Disappointing Cassava balls

>> Saturday, 24 February 2007

I love a good cassava ball - creamy, well seasoned and coated with a hint of batter. When done right they are so good and you do not necessarily need sour to accompany them.


I went to the market this morning and bought some from a Guyanese vendor. I was so excited to eat it that I did not even wait to get home, I started to eat it in the car.


I bit in to the cassava ball only to find myself having to bite down hard, then I had to tear the piece in my hand away from my mouth. Strange I thought. I continued to chew. The thing was chewy! I swallowed, it had no taste, it was bland. I decided to carefully examine the remaining piece of bitten "cassava ball". As I pulled it apart, it stretched like dough! The cassava ball was made with flour! and a hint of cassava!


I wanted to show you all so I took some close-up pics. Pay attention to the texture. I used a serrated knife to saw through the cassava ball! (LOL)


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Pancakes - Recipe

>> Thursday, 22 February 2007

Here's the recipe requested for the pancakes I made on Tuesday (Feb 20)

Syrup
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick

Pancakes
2 cups flour
1tbsp sugar
A pinch of salt
A pinch of ground cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp instant yeast
3 eggs
Enough milk or water to make batter

Start off first by making the syrup.

  • In a sauce pan dissolve the sugar in the water, add the cinnamon stick and bring to a boil.
  • Let the liquid continue to boil until it starts to thicken
  • The syrup is done when the bubbles are large, and the edges of the bubble surface are brown.
  • Remove from the heat and let it cool.
On to the pancakes

  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and cinnamon if using.
  • Mix thoroughly.
  • In a separte bowl, lightly beat the eggs
  • Make a well in the center of the flour and add the egg mixture incorporating it into the flour
  • Start adding the water or milk to the flour and egg mixture to make a batter.
  • The batter should be soft but not watery or runny. It should be of a dropping consistency.
  • Cover the bowl with the batter and put it in a warm place to rise - about an hour or until the batter has doubled in size.
  • When the batter has risen, heat enough oil for deep frying in a sauce pot, karahi or wok if you have one.
  • When the oil is hot, not smoking, turn down the flame to medium
  • Arm yourself with 2 teaspoons - 1 for dipping the batter and the other releasing the batter from the former into the oil.
  • A teaspoon gives the adequate size for the pancake. Think phulourie.
  • Add as many drops as you can without over-crowding the pot
  • As soon as they are golden brown on one side, turn then over to finish cooking.
  • Drain the pancakes on paper towels.
  • Serve warm drizzled with syrup.

You can double the ingredients to make a bigger batch.

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Pancakes Today!

>> Tuesday, 20 February 2007

These are the pancakes I like and today (the day before Ash Wednesday) is the only day I like to eat pancakes. It is not the typical flat pancakes such as the American ones. These pancakes are the ones I grew up on. Happy Pancake Day!




No store-bought syrup for me!









Sticky and sweet is how I like it!







Pancakes exposed!

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Steaming for fried rice

>> Monday, 19 February 2007

This post is in response to a question asked by a commenter. I hope this technique helps, Grace. I do not have pics at this time but I promise to try and get some.
This technique has been handed down to me by my mother who learnt it from a friend of hers who is Chinese, Auntie Bernice. Here goes.

Advice:

