Fun Food Friday: Rasta Pasta


I am not totally certain what exactly Rasta Pasta is aside from pasta with vegetables in it. I found that children that hate veggies ate this stuff up with relish, like literally finished the pot off.  I made it when I was visiting one of my host families last week, they asked for the recipe and to make it one more time before I left, so here is the recipe!

Ingredients:

Pasta

Oil to cook in and make sauce with (****True Rastas do not use oil unless they press it themselves)

variety of veggies for this one I had:

zucchini

onion

scallion

okra

tomato

red pepper

bok choy (pak chow if you live in Jamaica)

Kale

Chick Peas

All purpose seasoning

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I cooked the pasta to al dente and left it in the pot with some water to keep for the sauce later.  I sautéed up the veggie, leaving the greens until the end.  I added the greens and beans along with some pasta water and seasoning jus to steam the greens down a bit before mixing the pasta.  That’s pretty much it.  Sometimes it has mayonnaise in it, but I do not think it needs that.

The second time I made this I used black beans, Choyote, a can of mixed vegetables, bok choy, zucchini, peppers, onions, okra, yellow tomato,  and a little bit of kale.  This was based on what was available and what I had on hand.

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Mixed emotions as I come to the end of my time abroad.


This post is part of BloggingAbroad.org’s Re-Entry BlogChallenge.

 

I am looking forward to going home soon, not because I want to go home, but because I miss my significant other more and more daily.  I feel like I am missing out on stuff.  I try not to think about going home that much.  In fact thanks to a guy I was in Liberia with I have found a way to stay grounded and present in my last few days.  On day 80 I started a countdown with something/someone/place I will miss when I am gone.  This keeps me focused daily on what I will post and keeps me present.  It helps amazingly.

paint party

This last week I attended my only real Jamaican party.  I went to Beach Jouvert, a seriously messy paint party.  I was covered in paint, in fact a week later and I am still covered in paint.  My toenails and fingernails are still green, I have green paint in my armpits, hair and even on my back.   This was incredibly fun and I Easter was spent with other volunteers having dinner at my apartment.  It was also spent with a huge hangover, well deserved and well earned.

Monday I headed to one of my host family home to visit one last time.  Lesson learned when I left Liberia, make certain you have contact information and ways to stay in touch.  I was glad I went on Easter weekend because the whole family was around and we got wonderful pictures together.  I feel like I got the change to say a proper good-bye.  I then headed to Kingston for my COS medical and spent until Friday there.  I got to spend time with volunteers also having medical and the two response volunteers left in country.

Friday afternoon I headed out to Hellshire to my very first host family pon di rock.  I am staying here until Tuesday when I go back into Town to meet the new interim Peace Corps Director.  I will then go back to Discovery Bay where I will not take any more time off except on the weekends to say my final goodbyes to friends and family in my original community.

Looking forward is quite daunting for me.  Many of the other volunteers are looking into grad school, job markets or potential future service.  I am not doing any of this.  My plan is to spend the first 2 weeks with just Richard!  I intend on just being in the moment with him.  Also it looks like he now has a job from home so we will need to look at job options/locations together as we now have the freedom to move wherever we want to.  I could easily allow myself to get pulled into this crazy guessing game, but in reality I want to remain focused on here and now.  By remaining focused I can better serve my current projects and finalize my time in Jamaica.  If I focus on going home, I serve no one.  And that is my biggest struggle.

Fun Food Fridays: Tofu Cabbage Wraps with Peanut Sauce


Since Monday I have cut out gluten, dairy, alcohol and added sugar from my diet.  This recipe falls nicely within those parameters.  It is also cabbage season here in Jamaica and cabbage is readily available and cheap right now.

Tofu cabbage wraps/salad

Modified from Eating Well Magazine recipe:

Peanut Sauce Ingredients:

Peanut butter, less sugar better, you can grind your own peanuts into a chunky paste.

salt

garlic

scallion

vinegar (I prefer rice wine vinegar)

liquid aminos (soy sauce)

hot sauce or scotch bonnet

Add all liquid ingredients about (except hot sauce) a 1:1 ratio

salt, garlic and scallion are added to taste.

Hot sauce or scotch bonnet added to taste.

Sesame oil if you like just enough.

This sauce can be jarred and put in refrigeration for up to a week. The longer it sits the thicker and better it tastes. I use this sauce for salads or for stirfrys as well.

