The MAMEY Experience

I get a chance to go home to Miami at least once a year. Although I was raised in Miami there is no doubt that my family brought ever tradition, habit, & custom from the MS Delta with her to Sunny South Florida. For the most part, we never had a chance to really enjoy Florida cuisine until we much older.

Last summer during my annual visit, I had a chance to have dinner at a friends house. The kids got a chance to play  while we had dinner and chatted. The food was so good, but dessert blew my mind.

D explained that her husband made a special trip to a special market on the other side of town to get Mamey for us to enjoy.

mamey-fruit-stand photo credit

 

What’s amazing about this very rare fruit is not only the odd look but how sweet the delicate fruit is.

When he sliced it open you could smell the sweetness. The fruit itself looked , to me, much like a sweet potato but the creaminess reminded it me of avocado. and the taste like nothing I had ever had before. It was confusing and delicious…. All at the same time. My husband described the taste more like papaya.

It blew my mind that in all my years, a Florida native, that this fruit had never crossed my path. Its experiences like this that make think about all things I’ve overlooked in life. Has greatness been hiding in plain sight all this time? or has my life really been this vanilla?

Ok, ok… I know its just a fruit.

The suggested way to  enjoy Mamey with a group is as a shake.  Milk + Mamey = Heaven.

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Get the recipe here

 

 

E’rything is Irie

I recently took the time to look around the gourmet cheese section of my local Kroger. after I combed through all the reduced for quick sell baskets, something amazing ( and not on sale of course) caught my eye.

What I found was this amazing cheese called NO WOMAN a sharp cheddar cheese marbled with jerk seasoning & these little surprise bits of crystalized sugar.

I have to admit, this cheese completely changed my snacking life. As a on again, off again weight watcher devotee, I have to say this was completely worth the extra points.

Do yourself a favor… put your kids to bed, pour yourself a glass of red wine, and slice a few pieces of this creamy treat to end your day.
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TEN

  1. Ella- Don’t wear your skirt so short. There’s a time and place for everything
  2. Catherine-Pull it together and don’t go in there acting a fool
  3. Dale- It’s been a long day at work and sometimes you need to unwind
  4. Don-Talk up, I can’t hear you. Have an opinion.
  5. The Twins (Venita & Veronica)- Be grateful for every experience.
  6. Pat- Eat Good FOOD! It takes a long time to make because its worth it.
  7. Ora-Take time to take care of yourself
  8. Marsha- Don’t be afraid to try something new
  9. Debra (my mama)-All you have is your name!
  10. Sandra-I have fun but I DO NOT PLAY!

 

I have 10 women who have impacted my life…Each one of them has made me into the Southern Fried City Girl I am today.

Inspired by the word of the day Ten

Christmas in the Cabin

My Mother, Sister & I have an agreement that we don’t spend more than 72 consecutive hours together. This year we challenged the clock by not only spending 3 days in a cabin together but adding the 7 hour drive together on top of it. We didn’t kill each other, we had a great time, as a matter of fact. We reflected on the year and past memories, we renewed our commitment to future endeavors.  I made a crawfish dressing that everyone was skeptical about but it was amazing! ( recipe here: Crawfish stuffing).

 

The mountains have a peacefulness that really can’t be explained. To think after five days in a cabin with my mom, mother-in-law, sister, hubby, & a toddler. We not only survived but thrived. I don know how you & your family make it through the holidays but we deserve an  via a Standing Ovation

Gyro Fries? Yes Please!

I’m so proud of my little sitter. She’s pretty awesome, but like most millennials she doesn’t see how amazing she really is. Although she doesn’t see her self as a foodie (like her big sis), Liv has managed to find an amazing little bar in Silver Springs, MD.

Of course there are hot wings but this one concoction of old bay & lime is pretty amazing. Its perfectly salty & slightly spicy- paired with a Shock Top (buy 1 get 1). It was a pretty successful happy hour.

Then the bartender suggested the gyro fries. There was brief silence as we both looked at each other & replied ” yes please! we’ll have one of those”!

My sissy made me proud when she said in her very southern pleasantries ” Sir when you bring those fries, another ’round please? … and you can bring the check. Thank you so much (insert smile)”

A girl after my own heart.

