Bimini Memory

While in college at the University of Miami, we went to Bimini one weekend on Chalks Airlines.
Chalks only operated hydro-planes which means they take off and land in the water.

On Bimini, at the time, there were only two hotels, Browns Hotel and The Compleat Angler, which was where we stayed. It was quite lively at night with reggae bands and dancing.

English: Compleat Angler Hotel sign outside. B...

English: Compleat Angler Hotel sign outside. Bimini, Bahamas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The year we went, The Compleat Angler had just installed fresh water for showers. Before and at Browns, the showers were salt water. Guess what sold us on The Compleat Angler. The hotel was also known as the hangout of Earnest Hemingway during the 1930’s. Several of his books and stories were penned there, in particular, The Old Man and the Sea. Although not a resident of the hotel, Martin Luther King worked on some of his speeches there too.

American author Ernest Hemingway with Pauline,...

American author Ernest Hemingway with Pauline, Gregory, John, and Patrick Hemingway and four marlins on the dock in Bimini, 20 July 1935. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The island’s population at the time was still quite small. Truck 1, Truck 2 were the license plate numbers. The entire island could be walked in an hour or so, it was only 9 square miles total.

Conch Salad Woman sold fresh conch salad from an embroidered basket perched on top of her head. “Conch Salad” she would canter as she strolled the street announcing her wares. There was only one street and it ran the length of the island from the airport, down to the docks that hosted the bone-fishing contests.

The docks would swell with boats and visitors from south Florida during the fishing tournaments. Conch Salad Woman enjoyed brisk sales during fishing tournament days.

conch

conch (Photo credit: Brian Koprowski)

Everything seemed to cost “a dallah” from a gallon of fresh water or a rubber pair of flip-flops, to the rum sold in the hotel. The islanders loved American dollars. They would offer to carry your bags or fan you as you laid on the beach for American coins.

One morning the desk clerk at our hotel told us to “follow your nose” to find breakfast.

We went out the door of the hotel and sniffed our way to the back door of this wonderful woman who was pulling fresh bread out of the oven, “Cinnamon raisin?” she asked, “Butter too?” and with the exchange of a mere three dollars we had this warm loaf of cinnamon raisin bread slathered with butter which we ate on the beach. It was so good! She was known for making bread for people all over the island and rightly so.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Cinnamon Raisin Bread (Photo credit: grongar)

Chalk's International Turbo Mallard at Bimini ...

Chalk’s International Turbo Mallard at Bimini Seaplane base, Bahamas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Flying Chalks Airlines was an adventure.  The planes rolled into the ocean, revved the engines and took off and landed in the water. As the plane landed in Bimini, you could see the islanders gathering at the airport to greet the new batch of visitors to their homeland. Viewing the scene through the rooster tail the plane threw as it glided across the ocean towards the landing slip made it exotic, colorful, and exciting.

This was a long time ago, in the 70’s; Bimini has drastically changed since then. The Compleat Angler has burned down and now the island is covered with resorts and real hotels. I liked it as it was, but staying the same does not mean progress. I am glad I had the chance to experience the island before it became a tourist destination.

Favorite Things From My Kitchen

Mandy over at The Complete Cook Book in South Africa has a wonderful idea of sharing some items in her kitchen each month. From what I understand, Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial started this idea so head over to their blogs as see what they are sharing this month too.

An “In My Kitchen” post is supposed to be posted on the first of the month, at least within a few days of it.

Here are a few of my favorite things in my kitchen this month.

In my kitchen: is a tall vase full of beautiful sunflowers a friend brought as a thank-you for dinner.

Sunflowers from a friend as a thank-you for dinner.

Mac Tonight” always makes me grin, especially when he sings.
(He has had a hard time finding other work after this, hope the royalties are good! See below for his resume.)

There was an art show this weekend that had some very nice art work. Since our old sugar bowl has a cracked lid, I saw this mans work and couldn’t resist buying this wonderful new sugar bowl. Although made of stoneware, it is thin and lightweight. He has details inside and out that make such nice finishing touches. Rogers other work of bowls, vases and receptacles are all very high quality and very well made. Check out his Etsy store here : RStrom Pottery

The new sugar bowl

Sugar bowl lid detail

Sugar bowl inside lid detail, notice the corner seams. Nicely done!

Outside detail of the sugar bowl.
I just love it!

Russian Spoons

A student of mine is from Russia. She brought me a gift one year of these delightful spoons. They are hand painted. The small spoon is for salt and the larger one is for sugar. And yes I do use them all the time.

Will you share some of your favorite things in your kitchen?

Just in case you don’t know who “Mac Tonight” is, here in a compilation of his work with McDonald’s. For some crazy reason, this guy makes me giggle, snap my fingers and sing. (Watch out!)

The second song is my favorite! They had to keep revising the lyrics due to copyright infringements with the original song.

This is all so odd because I don’t eat this kind of food, but adore these commercials.

So Mr. Mac gets an honored spot in my kitchen. He is responsible for spontaneous outbursts of song and snapping fingers.

Strawberry “Cheesecake”, Rhubarb Compote, Oatmeal Hemp Seed Crisp

A bowl of Strawberries. Français : Un bol de f...

Strawberries enhance the tartness of rhubarb. Classically they go together like hand in glove. But they don’t have to.

