Slow and Steady

Posts Tagged ‘Jamaican

There must have been about 800 people at my cousins funeral. It was amazing to see, and I think it shows how nice a person she was. The casket was open. Now the last time I saw a casket open was my little cousin over ten  years ago. It didn’t look anything like him and  it stayed with me for weeks, and I never looked at another open casket again.

My cousin who dressed her though said that she looked like she was just sleeping, so I decided to look and say goodbye. To be honest, I don’t know why people have open caskets, or what is the story behind it. If you’re religious or spiritual then the belief is the persons spirit has left the body and is with us always, so why look at the body?

Anyway I did have a peek and said a few things to her. Her children ran out of the church in tears, it was heartbreaking.

The service was very sombre. Usually Jamaican funerals are a celebration of life, but I think that this one was different because no-one apart from her immediate family knew she was sick, so there was the shock factor too. Also the hymns chosen were very sad.

The hall afterwards was packed, there wasn’t enough space and people were standing outside and in the passage. After sitting down for a while and feeling useless I went to help behind the bar, and really enjoyed it! It was something that I did in my old job and love the banter. Didn’t last long, but afterwards I had people waving at me, and asking me to go back. lol.It’s things like that I miss about the old me.

I didn’t even eat. I tell you what was funny: Funny ironic, not funny funny. My Aunty told everyone who came to the house that she doesn’t want black at the funeral. Every time I saw the queue for food or drink, most of the people were pretty much in black. The people not wearing black were doing things like serving food, or cooking. So it looked like all the effort was made for people who hadn’t even bothered to go and see my aunty.

Then my phone got stolen. I’m still so pissed I can’t write about it. The thing that pisses me off most is the fact I’ve lost my calendar.

My cousin died from cancer recently. She was 34 and has left 2 amazing children behind.

In Jamaican tradition, we support loved ones left behind by bringing food, and celebrating the life of someone that has passed for the 1st 9 days culminating in a huge party on the 9th night. I’ve got my own thoughts on that tradition, but will leave it for the moment.

Now if this had happened before my accident here are the things I would’ve been doing.

  • Picking up the members of the family who don’t drive to bring them down to my Aunty’s house.
  • Making food and buying drinks for the house.
  • Offering food and drinks to guests.
  • Taking my Aunty where she needs to go to get things organised.

That is who I am. In my family that is my role, and while it can be a bit annoying at times, I enjoy it. It makes me happy to help. I feel so lost now that I cannot do these things. It feels like my ID has been taken away, and I don’t know myself any more.  Here’s a text I wrote to my cousin in frustration this week

I hate feeling so bloody useless. Only going to bed now (4am) because the mixer stopped working and as I had already weighed everything out I decided to carry on without it. It all looks and taste awful. I can’t help out financially, I can’t help serve food and drinks, now I can’t even bake without a fucking mixer. What exactly is the point of me being here?

I know it’s about accepting who I am now. It’s just seems like whenever I finally do get acceptance in one area of my life, something else happens in another area so I have to start the whole process again. I’m getting very pissed off with it now. When do the lessons stop?

If you look at my meal plan, you’ll say that today was the day I was eating a ‘surprise’ dish. Turns out it was meatballs with cous cous. Really nice it was too. It reminded though that when I was in my own place, I used to use masking tape as food labels for the freezer. I must pick some up the next time I’m out and about which will be never if the snow doesn’t clear!

Yesterday with the mince I made, I decided I wanted them in tortilla wraps instead of rice. I found an easy recipe so decided to try making them. They were dead easy (not in perfect circles though) and so cheap. The flour cost about 7p. The cheapest I’ve seen them for is 78p in Lidl!

Cheap and cheerful tortilla wraps

Here’s the recipe

Makes 8 –

250g plain flour (plus extra for rolling out)
1 tsp Salt
1 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
150ml warm water

Sift flour into mixing bowl with salt. Put oil in jug of the warm water then pour liqui over flour stirring well, eventually using your hands. Knead for about 5 mins. Cover dough and let rest for 15 mins.

Divide dough into 8 pieces, and then roll out each into a flat circle (ahem – or whatever shape you can manage!!). Get frying pan really hot (no oil) then turn heat down med-low. Put rolled out flatbread on pan for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Turn over and do other side. easy peasy.

With the mince, I also decided to make some Jamaican patties!

Jamaican patties, cheap and frugal

I’ve still got a load of mince left too! amazing what some beans and carrots can do!

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I’m dead impressed with myself, I did walk away the pounds again today. I wanted to increase my walk to 3/4 of a mile, but my back was hurting, especially when I was doing the side steps. I think it may be because I did the exercise in the evening, instead of first thing in the morning, and I was tired from the walking I had done in the day.

My friend locked herself out of her house, and I have the spare keys. Afterwards, I decided to pop in the supermarket and get some essentials and the shelves were practically bare! Both Sainsbury and Lidl had no eggs, I couldn’t believe it.

My dad was trying for world domination in his younger days. I have about 20 siblings on my dads side. I haven’t met them all because they don’t all live here in England. My sister who lives up north was down for the weekend, and he took her around seeing as many of us as possible. He decided to take her to see a sister I’ve never met before, and I decided to join them.

We had an absolutely great time, she has the life that I have been dreaming about. She’s married, has 5 gorgeous kids and eats how I’ve been aspiring to for a long time. She’s practically vegan and training to be a holistic dietitian. She’s growing tomatoes and aloe vera, and her husband has started clearing out the garden to put in a little vegetable patch.

