Chebeh Rubyan

I found another global cookbook that happened to have Bharani recipes in it called,  “The World Cook Book, the greatest recipes from around the world.”  There is a recipe for Chebeh Rubyan, which is shrimp balls.  This is served as an appetizer.  They sound interesting, so why not.

I decided to use my meat grinder and grind the shrimp and cilantro

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Mix in the spices and a lot of it sticks on my fingers.

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Then fry onions and split in half, one part for the sauce and the other for the shrimp ball filling.  The shrimp ball filling calls for a spice mix called Baharat.  It is a common spice blend of pepper, coriander, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, cardamom, nutmeg, and paprika.

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Take a handful of the shrimp mixture.  Flatten it out.  Then add the onion mixture to the center.

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Then take the fold the shrimp mixture over to create a ball.

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Then you make a tomato based sauce.  One of the ingredients for the sauce is Tamarind.  I went to 3 grocery stores and could only find Tamarind chutney.  It will have to do.

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Then you cook the shrimp balls in the tomato sauce.

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They are ready!

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They are delicious!  They are not spicy, but have a very complex flavor from all of the seasoning.  I love them!  Definitely worth making again.

Okay now that we have talked about yummy food here is something much less appetizing. When you get plastic surgery they sometime have to drain fluid from you. T o do this they have tubes that are in your body and they come out in my case from my under arms and then there is a drainage ball at the end to catch the fluids.  This to me looks like a grenade and they are totally uncomfortable.  Twice a day I need to drain them and measure the fluid.  You have to drain and then press the tube to create suction.  Doing this usually pulls on them a bit and hurts.  When the fluid is low enough the doctor will remove them.  I have 4 of them 2 on each side.  The nurse showed me a trick to wrap a scarf around my neck and then attach them with a safety pin.  This hides them and helps with the weight of the fluid.  Also when I take a bath I can have the scarf wrapped around my neck so it doesn’t get wet.  Two weeks after my surgery the surgeon thought they would be ready to be removed!!!   Well unfortunately for me there was too much liquid so he was only able to remove 2.  3 weeks later I got the rest removed, even though I had a lot of healing left to do.  Having the grenades removed feels freeing and I am closer to recovery.  The bad news of all of this is that when I get my implant surgery they will likely have the grenades in again.  Oh well at least I have yummy shrimp balls to eat!


Recipes

Chebeh Rubyan

Original recipe can be found here

  • 2 lbs uncooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, and drained
  • 1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup rice flour
  • 4 tbsp Ghee
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Baharat
  • 2 tbsp tamarind chutney
  • Juice of half of lemon and lemon rind
  • 1 canned drained diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  1. In a meat grinder, shrimp, garlic, and cilantro together.
  2. Then mix in turmeric, salt, and rice flour.
  3. Transfer to a covered dish and refrigerate until needed.
  4. Halve the Ghee and saute onion until translucent.  Reserve one half of the onions for later us in the sauce.
  5. The remaining half of onions stir in one tsp of Baharat and lemon rind.  Cook for one minute.  Remove from heat and reserve for the onion filling.
  6. In a sauce pan add the reserved onions.
  7. Stir in tamarind chutney, 1 cup warm water, 1 tsp baharat, tomatoes, chili powder, and sugar.
  8. Cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  9. To prepare the shrimp balls, moisten your hands with water.
  10. Take 1 tbs of the shrimp mixture and form into a ball then flatten.
  11. In the center add 1 tsp of the spiced onion filling.
  12.  Reshape into a ball.
  13. Add the balls to the sauce and cook for 20 minutes on low heat.
Baharat

Original Recipe can be found here

  • tablespoons ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons ground cloves
  • 3 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 4 teaspoons ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  1. Combine all the ingredients together till well mixed.
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Borani Esfanaj

My brother had stayed with me for a week after my mastectomy.  It seemed really soon for him to have to leave, probably because I was out for at least 2 days of his visit.  It ended up being way more comforting than I expected.  My friend Issac volunteered to stay with me after my brother left.  I was still struggling to do some minor things, like picking up, cooking, taking out the trash, so having the help was still needed.  The surprising thing for me was how hard it was to put on clothes.  My arms just have limited movement and stretching the arms up over my head and to put on a shirt hurts.  The doctors recommended button down shirts, which I found useful for the doctors appointments, but buttoning the buttons was no fun.  I got some loose fitting dresses and this is now what I wear.  They really are fancy muumuu’s.  Never really saw myself wearing them, but it works.  Also helps with people coming over and not just being in my pajamas.

