Friday, January 23, 2015

Free Range Friday ~ Culebra

I've definitely got to get back into the blog mind zone! Last night my son came over for dinner. I  made grilled pork chops, baked potatoes and sautéed onions in a sauce made from the marinade of the pork chops - basically OJ and red wine, with some seasonings to put over the chops. But did I take photos? No I did not.

Cooking on the grill in the dark (if it isn't hurricane season, for some reason my flashlights all run away) was a by-feel thing. They were those not as skinny as the skinniest ones from Milka's, but pretty thin, so that wasn't too difficult to judge. The potatoes I did in the toaster oven, smearing them with butter and kosher salt and wrapped in foil, at 425 for an hour and they were only to the smidge side of not done perfectly. 

A leftover potato that will become some part of lunch
There was supposed to be an avocado too but it would have been avocado sacrilege to use it, one of those 'it's alllllllllllmost ripe, maybe it', it's not; you will wreck it' times I find all too often with avocados. Too soon, bad, ten minutes too late, bad in the more icky way. I need an avocado tree bearing fruit! All of my trees are in the 'wait a few years' stage.

The paper bag trick really does work. It should be ready by tonight. Maybe.
If I had a photo of the pork chops on the grill, it might look something like this. Maybe, because it was dark and I really couldn't see them. I could see the light of the fire through them, which was pretty interesting... These pork chops are from the blog Dad Cooks Dinner, where there is a nice recipe for grilling thin pork chops. Luckily, I did almost everything right, according to him. Check it out.

photo credit: Dad Cooks Dinner
For the marinade I used red wine, orange juice, some guava jelly, a little local honey and a sprinkle of cumin and pepper. With some finely sliced onion. The chops swam in that mix for a few hours. When I sautéed the onions and tomato to where they were soft and slightly browned, the marinade went in to cook on low for another 15 minutes or so and then it was dinner. I'll try to remember to take photos next time, promise. 

The most extraordinary thing was the sight of Cwim and Nesta being in the same small space together. My son's dog that he had had the last nine years or so, since she was a pup, is well known to me, a wonderful dog. And the first dog Cwim has let near her. Ever. I am still in shock.

Cwim is still the Queen
Meals don't always turn out as planned. Whether your avocado isn't ripe or you end up grilling in the dark, it's really about the love put into the making of it. Sitting with my son, chatting, eating, drinking, it was a gourmet feast. I think we can waste a lot of energy saying this or that didn't work quite like the plan in our head rather than just saying, it is good to share this meal with you. 

Buen provecho!

Have a feastable Friday. Do something fundamentally fulfilling.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Farewell, Sky and Yener

Facebook can often bring me a lot of joy and laughter, antics of friends and family - family in the broadest sense. Or consternation about some political event. And sometimes it brings me sorrow, when I learn of the loss of someone that had a place in my heart or a place in the hearts of people I love. This time, it was doubled. The learning of one recently gone and finding out, in the connection about the first, about another gone two seasons ago. I didn't know. I didn't know. My St. Croix family is dwindling far too fast.

Kimmie and Sky (credit: Kimberly Mills)
Sky, that is his name - almost always with a grin, usually a shy sly Sky grin. I got to know Sky, beyond that casual first meeting that happens so easily on islands, the night I was out at a friend's club and decided to play a game of pool with some local guys. I like to play pool, even if I don't play very well (except for those magical times when I play amazingly well because the pool gods are smiling on me). I thought I knew the rules but apparently, I didn't know the rules with these guys and it was turning scary fast. And then, there was Sky. "MJ, you're done playing pool now, girl, you come with me and let's have a drink." "But Sky! I'm just..." A firm hand on my arm and a hand taking away my pool cue while pulling me into another room of the place told me that yes, I was done playing pool. "Don't you know you don't play pool with them, you don't know their rules" Sky said. And I realized, like learning that mañana doesn't mean tomorrow, there were rules that I'd never quite understand but I could get the message. It was a good time for a drink.

That was Sky for me, there with advice and laughter. I don't know exactly what happened, one story is that a brown recluse bit him and then a couple of months later, another bite. Peacefully gone in his sleep, I hear. Which makes me glad. Thank you, Sky, for you.

photo credit: unknown
Yener, that is his name. Yener made music, really beautiful music. He also was a water sports guru, along with having a black belt in martial arts. He didn't just do something, he excelled in whatever he did, including being a wonderful father to his two boys and husband to his beautiful and talented wife. St. Croix Watersports Center is still being run by Michelle, I'm happy to read.

But for me, though I love the water, it was about the music. Yener made music that I could sit and listen to with a huge grin on my face while tears flowed down my cheeks; it was that beautiful affect that combined passion and drama along with a zen tranquility unique to Yener. While it wasn't 'soul' music as to the genre, it was soul music for sure.

Sometimes he played alone and other times, he and a friend, Steve Katz, another brilliant music maker, would play together at local bars. I would grab front row seating even if there weren't rows at all, just to be bathed in their guitar radiance. I didn't know I'd never hear the two of them play together again, something I was just assuming would happen whenever I got back to St. Croix. Now I'll play them together in my memories, and listen to Yener on CD's, sitting as close as possible to hear magic come from flying fingers over wood and strings.

Yener Korkut ~ Rising Sea from the CD Storm of Light

I chose this song because in the middle is a part that always made me laugh (real quietly, but Yener would be grinning too) where he does repeats. It was like a little musical joke in the middle of, well, a rising sea. At least that's how I heard and saw it. On his liner notes, Yener  has "(Silence/Flashback/Denial/Hope)" connected to this song. Yes.

I can't think of Sky or Yener without smiling. That cliche 'gone but not forgotten' is a cliche for a reason, and with these two, while such very different men, the connection is heart and soul. They both had so much of both and shared overflowingly. How can that ever be forgotten? How lucky I am to have known them both in my time on the planet.

Have a trade triumphs Thursday. Do something tenderly.