IF THOSE KITCHEN WALLS COULD TALK

If my kitchen walls could talk, they would express such varied culinary tales. Just thinking about them make my taste buds gleefully salivate and heighten to another level. My walls would let you know that my kitchen is one of my favorite places. It’s a place where I can be free-spirited,  and be my authentic self. Though I love company and serving others;  call me selfish, but, I also love being with me. I take delight in nourishing my body and mind. It’s like a spiritual experience.

Naked/barefoot Betty:

Whenever I have an extremely stressful and challenging day, it’s not unheard of for yours truly to let loose in my ‘birthday suit’ and whip up something awesome and mouth-watering. It’s like having complete control. It’s a perfect time for me to unwind and create a dish that will take my palate and I over the moon.

With a little music, a few sips of some crispy Pinot Noir or any other spirit on hand, a mundane egg dish can become super-special. With the input of a creamy melted cheese and fresh herbs, an egg dish can be transformed to a gourmet treat.

MINI-QUICHES IN CUP CAKE FORMAT WITH SPINACH/PARSLEY PESTO AND AVOCADO ON THE SIDE
MINI-QUICHES IN CUP CAKE FORMAT WITH SPINACH/PARSLEY PESTO AND AVOCADO ON THE SIDE
GRILLED VEGGIE OMELET
GRILLED VEGGIE OMELET

Farm to table cooking:

My kitchen walls would tell you that I try my utmost best to prepare and cook wholesome dishes.  Thanks to the local farmers here in South Florida, United States, I can practice somewhat of a ‘farm to table’ type of a cooking. Mother Earth is amazing and  bestows on me through these hardworking farmers, wholesome foods in the form of  fruits and vegetables.Moreover, it takes me back to childhood of when things were simple, fresh and organic.

I take advantage of these natural foods and/or products like carrots, parsnips, onions, sweet potatoes and other veggies and make satisfying/robust soups. I make sure to add warm and aromatic spices like cinnamon, cumin, ginger and others. These spices remind of Jamaica and the Caribbean at large. They warm my stomach and spirit.

ROASTED PUMPKINS, SWEET POTATOES, ETC
ROASTED PUMPKINS, SWEET POTATOES, ETC

It is such a pleasure to consume these sweet and delicious roasted root vegetables as is or puree and blend same with a little chicken stock and fresh coconut milk

FRESH COCONUT MILK WITH HUSK
FRESH COCONUT MILK WITH HUSK

and whoa!….a satisfy soup is had.

ROASTED CARROT,SWEET POTATO AND PUMPKIN SOUP
ROASTED CARROT,SWEET POTATO AND PUMPKIN SOUP

My kitchen walls would state that I’m mainly a poultry/seafood kind of girl. I do try to keep it rather simple and gain my protein from chicken and seafood. It seems like I consume the feathery one (chicken) most times of the week.  I eat it a ‘million and one’ ways. A succulent roast or a curry chicken dish is quite popular in my kitchen.

ROASTED CHICKEN AND APPLES
ROASTED CHICKEN AND APPLES
CURRIED CHICKEN THIGHS
CURRIED CHICKEN THIGHS

I can’t resist an old Jamaican favorite of mine. If it’s the week-end, I often go ‘jerk’. Though I like to jerk any portion of my bird, I love to indulge in some jerk wings. The spicier, the better. I can never get enough or grow tired of same.

JERK CHICKEN WINGS AND ROASTED CARROTS AND SWEET POTATOES
JERK CHICKEN WINGS AND ROASTED CARROTS AND SWEET POTATOES

Seafood is a must. After all, a girl has to obtain those omega fatty acids. I like to grill, broil, pan-sear and sometimes fry. Fatty salmon is huge on my list along with snapper and shrimp.

GRILLED WILD SALMON AND SUMMER SQUASH
GRILLED WILD SALMON AND SUMMER SQUASH
WHOLE OVEN ROASTED SNAPPER STUFFED WITH ASSORTED VEGGIES
WHOLE OVEN ROASTED SNAPPER STUFFED WITH ASSORTED VEGGIES
GRILLED SHRIMP ALONG WITH LEMON
SKEWERED GRILLED SHRIMP ALONG WITH LEMON

I do like to keep a fine balance. Thus, I admit; once in a while, I will be a tad naughty and go with a finger-licking dish of mine (braised ox tails). It’s also a favorite on the Jamaican cuisine. I often pair same with lima beans and dumplings (spinners).

