So Jonathan survived his first day of school! Well, today was technically orientation. Yes, he went to orientation last week. But that was actually considered “pre-orientation”. It turned out to be sort of like a cattle call for all the students to pick up their books, get their ID’s and swipe cards, and calibrate their computers. Today was the true orientation and he was gone most of the day. Tomorrow is the start of true classes so we are grappling to get into a routine right now. We know that once this party starts, there’s no stoppin’ it! Jonathan did work it out to ride to campus with Connor so we are SO happy about that. I was sort of stressing about having to spend $50+ a week on bus/taxi fare. That’s really iffy considering our budget for the moment. I am trying NOT to have us at less than $1,000 left by the end of December when we are waiting for our next loan disbursement! So thank you, thank you, thank you Connor! You’re such a life saver! And since Delancey can’t be here with you, I’ll try to send Jonathan with some “portable breakfast” periodically in at least partial payment for the favor!
Jonathan came home around 4:00ish after having run some basically fruitless errands to find me brooding over a giant batch of homemade bread. I guess I should have known it wouldn’t turn out well, because the recipe stated that the prep time before you bake it would be 1 hour and 15 minutes. 4 hours in, it still hadn’t risen. Yeah…probably not gonna turn out well. I will say that the recipe I chose was one I pinned on Pinterest and the girl did not have very exacting directions. She’s what I like to call an “eyeballer”. Which is all well and good when it comes to cooking in general…that’s the way I like to do it. But when it comes to baking (especially bread!) you MUST have exact directions. So the “Texas Roadhouse Rolls” (yum!) I intended to bake came out like hard tack (in the words of Jonathan). VERY dense and chewy and tiny (again…the stupid dough had all dang day to rise and it did NOT follow directions…) I guess they had good flavor (maybe great flavor if you’re a starving child in Africa), but they were basically inedible. So I will try round #2 later. Not tomorrow. I’ve got to recover! As we keep telling ourselves here, “necessity breeds invention”! If you buy bread here, you run the risk of grabbing “the wrong bag” which will be moldy in T minus 3 hours after you get it home. We have also experienced the same thing with “the wrong jug of milk”. I use the term WE lightly, though, because it was me gagging on sour cream flavored milk (I was so looking forward to an ice cold glass of cow juice!) and Jonathan laughing hysterically at me. Not funny! Probably one of the grossest things I’ve ever tasted. We have bought a jug of milk since then and it is completely fine. I guess I’m gonna have to use the force to decide which jug to grab from now on. I mean, lesson learned. You can’t just go grabbing any jugs you see…you’ve got to be discerning (ha…)! I, of course, do not have any inventions on hand to replace milk. Bread though, I’m willing to give it another whirl.
Jonathan got a smart lil’ haircut this evening from a VERY talented barber. This barber wields the razor and scissors like a pro, but her costs are unimaginably low. Would you believe FREE?? Yeah…it’s me. I cut Jonathan’s hair. While this was not the first time for me to cut his hair, I have to say he looks pretty sharp. It’s very “Caribbean” (meaning a little shorter than we usually go), and I must say I think this is the best one I’ve done! So a much needed pat on the back for me after the bread disaster. So picture A is this morning (isn’t he cute all spiffed up for his first day!) and picture B is him post haircut. So much better!
He sort of looks like a deer in headlights. Not sure what that face is about. Probably some thing like “Rachel, seriously. This is the last picture today!”.
I decided that in light of the fact that my cooking skills we somewhat sub par today, I’ll post a recipe that WAS a success (and yes I cooked it right here in the Bahamian test kitchens…). This one worked out beautifully and we will most definitely be making it again! I’ll try to post some other recipes along the way too. A little tip for the recipe below…if you’re freaked out by the “conch” part of it, read on. I gave you some variations that are a little more approachable for those of you who aren’t here in the Bahamas!
What you’ll need:
2-3 fresh conchs (if you aren’t here in the Bahamas and don’t have access to conch, I think this recipe would be awesome with shrimp, crab meat (for those of you who are freaked out by raw seafood) or ahi tuna…as a matter of fact I might be trying those variations myself when I try this recipe again… if you are here in the Bahamas, you can buy fresh conch down at the International Bazaar…they’ll crack it right there in front of you!)
1 medium red onion
2 green bell peppers (you can substitute any color you want really)
2 large tomatoes (I like romas myself but I can’t find them here…we did better boys… if you have access to romas and prefer them like I do, I would put 3-4 of those in…)
1 navel orange
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (or any vinegar you have on hand…see #5 below…)
Salt to taste
This recipe is basically a ceviche but it’s a little heavier on the veggies. A ceviche, if you aren’t familiar, is a dish where raw seafood is tossed with citrus fruit juices and the acid from the fruits cooks the meat. If you’re skeptical, just drop a shrimp or something into a bowl of lime juice and let it mellow for about 10 minutes. That thing will pink up and you’ll be amazed! I wanted to give a sort of disclaimer about that for all of you who might be thinking I’m nuts for serving what might seem like raw seafood…
1. Slice up your conch (don’t put the orange parts in…slice those off and toss them…) and toss it in a bowl of salt water (if you’re using another type of seafood I would just rinse it…don’t put it in the salt bath…). When you’re slicing the conch, cut it into long thin strips. Not too thick. If you’re using shrimp I would cut each shrimp into 2-3 pieces so that the citrus can cover more ground…
2. While your conch is hanging out in the salt bath, dice up all your veggies. Your onion, bell pepper, and tomatoes. Everything diced (as Tyrone would say). Toss it all in a large bowl.
3. Now squeeze the juice from all your limes (a trick I learned is to cut it in half short-wise and squeeze it with the rind facing the bowl…that way you don’t have to fish out any seeds). You should see like 1/8 cup of lime juice in the bottom of the bowl at this point. Toss everything around to make sure the juice coats the veggies.
4. Toss in your conch (or other seafood). Make sure you drain off the salt water if you’re using conch, but don’t rinse it! That salt will give the conch a little flavor. Again, make sure you mix well so that lime juice is basically coating the conch too.
5. Throw in your red wine vinegar. I personally like red wine vinegar because it’s a little sweeter than other vinegars. But if you like things more sour or tart, you could opt for a white vinegar or even a rice wine vinegar. It’s up to you. Don’t go overboard on any of it though. About 1/4 cup will do on all varieties. Again, toss to coat.
6. At this point, you’re basically giving your salad a chance to “marry”. Set your big bowl aside and get to your orange. Peel it and segment it. Then you’re gonna want to cut up the pieces and pull some of the pith (the white part) off. When I made this, I tossed all the orange pieces right into the salad, but you could also squeeze the juice from half of it and segment the other half. That would give you more of an orange-y flavor. Toss your orange pieces around in your salad, and you’re ready to eat!
7. Try a bite. If you like it, it’s done! If it needs more flavor, you can add salt a little at a time. We just served it chilled just like that, however next time I think I’m going to shred up some green cabbage and serve it over that for a little crunch. Jonathan also suggested maybe seeding a jalapeno and tossing it in. That might add a teeny kick but add a little flavor. You could also add some cilantro or even some avocado to each serving (I wouldn’t put the avocado into the salad…the acid will brown it out…)
So there ya have it. Super easy, super cheap, and this salad refrigerates beautifully! It’s even better after a day or so because the vinegars and acids flavor things even more the longer it sits. It’s a perfect hot afternoon lunch or even a little appetizer. Let me know if you try it out!