Lima Beans, Eggplant, Cucumber, A Chef’s Wishful Wait for Spring

“The unfortunate gardener loves gardening but isn’t very good at it.” Jomo Morris

That description fits me perfectly. The twelve or so scrawny hibiscus planted in a row along the edge of my lawn would agree. In my defense, I dug the hole deep and lubricated each one with copious amounts of manure before sticking the young saplings into their final resting place. Like a doting father, each hibiscus plant got an early morning shower with the water hose. I never shirked my duty and would talk to them like children as I stooped low to peer at the leaves for bugs and run my fingers along the stems to check for other plant maladies. They were doomed from the start. Poor soil conditions and a malicious Jamaican sun, transformed my pet project into a forlorn row of spindly kindle wood. The unfortunate gardener had struck again.

Don’t Pick the Peas Out the Rice!

I can’t say my mother loved to cook. I would rather say, my mother was adept at feeding her two young sons. I was 9 and my brother 7 – both too young to know or even understand – when my mom was going through a bitter divorce. I’m sure she did her best to keep our lives as normal as possible, but necessity created what I have come to call “The Bitter Divorce Menu.” It consisted of whatever was easiest to prepare and required the least amount of cooking. Shopping in the produce and meat sections of the supermarket became a thing of the past; instead she would head to the convenience aisle and load the shopping cart with oatmeal, cereal, milo, Vienna sausage, corned beef, hot dogs, ketchup, macaroni and cheese, and bread. Dinner from a box, cans, and whatever was quick,  didn’t spark our culinary appetites, but it got the job done. The “Bitter Divorce Menu” meant cornflakes with milk and sugar in the morning and corned beef with steamed rice for dinner. I can’t recall how many times we had Vienna sausage with a fried egg for breakfast, but it was all stuff we liked. As long as we didn’t complain, we could have as much as we wanted, when we wanted. The “Bitter Divorce Menu,” didn’t last for long; as with many families in times of trouble, we were sent to stay with our grandparents. One thing about grandma, actually two things about her: she was happily […]

A “Woman’s Place” In The Kitchen

“Only men have the technique, discipline and passion that makes cooking consistently an art”. Fernand Point, 1950  Women have a hard time working on equal footing with men in a professional kitchen. Line cooks  shudder at the thought of working the pantry station and justifiably so – that’s a woman’s station: safe, away from the heat, away from all the action. Like it or not , “the back of the house” is still an old men’s club, where women are traditionally hired to work primarily in the pastry kitchen or in garde manger.  Am I lying ?  Have I upset you ? I ‘ve worked in enough kitchens and seen it myself. Ask yourself this question: Have you ever worked the hot line with a female line cook?  Better  yet, have you ever stopped for a moment to watch as she puts pan to flame in the middle of the 7:30 dinner rush? Women cook differently from their male counterparts. The motions are not the same –  the rhythm is subtle, less aggressive in cadence and tempo. Almost intuitively, women tend to be more fluid in cooking style. Their moves are more  graceful and orchestrated,  there’s a connection from the time the pan hits the flame that remains until the plate hits the pass. Men are polar opposites. They cuss the stove, jiggle the handles, bang pots, grab plates, as if by sheer will, the beurre blanc will reduce faster, the halibut will sear more evenly… rush, push, rush… Honestly,  I have a deep respect for my female counterparts.  Being a cook is not easy. Cooking professionally is not easy. […]

Jomo’s Key Lime Pie

Also known as three easy steps to Key lime bliss: Make GRAHAM CRACKER CRUST 2 cups graham cracker crumbs  2 tbsp granulated sugar 3 tbsp all purpose flour 1 stick unsalted butter, melted Combine first three ingredients. Add butter in a steady stream until mixed. Make shell in pie mold or pan, pressing graham cracker crust mix in bottom and sides until evenly applied throughout. Fill crust with KEY LIME PIE CUSTARD, bake and chill 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk 5 egg yolks 4 oz Key lime juice If juicing your own limes, zest them first for Key Lime Whipped Cream and set aside for later. Mix milk, egg yolks, and lime juice. Pour key lime custard mixture in shell until it reaches the top of the sides. Bake at 200° F, until custard is set or approximately 30 minutes, then refrigerate for 2 hours.   Top with KEY LIME WHIPPED CREAM 2 ½  cups heavy cream ½ cup granulated sugar Zest of  5 Key limes or 2 regular-size limes, finely grated Place all ingredients in bowl and whip until stiff peaks form.

When Life Sours and Tears Taste Like Limes

When life sours and tears taste like limes… CRY. Or decide that today is the day to eat pie. I’ve been feeling like a sour lime of late. Normally, I’m an optimist who can find something positive in any situation. But somehow, my sunny outlook has gone dark, leaving seeds of uncertainty and melancholy. I will not let them germinate. Hope springs eternal in the kitchen… Make a graham cracker crust and pat it down firmly in a pan or pie mold to keep melancholy away. Graham Cracker Crust 2 cups graham cracker crumbs 3 tbsp all purpose flour  2 tbsp granulated sugar 1 stick unsalted butter (melted) Combine first three ingredients. Add butter in a steady stream until mixed. Make shell in pie mold or pan, pressing graham cracker crust mix in bottom and sides until evenly applied throughout. My life savings paid the first year of my college tuition; the next year sort of took care of itself. Instead of believing those who cast shadows of doubt in my path, I persevered. At night while my classmates slept, I worked; and with each paycheck came the means to pursue my passion. Passion created Photochefs.com, a blog that allows me share my love of writing and cooking – a passion is as thick as Key Lime Pie Custard – with you. Key Lime Pie Custard 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk 5 egg yolks 4 oz Key lime juice If juicing your own limes, zest them first for Key Lime Whipped Cream […]