Jerk Chicken Soup, or possibly stew, maybe porridge

I should have googled it before I stated I’d never heard of it. Of course there are billions of recipes for it and so I’m adding mine to the mix.

First I want to address the cultural appropriation issue. I don’t know if this is cultural appropriation. I don’t mean to appropriate anything any more than when I make spaghetti or Indian food. I was introduced to Jamaican food in 1974 and have loved it and most of the food I’ve had in the Caribbean. And have made it ever since. I had a Caribbean themed restaurant. Even then I gave much credit to a Caribbean themed restaurant in New York named Sugar Reef owned by Jamaicans. My friend Gail had introduced me to it and I LOVED it. I took my mother there. It was fabulous. She was in her early 70s then and the servers interacted with her like she was one of them. It was an amazing and heady experience for her but I’m getting off-point. What was the point again?

My sister asked for a recipe for Jerk Chicken Soup and it is below. It’s not authentic, I’m not Jamaican after all and I make all sorts of last minute deviations, I added about a cup of leftover Spicy Clamato juice. I have no idea if that added anything to it. I’ve seen enough cooking in Jamaica to know they are not going to worry about it. Don’t have butter? Use margarine. Don’t have cabbage? Skip it. Don’t have lime, use lemon. It’s all good.

Jerk chicken soup, sorta. Possibly stew. For Patty

2 TB butter or oil

2 bnls sknls chicken breasts cut into chunks

            You can easily skip this meat part. I doubt you can even tell it’s there

1-2 tsp each dry mustard, sweet paprika, turmeric, dry thyme, coriander, allspice

            It will depend on the freshness of your spices. Don’t worry it will be fine. 

I totally wing it, I do not measure

½ tsp cinnamon

2 tsp each salt and pepper

2 cups of water

2 TB each brown sugar, Franks hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce

1 large onion chopped

Some bay leaves

1 bunch green onions sliced

2 stalks celery chopped

1 green or red bell pepper chopped

4 cups chopped cabbage

1 can beans . . . red, black, kidney, pinto whatever, juice and all

1 can of tomatoes, sauce, something tomato-y, I used crushed

2 bouillon cubes, chicken, or vegetable or whatever

¼ lime (from my own personal lime tree)

½ cup uncooked rice

Although this will be fine if you just throw all this in a pot and boil it up, it will be fine.

I start with sautéing the chicken and onions in the oil on medium heat and then adding the dry spices and let them hang out for a while like Indians do to temper the spices, don’t burn it. Then dump the water in, deglaze the pot and add the rest of the stuff except the rice. Squeeze the lime into the pot and throw the whole lime in but remove when it’s done. 

Bring this to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer for an hour. Add the rice and let that cook until it’s soft, like a half hour. 

Looks complicated. It’s not. Adjust for seasoning. It might need salt.

Jamaica, mon

The Royal Indian Mounted Police wanted Caribbean food on his last night in town. There are a surprising number of Caribbean restaurants in Milwaukee. I mean, I was surprised there was even one. There were none when I had mine.

We ordered (for pick up) conch fritters, Jamaican patties, jerk chicken and curry chicken (and rice pudding for dessert but we did not eat that). Aside from the hell of styrofoam and plastic, something I did not think about, I don’t usually order food delivered so plastic waste was not top of mind, it looked and smelled fabulous.

Unfortunately it was not. The conch fritters were inedible and the patties were OK but really, one of my most treasured food memories is of patties on the beach in Montego Bay. These were not that. I ate it though and after that I was no longer hungry. To be honest the chicken, while it smelled good looked like chicken backs mostly. It was kind of chopped up which is pretty much how it would be in Jamaica, so OK. We didn’t eat it and the next day (he was gone by then) I made it into jerk chicken soup. I don’t think I know that there is anything like that but how could I miss?

I slopped it all into a pot with a lot of cabbage, some celery, a can of tomatoes and the rice and beans that came with the dinners and added all the right spices.

IT WAS SOOOOOO DELICIOUS but each mouthful held little bits of needle-like bone and odd chunks of vertebrae. I soldiered through for a while but by the 3rd or 4th time I jabbed my palate and wedged a bony thing in my teeth I stopped. I threw it away. I could see no way to save it.

