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5 Authentic Recipes from the Bahamas

By December 27, 2016 Countries, Food, Recipes
bahama-recipes

I recently made a trip to the Bahamas. If you’ve never been, you might consider a visit. Its close and easily accessible to the U.S. You can read about my visit Here. If you have spent any time on the islands, I’m certain you have encountered these dishes.

Many delicious foods are unique to the Bahamas, and I’ve chosen a few that are a top pick while visiting, that you might like to try again at home.

Peas ‘n Rice

This dish is a very common staple among the locals. It has been served in the Bahamas for as long as international explorers, settlers, rum runners and slave traders have occupied its many shores. Well… not exactly. Before rice was commonly imported, it was served as Peas ‘n Grits, and the peas are really a domestic bean from Africa, but other than those variables, its been around for a very long time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion – diced.
  • 1 green bell pepper – diced
  • 1/2 C  bacon grease or cooking oil
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1/2 T coarse thyme or 2 fresh sprigs chopped
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • 1 t browning sauce
  • 1 large can of regular pigeon peas or pigeon peas in coconut milk (Goya brand is common in US)
  • 2 C long grain white rice – Mahatma preferred (uncooked)
  • 3 C water
  • 5 QT Crockpot

Heat grease (oil) in pot. Add diced onions and peppers, and thyme. Sweat down until onions are t

ranslucent. Then add paste, salt, pepper, and browning sauce. Stir till well mixed. Add pigeon peas, water, and stir. Bring to boil. Slowly stir in the rice, reduce heat to medium, stirring occasionally. Rice will color as it absorbs the water. When most of the water has absorbed, reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer until rice is fully cooked.

 

Historically, this would also have cooked meat stirred in, similar to jambalaya, and served as a complete meal. You could do so, or just serve this as a side. The bacon grease gives this an authentic flavor, but on the islands, you use what is available, so oil works just fine. Green pepper can be

Peas n' Rice

Peas n’ Rice

substituted with other colors, or even kicked up a notch with mild chili like Hatch or Anaheim. Don’t have any onion? Go with thin sliced celery. The point is that in the Bahamas, you use what you have, or change it to what you prefer, if the original recipe doesn’t suit your palate. Serves 4

 

Conch Fritters

Conch is a sea snail, that has been a staple in the Bahamas, even among the original occupants- the Lucayans. With the influence of many other cultures, and the availability of flour, and other vegetables, the Conch Fritter was born. Every restaurant in the Bahamas will have this as an appetizer, but you cannot go very far down a local road before you encounter a fry shop serving this as the main menu item. Frankly, they seem to taste better on the street.

Ingredients:

  • 5 C cooking oil
  • 3 medium conch – minced or ground
  • 1 bell pepper – finely chopped
  • 1 small onion – minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C milk
  • 1/4 t chili powder
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 t salt

Directions: 

Heat oil in a deep fryer or large pot to 350 degrees. Clean and skin conch, remove eye,  and put through a meat grinder or food processor. Place the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl to make a batter. Check batter for consistency. Too Runny – add some flour. Too Stiff – add just a little water. Drop batter by heaping tablespoon into hot oil.  fry for 4-5 minutes, then turn over for another 4-5 minutes, until golden brown. Allow fritters to drain on paper towels. Serve with dipping sauce

Dipping Sauce:

In a bowl, mix:

  • ½ C Catsup
  • ½ t horseradish
  • 1 T mayonnaise
  • 1/2 t worcestershire sauce
  • Salt to taste

This basic recipe is used in the home. The local shops and restaurants modify it slightly in an attempt to set themselves apart from their competitors, and you are welcome to do the same to suit the recipe to your own palate. You can find this made with the addition of celery, goat pepper, carrot, etc.

Courtesy Bahamas Travel Guide

Conch Fritters

 

Can’t find Conch, or its cost prohibitive in your area, you can substitute with canned minced baby clams. Or just throw it to the wind, and go with finely minced crayfish, shrimp, or lobster. Might be just a delicious with bacon too!

The dipping sauce is pretty standard, but if you are making your own, I’d go with Fry Sauce. Its another cultural food novelty mostly found in Utah and East Idaho. I’ll have the recipe another day. Serves 4

Conch Salad

A fresh citrus marinated salad. Its refreshing, and very popular.

