All posts filed under: North America

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Cocoa Tea

When I told Ava that the fine people of Saint Lucia like to wake up in the morning and drink Cocoa Tea, she squinted her eyes, titled her head, and said “what mama?” “It’s like hot cocoa,” I smiled, “but richer, and seasoned with cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg.” Her eyes instantly popped open in recognition and the corners of her lips curled impishly. I showed her my mound of chocolate chips and added that in Saint Lucia they use cocoa sticks and balls to make their Cocoa Tea, but we’d be making it with chips since that’s all we can get in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “Don’t worry,” I added, “It’ll still taste amazing and feel completely snuggly.” Truth is, the end result is a rich, thick blanket of goodness… each sip is almost like dreaming underneath a giant bar of ooey-gooey warm chocolate. This is the kind of drink you want after a chilly walk or sledding. After a breakup. Or an engagement. It’s the exact right statement for any sentiment, in fact. A giant mug …

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Caribbean Fry Bakes

This week I’ve completely given up: – shooing the cat off our bed – working so hard, I can’t see straight. – being in a hurry – doing the laundry – eating boxed cereal Instead, I’m now: – snuggling my cat – not-so-accidentally forgetting my phone at home – dancing with my daughter with the curtains wide open – playing board games with family – gobbling up bakes Thanksgiving week is a time for a little closer look at what matters. It’s about family, not work. It’s about noticing each other and taking the time to interact without twitching, finger first, towards our cellphones. It’s about looking each other in the eyes. And it’s about cooking together. While I value a good pancake (and even a good Russian-style pumpkin pancake) most of the time, I’m a new convert to the Caribbean breakfast treat called “Bakes.” I’ve made three batches in as many days. Despite the name, bakes are only occasionally baked. More often than not, Bakes are fried discs of dough. Confused? Don’t worry. The only thing you …

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Menu: Saint Lucia (w/ Giveaway)

When Thanksgiving meal preparations take over the household, I like to do little things to make the rest of the week’s meals feel fun. With that in mind, I put together two festive, but relatively quick treats to make the ordinary extraordinary.  After all, why can’t every day be Thanksgiving? The theme for both is breakfast, Saint Lucia-style. Caribbean Bakes [Recipe] If your family likes doughnuts and biscuits, these fried discs of soft, doughy goodness will certainly be a big hit. Serve them warm with sweet, fruity jam, salt fish, lunchmeat, or even sliced cheese. Cocoa Tea [Recipe] This is the traditional morning drink in Saint Lucia. Think thick, rich hot cocoa with cinnamon, and a dusting of ground nutmeg. THE GIVEAWAY Happy Day Before Thanksgiving, friends!  So here’s something you never knew you wanted… ancient map leggings from Black Milk Clothing. I fell in love with these the moment I saw them. And, p.s., I instantly thought of ten people I’d like to buy them for. They’d look great with a big sweater, under …

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The village of Soufriere lit up as night falls. the Pitons in the background are volcanic plugs rising straight out ogf the sea. Photo by Tri-X Pan.

About the food of Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia pops out of the Caribbean Sea like a coy mountain range. She’s partially submerged in the deep blue, yet her curves peek out randomly in greeting. Her deep green foliage (oftentimes thick and tropical) and her dusty, tan soil gives the island a “land before time” feel. The occasional free-wandering chicken and the featured “drive-in volcano,” where one can drive right up to a bubbling crater, only add to the illusion. (Don’t let the threat of lava scare you; Saint Lucia hasn’t had an eruption since the 1700’s.) Interesting “point” though, are the two peaks you see below. They are called pitons: two volcanic plugs (towering masses of rock formed in the craters of ancient volcanoes). As night falls, people dance, sing, and eat under Saint Lucia’s brilliant street lights. Thanks to a long history with France and Britain, a little French will likely fall upon your ear and French-Creole on your taste buds  This is a draw for locals and tourists alike: a Fish Fry – where anything goes, as long as it can …

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Monday Meal Review: Saint Kitts and Nevis

Do you ever wonder if you need to get out more?  While I keep stumbling into serendipitous connections in Tulsa, like the young book salesman from Bulgaria who knocked on my door the same week I cooked his country and the Finnish mother I ran into the same day I was to cook Finland, I didn’t really expect to find the same thing during our brief 4 night stay in New York City. Who was I kidding? I should have known better. It is New York City, after all. On our first bleary eyed morning in New York I asked Keith’s cousin, Kelly, about where I could go grocery shopping. I told her our meal was from Saint Kitts and Nevis, in the Caribbean.  She glanced out her tall, sunny windows, over the shimmering city below and laughed. She cocked her chin to the side, and added “Every other shop around here is Caribbean.” I searched her eyes, looking for a twinkle of mischief but there was none. That afternoon, as we walked through the blustery …

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Killer Bee Cocktail with Black Pepper & Nutmeg

I can’t even begin to take credit for this drink. My dear friend Marina wanted to contribute something to our potluck-style dinner but even after I gave her the easy out by suggesting our Caribbean Rum Punch, she insisted on creating something new and unique to Saint Kitts and Nevis. Her research and uncovered this gem of a sipper… the Killer Bee Cocktail. With a name like that, it has to be good. According to her research: The Killer Bee cocktail is by far the most popular beverage on the island of Nevis.  Sunshine’s [Beach Bar] is so secretive about the drink that I’ve read he mixes the cocktail under the bar to hide the mix from curious eyes. So while this is not exact, it is the closest thing you will find…after a few you won’t notice anyway, right?   (Caribbean Escape Blog) Any kind of drink that is made under the table to preserve it’s secret? Count me in! Now for a few notes on the nitty gritty. Marina made the cocktail with …

