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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Crispy, Chewy, Sweet Fried Plantains

I love fried plantains. And just calling out “Plantains!” will get my kids running to the dinner table any day. Especially the way I make them. I will eat them any way you cook them, but I’m going to teach you the way I like them best.

First you have to choose a really ripe plantain. I mean, really ripe. I like mine turning black bordering on overripe. That is when they are the sweetest, and if they are not really ripe, they can end up tasting a bit stainy. I know that in those first world countries, they find a way to get their plantains to look pretty and yellow until they die. Oh, well, do your best.

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So for this recipe you need:

1 plantain

oil for frying

First of all, get out a large plate and put a square of paper towel on it to soak up the excess oil. You have to get this ready because you don’t want to be hunting around for it while your plantains are cooking.

Now I like to slice my plantains really, really thin. I aim for 1mm to paper thin. This is the difficult part, and also the most important part if you want them to be crispy. chewy delicious. 

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Now you put a thin layer of oil in your frying pan just to cover the bottom of the pan. Turn to medium heat and wait for the oil to heat up

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Then you put your slices in the pan and wait until you see the edges turn brown. As soon as this happens, turn them over. A fork works best for this procedure.

See the pieces turning brown around the edges? Turn those first.

See the pieces turning brown around the edges? Turn those first.

You must stand over the pan because plantains burn very easily, particularly if you turn your back on them. They don’t like that. So make sure you stand and watch them. Check now and then to see if they have turned golden brown. Then, remove from the fire and place them on your plate.

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They should look like this.

Crispy, Chewy Delicious Sweet Fried Plantains

Crispy, Chewy Delicious Sweet Fried Plantains

And they should be crispy at the edges, chewy in the middle, and soft and sweet all at the same time. Yum!

And after they’re all gone, please come back and let me know if you liked them by leaving a comment below. Enjoy!

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Designer Coleen Panton

Coleen

Coleen Panton, Fashion Designer

Ever since she was a child, Coleen has been in love with fashion. Since both her mother and grandmother were dressmakers, Coleen grew up fascinated with the world of designing and dressmaking. As a young woman, she took a fashion course at a community college in Montego Bay, but for many years after that, her career plans were put on hold. For a while, fashion took a back seat to running a business and raising a family. However, two years ago Coleen dusted off her ambitions, her sketch book, and her sewing machine, and decided that it was finally time to pursue her passion and her dream.

Since then, Coleen has been slowly building up her collection. Her pieces have been appearing in fashion shows around the island and clients have been loving and lapping up her designs. While she sells many pieces here in Jamaica, she also has a growing overseas clientele who contact her regularly, requesting that she send them their favourites.296466_314225462008551_1605140708_n

Although she currently caters mainly to individual clients, her long term goal is to produce a full line of clothing for boutiques and clothing stores around the globe. She currently has one assistant on staff whom she claims is an excellent seamstress, and she hopes for the opportunity to hire many more talented Jamaicans in the future.

Coleen’s creations are elegant and classy, yet comfortable to wear. She designs to flatter a woman’s figure, whatever its shape or size. Check them out for yourself on her facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Designer-Coleen-Panton/313815448716219

 

Have you bought one of Coleen’s designs? Let us know in the comments box below.

Do cars need to stop for the National Anthem?

Jamaican Flag – Rose Hall. Photo by Linda Sellers.

I am late dropping my children to school today. And when I get to my daughter’s school, there is a taxi ahead of me. There is nothing in front of him. He has come to a dead stop in the middle of the road. He is not at the school’s drop off point, and no-one is entering or exiting the car. He is not speaking to anyone which, though annoying, would at least explain his behavior. So I wait a few minutes, and then, I blow my horn. (Oops, not supposed to do that, right? School zone and all.) No response. He makes no move whatsoever. So I wind down my window to try to figure out what the heck is going on. And I realize that the National Anthem is being played over the school’s intercom.

Now they do this every morning. So if you are late in dropping your child to school, and you are caught in the corridors during the Anthem, it’s like being caught in a freeze flash mob. You, know, like in Showtime’s Shameless. You don’t watch Shameless? Never mind. Everybody stops whatever they are doing and comes to attention until the Anthem is over. Now  you have to admit that it is slightly inconvenient, while hurrying from one place to another, to be forced to stop and stand still for 5 minutes. OK. Maybe not 5 minutes. Maybe 3 minutes? But I accept that it is a good thing for the children to be familiar with the correct protocol for listening to the National Anthem. So I set a good example and accept this as the norm.