Ingredients:

  • 4  conchs – skinned and cubedBahamian Boiled Fish
  • 2 freshly squeezed limes
  • 1 freshly squeezed orange
  • 1 Tomato – Diced
  • 1 Onion – Diced
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper – Diced
  • 1 t salt

Process the conch first, and add it to the lime juice in a bowl. Then prepare all the other ingre

Bahamas Conch Salad

Bahamas Conch Salad

dients. As each ingredient is completed, add to the bowl. When all are added, its tradition to mix with your bare hands, but utensils are a better idea given that this is not cooked. Dish up contents in bowls, with plenty of the marinade.

 

You can also substitute other seafood, but unlike the conch, you will need to cook them first, as this marinade isn’t going to cure the ingredients the same way as would  a ceviche dish. Some wonderful additions can be other cubed fruit such a mango or pineapple. Serves 4

Fish Boil

If you have ever had a New England Boiled Dinner, you might be thinking that this dish is similar. While its roots might be tied to British and American colonists’ boiled cooking methods, a Fish Boil in the Bahamas is a more subtle, savory dish. The fish is not actually boiled, but simmered near the end of the cooking process.

Grouper is the ideal fish among the locals, however any whitefish will do just as nicely, so don’t hesitate to try this with snapper, cod, halibut, flounder or any other suitable species. One species that would do very well for you to request from your local fish shop is Lionfish. Its an invasive non-native species in the Caribbean, and because it has toxic spines, has not been a favored catch among fishermen. Cut those spines off though, and process like any other fish, and you have one of the best tasting fish on the market. By requesting this species, you’ll create a demand for Lionfish, and perhaps its numbers will finally be reduced, so native populations aren’t as impacted by this invader. If you do get your hands on this delicious species – you will be in for a real treat.

Ingredients

  • 2 Lbs of Grouper or other whitefish. Filets or bone-in are fine.
  • 2 Limes – juiced
  • 1/4 t Salt
  • 1/4 t Pepper
  • 4 Potatoes – Large cubes
  • 2 Celery Stalks – Large Cubes
  • 1/4 Goat Pepper- diced (Or other hot pepper)
  • 2 T Butter
  • 1 T Cloves – Whole
  • 1 Garlic clove – chopped
  • 3 C Water

Season fish with lime juice, salt and pepper. Set side to marinate. In a pot, combine all other ingredieBahamian Boiled Fishnts, bring to boil and cover for 15 minutes until potatoes are just becoming soft. Uncover, add fish with lime juice to pot, setting on top of potatoes. Reduce heat to simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, or until fish is flaky. Don’t leave too long or it will fall apart, and potatoes will be mushy.

Place contents on plate, sided with Peas n’ Rice or buttered grits. Additions to consider are carrots or cabbage. Plantain also pairs very well. Serves 4.

 

Guava Duff

The Bahamas were part of the British commonwealth until fairly recently, and adapted many of their words and gastronomy. Duff is a traditional English word for pudding, and both duff and pudding have been used interchangeably in English literature. In the Bahamas it has more commonly been a substitute for the word dessert, although many of these are boiled/steamed much like English pudding anyway.

Guava Duff is served with a butter sauce, often infused with rum in true Caribbean style.

Ingredients

  • 1 C Sugar
  • 4 T Butter
  • 3 Eggs – beaten
  • 3 C Guava – mashed (seeds removed, then food processor or steamed and mashed)
  • 1 t Nutmeg – ground
  • 1 t Cinnamon – ground
  • 1/2 t Clove – ground
  • 4 C Flour
  • 2 t Baking Powder

Combine sugar and butter in a bowl, and blend till well creamed. Now add eggs, guava, and spices, blending until smooth. Add baking powder to flour and stir or sift until well mixed, then add to bowl with all other ingredients. Stir well until all ingredients are well mixed and a firm dough is formed.

Cooking has a number of options. Traditionally this would be cooked in a calico or light muslin p

Guava Duff

Guava Duff

udding bag. You can wrap in many layers of cheesecloth. If you don’t have such a bag or cloth, you can place in a long plastic bag and seal up, so long as no holes are present. A used plain bread bag would work. Another option is to use a double boiler, oil the top pot and put the duff evenly in the pot. The last option would be to put the duff in a narrow, empty can, and place in a pot of boiling water deep enough to come up to 3/4 way to the top of the can.

 

Boil / steam for 3 hours. Slice and serve with butter sauce drizzled on top.

Butter Sauce

  • 1 C powdered sugar
  • 1/4 C butter
  • 1 t boiling water

Cream butter, then gently blend in sugar, as this stiffens, mix in the water.  Melt just before serving. If you want Butter Rum sauce, just add 1/2 T of rum, or 1/4 T rum extract in the mixing process.

