The Lazy Sunday Taskmistress: Reporting for Duty

For once, you may find me all wordless–or rather, as wordless as I get.  You see, I’ve been tinkering away at something really big (hint:  it involves the blog!) and have spent way, way, WAY too much time attached to the trusty Toshiba over the last few days.  It’s totally zapped my powers of speech.  Unbelievable, I know.

Worry not, though:  I managed to live a little, too!

Here’s the abbreviated, almost-wordless take on the weekend:

Hunkered down for the heavy rain on Friday

Went out for a post-rain Friday night movie and snack of beer and potato wedges

Hoped against hope for disappearance of ominous clouds on Saturday

...Because I spent Saturday at the Caribbean 20-20 Cricket final

Cheered as Trinidad won third place and eliminated Jamaica

...And witnessed Guyana winning the final against Barbados at midnight, which set off a storming of the field by Guyana supporters

Ate a fittingly-late Sunday brunch chez my table--southwest scramble with avocado salsa and tex-mex cornbread

Performed the inevitable weevil check of the dry pasta before dinner--'tis the season for bugs

Dined on pasta with eggplant sauce, sauteed plantains, avocado slices for dinner

See?  I can be quiet sometimes… only sometimes.

Breadfruit and Me: A Brief History of War

Hey hey!  I’m hot-footing it all across the interwebs this week–check out my post on how I started running (twice!) on Bridget’s awesome blog Pounding Pavement and Plants!

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I think I’ve discovered my vegetable nemesis.  Ladies and gentlemen,  meet the not-so-humble breadfruit:

This vegetable just will not let me be.  It haunts me and taunts me and very rudely gives me the vegetable finger, no matter what weaponry I throw at it.  We have a history of military squirmishes. I believe you could well call it a full-blown war at this stage.

Battle Number 1 (Fall campaign 2008) took the form of traditional Puerto Rican breadfruit tostones (fried slices of breadfruit).  It may not have been ripe enough, or maybe it was too ripe.  I also think I sliced it in the wrong direction.  The tostones lacked both the requisite crispy exterior and the creamy smooth interior.  Breadfruit 1, Laura 0.

Battle Number 2 (Spring campaign 2009) took the form of curried coconutty breadfruit.  I dutifully wrote down the directions from a coworker and stuck faithfully to the recipe.  The breadfruit stuck faithfully to the pan.  It tasted like Elmer’s glue paste with a sprinkle of bitter.  Breadfruit 2, Laura 0.

Battle Number 3 (Summer campaign 2010) took the form of a breadfruit salad that I tried to copy from my neighbor.  Mr. L raved about the neighbor’s delicious breadfruit salad, which was done much like a standard potato salad (mayo, onion, canned vegetable).  I should have known that I had no business dealing with 1) canned vegetables and 2) mayo-based salads because I just don’t do either.  I boiled the beast breadfruit, dressed the beast breadfruit, and (almost) bawled at the beast breadfruit’s refusal to pick up ANY kind of flavor (other than bitter). Breadfruit 3, Laura 0.

Needless to say, this frustrates me and keeps me up at night.  Why is it so hard to judge its ripeness?  Why is its texture/flavor combo so temperamental?  How can I tell what each particular breadfruit is best suited for?  Was breadfruit put on this earth to drive me crazy?

I’m not capitulating.  I’m not giving up.  Aw, hells no.  I’m gonna beat up on that breadfruit like I’ve wailed on caraili (bitter gourd) before. For heaven’s sake, I am Puerto Rican.  I should be able to tame a damn breadfruit in my sleep.

So on Tuesday, Battle Number 4 took place.  I armed myself with my weaponry:

  • Saltfish for me/veggie mince meat for him
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Trini seasonings (Scotch Bonnet peppers, seasoning peppers, chive/green onion, garlic, thyme, green seasoning mix)
  • Olives (which I didn’t end up using)

I worked some magic by stewing the above while I boiled the breadfruit into submission, then mashed it up with some sauteed onion, garlic, and herbs of the above varieties.  I then plonked the fish/meat down and covered with the mashed breadfruit to make a tropical (aka more feisty) version of a shepherd’s pie.  I shoved it all into the oven, crossed my fingers that it would turn out and that my oven would not turn against me, and prepared for the worst.

