshing.

I hadn’t seen tamarind balls for a long time after I left Jamaica. Then I noticed them in a grocery store in the Washington, DC area, bought some and started eating them before I got to my car. As expected, my mouth began to water when the tamarind hit my tongue but it was the pepper that shook up my taste buds. I’d never had tamarind balls with pepper before. Ours is typically made with sugar and one or two spices. Curious, I looked at the package – it was made in Malaysia.

Tamarind Season
Tamarind Balls

At one meeting of my book club, the discussion turned to tamarind. One of the members mentioned that she had found sweet tamarind in the supermarket. That shocked all of us — our group was mostly women from the Caribbean who were used to sour tamarind. So she promised and brought sweet and sour ones to the next meeting. We set aside the book we were supposed to be discussing, ate the tamarinds and reminisced about our childhoods. Almost everyone said they preferred the sour ones.

I love to use tamarind in cooking as it goes well with fish, seafood or meats. One of the dishes I prepared for Christmas dinner last year was roast pork with tamarind reduction. I did it on the fly so I don’t have a recipe but I found a Tamarind Jerk Pork recipe at that I’m sharing below.  

You can find tamarind in grocery stores or supermarkets that sell tropical or Asian foods. It is one of the ingredients that give Worcestershire sauce its flavor and color.

Tamarind Season in Jamaica – the period after Christmas

In Jamaica, the period after Christmas, when consumers have less to spend and stores experience a decline in sales, is called the tamarind season, possibly because it is the beginning of the planting season and only a few fruits, mostly citrus, are in season.

Tamarind Jerk Pork
Serves 4

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Cook Time
2 hr

Cook Time
2 hr

  1. • 800 g piece lean boneless pork
  2. For the jerk marinade
  3. • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  4. • 2 tbsp dark rum
  5. • 1 tbsp lime juice
  6. • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  7. • 2 tbsp allspice berries, crushed
  8. • 1 cinnamon stick, ground, or 1-2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  9. • 2-3 chillies, chopped
  10. • 2.5 cm ginger, grated
  11. • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  12. • 1 tbsp finely chopped thyme leaves
  13. • 1 tsp light brown sugar
  1. 1. For the jerk marinade: place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. 2. Make small incisions in the pork using a sharp knife and rub the marinade into the meat. Cover with cling film and chill for up to 48 hours, depending on the desired intensity of flavour, but at least overnight.
  3. 3. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6. Place the pork in a medium ovenproof baking dish, cover with foil and roast for 1½–2 hours, or until it is soft and well coloured. Alternatively the pork can be cooked on a barbecue.
  4. 4. Remove from the oven, leave to rest for 10-15 minutes then carve and serve.


How to join the #FoodieTuesday linkup –

  • Add the link to your foodie post in the link tool at the bottom of this post
  • Leave a comment.
  • As a courtesy, please include a link back to this post.
  • Tweet, G+, Like, etc., using the hashtag #FoodieTuesday

Thanks for the Spam!

Like most bloggers, I get two, sometimes three times as many spam as I do relevant comments. Spam is so annoying, I usually hit delete without even a second look. But late last year one caught my eye. The phrasing made me smile and I decided to keep it. And as I gathered more, I tried to imagine the individuals behind these comments. I mean, even if the spam is left by spambots, there’s a person somewhere along the food chain, right?

Thanks for the Spam!I decided to thank them, whoever they are, for fattening my folder with spam that made me smile or scratch my head. After all, if nothing else, I can depend on a few spam each day whether I have new content or not. Here are some of my favorites, unedited:

Complimentary Spam

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I drop a comment whenever I like a article on a site or I hafe something to add to the conversation. It is triggered by the fire displayed in the post I browsed. And on this post Jerk Roast Turkey for Thanksgiving – InsideJourneys. I was actually moved enough to post a thought I actually do have a few questions for you if you usually do not mind. Is it only me or do a few of the remarks come across as if they are left by brain dead people? And, if you are posting on other online social sites, I would like to keep up with everything fresh you have to post. Could you make a list every one of your shared pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?


Greetings from Carolina! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to check out your blog on my iphone during lunch break. I really like the knowledge you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m amazed at how quick your blog loaded on my cell phone .. I’m not eeven using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, great site!

Thanks for the Spam!

