Category Archives: Caribbean Beauty

Spicy Chili in the not so chilly Caribbean – My “Chill” Life

Beautiful Frangipani flowers in Anguilla

Frangipani flowers in Anguilla

Well here I am, finally adding to my ohhh so neglected blog. Things have been crazy busy on this end of the Caribbean. Where did I leave off? I believe sometime in 2013..

Since then, I had my good friend from back home come to visit. Was amazing to catch up, hit the beaches, act like a tourist, enjoy good food & drinks of course 😉

Cheers & welcome to the Caribbean my friend!

Cheers & welcome to the Caribbean my friend!

Ran away (or should I say sailed away) a few times to my favourite island being Anguilla, with my camera on hand to capture all the beauty the island has to offer. Was able to truly relax and see the island from a different perspective these last several visits.

Viceroy is a must visit if you get the chance. I won’t even get into the chaos we caused running around there. 🙂

Viceroy in Anguilla. Beautiful grounds, villas etc

The many beautiful beaches is what keeps me escaping to Anguilla time & time again for ultimate peace

Climb down a rope to the secluded beach at Little Bay, Anguilla. I could live down there in a tent w/ a bbq & i'd be just fine! ;)

Climb down a rope to the secluded beach at Little Bay, Anguilla. I could live down there in a tent w/ a bbq & i’d be just fine! 😉

Balcony view of beautiful blue waters of Anguilla

Balcony view of beautiful blue waters of Anguilla

So, real life kinda took over and I’ve now found myself in February 2014 wondering how I got here!?!?  We are still in high season on the island, so thankfully things really picked up and I couldn’t be more blessed for the way the season has gone so far.

Noticed this on the wall at da'Vida Resto & Spa in Anguilla...It was a sign..

Noticed this on the wall at da’Vida Resto & Spa in Anguilla…It was a sign..Get it? A sign…

What can I say about Chili besides it’s ability to comfort a sad soul or just to warm you up? Ok, here’s my bit on it. I like it thick with chunks of meat/veggies, colourful..yes colourful & extra extra spicy. Otherwise its just pasta sauce with beans. Just my opinion.

At least once a month I’m cooking up a batch. Filled with meat & beans it’s a great emergency energy meal when in a hurry. Packed with protein and iron it makes for a filling lunch or dinner. For everyone who knows me, when I get busy running around I forget to eat SO Chili has become a saving staple in my home.

Flavours coming together

Flavours coming together

Growing up…yes, most of my food stories have a bit of that in it, the dish was never prepared by either of my Nonna’s. Obviously not an Italian dish. I can bet cumin has never seen the inside of either of their homes. However my parents both had their own spin on it using different beans, veggies, meats, spices etc.. Funny, now that I think about it, my first real memory of Chili would be my dad making a huge pot every year for his buddies for super bowl sunday. ugggh, I still don’t get that sport & I really don’t care to. I just like their uniforms..ahhhh ha ha ha ha 😉

Anyways back to the Chili, it wasn’t a regular household dish yet something different during those chilly winter months and a way to use the bushels of kidney beans we’d all help separate during the summer months that came from both city Nonna’s garden & farm Nonna. Italians reading this will understand what I mean by “bushels” of Fagoli/beans 🙂 Canned beans were never really used in the house, mainly dried. Shamefully I admit that yes,  I find myself using canned beans for Chili most of the time. Pre cooking dried beans for this recipe always gives a nicer texture. So if you have the time, I’d say go dry vs/ canned any day.

This is one of those dishes that i’ve been asked how I make and of course my usual answer is, “I don’t know” I just put it together. This past weekend while in the kitchen I finally made an effort with my pen & paper on hand to jot down all my ingredients. My newest addition, now studded with bright yellow kernals of corn also adds a hint of sweetness to complement the spice.

Today’s share is my simple batch of Chili to feed plenty of hungry bellies. The great thing about Chili is using it in different ways when leftover or that it freezes well for those rainy/snowy days!