This is what emerged from the oven:

And this is what landed on my plate:

I held my breath and crossed my fingers before tasting it.  Guess what?  It rocked!  The breadfruit layer was not bitter at all and it actually took on the flavor of the bucketload of seasoning I put on it.  The bottom later of saltfish melded very nicely with the breadfruit and, with the bonus of a slightly crisped top, the combination worked really, really well.  The Mr. very much liked his vegetable mince version, too, which was seasoned the same way as my saltfish.

I  really, really can’t wait to make this again. I will not go nipping breadfruits from branches along the side of the road, no matter how tempting, to make this again.  I solemnly swear.  I don’t fight dirty like that.

Final verdict on Battle Four?  I win!! I therefore take the liberty of pronouncing this last battle the only battle that really matters in the outcome of our war, and declare myself winner.

Trini Tale Thursday: When It Rains…

It REALLY rains here.

You’ve probably seen me mention the rainy season and wondered why I had my panties in a twist about it, unless you’re Trini, in which case you know all about the rainy season and how to deal.

But, for those of you who haven’t seen the madness that is a tropical rainy season, let me tell you ALL about it and how it affects your entire life–your food, your workouts, and your hair.

Basically, Trinidad has two seasons–dry and rainy.  During the dry season, it’s 93 F with zero humidity and it rains once in a blue moon.

During the rainy season, it’s 93 F with 90% humidity and it rains constantly.  It pours. Buckets and buckets and buckets.  No sweet April showers here, folks; we get black skies and heavy, low-hanging clouds:

Why, is that a fat rain cloud posse in the distance?

See that cloud? It totally soaked me and all the other wonderful Emancipation Day festivity viewers

Oh yes you CAN get rained on at the beach--and I did

The rain is absolutely torrential–you could wash your hair under a downpour in less time that it takes using a good-pressured showerhead, I am certain of it:

I'm taking cover on my porch

A curtain of rain hanging down from my roof

The rain most certainly brings things into bloom.  They look so pretty that I usually don’t mind how it takes two Zyrtek, two doses of eye drops, and two doses of nasal spray each day to keep me from ripping my face off from seasonal allergies (which last–you guessed it–all rainy season long).  See how gorgeous?

I want that red flamboyant tree, and I want it BAD.

I'd like these, too

However, the rainy season also brings power outages (which would not vex me nearly as much if they didn’t mean being fan-less and sweaty) and floods, like the ones I had to wade through on my way back from the airport last August (thanks again, Mr. Neighbor with the Pickup Truck for hoisting me and my goods onto the back of your pickup truck and getting me home safely!):

Yuck.

The rainy season also brings the scourge of bugs all up in your kitchen business, nibbling away at anything in a bag and therefore surprising you when you open the rice and find bugs and rice dust.  It also brings the scourge of mosquitoes all up in your joint, nibbling on your legs and other tasty areas (but mainly my legs–freaks) and inducing general paranoia about dengue fever in the bitee.

I had dengue when I was ten.  It sucked.  Can’t they just move along?  (I tried as hard as I could to get a picture of my currently-mosquito-colonized legs, but I’d rather not have readers passing out from grossness).

Of course the rainy season makes your skin nice and glowy, but it also makes your hair resemble a nest of sloppy crackhead birds.  No, I’m not showing you a picture of my frizzy head because you might not come back to my blog.

The rainy season also makes a Blindy McGoo driver like me terrified of being caught out on the road when the skies open up (and, of course, of getting my hair and feet wet when I eventually get out of my car).  Traffic stops when it rains heavily.  The wipers can’t handle it.  It’s a bonafide acceptable excuse for being late here.

And that, of course, means that getting to the pool becomes rather difficult–should it even be open on a very rainy day, since the slightest threat of thunder is enough to send the lovely pool-managing dudes running back home and hiding under their tables (or just not letting me or anyone swim if a thunderclap was heard in the last twelve hours).  Thank goodness for Core Fusion DVDs and Zumba at home, or my fitness would take a serious hit from the weather, sheesh.

As for the beach–ha.  You pack up your car, you hope for the best, you drive an hour to get there… and if the rain starts pounding down:

Oy vey

At least you can be grateful for a bit of cover at the beach’s bar:

Why yes, that is indeed a makeshift ladder contraption with a man on it, back left

Where you can enjoy an awesome beach lunch:

The best stewed chicken, macaroni pie, salad, rice, and callalloo lunch ever had by woman, from Las Cuevas beach last Sunday

But do I complain?  Nope (well, except for the mosquito bites).  I’ll take biblical downpours over wimpy British misting and butt-freezing cold any day.