Beverages

Bahamian meals would not be complete without authentic drinks. Personally, I don’t imbibe, and don’t encourage it. but if you do, these drinks can be mixed with 1-2 fl oz of your favorite liquor, such a rum, gin, brandy.

Switcha

This is a staple citrus beverage in the Bahamas. Nobody is quite sure how it got its name, but it will definitely please.

Ingredients

  • 1 C Lime Juice (preferably Key Lime)
  • 1/4 C Lemon Juice
  • 1 C Simple Syrup (Or granulated sugar)
  • 1 Gallon Water

Mix all the ingredients, and chill for 1-2 hours or serve directly over ice. This is a tart, but less puckering version of limeade. To make this like a limeade, just cut the water to half. Key limes really make the difference here, but whatever limes you can acquire to juice will be fine. Least preferable would be to use bottled juice. Locals who have no lemons available, have opted to use orange juice, which is an interesting, refreshing variation. Serves 8

Sky Juice

This was originally an alcoholic beverage that required a very non Caribbean alcohol – vodka. With the exception of the resort towns, that ingredient is not as prevalent or popular, and thus it has also been made with more commonly available liquors. But there is still a large demand for it without alcohol ie “unleaded” as some locals like to say.

Ingredients

  • 3 C Coconut Water
  • 1 C Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 1/2 t Nutmeg
  • 1/4 t Cinnamon

Mix all ingredients and chill for 2-3 hours. If you have had the good fortune of getting fresh coconut water, use the coconuts to serve this simply delicious drink. It will take 5 to 6 coconuts to have enough water. You can use the Canned Coconut water just as easily. Its reminiscent of Horchata but with a tropical twist. This can also be processed in a blender with ice to create a very nice frozen drink!

 

For those of you who have visited the Bahamas, I anticipate that these recipes will bring back fond memories. Those that haven’t yet visited, What are you waiting for?  Until you can visit, these recipes will give you a small taste of the Bahamas.

bahama-recipes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Excellent Source for Travel Brochures!

By December 7, 2016 Adventure Travel, Cities, Countries, Cruising, Destinations, Family Travel, Fishing, For Your Journey, Products, Solo Travel, Tours, Travel, Wild Places, Wildlife & Safari
source-for-travel-brochures

If you travel at all, you appreciate the value of good travel brochures that inspire, and educate you about great destinations .

It does get frustrating when I lose them, or want to review one while I am abroad, and don’t have access to them.

Ah, but technology can fix this! If you have internet access, I have found an online source for hundreds of up-to-date travel brochures. They update regularly, and I don’t need to re-order or carry around glossy copies. I can download those that I really like, to keep with me on my laptop, or tablet.

And look, you can even sort them by location and other parameters. I’m always discovering something new in these brochures!

You can see the entire selection by clicking the image or get your Brochures Here.

Enjoy over 100 Travel Brochures provided by East-West Global Travel

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Why haven’t you visited Bimini Bahamas?

By November 29, 2016 Adventure Travel, Cheap Eats, Countries, Destinations, Fishing, Tours, Travel, Wildlife & Safari
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And I’m sure at this point you are asking Where? Even if you have been to the Bahamas, odds are very high that you haven’t been tobimini the “Gateway to the Caribbean.”

If you are the traveler that likes those “sleeper destinations” where amenities and decent lodging is available, yet there is plenty of space to explore (or lose yourself), Bimini should be on your list.

In fact, if you are the Ernest Hemingway type, this is the perfect island for you! Hemingway spent much time here, staying at The Compleat Angler. While the hotel has been destroyed by fire, most of Bimini retains its authentic feel that is reflected in Hemingway’s writings like “Old Man and the Sea.”

Hemingway isn’t the first famous person to live on Bimini. Ponce de Leon scoured the shores, mangroves, and highlands in search of the Fountain of Youth. While it wasn’t discovered, there a certain calmness and ease on the island that makes you feel younger, more refreshed. Perhaps that mojo rubbed off on another visitor – Jimmy Buffett.

Getting there

Bimini is just shy of 50 miles off the coast of  Florida. While you probably could hitch a ride on one of 10,000 sport travel-to-biminifishing boats that will ply the gulf stream between Miami and Bimini, I would recommend a more conventional approach.

FRS Caribbean is the primary ferry service operating daily to Bimferry-caribbean-san-gwannini. For just under $200, you can get roundtrip transportation from Miami, and arrive in about 2 hours.

