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Archive for August, 2010

Stewed callaloo!

I came upon this shocker in a local food supplement, in a story attributed to someone described as a Miami chef, consultant and food writer. Stewed callaloo, indeed!

True, the opening paragraph may well have exonerated him, since it confessed that, true to its motto “out of Many, One People,” Jamaica’s cooking is an amalgam of many countries’ cuisines.

Well, they have truly amalgamated our callaloo, just as the did with Guyana’s signature pepper pot — if in name only. For what in Jamaica they call pepper pot is, ironically, actually a kind of callaloo masquerading as the Guyanese specialty of various meats cooked, unendingly, in a potent melding ingredient called casareep.

Let’s face it — callaloo is Trinidadian, definitely not a stew, and more of a thick vegetable soup.

And any Trini will tell you, the base for this staple is the plucked leaves of dasheen, which tuber, with green figs — preferably young — is the foundation of our famous blue food. Callaloo is smoothened with ochroes and coconut milk and adorned, if you feel like it, with blue cab, or pigtail or some variation thereof.

The proffered recipe, the Miami expert tells is, is adapted from Smokey Joe’s on Negril Beach, and it requires you to include “4 cups firmly packed chopped callaloo, spinach, or greens.” Now I get it — callalooo is an ingredient, not the heavenly end product.

They’re right about spinach, though, for that is exactly what Janice uses, Show Low being entirely bereft of dasheen. And she’s found a way to make it work.

Just to be fair to these folk, here is what their recipe calls for.

1 tablespoon of olive oil.

1 medium onion, chopped.

2 garlic cloves, minced.

2 sprigs fresh thyme, left on stem.

4 cups firmly packed chopped callaloo, spinach or greens.

1 medium tomato, chopped.

1/4 teaspoon sea salt, and coarse ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large non-stick saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, carrot and thyme; saute 2 minutes, until slightly softened. Add callaloo and tomato. Continue to saute, stirring frequently, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add salt and pepper. Saute until vegetables are tender. Serve 2.

I much prefer the advice of the Naparima Girls’ High School Cookbook. They would have you strip the stalk and midrib from your dasheen leaves, wash and cut the leaves and soft stalk.

Cut salted beef or salted pork in bite-size pieces.

Cut ochroes, chives and thyme in small pieces.

In a large pot or skillet put dasheen leaves, salted meat, ochroes, chive, thyme, onion, garlic, crab, hot pepper, coconut milk and water.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or more until everything is soft and cooked.

Remove hot pepper, swizzle or beat with a hand beater. Add cooking butter and stir well. Adjust salt and pepper.

Serve as a soup or accompanied with rice and ground provision.

And there you have it, Smokey Joe’s, of Negril: realĀ  callaloo from Trinidad and Tobago.

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Connections

I posted a photo of a humming bird on my photo blog on Sunday. The bird was at rest in the palm of a thrilled visitor at the Sipes Nature Center, not far from home. This presumably is a natural enough condition after being banded, giving the tiny creature a bit of a breathing space before taking off again.

Within hours I got an admiring comment from another enthusiast — from Zagreb in Croatia!

Next day I posted another photo, this time of a fellow, arms folded, some distance from a feeder, patiently awaiting the arrival of some hummers, at the same venue.

And got a hail from the Punjab in India from a fellow-shutterbug asking that we contact each other.

Yet none of this was as surprising as getting a comment, from Iran, about a landscape I had shot in Moab, Utah, some time back.

Helps, I imagine, to understand how Janice was able to get a charge on her credit card the other day — from Cyprus.

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