Recipe Sharing: Minced Lobster / Crawfish

Bahamas, Food, Published Work

After being back home in the Bahamas for several months, one thing really resonated: what you can buy on Green Turtle Cay is pretty limited (and expensive) so it’s absolutely essential to know what ingredients will be available

When I was asked to contribute recipes for upcoming issues of my local magazine, Abaco Life, I was specifically asked to find some of the best, local lobster recipes.

When sourcing these recipes, it was important to recognize the clear line between what is traditionally the Bahamian, and more specifically the Abaconian (local), preference to cooking crawfish compared to what is preferred by tourists and readers. Minced Lobster is a recipe that comes from the Green Turtle Club, a local hotel.

My parents were both managers at the Green Turtle Club when I was growing up so I spent a lot of time there and when I told my mum that I had chosen Minced Lobster as the Bahamian recipe I wanted to master, she told me that she always found it funny that while the tourists were ordering and enjoying the more traditional, buttered lobster tails, the kitchen staff would be preparing themselves a seafood rendition of ‘Fire Engine’ – using minced lobster. By mincing the lobster meat and cooking it down with tomatoes and the Bahamian ‘trilogy’ of pepper, onion and celery, this Minced Lobster recipe is one of the best and easiest ways to spice things up if you’re wanting to try something different and to eat like a true Bahamian at home, wherever that may be!

Thanks to Chef Karen Curry at the Green Turtle Club for sharing all of her tips with me.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 medium lobster tails (removed from their shells and diced)
  • 1 yellow onion (diced)
  • 1 green bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 stalk of celery (diced)
  • 1 large ripe tomato (diced) / 2 tablespoons of canned diced tomato
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of old sour or juice of ½ a lime and ½ tablespoon of red pepper flakes (extra lime can be used on the side)

photoHere’s my older brother, David, kindly mincing the lobster meat for me in exchange for the recipe

Directions: 

Using a sharp, large knife, place it directly on the centre of the first tail. Using a mallet, tap sternly to split the shell straight through the middle with your other hand. Remove the meat and dice. Repeat with remaining tails.

Chop and dice one onion, one green pepper, one stalk of celery and one large ripened tomato (or two tablespoons of canned, diced tomatoes).

Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a skillet and sauté the diced vegetables starting with your peppers, then your onion and celery on a medium heat. Add the tomato once the rest has started to soften. Continue to sauté on a medium heat for 5 minutes until the tomato also softens.

Add the lobster, two tablespoons of tomato paste, some fresh thyme (a Bahamian must!) and salt and pepper to taste. Cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes. To really add some kick, try adding a small splash of ‘old sour’ or the juice of a lime and some red pepper flakes to taste.

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To Serve:

Karen, and the rest of the staff at the Green Turtle Club, were quick to correct me when I asked if grits (or polenta) would be the best side dish to serve with the minced lobster. They said that a fresh pot of white rice and coleslaw was much more Bahamian. However, the benefit of this saucy dish is that it works with most side dishes, although I did find that opting with white rice and some of the fresh pumpkin from the local grocery store was a clean and refreshing accompaniment.

*Please note that lobster/ crawfish season is closed in the Bahamas until August 1st. Please respect the laws in place and allow repopulation.

**If you live in the UK or in a place where lobster isn’t readily available (without costing far too much), make sure you try this recipe by replacing the lobster meat with crayfish but opting for a shorter cooking time.

 

 

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Recipe Sharing: Creamy Polenta with Spring Veggies

Food, Health & Fitness, Home

I’m sharing with you by far the easiest savory meal that I find to be particularly comforting. This is a recipe that I thank my Mum for teaching me to make and in doing so, provided a tried and tested favorite that will suit my tiny budget in London and banished the fear of cooking ‘grits’. 

Creamy Polenta with Spring Veggies

The creaminess of the polenta (ground cornmeal / maize) with the freshness of your chosen, al dente, spring veggies makes this a nutritious midweek meal perfect for busy bees and can be adapted for lunch, dinner or even a savoury breakfast (popular in the Caribbean).

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Prep time 5mins. Cooking time about 15mins. Serves 4.

