Documentary on Queen Nanny, Jamaica’s National Hero, on Indiegogo

Following in the footsteps of acclaimed filmmakers like Spike Lee and Martin Scorsese, movie stuntman turned director, Roy T. Anderson has decided to go the crowdfunding route to help finance his latest project: a one-hour documentary film, Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftainess. Queen Nanny was the indomitable leader of the Jamaican Maroons, and Jamaica’s only female National Hero.

Jamaican $500 note with likeness of Nanny of the Maroons
Jamaican $500 note with likeness of Nanny of the Maroons

Anderson’s impressive début film Akwantu: the Journey, on the history of the Jamaican Maroons, a self-funded effort, has screened on three continents, winning several prestigious awards in the process. This has encouraged Anderson to start working on his second film, which will expand on the story of the New World’s first successful freedom fighters by shedding light on one of the leading figures in that struggle, Queen Nanny – and he is looking to for help.

Indiegogo, the world’s largest crowdfunding platform has a major appeal to budding filmmakers like Roy because of its flexible option that allow campaign owners to keep all the contributions they receive even if they don’t reach their goal. And so Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftainess launched on Monday, December 16, 2013 on Indiegogo, with a modest goal of $50,000.

Queen Nanny will begin shooting in 2014 in Jamaica and Ghana. As the producers continue to look for additional funding, they have taken to Indiegogo as a way to ‘spread the word’ and solicit contributions. In return they are offering contributors and supporters perks such as tickets to the première of the film, exclusive private screenings, autographed DVDs, and much more.

About Queen Nanny, the film

She was a queen, captured in her homeland, forcefully transported across the Atlantic Ocean in the belly of a slave ship. In the New

Queen Nanny director, Roy T. Anderson
Director Roy T. Anderson at Akwantu screening, NY

World, she would eventually rise up to become the leader of a new nation.

However, not many people outside of Jamaica know of the Legendary “Nanny,” warrior chieftainess of the Jamaican Maroons, one of the most celebrated, but least recognized heroines in the resistance history of the New World. Most of what we know about Queen Nanny comes through Maroon oral tales and folklore, and not much is written about her in historical texts. So who was this herbal healer, prophetess, and Asante Warrior Queen?

Conceived by Anderson and Georgia State University History Professor Harcourt T. Fuller, this landmark one-hour documentary film, will unearth and examine this mysterious figure that is Queen Nanny of the Maroons. Queen Nanny will document the struggle for freedom of the Jamaican Maroons, which was led by the indomitable military genius “Nana” Queen Nanny, a spiritual leader, skilled in the use of herbs and “guerilla tactics.” From her mountain stronghold at the source of the Stony River in the Blue Mountains, she directed the warfare that effectively neutralized the vaunted British firepower.

The film will be shot in Jamaica, Ghana, the United Kingdom, and the United States starting in 2014, and will feature interviews with scholars who are experts in Caribbean history and the study of slavery.

As we seek to uncover the history and legacy of Queen Nanny, her intriguing story will be told through songs, performances, poetry, and a series of reenactments. One of the highlights of the filming will be a three-day trek to the rugged hills of Old Nanny Town in the Blue Mountain region of Jamaica. Legend has it that only the bravest Maroons or those “free of bad deeds” can safely venture up to this sacred spot where Nanny’s powerful spirit still inhabits.

Nanny symbolizes the pride of today’s Caribbean woman. This film will also look at her legacy and impact on contemporary Maroon and Jamaican women in general, such its current Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, Olympic sprint champion Shelley Ann Fraser-Pryce, and many others. This documentary will also serve as a prelude to the dramatic telling of the epic story of this larger than life iconic figure.

For more information, visit Nanny, the Movie, and on Facebook, Twitter, and the campaign page on Indiegogo

About Queen Nanny Director | Roy T. Anderson

Roy T. Anderson is writer, director and producer of the award-winning film Akwantu: the Journey (Action 4 Reel Flimworks,

2012), on the history of the Jamaican Maroons. This film, which has screened on three continents to rave reviews, was one hundred percent self-funded.