Equally as hard is finding Bahrain recipes.  A lot of things I found online seems to be middle eastern dishes rather than specific Bahrain dishes.  With a lot of time spent researching I find a cookbook called “multicultural cookbook of life-cyle celebrations”.  It basically has recipes from all over the world.  It has a recipe for a spinach salad called Borani Esfanaj.  The book describes how it is common on feast and wedding days that a whole baby goat is served and this is a common salad to accompany it.  I’m not feeding a family, so don’t go for the whole goat recipe but want to make this salad.

When reading the Borani Esfanaj recipe it seems to be much more of appetizer or more specifically a dip than a salad.  I was thinking of this as a side dish.  What goes well with a creamy spinach dip?  BREAD!  Well as I am cooking Bahrain I start to look into what is a common bread and find that they typically eat khubz.  Which is like a pita, so I am going to make this as well and serve with the “salad”.

The khbuz is a yeast dough.  Following instructions I add yeast to water and let it sit.

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Mix the dough and let it rest.

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Then split the dough into small balls and let it rest.

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I roll out the dough into the circle.  Yeah, my skills are of rolling dough is getting better!

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Then you bake it in the oven.  While it cooks the dough puffs up.

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Then broil till brown.

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Once it is done the air in the middle forms a pocket like a pita would.

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The “salad” is straightforward to make.  Boil spinach in water and then cook with onion and garlic.  Cool a bit and mix with yogurt.

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Then top with nuts and mint.

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The result is good.  The “salad” is like a dip.  It is like a spinach dip with a bit more unique flavors.  The mint is refreshing bite with the yogurt.  The bread is like a pita not particularly flavorful, but I’m shocked at how crisp the outside and soft the inside is.  The two pair together well, this may not be how they ate it in Bahrain, but works in my imagination.


Recipes

Borani Esfanaj

The original Recipe can be found here

  • 1 lb fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons roasted walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped
  1. Boil water and add spinach.  Cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Drain spinach.
  3. In large sauce pan heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  4. Add onion and garlic.  Saute for 5 minutes
  5. Add spinach and cook for 5 minutes
  6. Transfer to bowl and let cool for at least 5 minutes.
  7. Add yogurt, salt and pepper.
  8. Serve with walnuts and mint sprinkled on top.

Khubz

Original recipe can be found here

  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
  1. In a large bowl, pour in the warm water and add in the yeast, stir until the yeast is dissolved.
  2. Add in the salt.
  3. Start gradually adding in the flour and oil while kneading.
  4. Knead the dough for 8 minutes.
  5. Put the dough into a large greased bowl and turn dough to grease all sides.
  6. Cover with a dry tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size about 1 ½ hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  8. Punch dough gently.
  9. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions and shape them into smooth balls.
  10. Place on a floured work surface and dust tops lightly with flour.
  11. Cover with a dry tea towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
  12. Roll out each ball into a 6-inch diameter circle.
  13. Place in oven and bake for 5 minutes, until puffy.
  14. Then broil for 2 minutes to brown.
Manama,_Bahrain_Decembre_2014

Bahrain

As I’m writing this I realize I’m very thankful for my friends. They are helpful, take great care of me, but most of all I like them around. I’m single and live alone, so when I have my friends here it seems to make my house more a home. I am really starting to understand how important this hobby of mine is to me.  It not only is satisfying my craving for learning, travel and creativity but that it is an excuse to get my friends together.  I get to share this  crazy adventure and have them try the dishes I am making but more importantly, I get to enjoy their laughter and companionship without the focus on me being sick. It also has been super helpful in making me reflect on my experience and learn a ton about myself.