Question Spam

I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was wondering what all is needed to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very internet smart so I’m not 100% positive. Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated. Cheers


I don’t know if it’s just me or if everyone else experiencing problems with your blog. It appears like some of the text in your content are running off the screen. Can someone else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them as well? This might be a issue with my internet browser because I’ve had this happen before. Cheers

Helpful Spam

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Scratching my head spam

In the event your passion is something that consists of a bodily products, then one way you’ll be able to earn cash is by promoting these things.

Thanks for the spam!

Seriously, though, what spam blocker do you use?

Akismet (Professional) alone just isn’t doing it for me anymore.

A Photo Review of 2013

Like a lot of people, I can’t believe 2013 is over. While it wasn’t a bad year overall, it presented a major personal challenge that forced me to change course, literally and figuratively, early in the year.

As many of my regular readers know, I’ve been exploring Jamaica, my home country, since late 2011. I’d hit most of the places I wanted to see but there are still more that I haven’t touched. 2013 was the year I had planned to do that. But at the end of April, I fractured my ankle when I fell in my backyard.

Everything changed in that instant. For the following three months, all my attention was on getting whole again so I could continue traveling. Although I still have some pain and stiffness, my ankle’s much better now and I’m anxious to resume my exploration of Jamaica and see other places on my list.

Before I do that, I’d like to do a photo review of 2013. Looking back now at the photos of these high points brings a smile to my face and joy to my heart. Hope they do the same for you.

January – St. Elizabeth

Every January 6th, for the last 275 years, the Maroons of Accompong Town in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica celebrate the anniversary of the signing of their treaty with the British and the birthday of their founder, Kojo. I was thrilled to join the celebration last year.

A Photo Review of 2013
Maroon procession, January 2013

This man and his partner drew a crowd as they danced for a good five minutes. They moved so well together — he matching her move for move – I wondered if they were a couple.

Maroon Dancers

February – Falmouth

Thanks to my work with an organization that restores historic buildings, I spent a lot of time in Falmouth and went on several walking tours of the town. On my first tour, we visited this masonic lodge, now the Baptist Manse. Built in 1798, it was the first masonic temple in Jamaica.

A Photo Review of 2013
Falmouth Baptist Manse

March – Westmoreland

I’d never had a fish pedicure and honestly, that wasn’t what I expected to do when I made a return visit to Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park. The property gets its name from Abeokuta, the Nigerian city. Its Olympic-sized pool, which has been on the property since it was part of the 18th century Deans Valley Estate, is fed by water from the Sweet River, which has its source about a 15-minute walk away. The pool is now home to inch-long carp that nibble on the dead skin on your feet. It’s hard to keep still while they exfoliate the skin but they are so sensitive, they disperse at the slightest movement.

A Photo Review of 2013
Fish pedicure at Abeokuta Paradise Nature Park

Seaford Town is the largest German settlement in Jamaica. It was established in 1835 for immigrants who had been recruited from Bavaria, Westphalia, and Waldeck. On my second visit, I accompanied Inge, a family friend from Germany. Here she meets one of the residents, a German descendant. Do they look to you like they could be related?

A Photo Review of 2013
Inge and Mr. Kameka, Seaford Town

April – Trelawny, St. James

I was excited to return to Good Hope Great House and Plantation in Trelawny. On my first visit, I fell in love with its location in the expansive Queen of Spain Valley, the warmth and elegance of the old house with its orange wood floors and tray ceiling. This time, I got to see parts of the Martha Brae River which flows languidly through the 2,000-acre property, tour the estate and see the citrus factory.

A Photo Review of 2013
Good Hope Great House

My neighbor told me about Ahhh….Ras Natango, an eco-tourism spot just outside of Montego Bay. One of the owners, Ian Williams, came to pick me up for the 10-15 minute ride up the winding road to the property. I was blown away by the views, by the garden Ian and his wife, Tamika, had carved into the rocky hillside, and the birds that flitted among the flowers.

Ahhh...Ras Natango Garden & Gallery
Ahhh…Ras Natango Garden & Gallery

May, June and July – Kingston

My travels came to an abrupt stop at the end of April when I broke my ankle. Between May and July, I shuttled back and forth between Montego Bay and Kingston – first for surgery, then for follow up visits with my orthopedic surgeon.