Chili Con Carne 

500 Gram Ground Beef

200 Gram Stewing Beef chunks (small dice)

1/2 Red Pepper (small dice)

1/2 Yellow pepper (small dice)

1/2 Green pepper (small dice)

Fresh Onion & 2 garlic cloves (chop finely)

1 Jalapeno pepper

1 Habanero or chili pepper

2 Bay leaves

Salt, black pepper, cumin, cayenne pepper, paprika, chili powder

Sprig of Thyme

400 Gram Crushed/puree Tomatoes

480 Gram can plum tomatoes with juices

1 can or dried Kidney Beans (drained & rinsed)

1 can or dried Black Beans (drained & rinsed)

Corn kernels – aprx 1 cup or 1 can

First off I fry the beef chunks in a splash of olive oil, season with all listed dry seasonings while cooking. Remove from pan, set aside.  Next add the ground beef to the pan, fry & season until fully cooked. Remove & set aside. At times I add red wine while cooking the meats but I needed to blog this recipe so  opening a bottle of wine was not going to get this entry done! 😉

In a large pot add a splash of olive oil and sauté the green/red/yellow peppers, onion & garlic.  Add Bay leaves, sprig of thyme, season with salt & pepper. Once slightly tender add both cooked meats to the pot. Next, add both the crushed tomatoes & whole tomatoes with juices to the pot. Season generously with all dry seasonings.  Finely chop the jalapeno & habanero, add to pot.  Depending on how spicy you like it.

Bring to a simmer for 15 – 20 mins.  Give a taste for spice. At this point, add the drained kidney beans, black beans & corn. Continue to simmer for another 20 mins.

chili con carne with toasted corn tortillas

chili con carne with toasted corn tortillas

If you have corn tortillas cut them in triangles & bake them to serve with the chili. Otherwise fresh crusty bread is always the best choice in mopping up all the goodness in your dish!

Buon Appetito 😉

Necessary funny photo post..Ferry named after me & well the rest speaks for itself!!! "Chill Life"

Necessary funny photo post..Ferry named after me & well the rest speaks for itself!!! “Chill Life”

Dolce Vita: Ms Daisy wearing Rubber Boots in the Caribbean sniffing nature..hippie chick

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found this at the entrance of a local Villa

Translation “Sweet Life” Every now and then I must remind myself just how true that is.. This past summer I took the time to remind myself by doing things on this beautiful island that i hadn’t in years or haven’t ever at all. Why? Because life happens as usual, you forget the beauty that surrounds.

It’s September already, where has this year gone?

Looking back now, July & August has been a buzz. Flying by as usual. I wonder why those 2 particular months pass us as though they never really existed in reality, only on film..okay, maybe not real film but digital image 😉 dating myself with the word film..

No recipe in this post today.. Just nature that caught me over the past few months as well as some fun outings.

I feel compelled to share this mighty cactus that resides near me

Cactus

Cactus

For obvious reasons everyone always has a good chuckle as they pass it.

Lets move on…

Year after year hurricane season rolls around and I usually have one thing on my mind that I must buy. Not dry goods, not batteries, not even water. Rubber boots and a rain coat!  When i get caught in a rain storm I tend to look like a wet cat hit by lightning. It’s never a pretty site. My hair blows up and i find myself covered in mud.  Staying home is not an option so I need to be covered in rubber and plastic to be safe.  I am happy to announce that this year I finally bought my rubber boots. And wow, they are some boots. Black, covered with pink flowers, what more could a girl ask for? 😉  A friend of mine calls me ‘Little Ms Daisy” when I wear them. Not sure why though?

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Well unfortunately the rain only lasted a few hours on the day I broke in my Ms Daisy boots and the ground dried up quickly so off with the boots because frankly I would have looked silly still kicking around in them considering I was wearing a skirt!

Had a few hours before my hair appointment and a visit to the farm could finally fit.  Yes the farm. The one and only farm on the island.