  • 500 ml (18 fl oz, 2 cups) water
  • 500 ml (18 fl oz, 2 cups) milk – any milk that you normally use, even almond/soy
  • 450 ml (16 oz, 2 cups) polenta – grains, not the hard block
  • 4 tbs parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste

You can be flexible about the following toppings and adapt to your preference:

  • 2 tbps olive oil
  • 1 tbs tomato paste / puree
  • 1 medium-sized bell pepper (any colour), diced
  • 8-10 closed cup mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 handful of trimmed asparagus spears, snapped in half
  • 2 handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes, diced
  • ½ tbs garlic puree / 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 handful of fresh basil leaves / 1 tbs dried, mixed herbs

(You can also add chopped broccoli, zucchini / courgettes, brussel sprouts… you really can do as you please!)

  1. Bring your water, milk and polenta to a gentle boil in a saucepan. Season to taste, add your parmesan and stir constantly to stop it from sticking. Reduce heat to very low and cover.
  2. Heat a large-ish frying pan or wok. Heat your olive oil and tomato puree. Stir quickly and gradually add your chosen vegetables. The peppers will need the most time to cook so add them first – cooking until soft. Next, the mushrooms, the asparagus and tomatoes. Finally, add your spinach and your desired seasonings. If using fresh basil leaves, add them at the very last moment.
  3. Check that your polenta is now a creamy texture and remove from heat, still covered until ready to serve. Serve in bowls and top individually with the cooked vegetables. Top with additional grated parmesan or chopped basil leaves if desired

Both photos taken by Kelsi Farrington with an iPhone 4s using VSCOcam app. 

Recipe Sharing: Bahamian Coconut ‘Trifle’ Cake

Bahamas, Food, Home, Photography

 

One incredibly Bahamian dessert is Coconut ‘Trifle’ Cake. Now, for my British readers, trifle has an entirely different connotation. However, this recipe is essentially a moist pound cake recipe that can be adapted to suit any preference. You swap the coconut for chopped pineapple, bananas… the list goes on!

Mrs. Robertha is one of Green Turtle Cay’s beloved women. She also makes a famous Coconut Cake and does it in record speed and everyone adores them just as much as they love her. Moist and flavorsome, I asked her for the recipe. Her reply: “That’s going to be hard… I don’t have a recipe. I just know how to do it.”

I couldn’t help but giggle because I knew that was coming so I arranged to stop by a day when she was making them and revisited my Ma’s recipe. When Josie, one of her friends, agreed that Bahamians do have the gut instinct of knowing what looks and smells right, they’re always taking that “gamble” and hoping for the best outcome. “You can never make something the same way twice,” she said.

It makes this very specific task of sharing Bahamian recipes an exciting and challenging one. It also takes someone like me who has both the natural, annoying tendency to ignore a recipe and just ‘wing it’. I also have a genuine love for sharing what I’ve made with you. And if I can’t share it with you in person, I’ve got to get it down in words!

With the combination of my grandma’s recipe and photographs of Mrs. Robertha making hers, I’m pleased to share with you a common and delicious Bahamian recipe – Coconut ‘Trifle’ Cake:

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This recipe makes one cake and makes no promises to be healthy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound [225 g] of butter
  • 1 cup [8 ounces / 200g] of packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup [4 ounces /100g] of white (caster / granulated) sugar
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups [11 ounces or 525 g] of all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla (Mrs. Robertha also adds 1 tablespoon of almond extract to hers)
  • 2 bags of 7 ounce [400 grams / 4 cups roughly in total] of shredded coconut (I’d recommend unsweetened)
  • 1/2 cup [125ml] of  double cream or what Bahamians use – evaporated milk (this is where the ‘trifle’ aspect of the cake comes in)

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a large spoon and then ‘blend’ thoroughly with either a hand mixer or processor. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit / 175 degrees Celsius in a lined and slightly greased loaf tin (preferably a small 3″x5″).

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Make sure to visit Mrs. Robertha at her little grocery shop offering Bahamian necessities and her baked treats like this Coconut Cake right in the center of Green Turtle Cay.  robertha6All photos are copyright of Kelsi Farrington, 2014.

