Saturday, June 21, 2008

Run for Cover it's Jamaican What??

In case you have the mistaken idea that I live in the world of perpetual-culinary-perfection, let me take a few moments to bust the bubble. First of all, I’m sure you don’t, but it’s always refreshing to poke fun at one’s self from time to time, to shed the light on some fantastical, state of the art boo-boos. Some of the more memorable ones include the honey/mustard chicken that had yuzu in it (“Hey, Mark? How ‘bout some yuzu?”) Or the burnt wild rice with onions & dried cranberries. (I couldn’t say the word “cranberry” for about a year after that). Or the biscuits with 3 times as much baking soda than it called for. Classic moment! Beautiful biscuits, (what biscuits wouldn’t rise with THAT much baking soda?) But we tried feeding it to the ever-hungry birds in the back yard……..they wouldn’t touch it.

Yesterday, was not Al’s day in the kitchen.

It started off last night actually, when I put together a whole wheat & oat bread with raisins. Fine in theory, but reality struck & when I doubled the recipe I naively guessed the cooking time. And it feel short & we ended up with a crumbly, slightly gummy in spots, dense & royal mess! Well, the kids ate it thanks to the raisins, but I was a little disappointed.

…..but not disappointed enough to mess up twice in one day!! I found a recipe in my new cookbook that I thought I’d try out. Jamacian Rice & Peas. (in this case the peas are actually kidney beans, apparently that’s what they call them there) since I had all the ingr. I needed I decided to give it a whirl. Besides, who doesn’t like a recipe where you throw all ingr. into a pot & simmer for 25 min.

Here’s the recipe Here are my ingredients. As you can see I have no negi (or scallops) Note the fresh lemon thyme, rescued from the grip of death by me & replanted. This was my first clipping. JOY!!

Of course I must make do with Japanese white rice, not “long grain” rice. No prob!
Throw it in the pot 25 min.later. TADA!!
Mixed up it looked like Jamaican Sekihan. Har har! Now, this was not the giant goof number 2. It wasn’t that bad really. Taste wise, I wish I had put both red peppers in as it really had NO spice. Actually to me it had no defining taste other than the taste of coconut milk. Not bad in itself but the bites with smashed garlic & a bit of thyme were too few & far between for me to really enjoy the fragrant nibblets. And since I used one can of coconut cream instead of coconut milk, it was more oily than it should have been.

So, I want to be all “wanna-be-authentic” whatever that means & scrounge around for anything else I can add to my Rice & Peas. Most of the Jamaican recipes call for huge amounts of coconut milk. Then I found this deceptive sub-title (“No Jamaican meal is complete without boiled dumplings”) OK, I want that. Ingredients? Not unrealistic. And I’m a huge cornmeal fan. Quick cooking time, let’s go for it.

Recipe OK, that seems too easy.

So I kneed, always a favorite. Divide. This looks right. And that’s where the pictures stop & the real horror begins. Let’s just say I censored the rest. I’ve made dumplings in soup before (with baking powder of course) & they’re just find & dandy. This on the other hand….was not. Everyone took a stab at describing it. And here are the chilling reviews:

“Wow, that looks like a big smashed chunk of pasta”
“It looks like an eraser”
“It tastes like an eraser”
“I don’t care for this”
“Do I have to eat this”

……..and it digressed!

Yes, this must be how the first cavemen invented “super-balls”. It was as if I took a giant wad of play dough, fashioned into a small round disk, boiled it for 10 min. and then plopped it on a plate. It was a dense tasteless gunk of flour & cornmeal & tasted a little worse than play dough, cuz’ play dough has that nice “play dough” smell that every one loves.

It was at this point when I began to become concerned for the poor deluded Jamacians with their eraser dumplings when I had to remind myself that I’ve never really eaten anything Jamaican that I know of so I shouldn’t judge them too harshly. What does some happon-jin know anyway, right?

The bad news is my stomach got as disturbed as I was after this meal, & I don’t think I’ll be using coconut milk for a loooong time, plus the kids are now calling their erasers “Jamaican dumplings”.


junior said...

I love your posts, they're the bomb! I laughed out loud too many times to be dignified.

crazynik said...

yeah I have to say Al, you really have talent your blog and am glad to still get a little glimpse into your life after all these years :)
big hug and kiss to my God-children

Anonymous said...

HA! Jamacan dumplings. that's too funny.

nina said...

Laughed so hard, it gave me a coughing fit! I bet it didn't look that bad, tho'; c'mon, post the pic!