She was showing me how she uses non gluten flour for traditional Jamaican dishes, and I was telling her what best to mix shea butter with to make body lotions.  I think she was surprised at my knowledge, it’s all quite new to her and so she’s really enthusiastic. When I told her how to make make almond milk she nearly died with excitement, and I explained to her how I became so knowledgeable.

I have endometrosis, and had a laparoscopy and had some tissue burned away. Even after that though, I was still having really painful periods. I decided to not only change my eating habits, but to do a total body cleanse.

I went to Thailand and fasted for a week and did daily colonics. While I was out there, I read a lot of books about traditional diets of Africans before slavery, and why certain ‘healthy’ things like diary products are not good for people of colour.

I felt fabulous, and when I came back, I still ate meat, but very rarely. I would only eat raw fruits and veg for breakfast and lunch, and my plate was 50% raw for dinner. My snacks were nuts and seeds and I looked and felt fabulous.

Then pressures of life started to get to me. I had to move out of the place I was renting in a day because of a dodgy landlord, and then I was house sharing and it was impossible to set up the same the kitchen in  the way I needed it and in truth I got a bit lazy. Then I started to have accidents and all those eating habits have all but disappeared.

Talking to her made me realise how far away I am from my own ideals. I’m eating white rice/flour/pasta, when I never used to before, and have started eating more diary than I know is good for me. To be honest I’m not sure if I would go back to being as stringent as before, but I have completely gone off the rails. I don’t have the energy to cook 2 meals though. I know that my mum and sister will not eat brown rice/pasta/flour, the one dish I made a few weeks back with brown rice made them fill up the rice jar (which has been empty for weeks and I’ve been asking them to fill up from the 5kg bag in the cupboard) immediately!

I simply cannot cook two meals so I’m going to have to be as healthy as I can be here, and when I move out, I’ll start incorporating my old ways back into my life.

It was lovely to meet her though, and I’ve been invited back next weekend for a birthday party.

It was interesting to watch the dynamics between my dad and my sisters. The two I was around yesterday were both born in Jamaica, and there is a difference between them and us born in England. I am a huge critic of my dads babymaking ways and we clash on a lot of topics, whereas they just seem to get it. They can somehow wrap him around their little finger in way I would never try.

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Breakfast

An apple and a nectarine

Lunch

And then my phone camera died… Well not completely, but the flash isn’t working so I can only take pictures in the daylight. I’ve seen a camera on special offer that I’m going to get this week. I need my phone to be a phone most importantly.

Dinner

Chicken soup with potato and dumpling.

Snacks

A custard cream, I have to say that Lidl’s custard creams are disgusting. Sainsbury’s basics are much better.

At my sisters she was telling me how great dumplings are made with rye flour instead of white flour. So I had 1 of those with some ackee.

I was very proud of the fact that my dad bought a whole lot of junk for kids (my sister went mad, as they just don’t eat that stuff), and I didn’t take a packet of crisps even though I wanted to.

Pardner is something people from the Caribbean used to do when they first came to England and couldn’t get bank accounts, or didn’t trust the banks.

How it works is that a group of people got together and would put a set amount of money in for a set amount of time. Each week someone would get some money, and then they could start it all over again.

I have memories of going to ‘aunty’ Carmen’s house every week to give her my gran’s share or ‘throw her hand’ as we say.

For example there could be 20 people in a pardner group and they would ‘throw their hand’ of £10 a week  for 20 weeks. Each week someone gets £200.

As I got older, the system became virtually non existent as bank accounts were easier to get and some non trustworthy people would pay until they got their lump sum and stop paying.

I know of a few people who are struggling to save and this might be a help to get a lump sum.

Obviously there has to be a great deal of trust, and I’ll have to think carefully about who I invite in.

This is a question I’ve asked myself since I was little girl.

As a child in a traditional Jamaican household, Easter weekend meant Scubeech fish (escoveitch fish is the proper term) with hardough bread, and bun and cheese.

The fish and bread are quite obvious, but as I was thinking about this last night, I realised that I never got an answer to my question.

So I turned to trusty google and found the following article on Jamaicans.com

Yum, let’s all have a hot cross bun. Jamaicans probably remember the universal ditty associated with the delicious treats—
Hot cross buns, hot cross buns
One a penny, two a penny
Hot cross buns;
If you have no daughters, give them to your sons.
One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns.

Sung quite a bit at Easter time, the song reminds many of childhood delights, but most people probably don’t realize that hot cross buns pre-date the Jamaican bun and cheese and led to their popularity. Sometimes called Easter buns, they are a big part of Jamaican culture, just like several other representative foods such as saltfish or ackee. The concept dates back to ancient Babylon, when cross buns were offered to Ishtar, the pagan queen of heaven. Ancient Greeks made similar cakes to honor the moon.

The tradition found its way to England, where cross buns were eaten on Good Friday, with the cross symbolizing the crucifixion of Jesus. When the British captured Jamaica, of course they brought the custom to the island. Over time though the English version of the cross bun transitioned to the Jamaican version, with some key differences.

Jamaica’s version is made with molasses, while the buns from England were made with honey. In Jamaica, you eat the bun with cheese, a combination that has become ingrained in island culture. British custom has waned when it comes to eating hot cross buns as fasting food on Good Friday, but in Jamaica the practice is as prevalent as ever. Today the custom is seen as more Jamaican than British. And eating cheese is now a year-round practice, while the bun and cheese dish is prevalent primarily during the Easter holiday.

This made me laugh, it is so like Jamaicans to take something and completely change it up and make it their own delicious way. This year I’m attempting to make my own bun instead of buying it. I’ll post some pictures later along with my fried fish… Maybe I should take the healthy out of my blog name! x


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