If air is more appealing, Silver Airways operates regional jet service from Miami, and Tropic Ocean operates seaplane service from Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Both range from $300 to $500 for roundtrip service.seaplane

If you are a US or Canadian citizen, just bring your passport. Other countries need to check with your consulate for details.

Staying on the Island

Unless you are looking for a dive, or intent on squatting along the beach, the best choices in my opinion are Resorts World, Hilton, Bimini Big Game Club, and Bimini Sands.

Resorts World is located on North Bimini near the apex peninsula that extends over to East Bimini. Tcruise-2016_8559ahey offer very nice condo, cottage, and villa lodging, ranging from studio to 5 bedroom properties. Free trams and shuttles take you to the marina, casino, beach, and shopping areas, as well into downtown Bailey and Alicetown. The beach area is standard fare for resorts, complete with water sports, jetskis, lounge chairs, umbrellas etc. Prices start as $250 per night.

Hilton at Resorts World was completed summer 2016. Its a fresh and inviting structure, located within Resorts World, and houses the new casino. It also functions as the main terminal for shuttles and trams. Onsite restaurants, coffee bar, nightclub, and more, offer all that you have come to expect in the Hilton line. Prices start at $275.

Bimini Big Game Club began has a supper club, and evebbgc-marinantually moved to its current location to expand to a renowned resort and marina. Dining here is still as popular as before, and the resort services have kept pace with its reputation. Its an older property, but that doesn’t reflect on the quality or service found here. Its located near the southern end  of North Bimini, in Alicetown. Not far from the haunts of Ernest Hemingway and other famous visitors. There is a pool area at the resort, and 2 blocks west is Radio Beach, so named as its location was ideal to pick up radio signals from the United States. Prices start at $189.

Bimini Sands is located on South Bimini, not far from the airport, and just north of Port Royale. Its effectively a condo structure built around a private marina, with about half also facing the open ocean. Clean and quiet, its location is perfect for those who enjoy quiet time on deserted beaches, or exploring the many paths within the adjacent nature preserve. Prices start at $280.

I viewed all four properties in November of 2016, and found them

to be of good value for your money. While many travelers are looking for low budget rates, I wouldn’t recommend any other locations at this time. If you have visited Bimini, and have input on other locations, I would love to hear from you.

Thing to Experience

First, going to Bimini and not going fishing, is akin to going to the North Pole and not visiting Santa. Except the fishing is real, and its epic! The gulf stream flows right between Florida and Bimini, and the coral reefs are teaming with life. An abundance of fish await your bait. whether you are a dock fisherman, or deep s

Ansil Saunders Master Boatbuilder and Fishing Guide

Ansil Saunders Master Boatbuilder and Fishing Guide

ea sport, you are bound to have a great time.

As for me, on my next visit, I’m going to look up Ansil Saunders, and spend a day fly fishing. Ansil is a renowned guide who has been awarded for his skill and service. Ansil first hit the world scene when he was the guide for Martin Luther King Jr, who was on respite on Bimini, just prior to receiving the Noble Peace Prize. Ansil hasn’t stopped since, and everyone gets the same world class service, no matter your station. Spending a day with Ansil would be fine enough without catching anything, but his reputation indicates I’ll catch plenty.

Second, book a guided tour with the Resorts World staff. They will spend 4 hours with you, visiting both islands,cruise-2016_8411a and showing the local haunts, historic locations, mythical places, and more. It will set the base for what to do, and where else you might want to visit over the duration of your stay. You’ll get more value if its a private tour. Plan on visiting the well allegedly investigated as the fountain of youth by Ponce de Leon.

Third, go on a diving excursion. They are less expensive here than found in other international marine areas. You can snorkel in the mangrove areas, or full on SCUBA on the edge of the reef. An international shark research center is located on Bimini, and perhaps you might find the courage to be involved with one of their studies of the Lemon Shark!

Fourth,  Find yourself a local Conch Shop. They’ll treat you right, serving up conch fritters, fried conch, and other dishes made of conch. Its a mainstay of the Bimini diet.

Fifth, arrange for a trip out to the Healing Hole. A natural subsurface well, that percolates mineral laden fresh water into the sea water above. Its well hidden among the mangroves, and missed by Ponce de Leon. Clearly its not a fountain of youth, but the mineral content is high enough to have some health benefits. Before the end of the last ice age, this natural well would have been above water. If you have ever visited Soda Springs, Idaho, or Montezuma’s Well in Arizona, this would have been quite similiar. Some even speculate that the well was used by the Antlantean people written about by Plato (Same people who presumably occupied the city of Atlantis.) Couple this with the modern spirituality movement who have declared Bimini and the Healing Hole as a energy vortex, and you have reason to at least visit the location. (Sedona Arizona is the epicenter of said vortexes.)