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Salad Ingredients:

Oil (coconut is best)

Cabbage (1 head whole for wraps)

scallion or onion

tofu or chicken/fish

carrot

cucumber

dark lettuce greens or herbs (basil and cilantro are fantastic) sliced into ribbons. (Cilantro or parsely finely chopped.

Additions for the creative:

Sweet peppers

mushroom

shrimp

celery

small bok choy

any other rawish vegetable

Prepare:

Wraps:

I take the cabbage and cut around the core to ease the removal of whole leaves.  By cutting away the core in a hexagonal shape you create an easier to peel head of cabbage.   The leaves do not rip if pulled slowly from the bottom and the sides are loosened from the head as you lift the bottom.  Once removed rinse and drain.  If the cabbage is too tough to eat raw you can blanche it for a few moments.

Thinly slice the cucumber, scallion, carrots and other veg you choose.  If you use a vegetable peeler you get lovely thin slices.

Ribbon the lettuce or basil, finely chop any herbs.

Cut tofu or fish or chicken into nice sized strips. Saute in oil, I like coconut oil for this. Cook well.

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Set up plate of chopped veg and allow tofu or meat to cool to handling temperature. Gather ingredients and set into cabbage leaf. Top with peanut sauce and herbs or lettuce, roll cabbage to hold for eating.

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Enjoy!

For salad, simply dice up the cabbage and mix the ingredients to taste and top with peanut sauce and herbs or lettuce ribbons. Top with crushed peanuts for an added crunch.

I thought I would learn about another culture, but I learned about myself.


A letter to my pre-PC self;

This post is part of BloggingAbroad.org’s Re-Entry Blog Challenge.

 

Dear ChaCha

There are things that will happen in the next two plus years that will be unexpected and sometimes difficult. The thing is, these challenges will change you in ways you never thought possible. They will tax your restraint and your reserves. They will make you uncomfortable and force you to confront deep dark buried issues that you have tried for 40 plus years to avoid. These things will pass, but they will change you and they will build you up, try not to fight them.

The first challenge will be how you see yourself. You view yourself as strong and as resourceful and able to stand up to confrontation. You must let those ideas go. In this new culture women do not confront men, they do not stand up to them and they most certainly never call them out and insult them. This will be the most difficult aspect to deal with. The daily marriage proposals, the constant cat calls and the attention that makes you never want to leave your home will become normal. What will not be normal is how you deal with them. Think about the fact that you are a cultural ambassador and even though you often feel like a slab of meat at the auction, you need to keep your interactions civil and not cross.

The second challenge is to let go of your view of not ever quitting. Sometimes quitting is not failure but realizing that the issues cannot be resolved and they tax your resilience too much. Understanding when to walk away is better than not quitting and drowning in despair and depression. Finding the balance between not quitting and seeing that there is no solution will prove to be an asset. It will be difficult and you will have to swallow that pride.  Remember to count those small wins to help balance those feelings of defeat.

 

The final challenge is confronting your past. Yikes, this really sucks. You moved to a place where most people from your past can no longer reach you, but the pain is still there. Being alone every night forces you to spend some quality time with yourself and your feelings. Ugh, I know that really sucks. Those angry and hurt feelings never really went away, they just got buried deep. Breaking down those walls and confronting them allows you to not only grow but to move forward. Your resentment of your childhood and upbringing, they keep your growth stagnated. Those feelings of anxiety about actually going home, pretending you did not come from your hometown, they hold you down and keep you angry and holding onto the pain. The denial that people hurt you, that your parents made you feel unloved, that holds you back. Facing these things and confronting them within yourself allows you to finally heal, grabbing that happiness is something you should embrace.

Yes you will still be angry and still be hurt, but it will no longer hold you in this space. Allow yourself the freedom to feel relief. To feel that anger and to confront it. To admit and name the things that happened to you, to move forward with more confidence and understanding how you actually process events. Sometimes those things that happen are not exactly as your perceived them. Sometimes people have no idea they wronged you at all, by learning how to recognize the hurt you can address it and confront the offender in a sane and safe way. These are the things you will learn from your service. The fact that there is always pain and hurt but there does not have to be residual anger and pain.

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Always look up!

Fun Food Friday: Eggplant Medallions


Baked garden egg for Eggplant Parmesan  or sandwiches

Ingredients:

Eggplant

Salt

Egg

Breadcrumbs

WW Flour

Seasoning (your choice)

coconut oil, just because I refuse to use vegetable oil, nasty mon!

