Friday, December 30, 2011

Culebra Free Range Friday - Holiday Version

Thanks, Dad, that this wasn't our tradition

 Holiday foods. They bring us memories, traditions, comfort. We can change them at our own risk, add to them for our own and others enjoyment or discard them all together, but there it is, no matter what your culture or what you're celebrating, there is some food that just says "It's holiday time!"

One of my favorite 'new to me' holiday foods here is pasteles. Truth? I'll probably never make pasteles. I think it is something your Puerto Rican mother or grandmother needs to teach you. So when I actually get one, it's a huge special gift. This is a traditional Puerto Rican Christmas treat and I was lucky enough to snag a couple from a party I went to last week. I usually take food TO a party, not take it away, but some things are irresistible and this was one of them. Ok, two of them. Thank you, Mary Ann and thanks to whoever made these delicious pasteles. Oh, you want to try to make your own? Here you go!

Wrapped in parchment paper (I forgot to get the first photo, which would have been the two pasteles tied up with string. Very cool looking package of deliciousness!
Parchment paper opened and banana leaf slightly pulled back (if you don't think it took major self-control to not just start eating this immediately, you don't know me very well)
The filling looks smooth but once broken into gently, the prizes are revealed, including garbanzo beans. This was so good that I only let myself have one. For breakfast. Two days in a row. Pasteles are now a part of my Christmas, along with coquito. I love Culebra!
Tomorrow night is New Year's Eve, or Old Year's Night, take your choice. I'd never heard of Old Year's Night until I moved to the Virgin Islands and I like it. No matter what you call it, it's celebrated all around the world, in various time zones. With the power of the internet and friends around the world, it's fun to follow midnight...but it's more fun to be down at the plaza and that's where I'll be. Inside my head and heart, I'll be waving to family and friends and wishing the very best of good things for all in this New Year.

I'm all for pushing good luck by borrowing from a few cultures traditional good luck foods. I've made up a pot of Hoppin' John; black-eyed peas, with pork and pork (chops and bacon, double luck?) for my contribution. Hopefully there will be grapes, 12 each, one for each month of the year. Maybe the only good luck it will bring is being a good base for a long night of paced celebration. That works. For the down and dirty on good luck foods, what they are and what they mean, go here.

Mince up some garlic. Cut up a couple of pork chops and bacon in smaller than bite sized pieces. Start the bacon until you have a nice amount of fat going on. Add the pork and garlic.
Then add some chopped onion. Cook until soft under a lower heat than the above.
Add the black-eyed peas and some chopped up jalapenos. Let simmer awhile (until it smells so good you can hardly stand it, that's right). This is great to make ahead and put in the fridge after it cools because the flavors have a chance to get mixed and mellow.

There are a couple of ways to go here. The best way is to use dry black-eyed peas, The directions to cook the above is more or less on the package. I say more or less because it says, basically, cook until done. Don't be afraid, the worst you can do to any legume is cook it to mush, Well, you could burn it but hopefully that won't happen. If you do use dry beans, you can do the above steps with the meat, garlic and onions while you get your pot of water going for the beans. The longer you cook it the better it will be. I cheated and used canned this time, because frankly, I'm using my propane very judiciously these days to make sure I have enough for baking bread (which means always having a back-up tank, a good idea in any case but not always one I've followed). I wish I could tell you I used organic canned black-eyed peas. I didn't. Don't shoot me, it would seriously dent my good luck chances. Oh, and add rice if you want, I'd rather have cornbread!

There is nothing to do with good luck food here. I just liked seeing all the chickens going crazy on the newly cleared ground.
This also has nothing to do with good luck food. Anita is just so damn cute I had to share. I don't know how the Passoa Passion Party Pump (say that three times, heck, say it one time) worked out but it was fun to watch it being put together. With enough Passoa, you might get lucky. With too much Passoa, you won't.
Debbie and Lewis are on island, singin' for their beer our entertainment
Have a food filled Friday! Do something farther out.


  1. Love the thoughts and food! :) Have a great New Year MJ!

  2. Thanks, Laurie and an excellent New Year to you as well!

  3. The idea of organic beans with bacon is almost an oxymoron LOL

  4. Allllllmmmmoooooossstttt, Arroz! ;) Unless I raised the pig myself. Hmmmm.