Queen Nanny, Roy’s sophomore film, will expand on the story of the New World’s first successful freedom fighters by shedding light on one of the leading figures in that struggle.

Anderson is a veteran stuntman/stunt coordinator and world record holder. He’s doubled for such Hollywood stars as, Will Smith, Denzel Washington and Jamie Foxx, accumulating more than 400 production credits in the process. He has worked on such hits as Men in Black 3, The Dark Knight Rises, Spiderman 2, Bourne Ultimatum, and American Gangster, and the highly anticipated, Wolf of Wall Street.

While continuing his stunt work, Anderson has flipped the script to direct his second film. During his storied career, Anderson has shown the ability to be very creative in his performance and coordination of difficult stunts, and brings this same imagination to the table as a young director who has observed some of the top filmmakers in the world.

Sorrel, a Popular Jamaican Christmas Drink

There’s no Christmas in Jamaica without sorrel, a drink that is infused with ginger, sweetened with sugar and spiked with white overproof rum. It is as ubiquitous at Christmas time as rum cake, curried goat, and rice with pigeon (gungo) peas.

A hibiscus variety, sorrel came to Jamaica from West Africa. According to the National Library of Jamaica website, references to Jamaican sorrel date to the 1700s.

How to Make Sorrel Drink
Sorrel plant

Sorrel is an excellent source of Vitamin C. It is also rich in copper, calcium, magnesium, iron and phosphorous. Researchers at Jamaica’s Northern Caribbean University have found that three varieties of sorrel that are grown on the island could be effective in fighting some forms of cancer.

Many Jamaicans have the plant in their backyard gardens and some use it not only to make the popular Christmas drink but also to cool fevers, cure colds and lower blood pressure.

Sorrel Drink
Sorrel sepals

Its popularity as a Christmas beverage likely stems from the fact that it is harvested around November/December – just in time for the festive season. For many years, sorrel was only available at that time but as the numbers of Jamaicans and other Caribbean nationals living in North America and the UK swell, you will find several different brands of the dried sepals for sale in supermarkets and health food stores. You can also find the bottled beverage available in some Jamaican/Caribbean restaurants.

Sorrel is also popular in Latin America. A few years ago, my boss’ Mexican wife introduced me to flor de Jamaica. I was so fascinated by the name of the blood red tea she’d made, it took me a while to realize that the color and vaguely familiar aroma was really sorrel.

Unsweetened, sorrel has a sharp, tangy taste. Add a little sugar and it becomes a refreshingly delicious drink. Sorrel can be used to make jams, jellies and chutneys, the leaves can also be used in salads.

Sorrel Drink

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  1. 6 cups water
  2. 3 cups sorrel sepals
  3. 2 oz ginger
  4. 6 whole pimentos
  5. 1 cup granulated sugar
  1. Bring water to boil.
  2. Pour boiling water over sorrel and ginger. It should be enough to cover the sorrel
  3. Cover and let steep overnight.
  4. Strain and sweeten.
  5. Add rum, if desired.
  6. Add pimento berries and refrigerate.
  7. Serve with ice.

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Our 3rd Blogiversary – in 3 Takes, Take III and a Giveaway

My visit to South Africa, Zimbabwe and Lesotho starting me blogging, but Jamaica was my inspiration to get in to travel. Though I was born in Jamaica, I don’t know it as well as I think I should.

When I got laid off from my job in November 2003, I was excited. For several months prior, two friends and I had been planning our next professional moves. Mine was to start a tour company that would showcase Jamaica the way I see it, not the sand, sun, reggae and rum tour that many people associate it with.

At less than 4,500 square miles, Jamaica is slightly smaller than the Connecticut yet it is as diverse as many countries twice its size. Part of the island’s beauty is its lushness. Jamaica is a garden full of a variety of flowers, including orchids – about 200 species, nearly half of them endemic to the island, several hundred types of ferns and trees which bathes this little piece of rock in a riot of color year round.

It was not surprising then that my first post was about flowers, the kinds of flowers that my mother, grandmother and countless Jamaicans grow, the flowers that make my heart smile. Since then, I’ve blogged about flowers several times.