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I drive past it nearly every day and never stop. Not sure why it’s taken me this many years. Run by an amazing Rastafarian from Jamaica passionate about all of his creations from grafting fruit trees, growing a variety of vegetables and his carpentry projects with the local youth.

I had my camera with me and it was turning into an okay day to start snapping once the sun started to peek out. Thought I’d finally share some of the beautiful fruits on my walk through the field.

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Star Fruit

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Ackee Fruit

Ackee fruit which I have yet to cook with..I must add that to my list.

Sugar Apple

Sugar Apple

butterfly collage

Above is a few pictures of butterflies I took at the butterfly farm. It’s a hop skip & a jump away from home & of course I forgot it’s here. Once inside surrounded by all the different butterflies you truly forget where you are. And yes, those are two butterflies mating! 😉

So as I mentioned I did some things I normally don’t & well tennis & horseback riding were a few…yes I played tennis a few times..a few..just leave it at that. Both activities were great fun but exhausting..Not to mention pulling some muscles that are normally not used! ha ha ha Truly exhausting. I much prefer my kitchen 😉

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A visit to the local stable horseback riding only to find a field of various animals. Was amazing! This beautiful pony almost ended up packed up in my suv to come home with me..

I managed to run away to a neighbouring island, well I didn’t actually run, I took a boat..All I needed was my fishing rod that day.Ultimate peace..

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instead we splashed about in the water for a full day and captured hermit crabs , which we soon released right back into the water with their lobster friends.

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Last picture, i promise : it brings me back to the 1st month I arrived here. It reminds me of the simple peace of strolling about with my camera.  As I said at the beginning, Dolce Vita

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BTW, I still don’t own a raincoat! 😦

Horseback riding with quick Tortellini and Meatballs you say? ok…

Caribbean Life

Caribbean Life

Skip forward past the summer..a North American summer that is being July & August…Here we are, at the end of August. It’s the end of August already?  but it’s still summer to me. I need to respect mother natures set seasons.  Even when the sun shines in December as we lay on the beach, deep down I know its winter because I am Canadian! 🙂

Ok, not really sure how any of the above relates to what I wanted to talk about today..ohh yes, that I have been working on a summer post with beautiful pictures that I just can’t finish..why? because summer just keeps going & going…kinda like me, it just doesn’t stop. 🙂

Ok, i’m back again..Lets talk Horses..yup, i said horses. I love me my animals of course because of my Farm Nonni’s, but horses we never had. The last time i sat on a horse was in my teens. Again, irrelevant..

We have stables here on the island? I always passed them by with no regard. Recently though I became curious, reading about riding etc. So planning went into play and well yesterday it happened.  Myself and ‘Lil D’ (which is my best buddies son) packed up our back packs and did like tourist. We went horseback riding.  ohhh my, is the best I could explain it. Smiles from “‘lil D” , smiles from “ME”. Greatest experience for both of us. We saw our island from a different view. The many animals they house made me feel like a child with my Nonno on the farm. Well, except for the random turtles of course..really, turtles chillin with the bunch? 😉

Chill

Lets all “Chill”

Enough about the animals..we turned into animals after the ride..hungry!! No food prepared at home but we were not eating out so something quick was going to happen.

I try to keep a few quick items on hand in the freezer..viola, my homemade meatballs..store bought  tortellini..fresh veggies in the fridge..I can work with this.

Tortellini

Tortellini

Quickly and I mean quickly a pot of water set to boil…Next, I sliced up 1/2 a pepper, bit of an onion, few mushrooms, fresh garlic and sautéed in olive olive. fresh basil with salt etc was added. oops & also..i freeze tomato paste in ice-cube trays for 911 reasons and today was one of them. added 2 cubes, chicken stock & then added my meatballs. Keep in mind they are uncooked, frozen so they needed a lot of liquid to poach around in. Done, within an hour we ate..

quick lunch

quick lunch

This is how I cook, I don’t follow recipes, I follow the fridge. Food should not be complicated. We should always have good food on hand for those days we go horseback riding 😉

I realized while writing that i need to share my meatball recipe to really relate to this. Coming soon to a kitchen near you! 🙂

Buon Appetito 😉

An Island i now call home….

welcome to our island! ;)

welcome to our island! 😉

Being a new blogger I find myself with a new agenda every 5 minutes..planning at all hours. I wake and I sceem about what I want to cook/bake, photograph & share.  I have this crazy list of all my favourite ol’school comfort foods that i enjoyed eating while growing up, baking as well as many of my own creations.