I have made it to Bahrain, which is the 13th country I have cooked. It has taken me only two years and 5 months to get here. I still have 193 countries to go. Which at this rate I will finish this project in about 25 years.  My cancer treatment is going to take about 10 years to complete. I’m curious and map the events together and find I will be in the tail end of the G’s when my treatment is done.

Cancer treatment

After mapping things out I realize that the cancer will only be a portion of my story and that makes me feel good. I will end up having more adventures with my food and friends than events around my sickness. With that being said I do think I should start speeding up the writing, so lets talk about Bahrain.

Bahrain is an Island country in the Persian Gulf. It actually is an archipelago of 33 islands.

Bahrain_map

Bahrain was one of the earliest areas to convert to Islam. It was originally under Arabian rule and then for a period of 80 years it was ruled by the Portuguese and then the Persian empire. Since 1783 it has been ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. It is now one of the fastest growing economies in the Arab world, with banking and tourism being a large part of their economy.

Bahrain is an island nation, so what is produced on the island is limited and majority of the food is imported. They are heavily influenced by the Arabs and have a lot of dishes and flavor profiles common throughout the middle east. Historically, it has been a trading post, so it also has influences from India, Persia, and Europe.

I will be making:

  • Borani Esf Anaj
  • Chebeh Rubyan
  • Khubz
  • Kunafa
  • Machboos

Bahamian Baked Macaroni and Cheese with a Crab Mousse Stuffing

The Bahamas loves macaroni and cheese as much as I do! It was brought over to the Bahamas by the British and of course they have made it their own.  Their variety is baked with bell peppers in it.  They serve it as a side dish and always have it for special occasions. I find a recipe that takes their traditional mac and cheese and adds crab. Okay that does sound odd, but it is a dinner party and so why not add the additional flare!

The first step is to make the crab mousse.  You just combine all the ingredients.  It seems to be much more like a crab slaw than a mousse, but it looks good.

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For the mac and cheese you first boil the vegetables with the pasta.  Then the rest is a standard method of creating a cheese sauce pour it into a pan

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and then bake. The result is yummy!  It is one of the cheesiest mac and cheese I have ever had.  The bell peppers I think help keep the cheesiness up.  The crab mousse actually pairs perfectly with the mac and cheese and definitely elevates the dish.  This I am making again!

I also made a side dish of okra.  My family is from the south and I love fried okra.  One of the reasons you fry it is to get the sliminess out.  I actually have never cooked with okra so I’m excited to try to make this simple salad.

I cut the okra

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I prepare the okra frying and cooking in water, but they are slimy.  I then bake them for 20 minutes thinking it will dry them out a bit, but no help.   I start to panic as I don’t think I can serve this.  So I go to the trusty internet and start to read online.  I find out that the reason that lime is added is the acid of the lime cuts the sliminess.  So, I do this and it works!

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It is still a bit slimy as that is okra.  The okra is yummy, simple and full of flavor.  I giggle at myself getting in a panic when I should just follow instructions.

 

Speaking of laughter, my first night home after surgery I went to bed listening to my brother and my friend Jeff laughing.  It was a great feeling to hear two people I really love and care about enjoying each other.  I did have to remind them to keep it down.  My neighbors are still pretty mad at me from my pre-surgery partying and another school night party will probably make them mad.  So I encouraged them to go to a bar, they are hesitant to leave me.  I explained to them that I’m just going to take my sleeping pill and go to bed and I will be fine for the few hours they’re out.  This did the trick and they went to a bar.