However, I have never heard of being required to stop driving your car when the National Anthem is being played. I can just imagine driving on a busy street past a function where this is occurring, and seeing all the cars screeching to a dead stop in the middle of the road. Sounds like madness to me. This guy has got to be the most patriotic taxi man in the country. And this is not the first time I have seen this happen at school. So can someone please tell me. Do I have it wrong? And would you stop your car for the National Anthem?

photo credit: linda sellers via photopin cc

Brown Stew Chicken

Brown Stew Chicken is a common Jamaican dish that is tasty and very easy to prepare. I’ll show you how.

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First you want one dead chicken. Live ones are way too much trouble. You can get chickens all plucked and cleaned at the supermarket. I suppose you already know this.

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, chopped up

1 small lime

Marinade:

1 onion – chopped

2 stalks skellion – chopped

3 cloves garlic – chopped

2 tbsp dark soya sauce/browning

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp ketchup

Add to pot:

1 tbsp oil (to brown chicken)

3 small tomatoes (chopped)

2 medium carrots (chopped)

1 cup water

2 tbsp flour

Note: Make sure that you use a DARK soya sauce. When you shake up the bottle, you should see the soya sauce almost stain the bottle. If the sauce looks light brown and translucent, you have to wrong type of soya sauce. This is where the chicken gets its dark brown colour. Alternately, you can use browning. Or you can use a bit of both.

1. Wash the chicken and rub with lime juice to remove the raw taste. Chop chicken into small pieces

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2. Chop onion, skellion, garlic finely. Mix with salt, soya sauce and ketchup to make the marinade.

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3. Rub marinade onto chicken and refrigerate for one hour. (Once I decided to skip this step altogether and still got a tasty stew chicken. You’ll see why in a minute)

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4. Heat large cooking pot and add oil.

5. When the oil is nice and hot, put the chicken in. Some recipes want you to scrape off the seasonings before you put the chicken into  the pot. If you think this will make a difference, go right ahead. Personally, I’m not keen on spending all that time picking tiny bits of skellion off my chicken pieces, and I can’t see why this would be necessary, so I don’t. After you put the chicken in, wait until the first side is brown, then turn over and brown the other side.

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6. Add about 1 cup of water to the pot.

7. Wait until water begins to boil, then add carrots and tomatoes.

8. Simmer for about 1 hr

Yes, I do simmer my brown stew chicken for one hour.  While it’s not strictly necessary to leave it for so long, the result is that all the flavours and spices mix into the chicken and make it extremely flavourful and tender, which is how I like it. 

11. Finally, mix about 1 tbsp corn starch with a small amount of water and add to the pot to thicken the gravy. You can remove the chicken first if you like, or not. Just wait a couple of minutes until the gravy is thickened and then you’re done.

And that’s it! Serve hot with rice and vegetables.

If you do try this recipe, please come back and write a review in the comments section. I would love to get your feedback.

My long lost cousin, Tessanne.

tessanne-chinIf you have not heard of Tessanne Chin, the Jamaican songstress who rose to fame by winning the last season of The Voice, then you clearly have not come into contact with any Jamaicans within the last five months, since that is all that we’ve been able to talk about since the season began airing last September.

Although she was already a well known singer at home, particularly famed for her signature tune “Hideaway’, her appearance on The Voice allowed  Tessanne to make a meteoric rise to international fame, and put every Jamaican at home and abroad, in a four month long euphoria of national pride. It was like watching Usain Bolt win the 100m at the Olympics every week for four months!

Since then, the two main newspapers in Jamaica, The Gleaner and The Observer, continue to herald her every move. We know when she gets on a plane and when she lands.  We can tell you that she had patties and oxtail when she got home (not at the same time). We saw her participate in the famous Rose Parade, watched her on every television appearance and interview in Jamaica and the USA, and read every article that has ever been written about her.  We follow her on Twitter and Facebook, and hang adoringly on her every word.

She is every Jamaican’s little sister, daughter and friend. She is Jamaican. And as such, her successes are our successes, and her triumphs are our triumphs. More than a few of us literally cried tears of joy week after week at each stage of her victorious ascent. We hung on every word of the judges, and every comment made on the internet about her. We defended her roundly at the least hint of disrespect. “How you mean she nuh have di best voice inna di worl! You mussi too fool fool and deaf. You nuh know nutting bout nutting. Don’t even open yuh mout’, yuh ignorant like wha'”

But the cool thing about Tessanne’s rise to fame, for me personally, is the fact that she is of Chinese descent. Why? Because I am also a Jamaican, of Chinese descent, with the original surname of Chin. So I get to pretend that I’m related to her which makes me pass as cool.  So whenever someone asked me (and many have) if we are related, I can say ‘Yes man, she’s my cousin, you know! I’ll hail her up for you!” Anyway, according to my dad, every person with the last named Chin can conceivably be traced back to the same small village in China. So Tessanne could quite realistically be my fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh cousin. (Hear that, Tess?)