Despite my crutches, I took a trip to Holywell Recreational Park with a friend. I couldn’t move around much but the views fed my soul.

Holywell Recreational Park Entrance
Holywell Entrance
Flowers and the mountains, Holywell
Flowers at Holywell Recreational Park

To get to Holywell, we drove through Newcastle, a military center that was established by the British in 1840. Its location, high up in the cool Blue Mountains, was perfect to inoculate the troops from yellow fever, a common cause of death back then. Newcastle is now a training camp for members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).

Newcastle parade square with medals
Parade square at Newcastle
Barracks for soldiers at Newcastle
Red roofed barracks at Newcastle station

I don’t usually like to see animals in captivity but when I heard that a donor had gifted Hope Zoo with a lion named Lucas, my curiosity got the better of me. I had to see him.

Lucas was sleeping when we arrived. One of his handlers said he was getting acclimated to the heat — it was July and Lucas was in the open part of the enclosure with very little protection from the sun. We waited for several minutes and finally, he raised his head. He looked docile and tired, likely because of the heat.

Lucas, the lion waking from his nap
Lucas, slowly waking from his nap at Hope Zoo

Sharing space with the zoo is Hope Botanical Gardens. After walking around the zoo, I was in no shape to do the gardens justice. I took this photo while I waited for my ride.

Hope Botanical Gardens
Hope Botanical Gardens

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been to Devon House for its famous ice cream, and to shop, dine or visit the wine bar. But I’d never done a tour of the house.

For me, one of the high points of the tour is this elegant and impressive 35-foot ballroom. It isn’t difficult to imagine the music that was played on its Broadwood piano, or the dances that took place under its Wedgwood ceiling with its English chandelier.

Wedgewood ceiling and English chandelier at Devon House
The 35-foot Devon House Ballroom

I was excited to see this exhibition, titled Rastafari: Unconquerable! at the Institute of Jamaica and I wasn’t disappointed.

Rastafari exhibition, Jamaica

It takes perfect timing to catch the night blooming cerebus, which blooms only once per year. Luckily, I was no longer on crutches so I was able to go back and forth several times to catch it as its petals opened slowly during the night. These were taken near midnight and it’s still not fully opened.

Night Blooming Cereus
Blooms by night
Wilted Night Blooming Cereus
Wilted by morning

August to December – New York, New Jersey and North Carolina

I returned to New York at the end of July and got right back into the swing of things. Since I was still nursing my ankle, I didn’t want to risk being in the large crowd that typically gathers on Eastern Parkway to celebrate the West Indian American carnival on Labor Day but I didn’t want to miss out all together. So I made my way to the smaller Kiddies Carnival that Saturday. It was my first time at the carnival and it was thrilling to see the future mas players.

West Indian American Carnival Queen
Taking photos with the queen

Wine festivals abound in New York and New Jersey in the fall. At the Jersey Skyline Wine Festival, my friends and I sampled wines from several vineyards and left with a few bottles of our favorites.

Jersey Skyline Wine Festival
At the wine festival

On a beautiful October Saturday, we traveled by train to Villa Milagro in southern New Jersey for a tour and tasting. I could have bought all the wines we tasted but returned with my two favorites.

Villa Milagro wines
Villa Milagro wines

In November, Elizabeth, a friend and blogger at Mirth and Motivation, and I met at The Cloisters for a lovely afternoon of art and music.

The Cloisters Museum & Garden
Entrance to the museum
A Photo Review of 2013
The Cloisters

Then it was off to work in Charlotte, North Carolina, where except for Thanksgiving and food related posts, I never took a photo.

A Photo Review of 2013
Deep fried turkey

By December, I was already daydreaming of the trips I plan to take in 2014. Here’s what I have in mind:

* a more in depth look at Kingston, including a tour of St. Andrew Parish Church
* Port Royal
* South coast Jamaica

Further afield:

* UK – April
* Nicaragua – August
* Canada – February or March
* Tanzania or Kenya – both would be ideal!
* Gabon or Zimbabwe – October

* Charleston
* New Orleans

The New Year is time to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. Here’s wishing you joy and peace for 2013.

Happy New Year!

If you had unlimited airline miles, where would you go?
What would you like to see more of on InsideJourneys in 2014?


 Linking up this week with Travel Photo Thursday, which Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox organizes. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.