As the house is quiet I lay in my bed and realize it was nice to be home and nice to be in my bed.  I laid flat on my back as I still can’t roll on my side and finally nod off to sleep.  I woke up early in the morning in excruciating pain.! I try not to move to see if the pain will subside and it doesn’t.  I panic and start to cry.  After a few moments I get the courage to try and sit up to get my pain medicine.  Every slight movement sends another shock of pain through my chest.  After what seemed like an hour long struggle I have the pain pill bottle in my hand and tears streaming down my cheeks.  I now have to get my sippy cup. Yes I mean a little kid sippy cup, it is awesome for surgery.  I don’t have to worry about spills and can lay it down anywhere so it is always close.  I took my pills and lie very still waiting for the pain to subside.  After about 2 hours the pain slowly started to come back.  I take another pill.  I’m never really out of pain, but if I lay still it seems manageable.

Jeff’s wife Jan, who is a doctor, came by to check on me.  She looked at my dressing and everything looked fine.  She asked how the pain was and I tell her how I have been rationing my pain meds.  The medication was prescribed two pills for every 4 hours. However the pain comes back in 2 hours and by hour 3 it is not manageable.  So I found taking 1 pill every 2 hours will keep it at a dull pain.  Jan is shocked and explains that I shouldn’t feel anything.  So she calls my doctor and they figure out a stronger prescription that will be accepted by my insurance.  I took the new pills and it is much better!  I slept through the next night and didn’t have a moment where I am in tons of pain.

Well this concludes Bahamas.  I actually like everything I made.  Probably because I stayed away from the flavors I’m not a fan of.  I was surprised by the combinations of things.  I may start trying new adventurous combinations or just move onto the the next country which is Bahrain.


Recipes

Bahamian Baked Macaroni and Cheese with a Crab Mousse Stuffing

Original recipe can be found here

  • 5 cups penne pasta
  • 2 lbs grated organic yellow cheddar cheese
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3  eggs
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 2 stalks of celery (chopped)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt (Divided)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • cooking spray
  • 4 ounces high-quality shredded crab meat
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • dash of cayenne
  1. For crab mousse, in a medium bowl, combine crab meat,  1/3 of chopped onion, 1/3 red pepper, 1/3 of a celery, lime, mayonnaise, cayenne  and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.
  4. Add remaining onion, pepper & celery.  Boil for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add pasta.  Bring heat down to medium. S immer for about 15 minutes (until pasta is cooked).
  6. Drain- off excess water.
  7. Place pasta, onion, sweet pepper & celery back into pot.  Turn off heat.
  8. Add cream, butter, cheese & eggs.  Mix until all the ingredients bind/melt (smooth consistency).
  9.  Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
  10. To serve top with crab mousse.

Okra Salad

Original recipe can be found here

  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1lb okra (caps snapped)
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 2 tablespoon lime
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 dashes of crystal hot sauce
  1. In frying pan heat 1 tablespoon of oil.
  2. Add okra and saute for 3 minutes.
  3. Add salt and pepper.
  4. Add water cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Drain if needed.
  6. Mix together the okra, remaining oil, lime, garlic, and hot sauce.
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Guava Duff

Guava Duff is a dessert served in the Bahamas.  It is a dish believed to be inspired by UK cuisine.  It resembles figgy pudding in the way the dough is steamed with the tropical fruit of Guava.  It sounds interesting to make.

The first step is to find guava.  It calls for fresh guava or guava puree. I grew up in Hawaii and didn’t think guava would be that hard to find but it turns into a nightmare!  I go to three grocery stores and all I find is pineapple and mangos.  I go to a Japanese market and no luck there either.  I end up at a Hawaiian speciality store where I find guava butter.  I get it as it may not be exact, but this is all I can find and I have been walking for 3 hours from store to store and my dinner party is the next day.

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Turns out medical insurance is like finding guava in Northern California.  When I first took my job I thought to myself, “I’m a healthy adult, so I can get the cheapest insurance.” Well that wasn’t a great decision.  My co-pay for the specialist was $80 and even worse my co-pay for my biopsy was $1200.  I ended up almost hitting my out-of-pocket limit before my surgery.  My insurance renewal was happening right around my surgery, so my brother and I sat down and figured that paying more per month would be cheaper than the free insurance.  This is because the amount of out of pocket is reduced by the higher cost I pay per month.  After this change my co-pays go back to $10.  This is the first time I understood the importance of benefits and why people will take a job because of it. Thankfully, I figured this all out ahead of time as the day I was released from the hospital was the day the program switched.  If I stayed one more day in the hospital it may have gotten complicated.  It all ended up fine for me, but I have never felt so dependent on medical care and a job before.  Not a great feeling.

