Sunday, February 8, 2015


So, it’s been an interesting week. I finished the project I was working on, and now I’m waiting for another project to start. So in the meantime, there’s no money coming in. I did, however, manage to finally self-publish my first book. Not the first book I’ve written, but the first book I’ve published. It’s called O as in Circle – And Other Stupid Things Heard While Filing Claims, and it’s available right now through and iBooks. It’s currently under review by other e-book retailers (Kindle store, Nook store, and Kobo). Hopefully, it’ll be released soon. And I am finalizing my book proposal for a book on essay writing that I just finished. I’m determined to make this writing thing work. 

Seriously awesome.  Like, how can you go wrong with this?
And all of that brings me to cooking food from Haiti today. I started with marinating the meat for Griot. My marinade consisted of lime juice (and I threw in the limes themselves as well), some orange juice, seasoning salt, rosemary, oregano (in lieu of thyme), parsley, garlic powder, and a few jalapeños with their juice. Then I cut my pork into strips (I used pork butt steaks because they were on sale, and yes, I laugh every time I hear the words “pork butt” because apparently, my humor is that of a six-year-old boy at times), mixed it with the marinade, and put it all in the fridge before we headed out to finish up our taxes. After about four hours of sitting in the marinade, I put the meat into a saucepan and covered it with water and boiled it until most of the water evaporated (it took about 45-50 minutes or so). Then I let it cook some more before I took it out of the saucepan. In a skillet, I heated some oil and fried the pork until it was browned. I thought it was very good. I absolutely loved this. It was a little bit spicy, but not too much. Letting the meat boil for nearly an hour before lightly frying it gave it this wonderful texture: tender yet crispy on the outside.  My son didn’t eat much of it; he basically just laughed at “pork butt” the entire meal. But the rest of us ate it up.

I wish my abs looked like this bread. But I love chocolate and wine too much for this to happen.  
While the meat was marinating, I made Pain Haïtien. For this, I mixed my yeast packets with the warm water and let sit for a few minutes to proof. Then I added in agave nectar (I think it’s much sweeter and a little cheaper than honey; I found it at Aldi’s for around $2.50), vegetable oil, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Once I stirred it until it was smooth, I slowly added in the rest of the flour until it was a thicker, elastic-y dough. I poured a little oil into the bottom of my bowl and rolled my dough in it before covering it with a towel and letting it sit for nearly an hour. When this was done, I punched down the dough and then pressed it into a greased loaf pan. I didn’t have a dish the size the recipe recommended (15” x 10”), so I was hoping a loaf pan was ok. Then I drug my knife over the dough, cutting roughly 2/3 of the way through the dough to create pull-apart squares. Then I let it sit for another half hour. Just before I placed it in the oven, I added a bit of espresso grounds into some milk and brushed the top of the bread with it.  After about 35 minutes in the oven, it was ready to take out and cool. This bread turned out beautiful. The outside was crisp but the inside was soft, and the hint of nutmeg was wonderful. I really couldn’t taste any hint of the coffee in the milk that I brushed the top with, but it was still very good.

So comforting. I was quite impressed with this.
And to accompany the Griot, I made a popular side dish called Riz Dion or Riz Djon-Djon. This dish is supposed to use black mushrooms, but it’s really hard to find here.  And I was on a super tight budget, so I was sort of forced to use white mushrooms. I removed the stems from the mushrooms and placed the stems in a bowl of water to soak for a half hour. I threw out the stems but kept the water after they finished soaking. I also put the caps in a bowl of hot water as well. In a pan, I melted the butter and fried the garlic in it. Then I added in the rice and stirred it around to coat the rice, adding in the salt, black pepper, and oregano (because my thyme went bad). After this, I took the liquid I reserved from soaking the mushrooms and poured it on top of the rice mixture along with the mushroom caps (I chopped them up a bit). It roughly took about 15-16 minutes for the rice to cook and completely soak up the liquid. My daughter absolutely loved this. I had to stop her from eating it all up and save some for my husband. I liked it too, but I think the next time I make this, I want to make it with oyster mushrooms. I think that would be totally awesome. 

This was a very good meal. Haiti, you surprised me. I loved it all. 
There were so many other recipes from Haiti that I came across that sounded amazing, and I wanted to try them all, but I just didn’t have time. I suppose if I stopped binge watching Dr. Who, or reading three books at the same time, I might’ve been able to make some of these other things. I copied down a recipe for Haitian Cake that the kids requested. That might get done later. (Along with that other cake from Guinea-Bissau that failed.) A friend of mine told me about a dish called pikliz, which is generally used as a garnish or side dish. It’s shredded cabbage, carrots, red bell peppers, peppers, and other things stored in vinegar for five days. I looked up the recipe a little too late to make it for this blog. Judging from the photos, it looks almost like a Haitian version of Korean kimchi.

My friend has been living in Haiti for nearly a year now and is a part of an organization called myLIFEspeaks. They are a non-profit organization and do a variety of projects in Haiti including education and special education as well as providing medical resources and food for many families. If you’d like to donate to their cause to help these Haitian kids and their families, their website has a page listing items they need and a page where you can donate money so they can purchase these items themselves. As you get your tax refund check back, you might want to think about giving some to a good cause. Every little bit counts. 

Up next: Honduras  

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