Our fruits…

Me no drink cawfee tea, mango time. Care how nice it may be, mango time. Mango Time, Jamaican folk song

We’re passionate about fruits but especially mangoes, which is celebrated by its own folk song. Yes, when it’s mango time in Jamaica we eat it at every meal. Almost.

Our food…

3rd Blogiversity in 3 Takes
Little Ochie’s Jerk Lobster

Jamaica has more than 300 species of birds, more than two dozen of which are endemic to the island. The doctor bird, a swallowtail hummingbird is our national bird.

3rd Blogiversary in 3 Takes
Doctor Bird, Roaring River, Westmoreland

Domestic animals are also quite common. You’ll notice goats, cows, as well as donkeys, especially in the rural areas. 

3rd Blogiversary
Holy Goat, Trelawny
Sometimes, it's the Characters that Make Travel Memorable
Dunns River Falls Donkey, St. Ann

From large great houses, opulent castles such as Trident to small board houses, we have them all. Take a look.

3rd Blogiversity in 3 Takes
Trident Castle, Portland, Jamaica

 Our churches….

Our landscape

Blue Mountain sunrise
Blue Mountain sunrise


Our beaches…

Twenty or 30 years from now, I’m going to be on a beach in Jamaica. – Idris Elba

Mobay Beach
Montego Bay Beach

Our people

3rd Blogiversary Giveaway

In celebration of our 3rd Blogiversary, we’re giving away three prizes – two (2) copies of the Lonely Planet travel guide to Jamaica, and a copy of The Real Taste of Jamaica by Enid Donaldson to three lucky winners. Enter by December 22nd by leaving a comment, tweeting about the giveaway #3Years3Prizes or liking us on Facebook. It’s that easy. The giveaway is open only to addresses in the United States and Canada. Good luck!


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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.

The Animals That Caught My Eye

I’d be the first to say that I’m not an animal lover so I was mildly surprised at the number of photos of animals I’ve taken during the last year. Here are a few:

The Cat at Croydon

A friend who was a cat owner used to say that cats were humans in an earlier life. That’s why they act so superior.

The cat at Croydon

As we sat listening to the Croydon Plantation tour guide talk about coffee growing and processing, this little cat jumped on the bench in front of me. I snapped this photo just before it walked away.

Jamaica Red Poll, YS Falls

It’s common, especially in the rural areas, to see cattle in pastures or even on or near country roads. YS Falls in St. Elizabeth, is not just a stud farm, it also has several heads of Jamaica Red Poll cattle. The Jamaica Red Poll was developed from Red Poll cattle that was imported from Britain in the 19th century to improve the local breed. I love their distinctive rich reddish-brown color.

Jamaica Red Poll Cow, YS Falls
Jamaica Red Poll Cow, YS Falls

I wish I had longer lens, but I couldn’t resist taking a photo with the egrets waiting nearby to catch dinner – small insects that the cow distributes.

Yard Fowls in Portland

There was a time when just about every Jamaican household had chickens, hens and at least one rooster running around. My family was like any in Jamaica – we also kept chickens and about once a month, we’d have one for Sunday dinner.

Cock, Boston Bay
Rooster, Boston Bay

Now it seems everyone buys chicken from the supermarket, or they’re raising day-old chickens that they feed round the clock. They’re ready to eat six weeks later. I prefer the yard fowl.

Black and white hen
Black and white hen
Brown Hen, Boston Bay
Brown Hen, Boston Bay

A Peacock at Appleton

As if on cue, it began drizzling just as we started the Rum Tour at Appleton Estate. I put away my camera and took the umbrella the tour guide gave me. Just then, I noticed a peacock several yards away. I wanted a photo but didn’t want it badly enough to get my camera wet. But when the peacock turned and began walking towards us, my friend held the umbrella. I was ready just as it sauntered by me.

Peacock at Appleton Estate
Peacock at Appleton Estate

Clydesdales in Falmouth

These Clydesdales in Falmouth moved so quickly, I hardly had time to get a second shot.

The Animals that Caught My eye
Clydesdales, Falmouth


Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way. – John Muir

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.





