The Cross Baitoa

The Cross Baitoa

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

THE Dominican delicacy aka habichuela con dulce

Way back when I promised a post on habichuela con dulce.... and I never delivered (click here ... it was actually almost a year ago to the day when I promised this post. Hahaha!)

Me, a lover of all things food, can not believe it's taken me this long to write about a/ THE Dominican delicacy... known as habichuela con dulce, in English.... sweet beans.  OK, go ahead and say it... that sounds gross... completely and absolutely gross!!

Well, like most delicacies, it is an acquired taste, and I have acquired the taste! Ha! So, what does one do when you find out 90 minutes before your flight departure time that the flight is cancelled???? Plus it is Lent/Easter season in the DR!!!!  You make the favored lenten dish of the country... habichuela con dulce!

So, this is by no means a recipe, but rather a few random pictures of the afternoon adventures of sweet bean making.  Ingredients.. beans.. more red than a pinto bean, but not as big or dark red as a kidney bean, cinnamon, carnation milk, coconut milk, batata - a white sweet potato, raisins, cloves, milk cookies and guess what's missing.... SUGAR! You know it takes a lot of sugar to make beans into a dessert.

This time of year everybody and their mama will be making a version of this dish. Some use only carnation milk, others only coconut milk or both. Some people serve it with whole beans which I think would be weird.... just too beany, and actually when folks leave a few bean pieces floating around it still seems too beany. So, I like that my family purees it completely.  So, think smooth sweet bean soup with the flavor of sweet potato or pumpkin pie.

Step 1... let beans soak for 4-8-12 hours. Then put in a pressure cooker and blanch until soft.

While the beans are cooking, peel the sweet potato and put it on to boil with the cinnamon sticks and cloves. This makes the house smell oh so good... like boiling potpourri or something.  

Be careful that the batata aren't too soft because then they just break all apart into tiny chip sized pieces.  Oh yea, hats off to the host chef, Amalio.
 So, remember that part about everybody having their preferred style. Well, we take those beans and blend them down, then pour it through a sieve so you get a nice, smoothe, creamy soup. Ideally a larger sieve is faster, but we couldn't find that one... so this made for slow going but it wasn't too bad. Then the pureed beans get put back on the stove.

Add the batata, a TON of sugar, seriously, probably 2-3 lbs worth, a pinch of salt, the coconut and carnation milk and let simmer for a half hour. Then add the raisins and simmer about 10 more minutes.

Then voila!! You are ready to enjoy this uniquely Dominican treat... aka Habichuela con Dulce. So, who has enjoyed this delicacy before?? Does anything similar exist in other latin america countries??

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sugar Pie, Baby Cakes

Today is a special day.... guess?? OK, I should just tell you.... it's my oldest niece's birthday!! Woo-Hoo!! I am a very lucky aunt to 3 beautiful nieces.

See, I told you they are beautiful! But, today I celebrate the oldest of the bunch. Probably 5 or 6 years ago a friend and I were chatting as we flew home to NC to visit family for Christmas. She was sharing with me how special her relationship with her sister's children is to her. As she put it, her sister's kids are the closest she will get to being a mom. I've thought on those wise words off and on over the years. And today, as I think about my dearest Jessica, it rings so true.

I love this girl! Like a smile that a starts way deep down in my heart and makes it way up to my face into a big, goofy kool-aid grin with all 32 teeth showing! I love that people who don't know her dad, say that she looks like me! I love spending time with her shopping, baking cookies or just hanging out. I love her patience with her 2 younger cousins. I love seeing her love for God grow! I love that she is learning to take chances and finding all sorts of new things that she likes, for example macaroni and cheese, swimming and some roller coasters. I love that her mom and I often will call her the same silly names, like come here Sugar Pie, Baby Cakes!

I haven't been home for her birthday in two years now. But, I sure hope she knows that my heart and prayers are with her on this day more than any other day! I'm excited for her future!  And to me she is still my little Jessie Messie, now shortened to Jess Mess and I guess one day soon, it will be just Jess. But she will always be my Sugar Pie, Baby Cakes! Love you girl!!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Five Minute Friday

I almost forgot!!

Five Minute Friday



Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, think on those things. That is Phil 4:8 summarized in a nutshell. How much time do we spend with thoughts that are based on what may happen, what the future will look like, what I will do tomorrow or next month, what are others thinking, etc, etc.

What would my life look like if I governed my thoughts based on what is true. Life is too short to waste time thinking about what if, what could happen, or what I should have done... instead I want to spend time thinking about those things that I know to be true, the certain things.