  • The best rice to make the fried rice with is the regular white long grain rice but use whatever rice you have.
  • Steam the rice way in advance of making it into fried rice as it needs to be completely cool.
  1. In a large bowl, wash the rice at least 3 times until the water runs clear.
  2. Remove any excess water from the rice.
  3. Transfer rice to a pot, and ensure that the rice is level all around.
  4. Pour enough water into the pot with the rice until it just covers the rice.
  5. With a clean hand, place it plam-side down pressing gently on the rice in the water.
  6. If the water does not reach the base of your wrist (beginning of your wrist) then add some more water until when you press down with your hand, the water reaches that point. The base of your wrist it the part that bends - it separates the hand from the forearm, sounds technical but it is not.
  7. Once you have established the right water level with the rice. Add some salt, drizzle some oil and stir.
  8. Cover the pot and set it on high heat. Warning! do not move away from the kitchen! You will need to constantly monitor the pot because as soon as it gives its first bubble of a boil, you have to turn the flame down very low, let the pot remain covered so the rice can cook/steam slowly.
  9. The timing will vary depending on a number of variables: the amount of rice you are cooking, the size of the pot and the size of your burner.
  10. If you're cooking three cups of rice, I'd say at the end of 20 minutes, check the rice and give it a stir. You will notice whether or not it is still moist with water, if it is, cover it again and let it continue to steam for another 10 minutes.
  11. When the rice is finished cooking, remove it from the heat and let it cool completely.
  12. After the rice is cooled, you have to loosen it up (the oil you put in when cooking it will aid in this process).
  13. With clean hands, loosen the rice and place it on a flat surface such as a platter or baking sheet.
Whenever you are ready go ahead and prepare all your other ingredients for the fried rice and cook to suit your own taste.

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National Dish-Fried Rice?

>> Saturday, 17 February 2007

What do you think? Should we make fried rice a national dish of Guyana? Read the column where I've put forward my case.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my Chinese brothers and sisters in Guyana!

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ABOUT

>> Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Welcome to Tastes Like Home, my virtual dining table! I’m Cynthia.





I was born and raised in the only English-speaking country in South America – Guyana. Guyana is a multi-cultural society and you will see that reflected in the food I make. Guyanese trace their heritage to every corner of the world, but especially Africa, India, China, Portugal, and to the indigenous populations for whom the region has always been home.

I’ve been living in Barbados now for over 18 years and so when I speak of home these days, I do not only refer to Guyana as home but also Barbados as both places contribute in different and significant ways to who I am.


Professional

I am a trained media practitioner and teach Journalism at the Barbados Community College.

As a food writer, I write a weekly newspaper column, Tastes Like Home which is published in print and online at http://www.stabroeknews.com/. Apart from my column, I also write freelance for a variety of regional and international publications.


The Blog

The food scene in Guyana is diverse and very different from that in Barbados and food was the main thing that I missed about being away from home. Sure I missed my family but I did not separate the two because the food was very much a part of my daily familial gathering. For me, food is more than what is on my plate; it is about the atmosphere, the people… My weekly newspaper column was created with the focus of chronicling the tastes of home that I missed. I started the blog to tie-in with my column and to give readers an opportunity for interaction. I also see it as a way to introduce people to Caribbean food and to emphasize that we are more than a garnish – some of you know what I mean, more than the slice of pineapple that sits on the rim of a glass, the slivers of mango that adorn a plate or the shreds of coconut sprinkled over something.

Over the years, Tastes Like Home has evolved and grown as I too have evolved and grown; so too has the food scene here in Barbados. Today, I can find 90-percent of the ingredients and produce that can create a taste of Guyana that I was missing over 18 years ago. I have incorporated the tastes of Barbados as a part of my tastes like home. Thanks also to phenomenal food bloggers who cook and write tirelessly, my cooking repertoire has and continues to grow exponentially. Today, Tastes Like Home has become the food I make and serve in my home, from various cuisines and influences. It’s homemade, it tastes like home.


Recipes

As you peruse my blog, you will notice that many recipes are not posted online. The reason for that is three fold.

First – my aim was never to have a regular recipe-site; my focus is to have a conversation about food. Apart from that, sometimes I find recipes restrictive. Many recipes do not give the kind of freedom and excitement that comes with cooking. I would love it if everyone could learn to trust their inner chef. However, given that not everyone enjoys the thrill of uncertainty, the experiments, and the disappointments I figured that I should jot down an ingredients list along with directions. If someone was interested in a recipe, I’d ask them to email me and I’d send it along.

Second – at the end of my first year of column-writing and blogging, I began to think of writing a book given the enthusiastic response I had gotten from readers in the Diaspora. Having not published all of my recipes online has come in quite handy for me for my content will remain fresh for my book as the material is not published elsewhere. It also served as a valuable tool for recipe-testing because each time that I would send out recipes, I’d ask people to read through for easy comprehension and to send feedback about the finished dish etc.