Growing up I spent most of my weekends at my Nonnis city home and many summers on my Nonnis farm learning how to make Fresh pasta of all shapes, stuffed etc. Jaring tomatoes, fresh Salsiccia, roasting peppers, formaggio hanging, fresh ricotta (ohhh yum) & biscotti of every form! Just a few favourites that take me back to my #italian childhood. Recipes were never used. It was always made from the heart. To this date, i still cook in that fashion, from my heart.

Between my city life, farm life and now island life I’d say i have plenty to share and about time I start..now it’s just getting it out there!

Never enjoyed writing or reading much..Now, I love to read about anything. Write about what drives my passions.

Tonight I wanted to share a few photos, not from my kitchen. A random array of photos to describe this beautiful island I now call home! I have thousands to share very slowly…Like I’ve said, this is an adventure through my lens. What I see, what I cook, what i feel.

Buon Appetito! 🙂

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an old balance in the local market

an old balance in the local market

life

life

herbs in the market

herbs in the market

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I go Bananas for Bananas!

Banana Figs from the market

Banana Figs from the local market

Doesnt everyone? Love Bananas that is. A fruit that is available all year round no matter where you are from. Buy them green and let them ripen, buy them ripe and use in your favorite recipe. I tend to always have bananas in the house. Stir them into pancake batter, banana bread, smoothies, fry in butter or my personal favorite a peanut butter, honey & banana sandwich drizzled with Nutella..oh yum! picture to follow..

ready for baking!

ready for baking!

A few years back I discovered Saba. I floated over on a boat to the island of Saba and hiked through the rain forest up 1064 steps of Mt Scenery

Hiking up the rain forest on Saba

Hiking up the rain forest on Saba

Along the way with my camera on hand, I encountered my 1st real banana tree. Understand growing up in Canada that buying bananas from a grocery store is nothing compared to this. Wow, i was in awwww & I still am.

the bundle i found hiking up Mt Scenery on Saba

the bundle i found hiking up Mt Scenery on Saba

Back to my kitchen…As i was visiting a friend this past weekend who needed cheering up i figured what a perfect snack to bring but a Banana Chocolate Chip loaf. On my comfort food list.

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So I was on my way heading out with my loaf in hand to my parking lot, walked down a different path and found this beauty. uggggg, no camera of course!

Judging by the fruit size, I believe this is actually a Plantain tree

Beautiful

So this morning I was out with my camera snapping pictures. I’ll be keeping my eyes on them as they ripen.  Judging by the size, they may actually be plantains. Regardless I will eat. A step stool will be required for capture! 🙂

The recipe I’m finally sharing was given to me by a cousin when I was younger just starting up in my parents kitchen. Back when my mom would remind me over and over that it was HER kitchen..ok women! lol lol

This was the first banana loaf I had made. I have never needed to venture off to try a different recipe.  Moist, packed with flavour with basic ingredients that are always on hand. Why fix whats not broken?

Banana Bread

275 gram (1 ½ cup) Brown Sugar

125 gram (1/2 cup) softened Butter

2 Eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 Ripe Bananas

235 gram (1 ½ cup) AP Flour

1 tsp Baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

hand full of chocolate chips

Combine all dry ingredients except chocolate chips in a small bowl & set aside.

In a large bowl or stand mixer beat brown sugar & butter until fluffy. About 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Continue beating for a minute or until all is combined.  Finally add the bananas, i add them whole and then beat slightly. Makes for chunkier pieces.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until combined. Do not beat.

Finally Stir in the chocolate chips.

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Divide into prepared greased loaf tin or muffin tin.