Sixth, Go visit Ashley Saunders and his Dolphin House. If you do the tour as mentioned in #2, you will visit this location. If you have chosen to forego the tour, at least make time to visit this iconic house. Ashley Saunders is a poetcruise-2016_8427a laureate in the Bahamas, who has written a two volume history of the Bimini islands. In 1993, he began building a home that could withstand the harshest of hurricanes. The walls are thick and the home constructed of recycled materials. These items come available when other buildings are destroyed in the storms, and then gathered by Saunders to further his expansions. His artistic side is demonstrated in the extensive murals and designs on every wall of the property. Named the Dolphin House after his love of Dolphins, and a Dolphin tile mosiac above the doors of his museum and gift shop. The second floor is full of mosiacs made of shells, tiles, and license plates from all 50 US states. Donations are appreciated.

There is much more to do and see on Bimini, and I hope you discover them as you experience the six I have listed.  Its certainly a place that draws you in, with its own unique flair and mystique.

If you are ready to visit, reach out by email, as I would be happy to discuss more about Bimini.

cruise-2016_8564a

 

 

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Traveling with Birds…

By November 28, 2016 For Your Journey, Travel Apps, Wild Places

Many years ago, I took a 400 level college course in ornithology. I figured it would be an easy extension of my love for birds, and the outdoors. While the course was not easy, and much to be learned about these fascThe Big Yearinating creatures, there was at least one major takeaway- maintaining an accurate “lifelist” or list of bird species sighted and identified.

Not too long ago, my family enjoyed watching “The Big Year.” Its an entertaining movie on the competition of three birdwatchers seeking the title of the most species sighted in one year. I wondered how many I could find in one year…

And with that, I decided to abandon my almost 300 strong list, to start anew. With all the traveling, and opportunities to be among the American fly-ways during migrations, it seemed like a achievable, exciting challenge. Could I get at least 150 in one year, without specifically going birdwatching? Could it be achieved as a casual traveling observer? Time to find out!

I did want to make some adaptations to this endeavor. No books, or paper field guides. No paper lists. If I discovered a species out of place, or rare, could I report it without making a call, or visiting social media? Tough expectations for birdwatchers!

I began doing some research on possible applications. Then testing and evaluation for a few months. Gradually, I narrowed my choices down to possibly the finest options available from my needs, and likely they will suit yours as well.

BIRD INDENTIFICATION

Far and away, the best app for bird identification within the United States was created by Cornell University. Any birder will appreciate the value of this product coming from Cornell, as it is highly regarded in avian research.

The app is called Merlin. Its a wizard of sorts, that is useful to bird watchers of any skill. While its database is limited to a total of about 400 species, that’s more than most folks will find in a lifetime, so its robust enough for many users.

Watch this video for details on Merlin:

Now the app is easy to use, has photos, range data, and even audio, but to take full value of its features, you should probably download and install at least one region – which will take almost 200mb of storage.

The app allows you to verify which bird you identified, and that information is geotagged and anonymously sent back to Cornell, to assist them in updating flight patterns, reductions in species localities, etc. But it doesn’t allow you to keep a list for your own records. Hopefully this will change in the future. You can install Merlin here.

BIRD RECORDS

Since Merlin does not yet have a record feature to allow personal sightings to be kept in a file, I had to do much more trials on software that would work for my needs.

Ultimately, I decided on an app, that has worked wonderfully. It allows me to log a wide range of information with each sighting, geotag, and I can even export my list, which could be used to save, or submit to other organizations such as Audubon, who are always looking for sighting information.

My choice is Bird Jar.

Bird jar can be used worldwide, as it maintains a list of 10,000+ birds, which you can narrow to regions you travel if you wish. It also allows  you to note the location, and details of a bird you cannot identify, so later, that information can be researched to make a positive ID.

You can download Bird Jar here.

Added value? Both apps are free!

I have been able to identify 120 species do date. All of them were confirmed through Merlin, and logged in Bird Jar. I hope that you will find value in these apps, as birdwatching can enhance travel to any destination. The species you will see just around a big city, or new state, will make your trip more enjoyable. And honestly – its more exciting than Pokemon Go.

 

Be sure to share your experience, or other information you might have on this topic. In the meantime, I have a few more birds to find!

Laughing Gull sighted in November 2016, Bimini, Bahamas

Laughing Gull sighted in November 2016, Bimini, Bahamas

 

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