What do I know is true....

Jesus loves me.... this I know

There are very few do-overs in life

You only live once, give it all you got.

Embrace all of you.... the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

More people love you than you would believe.  


Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is fair, whatever is pure, whatever is acceptable, whatever is commendable, if there is anything of excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—keep thinking about these things.  Phil 4:8

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Baking therapy

Well, remember the five minute friday thing. Scroll to the next post if you have no idea what I'm talking about. It's really cool because now the word for Friday has been stuck in my mind all week... grace. From what I'm told from a friend or two, it's kind come up randomly for them also. I looked the word up in urban dictionary.....  A favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence, divine love and protection bestowed freely on people. Hmm... those ideas rolled around in my head a bit.  Mostly, while I took full advantage of my first weekend not on the road in over a month. Scroll down 2 blog posts if you are wondering why or just click here. So, I planned a lazy Saturday for myself. Love it. Didn't leave the house not once the entire day! 

To be honest, I can't really sleep in because my internal alarm clock always seems to wake me up earlier than I want to be awake sometimes. However, I am always game for a lazy Saturday. You know the kind where you stay in your pajamas until at least noon if not 5pm, reading, watching TV, snacking, or better yet.... BAKING!  The light bulb went off in my head, I have an entire kitchen to myself, a lazy Saturday with nothing to do, and we have electricity....ooooo, what should I bake.

I love baking! It's like the ultimate stress relief.... well, for a moderate level of stress. I have learned too well that high levels of stress suppress the neurochemicals in my head that generate a joy from baking.  So, if I stop baking, it's probably a warning sign that all is not well.  Saturday, as I creamed butter, sifted flour and crushed walnuts whipping up 2 good creations to share with my neighbors, my mind drifted back to my Five Minute Friday Post... and grace.

The trip back from Restauracion every week was not fun. You probably got that idea from the prior post, but here's why it wasn't fun. The most frequently traveled roads from the Haitian border to the closest large city, Santiago, are lined with road blocks. Are we checking seatbelts or drivers license, hahaha, don't make me laugh. We have to make sure illegal Haitians aren't entering the country. Better yet we have to make sure that anyone who we decide even looks Haitian, be it dark complexioned Dominican or nappy hair American, can prove they aren't Haitian. It totally reeks of the Trujillo era when tens of thousands of Haitians and Haitian-Dominicans (people born in the DR to Haitian parents even if it was several generations back) were killed to 'cleanse and purify' the Dominican race. The test to see if you were Dominican or not was the ability to say the Spanish word for parsley, perejil. Haitians can't roll their r so if you can't pronounce that word you must not be one of us and off with your head. Seriously.

Well, I wasn't asked to say perejil, but over and over the guards would either try to strike up a conversation, to see if maybe I was Dominican with 'pelo malo' (bad hair, should be a subject of a post in the future) or if I was the Haitian enemy. The first 3 weeks, it was draining and I had no grace for them whatsoever. There was no love freely flowing, they got my full attitude complete with eye rolling and teeth sucking. Bad Jewel, bad. Not Christ-like. I know. I KNOW!! I know that didn't help, but it was my initial response to the injustice that is happening here. Reminds me of the apartheid system in South Africa where dark skinned individuals had to leave with their passbook to move about the city.  Finally on week 4, I made the decision to accept that these guards are just doing their job. They get paid like $150 a month, most are young 21 year olds proud to be serving their country. The issue isn't with them, but their government. Grace, give them some freely flowing love, perhaps they deserve attitude and questions about why this is happening, but show grace Jewel. Show love to these guards even as they are massaging your backpack looking for who knows what. No, there is no skinny Haitian hidden in my backpack. Promise.

In the comfort of my kitchen, with the delightful smell of carrot cake and lime coconut pound cake wafting in the air, I couldn't get the whole situation off my mind. My conscious decision to give grace liberally totally changed everything. Many times there are situations we encounter that are tough and may not change overnight. However, if we can change our response and move beyond the initial emotional response to the intentional decision to extend grace, to pray fervently and to seek out ways to be a part of the solution it totally will change everything.  

 Finally,  I arrived back to Santiago with a smile for once.  Grace does that... it changes you.

I had a mini celebration that Saturday by getting my nails painted. Here's me admiring my pretty nails.... but it's pretty obvious that I'm not used to having wet nails since I already have them messed up in no time... look close, you see it?