Bread, moreover homemade bread. Hot, freshly baked, crunchy, smothered in butter and cheese. Simply delicious! Not forgetting the beautiful aroma.
I grew up seeing bread being baked every weekend. Mum would make about seven to eight loaves, that would disappear in about three days. A lovely childhood memory.
My sister sent me a simple recipe for making bread with ingredients of only flour, sugar, oil, yeast and salt. This is the result, I must admit it was my best attempt to date. What I will be sharing with you is generally what I cook at home. I am a mum who simply cooks for her family. I cannot cook fancy and complicated dishes. What I will be trying though, is other Caribbean foods.
Coconut Rock Buns
This bowl contains one of my favourite meals, coconut stewed with fish, (Tilapia) in this instance. When coconut is added to food, it adds both a rich and truly delicious taste. Always finger licking. Coconut milk is added first with onions, curry, tomatoes and whatever spices you desire.
The stew is allowed to simmer gently until it thickens and reduces in quantity. The fish is then added a couple of minutes before the end of cooking, to prevent its breakage. Then, simply enjoy!
As a child, sugar cake was one of my favourite sweet treats. Made from coconut, sugar syrup and spices (cinnamon and nutmeg)
I have not eaten this in a long time but thought I would try it again. The first attempt was not as successful as these in the image. I think the sugar syrup was not reduced enough.
And of course, you all know I like to make a 'song and dance' about presentation.
This full flavoured, creamy drink consists of malt, full cream milk, organic eggs and of course spices. It is sadly not for those with weak digestive systems, due to its rich taste. It is normally taken when one is recovering from illness or in need a 'pick me up' I wanted to match the earthy look of this drink by designing a rustic table mat using Hessian fabric. Red ribbon is used to add emphasis. This is truly one of my favourite designs.
Pepper and vegetable salad
Another staple I grew up with was soup, every Saturday without fail. Caribbean soup is rich, hearty and delicious. Everything that is edible in the kitchen is thrown into the pot. And a big pot it was! I can honestly say when it was my turn to make this soup, I was not at all pleased. It felt as though, the entire Saturday was spent in the kitchen battling with all the ingredients to make this traditional dish.
The base is normally a variety of peas or beans with meat. Then layers of vegetables are added, not forgetting dumplings.
I have used split peas as seen above. Vegetables, herbs, onions, squash/pumpkin, sweet potato and plantain (similiar to bananas) are also added, resulting in a rich tasty soup that is definitely Caribbean.
Tomatoes and Onions
Just sharing these tropical fruits with you. Recognise them all?
Sugar and Cinnamon
Sweet Bell Pepper
Jamaican 'Rice and Peas' is a traditional, classic dish that is general eaten on a Sunday. All my Jamaican friends speak about this dish with a sense of food delight.
I myself enjoy eating it. Cooked with red kidney beans, coconut milk, salt to taste, long grain rice and onions. It is simply scrumptious!
The red plate in this image was initially white. In my usual spirit of trying new techniques, I decided to change the colour. Special paint was bought from an art shop. After painting the plate, the instruction was to simply place in the kitchen oven. This was the scary bit. I went to ceramics classes many moons ago, and the objects would normally be put in a kiln.
Thankfully, the oven did not explode. I will definitely be trying this again.
Peppers, peppers, peppers - a must in Caribbean cooking. We add this spice to everything. In this pepper and vegetable salad I added tomatoes, scotch bonnet peppers ( this is super hot but adds amazing flavours to all foods) cucumber with olive oil and lime. For those who cannot tolerate the heat, then sweet peppers would compensate. All the same the colour is there. Either way, it's all hotly delicious!
I absolutely love a slice of carrot cake. An attempt was made last December, but with little success, not enough sugar. This time around the attempt was better.
The main ingredients used were eggs, flour, carrots of course, oil, sugar and cinnamon. This cinnamon used was special, it was brought from the beautiful Caribbean Spice island of Grenada. I can assure you, it was packed with the most natural and aromatic scent of a beautiful spice, which simply brought the cake to life. I would certainly be trying this recipe again.
This time of year (September - December) I feel nostalgic for hot chocolate, not just any hot chocolate but authentic Caribbean home made hot chocolate.
Made from local cocoa beans that have been grounded by using a mill, with added spices as that of cloves, nutmeg, vanilla, bay leaf and tonca bean seed, I am reliably informed. The cocoa with all its beautiful spices is then formed into a ball (above) or other shape.
When ready to use, it is grated and added to water and milk. Sugar is normally used to sweeten. The end result is a rich, earthy, original and traditional taste. Splendid! Hot chocolate with homemade bread. Simply satisfying!
I know what you are thinking. Glenis what are these? These are all Caribbean nibbles. We have from left to right, ginger sweets, coconut sweets, dried mango, pineapple sweets and cashew nuts. I did not make these, they were bought.
My focus is not on the nibbles, but rather the paper they are in. This paper has taken me back to my primary school days. Dried and sometimes stewed fruits e.g plums, cherries, mangoes would be placed in a piece of torn paper as seen above and sold to us as children. I suppose to some degree this tiny piece of paper enhanced the taste!
Bright, colourful, tasty and inviting, this rice meal describes it all.
As can be seen, it is packed with peas, beans, carrots, ochroes (lady fingers) and whatever vegetables one desire.
Generally cooked on a Sunday, which is considered to be a day where all the special foods of the week are cooked. This rice recipe, 'Spanish Rice' is normally cooked on this day.
The vegetables are sauted in oil and then the rice is added. It is normally accompanied by chicken, fish or beef. I must admit it is one of my favorite rice recipes, which I enjoy weekly. Normally accompanied by a cucumber or other salad with a dash of pepper sauce of course. A normal spicy accompaniment with Caribbean meals.
In order to complement this delicious Caribbean rice with vegetables, I designed an equally colourful table mat to be its companion.
Green and red intensify each other, which in this instance add to the overall vibrancy of this bold presentation.
Saltfish is one of those dishes that is seen as traditional, earthy, delicious and versatile. Made by soaking or boiling the salted fish in water, to get rid of the excess salt. It is generally then fried in oil, with onions, tomatoes and other spices that one desires. I tend to add a little touch of tomato ketchup, which some may cringe at. It is then eaten with rice, bread, bake (similar to bread) or ground provisions (sweet potato, yam, cassava etc.) Beautifully filling.
This is another of his juicing, first thing in the morning. In this instance as you can see, mango, orange, apple and grapes. Due to the mango, the texture is smooth and the taste naturally sweet.
Ingredients for Cornmeal Coo-coo
Coconut Rock Buns, one of my favourites. Crunchy and sweet; infused with flavours of Grenadian spices (nutmeg and cinnamon). Truly scrumptious!
This is a must have when I visit home. I first learnt to make this bun during Home Economics classes at school, since then I have been hooked.
The best part of all, is the initial crunch as you bite into it. The next taste is the cinnamon and raisins, all coming together to create a truly tantalizing home made taste.
Ingredients for Coconut Rock Buns
Cornmeal Coo-coo, as a child I did not really enjoy, due to its heavy and quick filling tendency. This is due to the cornmeal. As an adult, I really enjoy its delicious texture and its ability to absorb flavours from its accompaniments. Made with ochroes, cornmeal and coconut. Best eaten with rich, full bodied stews.
My husband, the other Glen, likes to juice fruits and vegetables. No, I cannot claim to do this one, I just enjoy the drinking.
Here we have beetroot, apple, strawberry and grapes. Very refreshing.