Directions:

Clean and slice the eggplant, best if you do round disks unless you are going to use a french roll

lay the disks on a plate or cutting board and sprinkle salt on both sides of the disk. *This removes the excess water to ensure a crisper texture. Let stand about 30-60 minutes.

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Beat an egg or two, depending on how much eggplant you intend on making.

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In a separate bowl mix up the flour and breadcrumbs with the seasoning, the more breadcrumbs the better, the ratio should be 2/1 breadcrumb to flour. Season as you like, this might take a couple of tries to get exact, I like a lot of herbs in mine!

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When you are ready to bake, turn the oven on to 300 and lightly grease a pan or cookie sheet. Or if you are really invested layer parchment paper and forget the oil, your choice. Dip a piece of eggplant into the egg batter then toss it in breadcrumbs. Lay it on the baking dish. Repeat until all the eggplant is finished or the baking dish can hold no more.

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Bake for about 10-15 minutes depending on how thick you cut the eggplant, the thicker the disks the longer you need to bake, flip over and bake another 10 minutes. Pull out of oven and remove from baking sheet. Repeat until the disks are all done. *** Bonus I tend to use any remaining egg-batter as scrambled eggs for a sandwich. The breadcrumb mixture is not able to be used again so I tend to make small batches at a time to save ingredients.

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At this point you have lovely breaded and baked disks of eggplant. For eggplant parmesan  simply use a store-bought tomato sauce or make your own and heat it up. Place over pasta and layer the eggplant nice on top of sauce. Finish with a generous amount of Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

For sandwiches pick a nice bread and desired toppings. I personally use tomato and roasted red pepper along with some Muffeletta or some jalapeno spread, both from Rolands and readily available at some local shops, in Ochi General Foods and Petcom both carry them. This is also nice with a little cream cheese on the bread to keep the bread from getting soggy. Just like any sandwich option, the choices are endless. Enjoy!

Our memories are what sustain us, top 5 memories I will hold onto from my service in Jamaica.


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This post is part of BloggingAbroad.org’s Re-Entry Blog Challenge.

As I near the end of my service, what an overwhelming and scary point to be! I am full of a mix of emotions, in a way I am relieved that my service will be over, yet sad to see it end. I look forward to life back home with my partner, but I am sad to say good-bye to so many wonderful people in my life.

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I want to share my top five memories of my time in Jamaica!

  1. School gardens and the enthusiasm of the children I came in contact with. Read about that in these blogs:https://seaofcarnage.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/sometimes-children-are-your-saving-grace     https://seaofcarnage.wordpress.com/2016/04/01/one-year-later-in-jamaica-cha-chas-hugelkultur-beds-literacy-club-and-thoughts-on-success
  1. Adult literacy and summer reading programs, the joy of adults learning and gaining self confidence, oh the smiles, I will forever cherish the smiles!
  2. Beng able to use my undergrad and learn to SCUBA dive! So much validation in my knowledge that was gathering dust.
  3. Having Richard come and spend a few days in Cuba and being able to be his guide throughout Jamaica. A memory that I will forever cherish. The bus rides were the best.
  4. Building relationships with a few strong women in my communities. Getting to understand them and how relationships work in this culture that is quite different from my own.

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****Bonus memory: The day the three school girls walked past me and asked me if my neck tattoo hurt. After saying yes they asked what it meant, I told them. They started to walk away and one turned around and said: “Miss, dun get nuh mur tattoos, mi mom sey dey es deh murk fi di beast!” 😐 Uhm yeah Ok let me get right on removing these! I smiled and laughed to myself all the way to work and half through the day thinking of this.

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Each of these memories brings about a great sense of joy and pride to me. Knowing that I touched a few people’s lives and a few people touched mine is an incredible thing that not everyone gets to experience or understand. Knowing that my memory will stay with those individuals just as their memories will stay with me brings us so much closer together. There are more similarities than differences, and once you become the “other” or the minority you begin to see how that feels, and understand the discomfort that comes with that. These understandings and experiences have forever changed my life and my mental model of how people are and why people do things the way they do. It has helped me to grow and to achieve more as I look forward to the return home. I know there will always be a home for me on this beautiful little island, in many communities, and that I have given and received a great gift of friendship and understanding, the greatest gift of all.

The shame of never leaving your comfort zone.