Third – many of the recipes for Caribbean dishes and particularly the Guyanese recipes are embargoed by my publishers for my book, hence they are not published online. There are however, other Guyanese dishes online that are not in the book that you can email me for recipes such as Chicken-N-De-Ruff, Souse, Green Seasoning, Boil & Fry Ground Provisions etc. Other dishes that you see online, please do not hesitate to contact me for the recipe. I am very happy to share the recipes because that is what food is all about –sharing. You can reach me at tasteslikehome@gmail.com or cynthia@tasteslikehome.org


Photography & Equipment

I use a Canon EOS 60D and  Canon Digital Rebel XT 350D along with their respective lens kit and when necessary close-up lens filters. I mostly shoot against a white or black background using poster boards. 99-percent of the times, I shoot with natural light but if I have to shoot in the evenings, I do so using regular house lamps fitted with Eiko Photo Pro Bulbs. Sometimes, I will also use 2 self-made reflectors.

All content – text and photographs are copyright protected work with all rights reserved. If you are interested in using any of my work, in any form or forum, please contact me first.


Contact

I read all comments and emails and try always to respond in a timely manner. Do not hesitate to contact me: cynthia@tasteslikehome.org for a recipe, blog or food related advice.

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READABLE FEASTS

>> Monday, 12 February 2007

Here are some of the places I go to eat (virtually), gawk, feast and just revel in all their creations. I also go to be inspired and to learn. To help you navigate and enjoy these sites, I have arranged them under various headings, you will notice that is there some overlapping and that is because I want to highlight what stands out for me in some of the sites that can prove to be helpful to you as well.
Keep checking often as this page will be continuously updated.
  • Readable Feasts – these are blogs that I love in general for their food, their photography and their writing.
Photography – these are bloggers with particular stylistic photography and these include not just the images themselves but also the food styling.
Cuisines – I love to explore various cuisines and these blogs carry the flags of their regions and countries flying high as they educate and inspire.
Food Resources – here are some places you can go to get more info about things food related.
Non-Food Blogs – they write, I read
Featured – a few places on the net where I’ve been mentioned

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COLUMNS

Soon you may find that the links below are no longer be available. Here's why. The newspaper that I write for, Stabroek News, effective from December 1, 2010 made their online version of the newspaper and columns such as mine, Tastes Like Home, accessible only by paid subscription. Personally, I think that it is an unfortunate situation, but it is what it is.
As a result, you will notice that I no longer link directly to my column online in my blog posts. Due to this development, I have decided to distribute a free monthly newsletter that will contain abridged versions of my columns effective from January 2011, to all interested. In other words, come January 2011, my first newsletter will contain the 4 abridged versions of December's columns complete with accompanying recipes and photographs, February's newsletter will have January's abridged columns and so on.

UPDATE: The Newsletter, TASTESMONTLY, is currently on a temporary hiatus. Thanks for your interest.
To receive my posts directly in your inbox, please use the subscribe my email box on the homepage that can be found in the right hand column.
  1. Bring Home the Bacon
  2. Caramelized Perfection - Bacon-wrapped Ripe Plantains
  3. Don't Baste the Turkey - Braise it!
  4. Patiently making Peda (Peera)
  5. A rant: an appeal for the ordinary
  6. Meat + Rice + Spices = Tatbileh
  7. Raisin Bread for Mom
  8. Tennis Rolls - A Guyanese Favourite
  9. What is Allspice?
  10. Disappointed by Cornbread
  11. Love at first bite - Jamaican Beef Patties
  12. Market Friends & Foes
  13. Baking to avoid work
  14. Sometimes 'why' is not important
  15. Eating at Home - The Recommendations
  16. Eating at Home - Hits & Misses
  17. Two Ears of Roasted Corn
  18. Moussaka - with Ripe Plantains!
  19. Bye-Bye Mangoes
  20. Corned Beef Stories
  21. Making Red Pepper Flakes
  22. A Taste of Guyana in Barbados
  23. Goodness, Gracious, Great Balls of Meat!
  24. Sweet Bay
  25. Chester Cake
  26. Negotiating and Bargining
  27. A quick bread
  28. Wanted: a cook to make breakfast
  29. Mrs. Cummings' Swiss Roll
  30. Tea for my Mom
  31. A mental adjustment to cooking and eating
  32. In Defence of All-Purpose Flour
  33. Of Sponge Cakes & Pound Cakes
  34. Homemade Granola
  35. Conquer Your Oven
  36. A Bountiful Opportunity
  37. Cornmeal Cou-Cou in 10 minutes!
  38. Pau takes me back...
  39. What is Wheat Germ
  40. No flipping pancakes for me
  41. In touch with my senses... eating with my hands
  42. So you want to make a Trini Pelau?
  43. Anatomy of a Food Label-Part 2
  44. Anatomy of a Food Label-Part 1
  45. My First Vegan Dinner
  46. Get Your Drinks On
  47. The Best Gift
  48. Khichri & Kedgeree
  49. It’s all about Side Dishes
  50. Breadology – the love for bread
  51. Annatto – Poor Man’s Saffron
  52. Thought you ought to know…
  53. About Cooking Shrimp