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Thanksgiving Healthiness

I decided 2015 was the year to re-visit making Thanksgiving healthier. I had planned to eat healthy in 2014 but being pregnant made that idea  a non-starter. In 2013 I decided to do a roasted vegetable medley with winter squash. It was beautiful – but nobody ate it.

Next to the ooey-gooey mac & cheese and the collards most of my family thought the butternut squash was just baked sweet potato. I guess they assumed I had just strayed away from the traditional presentation. I almost got away with it, until my mom announced that she had ordered a sweet potato casserole from a family friend ( & chef )!

This left everyone circling my platter of orange veggies waiting on a little description card that you usually see at piccadilly or in a banquet catering line.

Frustrated, I put my hands on my hips an explained loudly enough for everyone to hear my Top Chef worthy description on roasted carrots,  butternut squash, & onions seasoned with olive oil, garlic, thyme, & rosemary.

They looked at me then looked over me and reached for the green bean casserole with the fried onions on top.

 

 Culture

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Chess Pie – A Southern Staple

To close out 2015 and make good use of my vacation time, I decided to bake  my friends & neighbors pies as Christmas gifts and a way to share some cheer.

Chess pie sometimes called buttermilk pie was on the list. Why? because sugar makes every one happy and any pie with 2 cups sugar is sure to make you happy!

This was my first attempt at it and I really thought I had failed. The color wasn’t perfect and my custard did not raise as high as I would have liked.

But my neighbor was so complimentary. In fact he told us he had been looking for this pie for years and no one new what it was called or where to find it. He had tried all the freezer sections looking for it.

Despite my own disappointment with my 1st attempt, I had the courage to share it anyway and the result was better than expected. 🙂

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Culture

Chickpea Cornbread

I had decided to make a healthier version of a corn cake. Something tasty yet filling & easy for my baby to handle but tasty enough for my ol’ man to eat it.

As always I don’t work from recipe. Instead I read a lot various recipes & sample from a few to make something brand new.

I season the chickpeas, puree it with a little chicken broth, and an egg white and …. well now is where it gets tricky. In an attempt to keep it low fat i tried a few in the oven for an ‘oven baked’ effect. NO GOOD. Then I try a shallow fry in a just a touch of olive oil. FAIL.

Finally I pull out my cast iron skillet, add some coconut oil and fry the little patties & guess what? I basically just made hot water cornbread!! I guess success or failure is in the eye of the beholder.

 

Hot Chicken

When you we visit Nashville you have eat hot chicken. Its unique this city and worth the pain. Please beware of the KFC emergence of this knock-off. There really is no comparison.  Its spicy & juicy straight through with a local honey drizzle. Underneath a cool slaw and a sweet potato pancake (usually a waffle).

Unfortunately, the mac & cheese did not live up to my expectations, but that’s a post for another time.

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Bao in Knoxville ??

I travel a lot for work. Since having my son I have managed to get travel down about once a quarter. One of the perks of traveling is trying new restaurants, which is right up my alley.

Recently, I was in Knoxville on business and spent the evening at a very quaint restaurant. The atmosphere was so laid back  and actually more of a lounge feel. Many people don’t know this about me but I love Asian cuisine- authentic or fusion, its all deliciousness.

As a home cook it’s incredibly hard to conquer so there won’t be any recipe postings here. One of my favorites which has been so difficult to find in Memphis is Bao.

So imagine my surprise when I ran across a Bao inspired dish in Knoxville. Let me tell you it was pretty darn good. The bun was soft and fluffy with smokey chicken topped with a spicy aioli & Kimchi inspired slaw.

 

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You may be saying, “Jen, when did you start eating Bao buns?” I’m so glad you asked.

A few years ago a my girlfriends and I took a trip to NYC and our curiosity landed us in china town. No doubt we were looking for cliche’ tourist deals that we never found. But what we did find were streets filled with small bakeries and eateries. We had dinner plans, so I thought a snack would be great. I ended up to full to eat dinner and perfectly satisfied with the chicken & pork filled bao.

That’s when my obsession with this amazing asian inspired savory pastry began. Not since my first Jamaican meat pie as a child had I ever been so happy with a protein wrapped in a pastry 🙂 .