Tranquil Turtle’s Sunday Fish Fry

Bahamas, Food, Home, Journalism, Photography, Published Work, Travel

As one of Green Turtle Cay’s oldest resorts and marinas, Bluff House has had a major revamp in the last three years. With new owners and a fresh set of staff, they are taking on new projects and events and one of particular success is their Sunday Fish Fry.

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Tranquil Turtle Beach Bar’s Sunday Fish Fry was an idea from Bianca Curry, a familiar face working at the Bar, and although it is only in its first few weeks it’s already had a great start. Attracting around 100+ people every Sunday from 2pm onwards, the focus of this weekly event (which aims to carry on for the rest of the season) is bringing people together for a local treat and Bahamian tradition.

Michael Withers, one of the new owners at the Bluff House explains the secret behind the Sunday Fish Fry which is all prepared from scratch in the Beach Bar’s kitchen:

“It’s all thanks to our staff,” Michael explained. “We’ve got great girls with great ideas and personalities. Bianca ran with this idea and so far so good! We also have other things like our burgers, cracked conch and fritters besides the 60-70 perspective orders of the main attraction.”

The great food and fun atmosphere is helped by the sounds of a local DJ and of course, the star of the Sunday Fish Fry is in the name but it is done with a difference. Crisply and lightly battered whole snappers are served with homemade banana pancakes providing a perfect balance of light and filling for just $12.

Coming from a traditional Bahamian breakfast – fried fish and ‘panny cake,’ the fresh snapper with the hint of sweetness and the chef’s addition of “a little nutmeg” to the pancakes ties the flavours together really well.

For the tourists staying in the hotel rooms and villas, it provides the perfect combination of a beautiful beach location, great food, drinks and music all with a buzzing and unique atmosphere which draws in locals and other vacationers alike.

One GTC local for example, Maxwell McIntosh, approved of the event and expressed his hope for some of the “money to stay on the Cay rather than everyone going to Nippers every Sunday.”

A regular visitor and sailboat owner, Pat Phelan said that Abaco (and Green Turtle Cay in particular) was, out of all the other places in the Bahamas, the place he spends the most money. “There are so many nice things to go to like this. It’s fun and it’s a happy medium here. It’s nice to get everyone together.”

So, whether you’re carried by golf cart, boat or foot, Tranquil Turtle’s Sunday Fish Fry is a Sunday well spent and you’ll leave with your belly full, your dancing-legs sore and maybe some damaged pride after a game or two of corn hole toss or volleyball on Tranquil’s beach.

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As seen in The Abaconian newspaper, published March 15th 2014. 

An Interview with an Artist: Rett Sturman

Bahamas, Home, Journalism, Photography, Published Work, Travel

Green Turtle Cay had a new face that became quite familiar recently. Usually found with his easel propped opposite his muse – one of the cay’s street views, homes or beaches, Rett Sturman has created a growing collection of oil-painted scenes like the Albert Lowe Museum he’s recently completed.

Rett Sturman

After a Google search for beautiful places in the Caribbean, Rett Sturman fell in love with the array of turquoises that New Plymouth’s harbour had to offer. Hailing from Vermont, which is currently experiencing -20 degree weather, he sought refuge on the 3-mile-long island for the past 8 weeks.

Rett, 67, studied for his Masters in Architecture in the 70s at the University of Pennsylvania. There, he realised that he wanted to paint. After “starving for a number of years,” he spent a lot of his time visiting some of his old teachers with his progress and they’d in turn offer their criticism.

One in particular would ask, “Are you feeling strong?” before laying the blows. “But,” he said laughing, “there was some good criticism there and a lot of the time, there would be a little pearl to take home.” So, the then 20-something-year-old wouldn’t be too discouraged. “I felt pumped up and I’ve been doing it for 40 years. It’s taken a lot of practice.”

When home, Rett has someone who takes his soft canvas sheets and makes them into giclee prints, a process of printing paintings via an inkjet printer, which he jokes “makes them look nicer than the actual paintings!”

His work (which in the past has ranged in price from a few thousand to sometimes $25,000 depending on the subject) has been sold in galleries, but after so many years, he began feeling pigeon-holed. “I just burned out.”