5 Ingredients That Fire up Jamaican Cuisine

Jamaican cuisine draws heavily on the culinary traditions of the people who have called it home – the Tainos, the original people, Africans, Spanish, English, Portuguese, Indian, Chinese, and our own Rastafarians.

However, almost everyone associates our cuisine with pepper, specifically Scotch bonnet. But you’d be wrong to believe that we rely solely on Scotch bonnet to fire up our food.  Here are five ingredients that you’re guaranteed to find in every Jamaican pantry.

Scotch Bonnet pepper – One of the hottest peppers in the world, Scotch bonnet got its name because it resembles the tam (bonnet) a Scott wears. The mature pepper can be green, red, orange or yellow. You’ll find Scotch bonnet in just about every dish, from soups to stews. Along with several other spices, it gives jerk its heat.

Pimento – Pimento is the dried fruit of the pimento tree. Jamaica is one of the main producers of pimento. In 1693, it was introduced to the market as a “sweet scented Jamaican pepper” but you might know as “allspice” because it has the combined flavor of cloves, nutmeg, pepper and cinnamon. We not only use the dried fruit, which we use mostly whole, we also use the wood. It is what gives jerk its distinctive, smoky flavor which you won’t get in packaged jerk sauce. We also use pimento to make a delicious liqueur.

Thyme – Another ingredient that revs up the flavor in just about every dish we prepare, from rice and peas to stews, soups and meats. Thyme is typically used fresh, sometimes dried but rarely ever bottled. You’ll find it in local markets bundled with a bunch of scallions, or you can buy it on its own. Let it dry naturally, away from sunlight, and store it in a glass container.

Curry – Curry here refers to the mixture of spices that is used to make curried goat, chicken, etc. Indian indentured servants, who came to island to work on plantations following the abolition of slavery, added curry, as well as roti, to our cuisine. However, the type of curry that is popular in Jamaica is a powdered blend that pales in comparison to the rich, textured curries that India is known for. The Jamaican curry powder has pimento, turmeric, cumin, coriander, fenugreek and anise.

Jerk sauce/seasoning/rub – Like curry, jerk refers to the sauce/seasoning as well as a way of cooking. To jerk is to slow-cooking meat, traditionally pork, over a fire made of pimento wood. The fire releases the oil from the wood, which give the meat its distinctive flavor. In addition to the pimento flavor, the meat is also seasoned with a mixture of spices. That mixture, was until a few years ago, a closely guarded secret. After almost disappearing from local cuisine, jerk made an explosive return around the 1970s with an expanded menu which included chicken, fish and sausage. For many years, Boston Bay in Portland, was the place to go for authentic jerk. Now, jerk stands are as common as patty shops. The main ingredients in jerk sauce/seasoning/rub are thyme, nutmeg, cinnamon, brown sugar, and Scotch bonnet peppers.

Homemade Jerk Seasoning

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  1. 1 onion, finely chopped
  2. ½ cup finely chopped scallions, including green parts
  3. 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  4. 2 teaspoons salt
  5. 1 teaspoon ground pimento (Jamaican allspice)
  6. ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  7. ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  8. 4-6 Scotch Bonnet or habanero peppers, seeded and deveined, minced fine
  9. 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. 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.

Other ingredients you’ll find:

Nutmeg – The dry seed is used primarily in baking, while its outer shell is dried and ground to produce mace, another spice. Nutmeg is indispensable in Jamaican baking.

5 Ingredients that fire up Jamaican cuisine

Coconut /Coconut Milk – In our house, we never made rice and peas without coconut milk, and it wasn’t the processed kind either. Whether you use the milk that has been extracted from shredded coconut or the packaged version, coconut milk is a must have in Jamaican cuisine.

Vinegar – Typically made from cane sugar, vinegar is a key ingredient in escoveitch fish. Vinegar, like lime, is also used to wash meats and fish prior to cooking. It is also used to pickle Scotch bonnet peppers.