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Peas n’ Rice

There’s a tall, skinny window, in a full-of-love kitchen in Brooklyn, where one can set a giant pot of rice to cool. Under the icy winter sun, steam rolls up and fogs the panes. With a swipe of the hand you can peer out at the city below, but the glass now clings to a dream of sauteed peppers, onion, garlic, celery, and thyme.  This special place is my friend Marina’s kitchen, where I cooked our Global Table this past week while I was in NYC. There’s nothing to this recipe. And yet it is everything. And this is why it’s a staple all over the Caribbean. The version I made is vegan, although a few slices of diced, fried bacon or a ham hock would be grand – and traditional – in this as well (just fry them up before you add the veggies). The key to this dish are the Pigeon Peas, although you can substitute black-eyed peas if you can’t find any. In a delightful twist of fate, I found pigeon peas …

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Rum Glazed Coconut Bread Pudding

It’s a fact of life: when the wind howls, children everywhere refuse to wear their coats. They arch their little backs, squeal-whine and assert “I don’t need a coat, mama.” In this situation, we have two choices. We can hunker down and try (struggle) to put their coat on, until one or both of us are crying. Or. (Or is that beautiful word that keeps life bearable and tantrums at a minimum.) Or… we can stand outside with them, coatless in the wind, just for a moment. We can feel that autumn chill tickle our souls, laugh at how the air nips our noses, and then – only then – rush inside to put on that silly coat after all. Or… we can forget about the coat altogether and cozy up to a piping hot bowl of coconut bread pudding, drizzled all over with a giddy amount of buttered brown sugar & rum glaze, then smile with rosy cheeks by the window. It’s a no brainer, really. We chose the last option, while enjoying ourselves immensely …

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Menu: Saint Kitts and Nevis (with $150 Giveaway)

This week I flew from 80 degrees and sunny in Tulsa, to 35 degrees and windy in New York City. I wandered through a snowstorm in Manhattan, purchased a silk hat made in Tibet for $6,  and slept 50% less than normal.  I spent the week introducing myself to publishers all week: “Hello, I’m Sasha Martin. Let me tell you about a little dream of mine  …” After all that excitement (I can’t wait to tell you more), it was wonderful to end the week at my dear friend, Marina’s apartment in Brooklyn and eat this incredible meal typical in Saint Kitts & Nevis. Everything about it is soothing, comforting and… well, there’s rum glazed coconut bread pudding… need I say more? P.S. That Killer Bees recipe? Marina found that one and she did an aces job. All recipes and meal review will be available by Monday morning. Peas n’ Rice [Recipe]  A hearty combination of rice, pigeon peas, peppers, onion, celery and thyme. (Psst – this would be perfect with the coconut crust fish from our Nauru Global …

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Frigate Bay. Photo by WilliamTorrillo.

About the food of Saint Kitts & Nevis

I love the Caribbean. Seems like she always shows up when I need her most. Case in point? I spent the last week in NYC under rain, sleet, and snow. While I relished each snowflake through Ava’s eyes, the air was coat-clenching chilly. By the end of the week, we all huddled together around a table in Brooklyn while eating Saint Kitts & Nevis. And we were all warmed. From the inside out. Only after our feast, did I learn that Christopher Columbus named Nevis after our Lady of the Snows. Apparently her mountain peak is often shrouded in fluffy white clouds, giving the allusion of a true snow-capped mountain. Perfect. Just perfect. This enchanting name is just the beginning of St. Kitts & Nevis’ charm. With cheerful festivals and sunny days, the islands seem to float along as if in a dream. When it comes to food, here’s what you can expect from this beautiful pair of islands… Let’s start with the obvious – fish. Lots and lots of fish, like coconut crusted mahi-mahi …

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Monday Meal Review: Panama

A canal cuts straight through Panama, dividing the skinny country and two great continents. Ships no longer have to pass around the southern-most tip of South America to circumnavigate the globe as they once did. They just slip right on through her middle. Each time a ship passes, 200 million liters of water slosh and gush through the opening. Incredible, the effect of a “little divider” like the Panama canal. Keith’s new job means he’s traveling a lot. One week of every month he just … vanishes, while Ava and I muddle through our “normal.” I spend the time he’s gone a little divided, like the canal, trying not to let all my energy rush out with his ship… trying ever so hard not to miss him (I’m a Cancer, need I say more?). It’s always hard to be the one left behind – the one not on adventure. The one living the normal, everyday, here I am, still hanging out life. Yet, after spending a week so divided, there is nothing better than coming back together. For …

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Arroz con Pollo

Pneumonia make cause my heart to race, my nerves to slacken, and my breathing to rasp, but it will never stop me from making my sweetheart his birthday dinner. To celebrate in style, I cobbled together the most unexpectedly glorious arroz con pollo. Unexpected, because I honestly wondered how great could chicken and rice be? Fantastic, turns out. Put your trust in centuries of Latin American and Spanish history; the next time you have a big dinner party, make arroz con pollo. Under a gracious layer of 100% love, you’ll find a one-pot chicken and rice dish which delights in bright bursts of briny olives and capers, blushing rice (thanks to a sprinkling of ruddy ground annato and a whole lot of chopped tomatoes), and a flurry of vivid green cilantro. Arroz con Pollo is traditionally made in a giant pan – something like a paella pan which can go gracefully from oven to table – although a Dutch oven would work nicely in a pinch. I used that $20 pan I got at the Indian …

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