Well hopefully making this cake will be easier than navigating insurance and finding guava.  The first step is to make the dough.  The dough isn’t hard to make, but it feels a lot like cookie dough rather than a bread dough.  I’m worried this isn’t right and about to get more complicated.

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Roll out the dough.

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My rolling skills are not getting much better.  It’s supposed to be a rectangle.  Don’t worry, I know how to cut!

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There, a perfect rectangle!   Now to spread on the guava butter.

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The butter is thick and easy top spread.  I try a bit.  It’s sweet and tastes like guava.  I’m sure it will work. T hen I roll the dough.

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Then roll it in tin foil.

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I double it in tin foil, so as not to let it get wet.  However when I put it in the boiling water, it is way to long for the pan.  So I cut the suff in half.

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My two halves come out.

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It doesn’t totally look appetizing, but as I proved earlier I handy with a knife!

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They come out!  This is my kind of dessert.  The dough is dense like a pudding.  Almost like a pudding cake.  The guava is a little subtle.  I should have added more guava butter.  It is fairly simple to make and totally worth trying again.  Much better than finding the guava and insurance!


Recipes

Original recipe can be found here

Guava Duff

  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup guava butter
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder

 

  1. Whisk butter and sugar in a large bowl until smooth.
  2. Add eggs & spices.  Whisk well.
  3. Sift in flour and baking powder, mix well and turn stiff dough out onto an extra-large sheet of floured aluminum foil.
  4. Flour a rolling pin and roll out dough to make a sheet that is 1″ smaller on all sides than the aluminum foil sheet.
  5. Smear 1/2 cup guava butter (more if desired) all over dough sheet.
  6. Roll up the dough into a cylinder, making a jelly-roll shape. ( may need to cut in half based on the size of your pan).
  7. Fold up edges of aluminum foil and seal both the top and sides, retaining the cylindrical shape.
  8. Roll out another sheet of aluminum foil, place the cylinder on it and again, roll up and seal all edges.
  9. Place the cylinder in boiling water and boil for 1 1/2 hours, or until very firm.
  10. Remove from water, drain, let cool slightly, then unwrap on a cutting board.
  11. Cut into thick, round slices.

 

 

Caribbean Jerked Rack of Lamb with a Coconut Red Wine Reduction

When my friends left the hospital I was a bit bored, so I actually checked work email. Seems sad that right after surgery that’s what I do.  I know work doesn’t need me and everything is covered, but it’s like watching the news for me.  Something I check out of habit.  Luckily, my mailbox is full, so I can only read the emails.  However I notice my eye sight is really blurry.  So I try and nod off to sleep.

I’m given a dilaudid drip to manage my pain.  I have a button I can press to give me more pain meds.  They tell me to stay ahead of the pain.  I am in pain, but if I lay really still it seems manageable.  I want to go to sleep, but I can’t roll on my side.  I finally nod off to sleep.  At some point in the night I wake up because I’m uncomfortable.  I want to roll onto my side, but it hurts like hell when I do. The nurse happens to come in to check on me.  She sees I’m awake and asks how I am doing.  I tell her I want to sleep on my side, but it hurts.  She reminds me to use the button and helps move me on my side.  I’m crying as it really hurts and I’m super uncomfortable.  I roll back to my back as I can’t stay on my side. She gives me an anxiety medication that also will put me to sleep.  I sleep through the night on my back.

The next morning a nurse wakes me up to draw blood.  I could have slept a few more hours.  I like sleep and am not an early riser.  Strikes me as odd that they would wake me up to draw blood.  Oh well, I guess I can nap later.  The nurse suggests that I order breakfast as they need to see me eat.  I order a bagel and cream cheese.  I’m not hungry and the overly dense cold bagel isn’t really enjoyable.  But I eat half like a good patient.

