Hand Work: Making Conkies

>> Thursday, 26 November 2015

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Put away the food processor. Despite it being a very useful piece of equipment, it cannot do the necessary job when it comes grating the ingredients to make Conkies, aka Paime, Sweet Dumplings, Duckanoo and Tie-a-leaf. The best equipment? A large box grater.

The box grater shreds the coconut into short, thin, tiny strands that melt into the Conkie mixture. The sweet, orange pumpkin (calabaza) and sweet potatoes, when grated become smooth and moist with their own juices. Conkies is a texture thing. When the ingredients are mixed together with spices and raisins, this dumpling turns into an all-time favourite, but especially so at Independence in Barbados.

I ain't gonna lie. It's a lot of work but when you have company helping, it's a time for bonding and good-natured teasing. But most of all, it is fun!

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When all the grating and mixing is complete, bananas leaves are made pliable by passing them over an open flame and wiping them clean. I chose black and white for this image so that you can see the shine on the leaves once they are prepped.

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The final stage is to wrap portions of the Conkie mixture into beautiful packages, and place them in a pot to steam until cooked and fragrant.

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Sweets for Diwali

>> Monday, 9 November 2015

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Tomorrow Diwali/Deepavali will be celebrated in many parts around the world including the Caribbean. This year, the actual date of celebration in Guyana has not been without some bickering between 2 major Hindu organizations in the country, you can read about it here.

Disagreements aside, one of the things I love about such holidays is the array of goodies - both sweet and savoury - that abound. Sweet Rice/Rice Pudding/Kheer is one of my favourite desserts/treats. These days, one does not have to wait for a holiday, festival or special occasion to make certain foods, that, to me, makes them so every-day that they loose some the significance, and cultural association. The joys and rituals of preparing for the feasting and sharing get lost.

Living away from home (Guyana), I go through the motions of making certain things because that is what keeps me connected to the place and my family. I miss them the most at holidays and festivals.

Happy Diwali!

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Check out my friend Alica's recipe to make an ole-fashioned Guyanese-style rice pudding which we prefer to call SWEET RICE!


Breakfast Avocado Bruschetta

>> Wednesday, 28 October 2015

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With advancements made in growing and planting food, in many countries, certain fruits and vegetables can be found all year round. While it is a plus for some, it seems to fly in the face of seasonal food. What do you think?

Here in the Caribbean, even though we have a year-round tropical environment in which certain produce thrive, they are not necessarily available all the time. At various times of the year it gets too humid, too wet or too dry. Butterflies, and other insects that are prevalent at varying times throughout the year affect the planting and harvesting of certain foods. The soil itself needs time to recover from each planting as well as the plants and trees from harvesting. It is the same with seafood, at different times of the year you get only certain types of fish. In very many ways, we continue to eat seasonally.

Avocados/pears/zaboka are currently in season. Open-air markets, supermarkets, and small roadside stalls are all stocked with the pear-shaped to round, green to purple fruit in varying sizes. We like to eat it simply - halved with a sprinkling of salt or just as is. Another way is to serve it sliced along with breakfast or lunch. I especially like it on toast - mashed or sliced.

Made in the style of a bruschetta, I toasted artisan-style homemade bread then rubbed the crust with cut garlic, layered the sliced avocado and dressed it with the limey-brine of Lime Pepper Sauce, along with freshly ground black pepper. The softened pepper from the pepper sauce was mashed lightly with the back of a spoon and carelessly smudged over the avocado.

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Lime Pepper Sauce photo Lime PSauce_zpsx7ty6dnu.png

On another occasion, I mashed the avocado and added thinly sliced green onions/scallions along with some of the Lime Pepper Sauce and generously smeared it over toast.

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How do you like to eat your avocados/pears/zaboka?

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