I think every single person should at some point live outside their hometown, their comfort zone.  Why?  Because unless we look outside of ourselves we will never see the World outside of our own perspective.  I am a firm believer in this, I beg you to move away from everything you know and cut off your support system just to see what life is like outside your own box.

me

Today I was asked by a co-worker, as we were discussing, yet again the current state of racial tension in the States, if I was ever afraid of black people.  Please understand that this was a Jamaican asking me an honest question and I am responding genuinely.  Growing up there were only 3 people of color and very few Hispanics in my school/home town.  (A place I never return to and never talk about.)  You see, sadly I did not grow up in Seattle, but it is where I found myself.  I grew up in the boonies, as we say in my area, here in Jamaica you would say the bush.  I grew up in a very conservative area with a very Evangelical upbringing.  So when asked if I feared black people, men specifically, I had to answer yes.

community-love

I grew up not knowing the culture, not being exposed to it and never interacting with anyone different from myself.  I grew up in the 80’s when gangs were primarily a black problem and black men were likely drug dealers, pimps and gang bangers.  Avoiding them was the best course of action.  I grew up being taught to fear the unknown.  Most of us are.

This shocked my co-workers and I then explained even further one of my tipping points.  I moved to Seattle with an abusive controlling men, I just did not realize it immediately because I wanted to escape my life in the boonies.  He used to tell me that me and my children would be mugged readily because we stood out.  We acted like outsiders and were easy pickings.  He even called my son “Opie Taylor”, ya know from the Andy Griffith Show.  I will never forget the feeling of determination I had to fit in and not stand out.

I remember seeing a black man on the street and would cross the street if the area was less traveled to avoid being a target, because my mental model was that all gang bangers were black, therefore black men were dangerous.  This is an easy stereo type to perpetuate when you never step outside your comfort zone. This was my first year and a half in Seattle.  Always super aware and avoiding contact.

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One night I stayed out late at  friends home across town.  We got back super late to our final bus stop.  As we crossed the road to get to that bus stop an old white man in a convertible Mercedes drove past us and said some nasty comment to my daughter, who was no more than 12 at the time.  Once she told me what he said and that it made her uncomfortable, I was super vigilant.  We sat at the bus stop when a crack head sat next to us.  This was a ragged looking street thug who happened to be a black man.  I was already on edge and now I have to worry about this guy lighting up a crack pipe next to my kids.  I was scared to death and very uncomfortable.  The Mercedes pedophile circled back around the corner to where we were again and made another comment.  At this point I knew I needed to go.  I told the kids to get up and we stared walking the 5 blocks across the bridge and up the hill home.

The crack head proceeded to follow us!  I must stop and clarify that he had track marks up his arms and his eyes were sunk in and face very gaunt, he definitely had drug issues.  I am now scared to death.  I try to walk faster and this guy is still following us.  He stayed about a half a block back and never got that close to us, but damn he gonna know where we live now!  As we go to the Y intersection where we lived the crazy bastard in the Mercedes cut us off before we could get to the cross walk.  At this point I am between the pedophile and the crack head with no alternatives.  Suddenly a gaunt hand lands on my shoulder and the crack head whispers to me, go on mama get your babies home, I got this!

We crossed the street and I sent the kids up with the keys as I turned around from the safety of the stairwell to see that crack head smack the pedophile and smash his head into the steering wheel.  In that moment I felt so ashamed.  I was horrified that I feared this man who actually became my angel.  He must have noticed the incident at the original cross walk and decided that I needed help. The fact that he was a drug addict means nothing, the fact that he was a black man means nothing, the fact that he was human and showed an immense compassion and humanity to assist a single mom in  time of great stress.

This was my tipping point.   I tried to let go of my prejudice and stop avoiding people based on appearances.  I still struggle with some of my old mental models, but I now understand that underneath we are human and you never know who means to harm you and who is going to defend you.  I would have never gotten to this point if I had not left my comfort zone and found my own belief system.  I have not judged anyone based on looks or the fact that they seem to be a drug addict since that incident.  My children are also far more open-minded than I ever was at their age, they do not hold a person to a standard based on outside appearances and that is my greatest accomplishment.

Both my co-worker told me that they were happy that I no longer feared black people and that I had let go of my prejudices.  They also told me that I needed to blog that story out because it might be powerful for someone else.

I could have never gotten here if I had not moved out of my comfort zone.  And I think that this is the most powerful move anyone can make, find your own way, find your own belief system.  The only thing I would change at this point is not waiting so long to see people as people and not as a color or a race.  My life would have been blessed so much more if I had allowed myself to see this much sooner.