My breast surgeon stopped by to check on me.  She sat down and told me that the lymph nodes that were removed had cancer in them.  I asked how many, she said it was hard to tell and that we would have the the results from the surgery in about a week.  She reminds me that this means I will likely need chemo, but to wait for the results.  Not to worry about it and just concentrate on getting better.  It was a very quick conversation, which suited me as I was in a lot of pain.  I pretty much can only focus on staying still.

They decided that for me to go home I need to be on oral medications.  So the nurse was starting to disconnect the dilaudid drip.  As she was disconnecting she said, “I don’t think this was ever hooked up.”  She showed me that the cap of the medicine was not removed. So I was basically getting no pain medication during the night.  She connected it and gave me a dose and “oh my god what a difference!”  Still in pain, but I can move with out it being excruciating!

My friends and brother come to visit. T hey all went out separately and bought me a can of Pringles.  I have 3 cans on my hospital table.  My friend Andrea suggests that I also have a sippy cup.  It is brilliant as I can have it near me, especially since I can’t move without pain.  My plastic surgeon comes in and is a bit horrified at the amount of Pringles.  He laughs with us and is puzzled by the sippy cup.

Shane had wanted to come visit me in the hospital, but I told him not to.  I wasn’t sure how I would feel or react.  Now that I have pain medication and enjoying my friends I realize that I actually want to see Shane and text him that I’m done and he should come by.  He wanted to visit, but I wasn’t sure what shape I’d be in.  However he had too many clients, so he planned to visit me the next day.

In the afternoon I do a walk around the hospital ward.  I can move and feel alright.  After my walk the plastic surgeon comes by to see me.  He lets me know that I can stay one more night or go home, it’s up to me.   I pick home.  The food will be better.  Milo is there and my bed is comfy.  Although the hospital bed is not bad, I think I just want to be home.  It takes a few hours to release me, but I get to go home!

Speaking of good food, when I was looking for Bahamas food, I found this recipe for jerked lamb with a red wine coconut reduction. I t sounds like an odd combination, but it is a recipe from a respected restaurant in the Bahamas.  I think of jerk and Jamaica, but I find that the Carribean food has spread through the different islands and that most Carribean countries like jerk.

The lamb is straightforward to make.  I first make my own jerk seasoning.  I then marinate the lamb in that for a few hours.  Then broil the lamb.

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The wine reduction is simple.  Just throw all the ingredients in a pot and let it slowly reduce.

The result is amazing.  The coconut rum creates a sweetness that works with the spice and the fruit of the wine.  This is definitely way better than the hospital food.

 


Recipes

Jerked seasoning 

Original recipe can be found here

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Combine all ingredients; store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Caribbean Jerked Rack of Lamb with a Coconut Red Wine Reduction

Original recipe can be found here

  • 1 frenched rack of lamb
  • juice of one lemon
  • 4 Tbsp jerk seasoning
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • 4 ounces coconut rum
  • 1/2 bottle of red wine (Malena)
  • 4 Tbsp brown cane sugar
  1.  Season rack of lamb with lemon juice, jerk seasoning, salt & pepper
  2. Let marinate for about 2 hours
  3. In a small sauce pan, bring red wine & coconut rum to a boil.
  4. Add sugar and let sugar dissolve.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes (until thick).
  6. Heat skillet.
  7. Pan sear rack of lamb (cook to preference).
  8. Cut lamb into chops and serve with coconut red wine reduction.

 

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Bahamian Fish Chowder

I am a girl who likes to celebrate, so before my double mastectomy surgery, my brother, my best friend and I went to dinner.  I selected a hot new restaurant and we had a fabulous 6 course meal.  I was good and didn’t have alcohol, but had teas and house soda. It was a night of amazing food, good conversation, and laughter.  I think my doctor would have approved.

