One thing the four of us ladies can agree on is how much we love, LOVE food (and wine).
But, before we share ‘foodie’ experiences, new and old recipes and stories of meals shared with others, I thought I would share some of my deeper foodie musings…
At a basic level – we need food to survive. Yet, food has always been about more than just sustenance for the lives of people. Besides the practicality of food, there’s just so much we can experience through sitting at the dinner table. Not to mention the simple joys of having a meal that takes you back to your cultural roots, allows you to learn about the cultures of others, reminisce about a past experience, or creates an opportunity for you to engage with family, friends, and maybe even strangers.
But even on a deeper level, whenever I think about food, I rein myself in with the concept of “everything in moderation”…
Life Exhibit “A”
For YEARS I couldn’t eat macaroni and cheese (I’m talking that good homemade macaroni and cheese).
When I was younger it was one of my favourite dishes, and I think we’ve established that I have a healthy appetite.Though she was hesitant, I reassured my mummy than I wanted more. Of course I did – who wouldn’t want more of this cheesy, warm lusciousness?
I overdid it. I ate so much it all came up.
But then on the other hand there’s Life Exhibit “B”….
Every year my grandmother, mother, sister and I, together bake traditional Black/Rum/Fruit/Christmas Cake – a Jamaican Christmas time essential.
I remember those days when my Grandma led the baking, with my mummy as sous chef. My sister and I were given the simple tasks: butter and flour the tin, crack the eggs, blend the fruits…
The years passed on, my mother was now the head chef and my sister and I were given more responsibility – we started to play a role in the aspects of the project that were more pivotal to the outcome of the cake. And eventually grandma played more of a supervisory role (though tasting the batter is a very important role in its own right).
There’s something special amount those moments. To be honest, as much as I enjoy the cake, which every year we say we’ve made the best batch yet (except that one year when we burnt it, but somehow still managed to “fix” it), it was always the process of baking the cake that I think was most memorable for all of us.
Contrasting these two experiences, I have come to a few conclusions:
As amazing as food is, overdoing it is bad for you.
As amazing as food is, we can’t forget that a lot of people work hard to grow, harvest, (or rear) and transport it so we can have food on our plates at home.
And as amazing as food is, at the same time you’re indulging in a fabulous meal, someone else is going without one.
I think this train of thought transcends into a lot of areas of life. This idea that we should be grateful for what we have, maximize our potential, and use the opportunities given to us – appreciating the support we receive from others in achieving our goals, and recognizing that not everyone has had the same opportunities before them.
Dark Fruit Cake
Ingredients (recipe makes 2-3 cakes)
- 2 lbs raisin
- 1 lb currants
- ½ lb prunes
- ¼ lb dried cherries
- ½ lb mixed peel
- ¼ lb sugar
- 1 cup rum/port wine (Jamaican “red label wine” is preferred)
- ¼ lb chopped nuts (optional)
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1½ lb brown sugar
- 10 eggs
- 1 lb flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 lb butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
- 1 tblsp almond essence
- 1 cup port wine
- 1 cup water
- ½ bottle brown colouring (browning)
Soak the fruits in 1 cup of rum/wine in a jar for 4 weeks or longer
When ready to bake the cakes (recipe makes 2-3):
- Mix butter and sugar well until creamy. Add the eggs (beaten) one by one, to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix in eggs thoroughly as they are added to the batter.
- Cook the fruit mixture over low heat with a cup of water for 15 minutes, constantly stirring.
- Optional- Blend fruits after cooking.
- Sift the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder, spices etc).
- Alternate mixing in portions of the cooked fruit mixture and the flour mixture into the batter.
- Stir in browning into the mixture to obtain a milk chocolate colour (once baked the cakes will look darker).
- Add the vanilla and almond essence.
- Pour the mixture into baking tins lined with grease paper, or tins greased with butter and floured thereafter, to prevent the cake from sticking.
- Bake at 275 degrees for 2-3 hours according to the size of pans.
- After the cakes are cooked and removed from the oven, pour a mixture of rum and wine on top.