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If I had known practically the only take-out available here was Chinese, Chinese and more Chinese, I probably would *not* have chosen Mushu Pork for our first home-cooked meal on the island.
In cooking I pride myself on not being afraid of any cuisine, even if that means tracking down unusual ingredients and learning new methods.  Venture into a sketchy Asian grocery store off MLK so I can make my favorite Unagi (Eel) Hand Rolls?  You got it.  Volunteer to make Haitian Beans & Rice (that were totally gross, by the way) for our mission trip team?  Sure.  Make a killer Indian Butter Chicken or Lamb Shawarma?  You bet I do!  But Caribbean food has never been something I've really enjoyed or taught myself how to cook (case in point: hating the Haitian beans so much).

So now that I live on the Caribbean island of Dominica I'm kind of stuck with a choice; cook some semblance of American meals using imported, stale ingredients, or tap into the immense abundance of fresh (albeit, bizarre) produce that's available on the island and completely change the way I cook.  I've said all along that I don't want our family to withdraw from the opportunity to really live in another culture during this time, so I (begrudgingly) suppose our food should not be an exception to that.  Thus, I'm venturing into the complete unknown and striving to embrace Caribbean cuisine, determined to learn what this island has to offer!

*     *     *     *     *     *     *
One of the first recipes I've made up here is Banana Rum Bread.  I know, safe choice, but I made a valiant effort by using local ingredients, that counts right?
I started with fresh Passionfruit juice from the shack by the main campus, cinnamon from the Portsmouth market, Dominican distilled rum and 5 ripe bananas. 
…make that 4 bananas.
Stick 'em in a bowl with some rum and a splash of vanilla and mash them up.
Add a little more rum just to, you know, make sure.
Then add some passionfruit juice (like a pour-ful) & eggs.
(I just wanted to show you I can break open eggs with one hand)
Then add brown & white sugars, enh, just however much you feel like adding.
Because Solveig says I never let her do anything.

Then add baking soda & salt.
When you didn't bring a half-tablespoon measure with you to Dominica, this is how you do it!
You have to be careful to keep the bugs out of eeeeeeeeverything here.
Add some butter melted in the microwave.  Well…  mostly melted.  This was after 4 1/2 minutes on high.  Our microwave here isn't exactly powerful.
Apparently I still never let Solveig do anything.

After all the flour's added, get the pan ready…

...After you remember you used your pan to mix up some seriously awesome teriyaki marinade for lunch (okay, yesterday's lunch), and haven't washed it yet.
That's right, I'm actually going to take the trouble to trace and cut parchment paper to fit my pan.  
Because I don't like to wash dishes.

Then pour the batter into the pan.
Excuse me while I light my scary oven.
Set the timer on the only clock you have in the house.
Wait 5 minutes, remember that you didn't add that cinnamon from the market, take the pan back out of the oven and carefully spoon it back into the mixing bowl (good thing you haven't washed it yet!).
Man, we'd better be able to taste this darn cinnamon!
Bake at medium-high-flame degrees for 40 minutes and let cool before inverting it onto your classy paper plate (again, not a fan of doing dishes).
Be sure to keep the bugs out!!
And there you have it!  Banana Rum Bread from Dominica (oh, and by the way, it was awesome).
(Shoot, I'm still going to have to scrub that pan).


Here's the recipe:
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Dominican Banana Rum Bread

Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 overripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • about 2 tablespoons rum
  • about 2 tablespoons passionfruit juice (orange juice will work too)
Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (or in my case, 200 degrees C).  Prepare a 9 x 5 in loaf pan or round cake pan with parchment paper.

Mash the bananas, rum, vanilla and juice with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture.   Add the melted butter, eggs, sugars, salt and baking soda; mix well. Mix in the flour just until incorporated; don't overly blend.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Give the pan a good rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out.

Bake for about 40 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. 

Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes or so, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing. 


 

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