I was not to have any food or drink after midnight.  I chugged a bunch of water right before midnight hoping that will hold me over, but it didn’t.  The night of no drinking water is torture!  I had a cold and when I woke up I had a dry mouth and couldn’t do anything about it.  Thankfully my surgery was booked for the morning, so it wasn’t hours of torture.

I actually had two surgeries done all at once.  The bilateral mastectomy, to remove the cancer and my expanders installed for my breast augmentation. The expanders are temporary implants to stretch the skin before they can put in the implants.  I remember being nervous as I never had surgery and didn’t know what to expect, plus I had this cold. At the hospital they took my vitals and cleared me for surgery.

My friends and brother and I hang out in a hospital room while we wait for the surgery.  We joked and laughed and it calms me.  My friend Jeff is a crier and he fights back his tears every once in awhile.  It is actually comforting, so I don’t have to cry.  However it is hard for anyone of us to keep a straight face as I looked ridiculous in a puffy hospital gown.

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At this point I have been in the hospital for well over an hour and I am extremely thirsty, tired, and starting to look forward to being under for a few hours.

After saying good-bye to my friends and brother I am off to another waiting room for surgery.  This is a large room with rows of curtains, which are to create a private area.  My plastic surgeon and breast surgeon come in, quickly say hello and then go straight to work. They asked to see my breast and take sharpies and start drawing and discussing where they want to cut me open.  It is an impersonal experience, but comforting that they are discussing things so I won’t look awful when this is all over.  Once I’m all marked up they start to address me as a human again and asked if I had any questions.  I think I was just a bit in shock, nervous, and the only thing I thought to ask was how long would the surgery be.  They said 4-6 hours depending on how the mastectomy would go.

The anesthesiologist stops by to introduce himself and check on my medication.  I don’t have very many questions for him.  I think my nerves are really starting to hit me at this point and I’m thirsty and tired and want to go to sleep.  They wheel me in and the anesthesiologist puts a mask on me and that is all I remember.  I wake up which feels like a bit later, but not 6 hours later.  It was like waking up from a nap.  Someone asks how I am feeling and I try and speak.  Not much comes out.  They ask again and all I get out is “nauseous”.  Then I am a sleep again.  I wake up to someone yelling and the nurses running and yelling back at someone, “Sir,  you can’t get up.”  I sort of see a few people running over and telling a guy to lay down.  I am blinking and wiggling my toes and just getting feeling back in me.  The nurse talks to me a bit and I’m moved upstairs to my hospital room.

The hospital room has an amazing view of the city.

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It is a private room and one of the best on the hospital.  I got lucky.  My friends come in and sit with me.  I am starting to wake up.  I’m in pain and given a dilaudid drip, with a button to get pain meds as I need.  I am told to stay in front of the pain.  I ask my friends how things went.  They say things went fine.  I ask about my lymph nodes.  The best case scenario is that the cancer has not spread to my lymph nodes and surgery and maybe radiation is all I need.  The lymph node infected will likely mean that I will have to do chemo.  My friends and brother are aware of this and as I ask I see them look at one another and stall.  Finally my brother lets me know that “Ya, Kim some were infected.  The doctors are coming to tomorrow to talk to you about it, so just get some rest.”  I want to cry.  It is pretty much the worst case.  I want everyone out of the room as I was ill prepared for such bad news, but I look at my brothers face.  He is fairly upset he has to break my heart, so I did the only thing I could think of.  I tell a bad joke and move on.  There will be plenty of time for me to cry but right now want to enjoy everyone’s company.

Before my friends all take off to let me sleep for the night, I order dinner, the food is not great.  It isn’t the worst meal I have had but it would be better if it was food from the restaurant the night before.  I got desert of an apple pie and we thought it would be fun to celebrate one of my birthdays with a candle.  However of course you can’t have an open flame in the hospital so someone realizes there should be an iphone candle app.

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The apple pie was cold, so I am still hungry and want pringles.  My friends try and find me pringles as I am hungry. T here is only some sun chips from the vending machine.  We play a few rounds of cards, and I keep making them play with me more.   I don’t think I wanted them to go.  We discussed if they should stay over with me and that felt silly, but I think I wasn’t ready to face what the infected lymph nodes meant and not sure I was ready to be alone to face it.  It was around 11pm and an extremely long day for them and time for them to go.  They would be back in the morning.