Stepping away from the ‘factory-line’ style of working and attracted by the unmodern, loyalist homes of Green Turtle, it’s provided a calm and warm environment to do some of his work that’s “not like anything else [he’s] really done before” and he’s “really having fun.”

Rett has no aims to make a living off of these landscaped canvas prints of predominantly the homes in New Plymouth, he spoke of keeping them and some of his other work in a “treasure trunk” styled file for his 24-year-old son, Evan, to come across.

It’s a beautiful idea that would allow his son to stand in his shoes while taking in the lighting, the people and the surroundings of a paradise unlike anywhere else. He explained how nice it was to have people chatting to him rather than the empty silence of a studio, admiring his work (only a distraction when he’s trying to get the lighting just right). Some of his favourite moments on the Cay include what some of the island people have said.

For example, a quote from one local: “You could’ve built that house by now!”IMG_7720

The capture of the Albert Lowe Museum has taken him about 2 weeks to complete. His cross-handed style of painting professes someone who wants a reassured, steady hand to follow the imperfect lines of the homes. His architectural background brought distaste for the use of rulers to produce lifeless straight lines. “I like to follow the hand of the painter.”

Our ‘artist in residence’ was here painting the different scenes of GTC (from one end to the other) until the 25th of February. His oil paintings, all dried on the self-cut sheets of rollable canvas have travelled in a hard case back to the US. His overall experience on Green Turtle Cay “has been heavenly…it really has. And I’ll be back next year – very happily so.”

   View some of Rett’s work here.IMG_8109 - Version 2

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All photos were taken by Kelsi Farrington 

Original article seen in Vol. 22, Issue 4 of The Abaconian newspaper published March 1st 2014, pg. 15:
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All About This Island Life II

Home, Photography, Travel

From town to ‘down through’ to its people (and their fish) to its houses, this is life on Green Turtle Cay in pictures: 

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Wrecking Tree Beach IMG_7939The Older Fishermen IMG_7940BiscuitIMG_7936Fish CleaningIMG_7930Lincoln and Ruth IMG_7927MaxwellIMG_7926 2LincolnIMG_7921Waiting for the Big MoveIMG_7925Pa Vert and CarterIMG_7894Mrs Evelyn’s House IMG_7890Down ThroughIMG_7914Ready for Lobster SeasonIMG_7887All images are copyright of Kelsi Farrington and were taken with a Canon Rebel w/ a 40mm lens.

All About This Island Life

Bahamas, Home, Photography, Travel

Two weeks have just about passed since arriving back in the Bahamas. Island life has taken a bit of adjusting, particularly when I’m in that intensely eager mentality to get myself into a city and working and writing. That’s not happening as yet, so I’m blessed to be in such a beautiful place to patiently wait for replies and to be with family makes it even better.

Here are some shots on my iPhone of my time back home on Green Turtle Cay so far:

‘Down Through’

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‘The Pink ‘n White House’

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‘Road to Sundowners’

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‘Town’

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‘Harvey’s Benches’

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‘Sunset’

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‘Local Lizard’

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Dinner at Leslie’s

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‘Paradise – Gilliam Bay’

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And a trip to Pete’s Pub, Little Harbour:

Potcake

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I’ve also been working on some recipes that I’ll be posting soonish! One of which being Minced Crawfish with pumpkin and rice and Guava Cake:

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 And with the arrival of my new 40mm lens (a 2-week early birthday present), I’m really excited to get some food photography done… maybe even some that’ll be used for my cookbook! Can’t wait to really practice with it. It even has a great name: ‘Rocketfish’. 

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All images are copyright of Kelsi Farrington, 2014. 

Bits of 2013 via VSCOcam

Falmouth, Hay, Home, Photography, Travel

Here are a few shots I’ve taken with my iPhone. They’re from most recent locations, like being back home in Wales and range from days out with friends, to family and food in Cornwall and the streets and sights of Rome and Venice.

I usually dislike the quality of phones yet have so much fun getting such different photos compared to my SLR. VSCOcam hasn’t got a zoom feature but you can choose where your exposure is and where you want the focus to be. It also offers some excellent ‘filters’ and effects for the best of your high-quality shots taken on the move.

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Cornwall

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