Ginger – Introduced into Jamaica around 1525. By 1547, Jamaica was exporting ginger and was one of the three largest producers of ginger in the world between the 1930s and 1960s. The variety of ginger we have in Jamaica is thinner and several times more potent than that in the U.S. We use it in cooking and baking, and also to make homemade ginger beer and sorrel – two drinks that are popular around Christmas.

5 Ingredients that Fire up Jamaican Cuisine

Browning – Most Jamaicans use browning, which is really burnt sugar, in their Christmas or fruit cakes to give it that rich brown color. Some people also use it in oxtail. Use sparingly. Too much and foods will come out with a bitter taste.

Limes – used to wash fish and meats prior to cooking, to make lemonade, rum punch and sorrel.


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Sometimes, It’s All in the Hands

I started out with a clear idea of what I wanted to do for this week’s Travel Photo Thursday, but by the time I finished going through my photos, I decided to do something I call, It’s All in the Hands.

Our hands perform many different tasks throughout the day. But I’m fascinated by people whose hands pull nets full of fish, hammer nails or pound stone, keep tradition alive – ordinary people doing ordinary things with their hands. Here are a few I met during my travels.

I never tire of watching Fay, who I call the Peppermint Candy Lady, make peppermint candy from scratch. It’s a tradition she learned from her mother. She has taught to her son, who she believes will continue it.

Peppermint Candy - Adding color
Peppermint Candy – Adding color

I noticed him, moving slowly, determinedly in the heat of the afternoon, closing the distance between us, one hand clutching a string of freshly caught fish. This is a normal sight in fishing towns and villages in Jamaica. But with a large cruise ships docked several yards away at Falmouth Pier that day, it felt out of place. He smiled when I asked if I could take his photo. 

It's all in the hands
Fresh catch

When the guide at Holywell Recreational Park heard me say I’d never seen the raspberries that grew in this part of the island, he slipped quietly away, returning moments later proudly bearing a handful of beautiful fruit. These are a different shade of red than those in the U.S. but just as sweet.

Sometimes, It's All in the Hands

Limestone rock covers almost two-thirds of Jamaica. It was used in the construction of many of the old buildings in the island. I watched as this worker hammer a rock to get the right size and shape to patch a hole in a retaining wall.

Sometimes, It's All in the Hands
Breaking a limestone rock

My sister designs and makes jewellery; she also teaches. She works primarily in silver and has made most of the silver jewellery I own. I love her work but until a few months ago, I’d never watched her make any of her pieces. Here she’s showing a group of women how to make a simple necklace using copper wire and gemstone. I think copper wire is her new favorite material. 

Sometimes, It's All in the Hands
Making jewellery


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.




Stir Fry Vegetables with Jerk Tofu

A few years ago, my extended family started a monthly gathering to cook the meals that we grew up on, the dishes that we don’t have as often because we no longer have the luxury of someone else to prepare them for us.

Each gathering was an all-day affair with reminiscences about growing up, side-splitting, tears-running-down-the-face laughter about who did what when, and plenty to eat and drink. The best part was you never knew which old favorite the hostess (the women usually did most of the cooking) would surprise us with.  

One of my cousins is married to a vegan. When it was my turn to host, I scratched my head for weeks trying to think of something that I could make that’s different from his regular fare. Turning to my cookbooks, I found this recipe for Stir Fry Vegetables with Jerk* Tofu.

Stir Fry Vegetables with Jerk Tofu
Chopped Vegetables for Stir Fry

The cookbook, Jerk From Jamaica, is from Walkerswood, a local company that makes spices, sauces, preserves and canned vegetables. Walkerswood takes its name from the community in St. Ann where it has its operations. The company sources its produce from local farmers and from its own farms in St. Ann and St. Elizabeth, processes them at the factory in Walkerswood, and distributes them in North America, the UK, New Zealand and other countries. The recipes in the cookbook are all made in their kitchen using their products.