Thankfully Bahamas food is not like hospital food.  There is a Bahamas fish chowder that I would have loved to have eaten over the dinner I picked.

Seafood is of course popular in Bahamian cuisine and they make a fish chowder that is often served with Johnny cakes.  I find a recipe for the fish chowder which also includes lobster instead.

The first step is to make a shrimp stock.  First peel the shrimp and save the shrimp shells. Rinse the shells.

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Then add shells, vegetables, seasoning, and water to a stock pot.

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Simmer for one hour.

The soup calls for lobster, however as I had to buy shrimp for the stock I am going to add shrimp along with the lobster in the soup.  I marinate the seafood with pepper, limes, and green onions.

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Mash the ingredients together in mortar and pestle

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Spread over the seafood and marinate for at least an hour.

To create the soup, you start by creating a roux with oil and flour.  Add vegetables and cook till tender.  Add the liquids and cook.  Finally add the marinated seafood and a little marinade and cook through.

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To make the Johnny cakes I mix the ingredients in my handy dandy mixer.

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Then put it in a pan and bake.  This is what differentiates a Bahamian Johnny cake is that it is a baked bread vs. a fried pancake.

The Johnny cake is dense and sucks up the soup.  The chowder is warm and comforting with the taste of coconut and heat of peppers, don’t make it too overpowering.  Well my soup and my surgery are successful!


 

Recipes

Shrimp Stock

Original recipe can be found here

  • 2 pounds shrimp shells
  • 11 cups of cold water
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 4 celery sticks, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 8 oz mushroom
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
  1. Combine seasoning into a cheese cloth and make a sachet
  2. Rinse the shrimp shells under cold running water and place them in a 1-gallon stockpot with the remaining ingredients.
  3. Bring the pot to a boil and then lower the temperature to a simmer.
  4. Skim the impurities that rise to the surface with a ladle, spoon or a skimmer.
  5. Simmer the stock for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Bahamian Fish chowder

Original Recipe can be found here

  • 2 jalapeno chiles, seeded and finely minced
  • 1 habanero chile, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 green onion
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 pounds raw lobster tails, chopped into bite size pieces
  • 2 pounds shrimp
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup peeled, seeded and diced tomatoes
  • 1 large baking potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 cups shrimp stock or low sodium canned chicken broth (or substitute water)
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  1. Combine chiles, green onion, and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a mortar and pestle or in the bowl of a food processor and process to a paste.
  2. Spread the mixture over the shrimp and lobster and drizzle with the lime juice.
  3. Refrigerate while you prepare the stew.
  4. In a Dutch oven, heat the oil and, when hot, whisk in the flour.
  5. Cook, stirring constantly, until a light blond roux is formed, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Add the onion and bell peppers and cook until vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes.
  7. Stir in the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, potato, stock, coconut milk, brown sugar, thyme, remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and pepper and bring to a low boil.
  8. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and flavorful and potatoes are very tender, about 30 minutes.
  9. Remove the lobster from the marinade and reserve 2 tablespoons. (Discard the remaining marinade.)
  10. Add the lobster and the reserved 2 tablespoons marinade to the stew and cook, stirring gently as to not break up the fillets, until the fish is just cooked through, about 7 to 8 minutes.

Johnny Cakes

Original recipe can be found here

  • ½ cup butter, room temperature + extra for greasing pan
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • approx. ¾ cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until combined.
  3. Add the flour, water, salt, and baking powder to the bowl.
  4. Add the milk slowly until the batter is sticky.
  5. Dust hands with flour. Transfer dough from bowl to a greased 9×9 pan. Gently flatten the dough in the pan.
  6. Bake for approx. 1hr or until the edges of the johnnycake are browned. The johnnycake will not rise much.
  7. Let cool for several minutes before cutting into the johnnycake.