Friday, September 11, 2009
Antigua and Barbuda - Vacation destination
Okay. I may have said I wanted to live in Andorra (I have a feeling I'm going to find lots of places I want to live), but Antigua and Barbuda is where I want to have a vacation home!
Close your eyes and imagine this: warm white sand, crystal blue water under a blue cloudless sky, palm trees blowing in the wind. If you have the time, look up Antigua and Barbuda on the internet and check out the pictures. Can you imagine the first explorer to discover this one?
Antigua and Barbuda are located in the Eastern Caribbean and Antigua is the largest of the English-speaking Leeward Islands - and large it ain't. It's 14 miles long and 11 miles wide, encompassing 108 square miles with a population of 68,000.
Barbuda, a flat coral island, is only 68 square miles. The nation also includes a tiny uninhabited island called Redonda - now a nature preserve.
Check out this climate: Temperatures range from the mid-seventies in the winter to the mid-eighties in the summer. It is also the sunniest of the Eastern Caribbean Islands and has low humidity year-round. I'm there!
On tonight's menu we had pork chops with banana and bacon and sweet potato mash. Antigua and Barbuda recipes are typically heavy - meats and stews and accompanied by starchy vegetables, which is unexpected. For island life I think light meals, don't you?
Dinner got high marks from all of us, and my kitchen stayed relatively clean. Kevin helped by grilling the pork chops and the banana and bacon skewers. Having a cook-out on a Friday night turned out quite nicely (and I didn't plan it that way).
Julia had a friend stay over for dinner. Warning: If any of you come to dinner at our house in the next year, we WILL be serving some sort of ethnic dish and there is no guarantee that it will be good, and it may be weird. I'm sorry, but if I'm cooking than it's from a country on my list. On the days I don't cook an ethnic dish, I don't cook.
Anyway, Julia's friend lucked out because our meal was good and was not weird. Julia's friend told her mom that my Antigua dinner was yummy.
During dinner I took a survey of what everyone liked the best. The winner was the bananas wrapped in bacon, and coming in second was the sweet potato mash.
Excuse my pictures this time. On both the pork chops and the bacon and banana skewers, I served everyone's food before I realized I forgot to take a picture of it. I tried to put some of the food back on the serving platters, but I just couldn't make it look pretty.
PORK CHOPS WITH BANANA AND BACON
4 pork chops, about 1" thick
3/4 TBSP cumin
salt and pepper
juice of a lemon
2 TBSP softened butter
2 large bananas
6 strips of bacon
Combine the butter, salt, pepper and cumin. Rub mixture into both sides of the meat. Saute the bacon briefly, until some of the fat has rendered. Remove and drain. Peel bananas and cut into 1 1/4 " chunks. Place bananas on a dish and sprinkle with lemon juice. Cut the bacon strips into lengths just long enough to wrap around each banana slice. Place bananas on skewers, threading where the bacon slices overlaps. Place the pork chops on a hot grill, for 15 minutes, turning once. Turn grill down to medium, adding the bacon and the bananas; grill another 10 minutes, turning both the meat and the bananas. For extra flavor, baste with beer, while the meat cooks.
SWEET POTATO MASH
1 sweet potato
2 russet potatoes
1/2 cup milk
2 TBSP vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 pimento pepper, seeded and chopped (I couldn't find a pimento pepper so I used chopped pimento in a jar.)
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/2 cup grated cheese (optional) (I grated a mixture of cheddar and parmesan)
Peel both types of potatoes, boil and mash. Add milk, salt and freshly ground black pepper and combine. Heat the oil in a small frying pan and saute the onion, garlic and pepper for just a minute. Add to the potatoes, and add the chives and cheese. Place in an oven proof dish and sprinkle with cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted and the top is browned. Garnish with chopped chives.