The one downside of this breathtaking ride, was that it had to end, leaving everyone wondering what they ever did on a Monday and Tuesday night, and what could possibly replace our weekly Tessanne fix. So we continue to comb the papers and the media and follow her every move, because whatever else Tessanne is, she is OURS. And we well proud a har.

So go forth, my long lost cousin, Tessane, and conquer the world. We’re with you every step of the way!

Good Works

I also plan to feature some worthwhile charities in Jamaica, and let you know how you can help!

Treasury of Desserts

kathy's blue wedding cake

As a teenager, Kathy Gauntlett had no idea which career path to choose and little inclination to choose one. When a school guidance counselor suggested that she examine the offerings of the then College of Arts, Science and Technology (CAST) in Kingston, Jamaica, she practically scoffed. However, as fate would have it, their baking technology course caught her interest, and she signed up.

Kathy had discovered her talent. From there developed her love of baking, and her life path was set. In 1997, she started her own business, lovingly named “Treasury of Desserts.” From her kitchen at home, she began to produce delicious and tasty desserts for a range of clientele.

Her offerings include beautiful wedding cakes, birthday, christening and shower cakes. She expertly bakes appetizing cookies, puddings, pies and tarts, but cheesecakes are her specialty.

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake

In 2011, she was nominated Best Dessert Caterer of The Year in the Observer Food Awards competition. Her oreo cheesecake was a hit with the judges and she won first place.

Today she continues to produce scrumptious and delectable treats from her home in Kingston where she resides with her husband, Karl Tait, and her young daughter. She is currently searching for a regular outlet for her desserts in order to make her creations more accessible to the public.

You can find her offerings on her website at www.treasuryofdesserts.com or email her at treasuryofdesserts@yahoo.com. She can also be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TreasuryOfDesserts

Have you tried Kathy’s desserts? Tell us your favourites in the comments box below.

Building my blog. Building the world.

This week I did something that I had no idea how to do a week ago. I set up a blog. Within a very short time, I learned how to purchase a domain name and choose a reliable host for my blog, as well as how to set up and configure it to my satisfaction. Luckily, I got help every step of the way. I was assisted by countless persons who held my hand, answered every question, and gave me excellent advice. And all these people were and continue to be strangers to me.

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Upon reflection, I have come to realize that people have a natural inclination to help each other. I know that there are many who are using cyberspace with malicious intent, but I believe that there are a far greater number of persons who are just happy to assist, advise and uplift, by sharing what they have learned, and what they know.

Each time someone creates a how-to video on youtube, writes a review on a product, creates an inspirational blog, or uses the myriad of other methods available to share their knowledge, expertise and opinion, I see someone helping someone.

If I decide to purchase an item online – say, a lamp – there are innumerable persons who will steer me to the best deals, the most reliable supplier, and the highest quality lamp, as well as warn me away from a potential scam. Now, in the grand scheme of things, buying a lamp is not a terribly significant activity, but this wholesale inclination that people demonstrate of looking out for each other’s best interest gives me hope for the world.

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I have encountered my share of thieves, liars, cheats, and people who are just plain out to get you. I have been overwhelmed with awareness of the vastness of suffering and cruelty that exists in the world. But I still believe that the world is tipped towards the positive, and that those with good intentions do outweigh those with bad ones.

When we share what we know, it gives us all a chance to learn from each other’s mistakes, and only good can come from such a thing. So thank you to everyone who helped me build my blog, and here’s to us all making the world a better place.

Buy Jamaican – building the list

In the Buy Jamaican category of this blog, I will be introducing to you small Jamaican business owners, at home and abroad, who are working hard to uphold Brand Jamaica. I will also be providing links to their websites, if any, and where they can be found, so that we can all continue to support them.  If you know any such persons, please contact me so that I might include them on this site.

Big Ups

Do you know of someone who has done a service for you and did an excellent job, charged you a fair price, was honest and gave great customer service? It could be a mechanic, carpenter, car washer, contracter, etc. Big them up here in the comments section. Give the person’s name, location, service, and why you would recommend them. We’re gonna create our own Jamaican ‘Big Up’ list right here.

Julio Young

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