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Curried Gilbaka

>> Sunday, 11 February 2007

I could not resist. I had to do it. I had to cook fish curry this weekend. I cooked the last of the gilbaka I got from Guyana.





Recipe

2 lbs of fish, cut up
1 small onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large chilli minced (leave out if you don't like pepper)
1 large tomato, diced
1 tbsp ground garam masala
1/2 tsp ground cumin (geera)
1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
2 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
Water to cook curry (boiling)

In a small bowl, combine minced onion, garlic, chilli, masala, curry powder, cumin to make a paste (with a few drops of water)

Heat water to boil in a kettle or sauce pan.
In a karahi, wok, or stew pan, heat oil until it's hot but not smoking.
Add paste and saute for 1 minute (at this stage, I usually add the salt for the dish, check for taste just before the curry is done and add more if it is necessary)
Add fish and saute for 1 - 2 minutes
Pour enough boiling water to cook the fish and leave enough gravy. The gravy should not be watery but thick from reducing as it cooks/boils.
Cover the pan and let cook until fish is done and gravy is the consistency you desire.
Add diced tomatoes about 3 mins before curry is done (Be sure to check for seasoning (salt) before finishing the dish)
Serve with rice or roti.

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I Love Curry

>> Saturday, 10 February 2007

No red and white for me this Valentine's, it is a yellow/gold combo! No chocolates and fancy candy, it's curry all the way!
Check out my love letter to curry in this week's column
The dish you love is...

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Markets Are Alive

>> Saturday, 3 February 2007

When last have you been to the market? not the supermarket or a mega-market; I'm talking about those weekly or daily farmers' markets where everything is fresh, sometimes alive, in variety and abundance.
In this week's column, I discuss my market-trips as a youngster.
Below are some recent market scenes. For more, view the album on the right.



Cheapside Market, Bridgetown, Barbados



Fresh goat, Mon Repos Market, East Coast Demerara, Guyana

Bourda Market, Georgetown, Guyana


Butcher, Mon Repos, ECD, Guyana




Stall at Parkia Market, Guyana


Fresh chickens being cleaned, Mon Repos Market, Guyana




Freshly caught fish, Mon Repos Market, Guyana



Roasting of freshly plucked duck, Mon Repos Market, Guyana

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COPYRIGHT

All the content of www.tasteslikehome.org – text and photography are owned by Cynthia Nelson. All material is copyright protected with all rights reserved. No part of the website: photographs, text, photography, graphics or other material may be copied, broadcast, republished or otherwise distributed without the WRITTEN consent of the owner of www.tasteslikehome.org, Cynthia Nelson.

  • Non-Commercial Use

If you would like to use any of my work, you MUST contact me at: cynthia@tasteslikehome.org for written permission.

  • Commercial Use

If you would like to use any of my work, you MUST contact me at: cynthia@tasteslikehome.org to negotiate rates, use, frequency etc all to be included in a written agreement.

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CONTACT

Comments, suggestions, requests, drop me a line at: cynthia@tasteslikehome.org

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