Caribbean Stew / by Carey

Something my dad and I did have in common was food.  We both loved food.  (My dad passed away in 2001).  Although I sure wish I'd inherited his lack of desire for sweets.  Dearly.  Me and sugar?  yeah, we're tight.  Real tight.

I don't have the slightest idea how our love of all things food happened.  I don't remember being shown food in an interesting way.  Told of its wonders.  Admired all the variety and flavors.  I don't think it was an intentional parenting move in the slightest.  We were always made to eat everything on our plates, whether we wanted it or not.  And oddly enough, the one food I remember from my childhood was baked bone-in chicken.  Plain chicken in a once-was-clear-now-grease-caked-brown glass casserole dish.  Even now thinking about it, I shudder.   If we go to eat at someone's house and I see that's on the menu for dinner, I have to psych myself up to consume it.  Yeah, it's that bad.

At some point after I was older, though, Dad became interested in cooking.  Not just 'getting by with making something' cooking.  Chef worthy cooking.  Culinary Arts.  There was the asian food phase.  The mexican phase.  The ginger phase (And oh, how I regret this one!  We were SOOOO burned out on uber ginger that I avoided this spice for nearly 10 years, foolishly!).  The stuffed bell pepper phase (my sister's 'favorite').  The fried chicken where he always covered the pan with foil and made soggy crusted chicken and could never figure out what he was doing wrong phase.  I'm sure I've forgotten several.  We all laugh of them now.  Fond family memories.

Somewhere in high school, the Food Network came to our area.  It was around 1995 to 1996.  This became our family activity.  How many nights we watched together "Cooking Live" with Sarah Moulton!  We watched Bobby Flay when he had a show with an audience and an annoyingly perky and equally annoyingly ignorant sidekick.  We watched Mario Batalli.  Man, Dad loved Mario.  He was incredibly interested in the authentic Italian cooking.  Mario's arrogance always got on my nerves.  But of course, the highlight was Emeril Live!  BAM! people BAM!

I have no other explanation than the Food Network to explain where I gained my love of good food.  I really hadn't considered it something of family bonding until now.  But I suppose that both Dad and me were soaking up every tiny morsel of knowledge we heard then.  We never went to fine dining restaurants.  We never had these things served anywhere.  But attempting things ourselves?  Heck yeah! Dad made his own sausage.  (Dana LOVED helping with that!).  Dad wasn't afraid to have a culinary fail.  If it was awful, he just got right back up on his horse and tried again. And again.  And again.  (hence, the disastrous fried chicken phase of '96).

I can be awfully afraid to try to do something new, from fear of failure.  But somehow, this does not apply to me in the kitchen.  I'm not afraid of trying anything.  I love to work in the kitchen.  I love to prove myself there.  I suppose I can thank Dad for that - because he showed me that it really didn't matter if I made a goof.  It was gonna be just fine.

I was exposed to so many different ingredients, spices, and techniques by watching the Food Network before I was a grown up.  I am so very thankful.

I love food.  I love the beauty in all the different colors, flavors, textures.  God has given us beauty in the form of what we eat.  That is just so beautiful!

I also love to cook.  I had dreams that my kids would be born loving asparagus, goat cheese, parsnips, panko bread crumbs, pickled ginger, among other things.  Well.... both of them had other plans.  I had dreams that they'd watch the Food Network with me... interested in helping me create these tasty culinary treats.  Not so much.... Alas... there's still time, right?

God created us to derive delight in beauty.  He created us with eyes to see and taste-buds to taste.  We truly do eat with our eyes.  (I had to close my eyes recently to force green eggs down my throat.  I confess, they tasted like ordinary scrambled eggs.  But man, I could not force that nastiness in my mouth!).

So I wanted to share photos of some our our favorite recipes... "our" being Shawn and me.  The kids not so much.  I am excited about the upcoming spring and summer seasons, and the food with which they bring!

Here is a favorite of mine.  I love unusual pairings of ingredients.  Sometimes I wonder if I was born on the wrong continent, food wise.

Caribbean One Pot Stew with pineapple salsa - recipe found here.

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