It was really good though and so I am currently concepting a jerk chicken soup (stew?) recipe.

COVID, I have it

It may have happened because I ate at McDonald’s and this is karma. But probably it was because I did not wear the right kind of mask on a flight back from Florida. There were at least 10 babies, like little babies that can’t walk on the flight. Obviously one was gonna sit right behind me and cry the whole way, I mean, that’s just the way travel is for me. But it was not fully true. It cried, of course, but it also coughed and sneezed. I thought at the time . . . imma get this.

Three days later I had a scratchy throat and four days later I tested positive for COVID. Twice. I’ll survive.

Perception vs reality

We took a quick trip to Florida for a friend’s birthday. I booked a hotel that looked nice on their website and was 5 minutes away from the party site so…cool

Looks all real groovy and tropicale and everything
At least the rooms were nice. The pool was, well, let’s say I’ve had warmer frozen margaritas

Oh, I got issues alright

So I had a shit ton of that tangerine custard stuff and really didn’t want to go through the misery of making tart shells and clever guy that I am I decided to use mini cupcake paper things and put the cookie dough in the bottom. Super cool idea, super bad outcome. Turns out that cookies float. And i thought the tart shells were a hoopla.

Just, you know, FYI, I could have made a pie, like a key lime pie. Just one pie, with just one crust but no.

Once the little upside tangerine tartlets were baked I thought they might just pop out but, again, I was wrong. I had 2 options here. Throw everything off the counter and scream really loudly while slapping myself, or make bread pudding. I did both.

Not really. Bread pudding is always an option. Although it wasn’t bread, it was cookies. I put all the stupid tartlet things into a pan, covered it with cookies and filled it with the custard. At this point I didn’t give fuck what happened.

It was actually very good. Not that I will ever make it again.

Necessity, the mother of insanity

So I got these tangerines that are annoyingly called Cuties. I like them (my mom LOVED them) and they are easy to peel. Except this batch is not. And they are smaller than usual and really difficult to peel. The idea of picking off all these little bits of peel for a tiny tangerine was not at all what I had in mind.

Problem solver, or creator, that I am depending on one’s point of view, I decided to juice them and make something on the order of key lime pie. I felt that a graham cracker crust was not quite appropriate and I had some leftover cookie dough. Hm, I thought, that’ll be good. I’ll make tartlets. I’m always up for a tartlet. (eye rolling emoji)

The problem with cookie dough though is that it slumps when you bake it. A lot of dough does this when it is baked in a pie pan so one must blind bake first. This is a pretty common issue and requires filling the unbaked pie crust with something heavy-ish to prevent this from happening. And as it unsurprisingly turns out I have pie weights created for just such an endeavor.

OK, fast forward to the tartlet pie weight slump prevention procedure. What a palaver. But despite it being a “process” it actually worked unlike many of my other harebrained exploits and I was able to fill them and bake them.

I topped them with cream cheese whipped with tangerine rind, vanilla and powdered sugar. Were they as good as key lime pie? I don’t think so. Did they taste like Creamsicles as I’d envisaged? Not really. But they were totally delicious nonetheless.

And the winner is

The Great Cookie Sugar Cookie Throwdown of 2021

The recipes are not our own, I got mine out of a cookbook my aunt Mary gave me when I graduated from college and my sister got hers from America’s Test Kitchen (recipe here). So there’s nothing to be won here.

I had intended for my sister to blind taste them but I don’t know when I will see her next and I will have eaten all of these by then at the rate I going. But I had some friends over and did a blind taste test with them.

Hers won and I will not be inviting them back again.

And so I made my own

I’ve been making these for more than 40 years and was thrown for a loop when my sister made the America’s Test Kitchen sugar cookies and they were really good. First I made those as you may have read. And now I have made my own.

I was very careful to follow the recipe exactly as I have been known to cut corners and the results have been less than stellar. I even sifted the flour something I have been known to skip upon occasion. I was on a mission.

I will announce the results once my sister has blind taste tested them.