BRAISED HEINEKEN OXTAILS WITH LIMA BEANS/BOW-TIE DUMPLINGS
BRAISED HEINEKEN OXTAILS WITH LIMA BEANS/BOW-TIE DUMPLINGS

Or, sometimes, I go salty and mouth-watering and indulge in another Jamaican favorite, pickled mackerel, red herring, or ackee and salted cod-fish:

SAUTEED PICKLED MACKEREL WITH TOMATOES, BELL PEPPERS, ONIONS,STOCK BONNET PEPPERS
SAUTEED PICKLED MACKEREL WITH TOMATOES, BELL PEPPERS, ONIONS,STOCK BONNET PEPPERS
JAMAICAN'S NATIONAL DISH (ACKEE AND CODFISH)
JAMAICAN’S NATIONAL DISH (ACKEE AND CODFISH)

Whenever I consume dishes as these on the week-end, I know that I’ve to somewhat redeem myself the coming week. I do so with fiber-rich smoothies like:

SMOOTHIE SHOTS MADE UP OF KALE, KIWI, STAR FRUITS AND LIME JUICE
SMOOTHIE SHOTS MADE UP OF KALE, KIWI, STAR FRUITS AND LIME JUICE

And, I do make a concerted effort to incorporate even more fresh fruits into my diet.

CANTALOUPE, GINGER/MINT FRUIT SALAD
CANTALOUPE, GINGER/MINT FRUIT SALAD

LEFT-OVERS

I’m the queen of left-overs. Nothing goes to waste. Like many of us, I’ve limited time to spare. As a result, I often cook extra servings of a particular dish. I place them in tupper wares and stash them in the freezer. These come in quite handy when I’m tired and exhausted and don’t feel like sweating over a hot stove.

SHOP IN SEASON

My kitchen walls would tell you that I’m quite frugal. I try to take advantage of seasonal foods because that’s when the prices are relatively lower and the crops are at their best in regards to their ripeness. Berries and other perishables are excellent candidates for shopping in season.

ORGANIZED SPACE

If my kitchen walls could talk, they would let you know that though I’m not a perfectionist, I’m huge on keeping and working in an organized space. An organized kitchen helps me in performing safely and efficiently.

I like to keep my chopping boards in close proximity to my stove. As a result, it makes it quite easy and effortless to cut, chop and drop when preparing and cooking onto of the range.

When it comes to other cooking implements, I like store them at arm’s reach in a nearby drawer, unoccupied oven or in cupboard. I couldn’t do without my standing blender. It’s a wonderful partner in that it makes refreshing smoothies and puree my soups. My food processor is another great tool that aids greatly in chopping large amounts of vegetables, the making of pesto sauces and other tasks.

SPICES AND HERBS

I try to store my bottled spices and dried herbs in a cool area. I use these to flavor and add more depth to my dishes. When it comes to fresh herbs (dill,rosemary,tarragon, basil, etc), I keep them wrapped in paper towel in a ziplock bag. I treat parsley as a bunch of flowers. I snip the ends, place them in a cup of water and store same inside the fridge.

CLEANLINESS

My kitchen walls would tell you that cleanliness is huge to me. I do try to keep a sanitized and clean kitchen sink, counter top, stove, oven, fridge, and floor. In order not to cause contamination, I have separate chopping boards for vegetables/fruits and poultry, meats, seafood.

In order not to attract and eradicate bacteria, I often wash with warm soapy water with a cap full of bleach.

On the onset, I reckon that my kitchen walls might have been a bit confused beholding this ‘nutty’ girl at work. A girl who likes to have a ‘free-hand’ in her dishes and a tad territorial. A girl who takes pleasure in creating her very own and also likes to peek and borrow from others and subsequently making recipes her own.

Overtime, I suspect my kitchen walls have become quite familiar with me. They understand my bouts of silence. On the other hand, they can put up with me and my loved ones’ gatherings. Oh,that’s when my poor walls have to hear the loud chatters, laughter, fun and breaking of bread. And sometimes when things get out of hand, there’s a little spilling and splashing of beverages and foods on her walls. By now, they should get me. They know that I’m just trying to create a fine balance and be happy in my authentic self.