: Spice necklace, the: my adventures in caribbean cooking, eating, and island life (9780618685370) : Ann Vanderhoof : Books
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Spice Necklace, The: My Adventures In Caribbean Cooking, Eating, And Island Life

by Ann Vanderhoof
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publishing date: 23/06/2010
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780618685370
  • ISBN: 0618685375


Product Description
While sailing around the Caribbean, Ann Vanderhoof and her husband Steve track wild oregano-eating goats in the cactus-covered hills of the Dominican Republic, gather nutmegs on an old estate in Grenada, make searing-hot pepper sauce in a Trinidadian kitchen, cram for a chocolate-tasting test at the University of the West Indies, and sip moonshine straight out of hidden back-country stills.

Along the way, they are befriended by a collection of unforgettable island characters: Dwight, the skin-diving fisherman who always brings them something from his catch and critiques her efforts to cook it; Greta, who harvests seamoss on St. Lucia and turns it into potent Island-Viagra; sweet-hand Pat, who dispenses hugs and impromptu dance lessons along with cooking tips in her Port of Spain kitchen.

Back in her galley, Ann practices making curry like a Trini, dog sauce like a Martiniquais, and coo-coo like a Carriacouan. And for those who want to take these adventures into their own kitchens, she pulls 71 delicious recipes from the stories she tells, which she places at the end of the relevant chapters.

The Spice Necklace is a wonderful escape into a life filled with sunshine (and hurricanes), delicious food, irreplaceable company, and island traditions.

A Look at The Spice Necklace
(Click on Images to Enlarge)

Photos from the Islands

Fresh lobster for dinner

Nutmeg and mace come from the same tree.

A seamoss farmer with a jug of seamoss drink

Author Ann Vanderhoof drinking coconut water

Cassia bark is rolled and pressed by hand to form cinnamon sticks

Cooking oregano infused goat

Spicy Bites: A Taste of The Spice Necklace

1. Wild oregano is a mainstay in the diet of goats that graze in the hills at the northwest edge of the Dominican Republic--which means the meat comes to the kitchen preseasoned, and infused with flavor.

2.Seamoss is a type of seaweed that is reputed in the Caribbean to be a potent aphrodisiac, the island version of Viagra. It’s dried, boiled until thick, then mixed with milk and spices (such as cinnamon and nutmeg). One restaurant in Grenada calls its version of the milkshake-like seamoss drink “Stay Up.”

3. Nutmeg and mace come from the same tree. When its apricot-like fruit is ripe, it splits open to reveal a lacy, strawberry-red wrapper around the hard glossy brown shell that holds the nutmeg itself. This waxy red corset is mace, and more than 300 pounds of nutmegs are needed to yield a single pound of it.

4. On the Scoville scale of pepper heat, Trinidadian Congo peppers rate about 300,000 units. Even the most fiery Mexican jalape?o only measures about 8,000.

5. Coconut water--the clear liquid inside a young or "jelly" coconut--has the same electrolyte balance as blood and was given intravenously to wounded soldiers as an emergency substitute for plasma during World War II. Coconut water is also better than energy drinks for rehydration, replenishing electrolytes and minerals such as potassium. For the same reasons, it's used as a hangover cure in the Caribbean.

6. Much of the ground cinnamon sold in North America is actually cassia, which is the variety of cinnamon grown in the Caribbean. Cassia has a stronger, more pungent flavor than true cinnamon. Once a year, the trees are harvested by carefully peeling the bark away from the branches. After the outer layer is removed, the inner bark is dried in the sun. As it dries, it begins to curl into sticks, and then is rolled and pressed by hand to complete the process.

7.The aroma of allspice is a sensuous combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper-- which leads to the common misconception that it is a blend of several spices. In fact, allspice is a single spice-- the dried berry of a tree that is native only to the West Indies and Central America. Jamaica produces 90% of the world's supply; Grenada, the remaining 10%.

8. To make removing coconut meat from the shell easier, bore holes in two of the eyes of the coconut using a pointed utensil and drain the liquid. Bake the nut in a preheated 400° F oven for 15–20 minutes. This cracks the shell and shrinks the meat slightly, so it virtually pops out.

9. Mauby, a popular West Indian drink, has a proven ability to reduce high blood pressure. It's made by steeping the bark of a native Caribbean tree with spices such as bay, cinnamon, star anise, and fennel.

10. Vanilla is the world's second most costly spice (after saffron). Not only do most vanilla flowers have to be hand-pollinated to produce beans, but the beans also have to be fermented and aged to develop their flavor. Straight off the vine, they're odorless and tasteless.