I like strawberries and I like rhubarb, both separate and together.

The local grocery had a sampling table set up promoting hemp seeds for their nutritional value. I picked up a bag intending to use them in a multi-grain bread, but used them instead of nuts in the oatmeal crisp.

So you are really getting three desserts today; you can eat each separate and then together.

Let’s talk briefly about the hemp seeds.

Gillian McKeith's organic shelled hemp seeds i...

Gillian McKeith’s organic shelled hemp seeds in a small bowl with teaspoon. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These seeds are not the variety of hemp used to “get high” anymore than you can “get high” from pistachios.

They are delicious, have great nutritional value and I thought it may push the envelope a bit to use them.

You can toast them but the texture is fine so it would be best to use them in something rather than a snack food.

If you desire, substitute finely ground pistachios or almonds instead of hemp seeds.

This entire dish consists of three recipes. Each quite simple.

The beauty is you can eat the strawberry “cheesecake” without the rhubarb compote and the compote without the cheesecake.

The cheesecake in this case is not baked, does not contain as much fat as traditional cheesecake; hence the quotation marks.

Make this with cream, or half and half (even the fat-free kind), Greek yogurt, cream cheese (can also be low-fat) and low-fat sour cream if desired.

Depending upon your choices of regular, low or non fat versions, you can have a pretty nifty dessert.

Recipe 1:

Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal Hemp Seed Crisp

Strawberry “Cheesecake”

1 cup of whole strawberries, stemmed and washed

1/2 cup heavy cream or 1/2 and 1/2

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup sour cream (optional)

1 8 – ounce package Cream Cheese

1/4 cup confectioners (10x) sugar

4 gelatin leaves or 2 teaspoons powdered gelatin

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Method:

Puree the strawberries until smooth. Set aside.

Warm the cream cheese slightly in a microwave or wrap in a warm towel for 10 minutes to soften. The cream cheese whips better when soft.

Place the cream cheese in the mixer along with the sugar. Whip until smooth, add the strawberry puree.

Important notes about using gelatin:

If using gelatin leaves, soften the gelatin leaves in cold water for 10 minutes. When soft, squeeze out excess moisture. Add to warm liquid to melt, in this case the warm cream.

If using powdered gelatin, measure out the cold cream into a  heat proof bowl. (Stainless bowls work great) Sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the surface of the cream. Allow the gelatin to “bloom” for 10-15 minutes. Place the bowl over a pot of boiling water (double boiler) to warm the cream and melt the gelatin.

Careful in both cases, gelatin burns and scorches easily. Be careful and pay attention.

If using powdered gelatin follow these directions:

Heat cream and bloomed gelatin until warm and melted in a double boiler.

( A stainless bowl over pot of boiling water works nicely)

Add yogurt, be careful not to scorch, stir until warm and gelatin is totally melted.

If using gelatin sheets or leaves follow these directions:

Add the softened gelatin to warm cream and yogurt.

Stir until gelatin is dissolved.

Continue:

Add the gelatin mixture to the whipped cream cheese and strawberries.

Add the vanilla extract.

Pour the mixture into desired containers: pretty stemmed glasses, ramekins, small bowls, fancy tea cups or a large dish.

I used stemmed “Marie Antoinette” champagne classes for this.

Refrigerate 2-3 hours or overnight for the gelatin to set.

Recipe 2:

Rhubarb Compote with Oatmeal Hemp Seed Crisp

(Or Oatmeal Pistachio/Almond Crisp)

Wash and dry rhubarb

3 stalks of fresh rhubarb, washed and sliced into pieces finger width wide. Be consistent.

1/2 cup sugar or 1/3 cup honey or agave syrup

2 tablespoons instant tapioca

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Slice the rhubarb

Allow rhubarb, sugar and tapioca to sit 15-30 minutes
( this is called “to macerate” in cooking terminology)

Spray baking dish with pan spray or
butter the dish

Fill the baking dish with macerated rhubarb

Wash and slice the rhubarb. In a large bowl, combine the rhubarb, sugar and tapioca and vanilla.

Allow the mixture to rest for 15 – 30 minutes.

Meanwhile make the crisp part.

Recipe #3

Oatmeal, Hemp Seed Crisp

(Or Oatmeal Pistachio/Almond Crisp)

Combine oats, brown sugar, butter and ground nuts or seeds with a pastry cutter

Combine until the mixture looks like this; spread over top of the rhubarb; bake

Bake until golden and bubbly

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup whole butter, soft not melted!

1/4 cup hemp seeds or finely ground almond or pistachio nuts

1 teaspoon salt

Combine the oats, sugar and seeds and salt, cut in the butter until the mixture is like coarse cornmeal.

Place the macerated rhubarb mixture into a baking dish, top with the oatmeal hemp seed streusel mixture. Bake for 1 hour in an over set at 350°F or until the mixture bubbles.

Be sure to place a pan under the dish to catch all of the drippings for easy clean up.

To serve, top each chilled strawberry cream cheese dish with a generous dollop of warm rhubarb compote. Make sure you get some of the crisp part for the top. Add sliced or fresh diced strawberries if you like.

Garnish with mint leaf and serve with a smile!

Rhubarb Hemp Seed Crisp on top of Strawberry “Cheesecake”