Stir Fry Vegetables with Jerk Tofu
Serves 4

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Prep Time
5 hr

Cook Time
45 min

Prep Time
5 hr

Cook Time
45 min

  1. 1 tbsp Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning or Marinade
  2. 2 tbsp Palm, sesame or soya oil
  3. 1 lb Firm tofu, or Quorn, cubed
  4. 1 Onion, sliced
  5. 2 cloves Garlic, chopped
  6. Oil for frying
  7. 1kg/2lb (total of any combination)
  8. Vegetables - carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, green cabbage, pak choy, sweet peppers or broccoli
  9. 2 stalks scallion (optional)
  10. Salt to taste
  1. Mix together jerk seasoning and oil, add to tofu and marinate for at least an hour.
  2. Heat the frying oil in wok or suitable skillet.
  3. Deep fry the tofu cubes for 3-5 minutes and reserve.
  4. Pour out most of the oil and stir fry the onion and garlic, then begin to add the other vegetables, hardest first.
  5. Cook very lightly, add the tofu and stir in gently until hot. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Jerk from Jamaica
Adapted from Jerk from Jamaica

Stir Fry Vegetables with Jerk Tofu is a simple dish that goes over well with most people. It’s light and flavorful and pretty easy to make. Once you prepare the tofu and chop the vegetables, the most time-consuming part is frying the tofu. Since we have to fry it, I usually let the tofu drain overnight to remove as much of the water as possible.

The next morning, I cut it into cubes no more than a quarter of an inch thick and smear on the jerk seasoning. Use a light touch here as tofu breaks easily.

Jerk seasoning can be either wet or dry. If you have dry seasoning, mix it with oil, as the recipe suggests, so it will be easier to spread. Whether wet or dry, spread the seasoning evenly and turn the tofu over to coat the other side. Once that’s done, set aside the tofu to marinate for about four hours.

The recipe calls for carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, green cabbage, pak choy, sweet peppers or broccoli but don’t panic if you don’t have them. I use what I have, which is usually broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and red and yellow peppers. The most important thing, I think, is to have a mix of firm and soft, colorful vegetables to give the dish variety in texture and color.

Wash and chop the vegetables and scallion and set them aside. I prefer to cut the onion into wedges instead of slices.

Stir Fry Vegetables with Jerk Tofu
Stir Fry Vegetables

Most of your work will be in frying the tofu. Once that is done, all you have to do is stir fry the vegetables. When I made this dish recently, cooking time was about 30 minutes. 

Stir Fry Vegetables with Jerk Tofu is a great one-pot meal that’s a hit on any occasion.  I’ve made it for Thanksgiving, Christmas and many gatherings. Hope you’ll give it a try.

What’s jerk?
Jerk is a way of cooking that originated in Jamaica. It involves rubbing meat (back then it was only pork) with a mixture of spices and cooking it over a pimento fire. The pimento wood adds a distinct smoky flavor. Jerk also refers to the spices that are used to marinate the meat.
These days, jerk sauce is bottled and sold widely and can be used to jerk fish, chicken, sausages, even vegetables.

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Stewed Peas (Meatless)

I love legumes and turn to them whenever I feel like taking a break from meat. Mostly, I make stewed peas, which is red kidney beans that’s cooked with spices and coconut milk.

Traditionally you make stewed peas with meat – pig’s tail, corned beef or pork, or chicken. But a few years ago, perhaps as a result of the popularity of the Rastafari’s ital way of cooking, which excludes meat, a meatless variation started cropping up on restaurant and cook shop menus.

Stewed Peas (meatless)
Stewed peas with brown rice and salad

But you don’t have to be vegetarian to like meatless stewed peas. Red kidney beans are so flavorful, you can enjoy it as a meatless stew or soup without much loss of flavor.

Making stewed peas

Soaking the peas overnight reduces cooking time. But if you’re unable to and have a pressure cooker, you can have them cooked in about twenty minutes. I love having a pressure cooker handy precisely for this reason.

The main ingredient in stewed peas is red kidney beans. As I explained in a previous post, what we call peas are really beans so I apologize for any confusion. Sometimes, I add carrots and spinners or potatoes, other times just carrots, especially when I’m watching my sugar intake as spinners (long dumplings) and potatoes raise blood sugar. Carrots can too, so keep that in mind if you’re diabetic.