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  • Unique, Interesting, & Fun!
    From Amazon

    This is a unique combination of interludes between a couple and various islanders they encounter during a journey of sailing through the Caribbean. The book has the feel of a great travel journal and is organized around spices and recipes to highlight the intriguing encounters with various characters throughout the travels of the author. If you like to travel, cook, and to learn about other cultures you will certainly enjoy this unique find that doubles as a great little cook book.

    From Amazon


  • A Real Treat of a Book
    From Amazon

    If you've ever dreamed of living on a sailboat, then this is a good book for you. I have dreamed the dream and have been lucky enough to visit all of the islands Ann talks about in her wonderful book. She nails the live a board life, but more than that, she nails the flavor of the islands. Anyone who's been leaves a part of themselves when they leave and brings something new back home. And the longer you stay, the more you leave and the more you bring back. For me, with it's vibrant lifestyle, laid back attitude and just plain zest for life, Trinidad is the jewel of the Caribbean, so I particularly enjoyed Ann's "Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot" chapter and "Miss Pat's Pepper Sauce", which is much better than anything you can buy in an American supermarket. Hotter too. In addition to bringing living on a sailboat to life, Ann peppers the book with delightfully delicious Caribbean recipes, any one of which would justify the purchase of this book. Ann Vanderhoof has delivered a real treat, in more ways than one.

  • How Ahnn gets a Sweet Hand
    From Amazon

    This book is the result of a second journey to the Caribbean Isles of the author and her husband. They dock their ship the Receta in various ports along their way and live for a time on various islands. They meet up with friends they made on the previous trip as well as make new ones on the way. On their journey they sample the local food and spend time to learn how to cook it, to the satisfaction of the locals no less. The following table of contents chapters give you a sense of what the book is about: (Please note, since this is an advance reader's copy, it could change) Preface: The spell of the spice necklace 1: The Nutmeg Gatherers 2: Self-Spicing Goats 3: The Egg Ladies 4: The 151-Proof Spice 5: Bay in the Mountains, Crabs in the Pot 6: The Food Critics Visit the Easy Bake Boat 7: Rolling Rice and Drinking Jack Iron Rum 8: Curry Tablanca 9: Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot 10: Cramming for a Chocolate Tasting Test 11: Snow on the Mountains, Christmas on the Way 12: All Ah We is One 13: In Search of Passion 14: Barks That Bite 15: Dog Sauce and Rhum 16: Lunch with Moses 18: Back to the Isle of Spice You get an idea that each chapter covers a particular spice or food item, person or a meal. Each chapter ends with a set of recipes in both English and Metric measures and considering typical North American ingredients (Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!). At least I can get close to creating some of the wonderful meals I have read about. As with any foreign travel, there are cultural differences and the author wonderfully captures the flavor of the Islands from the laid back feel (liming) to the way of speech: the colloquialisms ("sweet hand" to describe a good island cook) to capturing the long drawn out way the islanders say her name (Ahnn). You can also see despite the poverty, generosity is a way of life. People opened their kitchens and their lives to these strangers and we are the richer for it. The book is filled with stories of hard-working fisherman, successful collectives and a resilient people. It also is quite comical listening to the author describe their SDJ and how depending on it's condition, determines the direction they travel. I'll let the book explain that. As I was reading this book there was many a passage I had to read aloud (to anyone who would listen) to explain my laughter. The author allows herself to bear the brunt of the humor at times and we get a true sense of her interactions with the locals. It is clear these people have found a place in her heart and I can also see why she and her husband would put such effort in returning there. Soon, I hope to try out some of these recipes. There are 71 all told and only a few have ingredients that will need a Caribbean grocer to fulfill. I certainly hope the Receta is getting ready for another voyage soon.

  • Delightful, chillaxing read about life and eating in the Carribean
    From Amazon

    This book is a travelogue of a couple who spent a few years sailing and cooking their way around the Carribean. The book is fashioned in a semi-chronological order, covering the islands they traveled to one chapter at a time. The stories that the author tells in the book are delightful, chronicling her friendship with loving Carribeans who welcomed her into their kitchens and homes, sharing their lives and recipes with her. The recipes are interleaved within the relevant chapters and the author helpfully suggests alternative ingredients and methods that may be more accessible to the North American reader. At times, the tone of the writing can get indulgent, but seriously, this is a book about sailing in the Carribean. So sit back, relax, have a chilled drink within reach and enjoy this delightful read.

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