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bake at 180 C until golden or inserted toothpick comes out clean

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Variations:

Zest…lemon or orange zest go so well if you have citrus kicking around

Nuts..enough said!

Pineapple, stir in pineapple but scale back on the bananas

Coconut, but of course..no need to scale back on anything..just stir it in.

I promise you that another Banana bread recipe is not required!

Buon Appetito! 😉

New blogger after 1 week : Photos, Eggs and cheese…

Well, a week has almost passed since my 1st post..It’s been a busy week..productive..etc.. Summer here on the island is starting to show its true colours. This week I was truly captured by the flowers and fruit..I know it sounds so simple but you’d have to live here to truly understand.

Sea Grapes

Sea Grapes

Actually for years I’m sad to say I passed many of these beautiful trees and paid no attention to its real beauty. A bitter fruit that you squeeze out of its shell straight into your mouth. Almost like the wine grapes i grew up with eating from my Nonno Mikes backyard. Apparently wine can also be made of this fruit. hmm…rethinking this fruit entirely 🙂

The 2nd would be the “Spider Lily” which I am allergic to but is actually very pretty. I made a point of observing the plant & not just walking away so abruptly just because I water & sneeze when I see it!

Spider Lily

Spider Lily

Truly I did not do much in the kitchen this week. I made the odd quick pasta dish with new Cow Mein noodles I found..wow!  A Guyanese friend of mine here introduced me to them. Love them, texture etc..

Mess of Chow Mein noodles

Mess of Chow Mein noodles

I took left over Cod/Baccala/Salt fish (whatever you want to call it) & veggies, stir fried them up & tossed them together with pepper(when I say pepper here it’s a fresh small season pepper that looks like a habenero) , herbs & seasoning. So simple & so good! ok, & i chopped a hot pepper into it because i needed a hit of spice!

Funny that after this week, the recipe I want to share most is a comforting meat less recipe I learnt from one of my Nonnas, on the farm. Now this is something she would make back in Italy during the war having no meat. As a child of course I didn’t appreciate something so simple. Really you are going to use stale bread & feed me with it? gross..Now as an adult I try to make that dish over & over with a twist of course! 😉 So following is my version of something my Nonna would mix up on a saturday night using stale bread!

I tried to measure my ingredients as I could with what I used here. Please allow for your own personal touch!

Polpette Cacio e Uova  (Cheese & Egg “meatless” balls)

1 whole stale Baguette (broken in pieces)

2 whole garlic cloves (crushed)

1 carrot (grated)

1 spring onion (white & green) chopped

1 Egg

Cheese, grated – I used Scamorza, Pecorino, Emmental – basically 2 cups of grated cheese of your choice

salt,pepper for taste

1/4 cup fresh parsley  — coarsely chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil — coarsely chopped

breadcrumbs (if mixture seems wet)

 

Soak the torn baguette in water. Just long enough to rehydrate it.  Place the bread and the remaining ingredients into a large bowl. Combine until thoroughly mixed. Taste for flavour & add further fresh herbs & spices.

Cacio polpette mixture

Form into croquette or 1 1/2 inch balls. If mixture seems to wet to form, add breadcrumbs to adjust and form a proper shape.

Cacio e Uova

Cacio e Uova

Refrigerate the croquette for an hour. Set a frying pan to heat w/oil & fry gently on either side.

Frying time

Frying time

Drop the croquette in the hot tomato sauce, boil lightly. Serve w/Pasta of your choice or alone!

Personally I enjoy eating them alone as a snack when I need something quick.

Basic Tomato Sauce

500 ML crushed tomatoes – fresh or canned

3 fresh garlic cloves (crushed)

1/2 onion chopped

1 carrot chopped

salt, pepper to taste

fresh basil & parsley whole

Combine all of the above in a sauce pan. Cook for 1/2 hour. I like to puree with my hand blender as i do not like chunks. Adjust seasoning according to your taste

Polpette Cacio e Uova

Polpette Cacio e Uova

Buon Appetito! 😉

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