For seasonings, I use scallion, thyme, Scotch bonnet peppers, pimento berries, garlic and a few thinly sliced strips of ginger. I love slightly sweet taste that coconut milk adds to any dish but you can leave this out if you prefer.

Stewed Peas (Meatless)

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  1. 1 or 2 cups peas
  2. 1 or 2 medium carrots (chopped)
  3. 1 sprig of thyme
  4. 1 stalk of scallion
  5. 1 Scotch Bonnet pepper
  6. 1 tbsp. Pimento Berries
  7. 2 cloves garlic
  8. 1 small Irish potato (optional)
  9. 1 can coconut milk (optional)
  10. 2 Bay leaves (optional)
  11. Water – enough to cook peas
  12. Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  13. Spinners (long, thin dumplings - optional)
  1. Pick out defective or broken peas and wash. Soak overnight. The next day, drain off the water, pour peas into a pot, cover with cold water, add garlic and salt to taste and put to boil. (If you’re unable to soak peas overnight, wash, add enough cold water to cover and put to boil.)
  2. Cook for about an hour or until peas are soft.
  3. Add seasonings – pimento, scallion, Scotch Bonnet, black pepper, and coconut milk.
  4. Peel, chop and add potato and carrots.
  5. Add thyme, and Bay leaves (tie together with kitchen twine or put in cheesecloth). Cover and let simmer for about an hour or until you have a nice, thick stew.
  6. Remove Bay leaves, thyme and pimento berries before serving.

Stewed peas is really an abbreviated version of red pea soup. It is always served with white rice but it’s just as great with brown rice, and greens – steamed callaloo, spinach or broccoli, or a garden salad.

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Simple, Tasty Bully Beef (Corned Beef)

Last weekend, I had such a craving for bully beef and rice that I decided to make it for dinner. As I was chopping up the onions, scallions and tomato, I began thinking. Why is it called bully beef? Why is it red? How did it get to Jamaica? And why do we love it so much?

Bully beef is how we English speakers say beouf bouilli, which is French for boiled beef. It’s the brisket cut that is cooked in brine, shredded, and canned (think Spam) with a coat of gelatin or crystallized oil that melts when you cook the beef.

Bully beef was, until 2009, part of the rations that British soldiers received. I suspect the reason for its popularity in Jamaica and the Caribbean might be that the men who fought during the war brought it with them when they returned home. 

Bully beef and rice
Bully beef and rice

Bully beef is the name that was popular back in high school, when we made and sold bully beef sandwiches to raise money for our graduation. Corned beef is what almost everyone calls it now. But it’s not the same corned beef that’s a favorite of Irish and Jewish diners.

Once in a while we’d have bully beef for breakfast and sometimes, with white rice for dinner but it wasn’t a staple in our home. I can’t remember how my graduating class agreed to use it to raise money and considering how popular patties and coco bread were, I’m surprised we made money. But we didn’t have enough hands to sell those tasty little rolls that we stuffed with bully beef mashed with chopped onions, black pepper and mayonnaise.

Simple Bully Beef (Corned Beef)
Serves 4

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  1. 1 Can bully beef (look for corned beef)
  2. 1 medium onion (chopped)
  3. 1/2 small Scotch bonnet pepper (chopped, seeded)
  4. 1 small tomato (chopped)
  5. 1 sprig thyme
  6. ½ sweet pepper
  7. Dash black pepper
  8. 1 can mixed vegetables or 1 cup shredded cabbage (optional)
  1. Saute onions and Scotch bonnet until they become soft.
  2. Add chopped tomatoes, let cook.
  3. Open can of bully beef, stir it into the tomato, onion
  4. Add sweet pepper and other vegetables
  5. Season with thyme, and black pepper to taste
  6. Let cook for about 3-4 minutes.
  7. Serve with brown or white rice and your choice of vegetables.

I had another memorable bully beef meal when five of my aunts and uncles turned up in the same city at the same time. The next morning for breakfast, my uncle’s wife fried up green plantains, which she masked with a fork, and bully beef.

That breakfast took my aunts back to their youth and that all started chattering not only about breakfast, which was a hit, but also about their mother and the women in their community used to make the best cakes, the best sweets. It was the first time I was having green plantains and was delighted how well it complimented the slight saltiness of the bully beef. Weeks after I returned home, I ate nothing but plantain and bully beef.

Bully beef is like Ramen noodles – quick, tasty, filling and, at the time, inexpensive. It’s also very versatile. I ate a lot of it after I got my first apartment. I’d make bully beef with cabbage, green or ripe plantains, dumplings, green bananas, even pasta.

Much of the bully beef that is on the supermarket shelves comes from South America. About two years ago, a US Department of Agriculture recall took it off the market. 

When the ban was lifted, the price jumped from roughly $3-4 to almost $6 a can. (In Jamaica, you can buy smaller sized cans for about $2-3.) That’s when I swore off bully beef. It made better sense to buy a pound of fish or even chicken instead. Maybe that’s why last weekend the taste came back so strongly.

I found two pages dedicated to Rice and Bully Beef on Facebook. Between them, they have almost 2,000 likes. Who knew so many people liked this simple dish?


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Travel Memories: Sometimes, it’s the Characters You Meet

Most times, travel is about a destination. But what about the people and other characters we meet along the way? Sometimes, it’s all about them. Sometimes, they help us make lasting travel memories.

I had several ideas and a few half-written posts that I could have used for this week’s photo Thursday but I kept going back to this photo of a Rastaman I took on the beach in Negril. Then I found other photos of people I’d taken and a theme began to take shape.

Sometimes it's the Characters that Make Travel Memories
Negril Rastaman

It was his hair that caught my friend’s attention – she’d never seen locks as long as his. I was surprised how white his hair was since he didn’t seem to be that old. He stopped when I asked what he was selling and gave us an entire lesson on herbs and spices. I ended up buying turmeric, which now I can’t live without.

Sometimes, it's the Characters that Make Travel Memories
Accompong Man

I didn’t have time to speak with this man in Accompong. As soon as he saw my camera, he stopped, posed then walked away. If he’d stayed, I’d have to find a way to open the conversation without asking about the oversized glasses or the flashlight on his head.

Sometimes, it's the Characters that Make Travel Memories
Seaford Town Filipinas

Jamaica has been a magnet for people from all over the world but I’d never met anyone from the Philippines here before. On this excursion, I met not one but two Filipino women. One’s married to a Jamaican and has lived on the island for about 15 years. Her friend had arrived a few months before so she was showing her around. I was surprised to learn that there’s a “large” Filipino expat community in Jamaica.

Their stories about adjusting to life in Jamaica and their observances of us kept us laughing almost the ride back. Each time they saw something interesting, they’d asked the driver to stop so they could take photos. This stop was probably our fourth or fifth. When we got back into the bus, the driver said it’d have to be the last as he’d be late returning to our drop off point.

Sometimes, it's the Characters that Make Travel Memories
Dunn’s River Donkey

All but two of the photos I took of this flower-bedecked donkey and his owner came out blurry because I couldn’t stop laughing. I’ve seen donkeys similarly dressed up but this one just had us cracking up. When I stopped laughing, my friend would draw my attention to something else and we’d both be laughing all over again. We took photos with the donkey wearing these goofy straw hat the owner gave us but those were out of focus. Even the day after, we’d look at each other and burst out laughing about the donkey.

Donkeys are everywhere in the countryside. Farmers use them take them to their farms and produce to the market. In the old days, the donkey operated the machine that squeezed the juice from sugarcane. The donkey in these photos from Appleton demonstrates how it was done then waits to be fed and petted.

Sometimes, it's the Characters that Make Travel Memories
Chef for a minute at Little Ochie

Sometimes traveling alone as a woman has its perks. Like the day this guy decided to make me chef for a minute at Little Ochie. I’m still not sure why he did it. My guess is he saw me chatting with the owner. Whatever his reason, I learned one thing from that minute — I couldn’t be a cook in a large kitchen as I cannot take the heat!

Linking to Travel Photo Thursday and Travel Photo Mondays. Be sure to head over and check out more photos from locations around the world.