My mother, Kay Carrington, was just in Lansing for a visit. She is is too funny. My friend, Belinda Thurston, owner of JustBYoga, is compiling a cookbook. She asked some of her friends to contribute. I can cook. However, I mostly cook Caribbean food. It is very difficult for me to change that. I grew up with it. My issue is that I have no real experience with cooking with measuring cups too much. I have cookbooks but I just cook.
I used to remember my mother in the kitchen with her Betty Crocker cookbook open on the kitchen table. Our kitchen was small and the there was no counterspace in our small apartment in Brooklyn, NY. I can still smell her cooking even though it has been several decades. We would get to share the kitchen table with her as she chopped, diced, pounded and cooked. We shared leftover batter scrapings from pound cakes. All of us standing in front of our mother like puppies waiting for someone to drop a morsel. However, there was never a cookbook open when she made Caribbean food.
I used to think Betty Crocker made my mother a little too outgoing. She would try odd foods like beef tongue and other delicacies from other countries. My most feared food was beets. I still cannot eat them today. I would watch the beet juice contaminating my rice or whatever else was on my plate. I was always creative minded or thought at least a little differently. I decided that the beet juice was similar to the photography fluid my father used to keep in the refrigerator along with everything else. The rules were, "Don't touch any of my camera stuff!" Hence, my mind went to "Don't eat the beets."
Betty Crocker was my mother's friend it opened her eyes to American cooking. With four children and a husband, she need to expand her cooking options. Everything was homemade. When my mother was in the kitchen, we would help her make fresh bread, cinnamon rolls and pound cake. She even made her own egg nog at Thanksgiving. Who wants to drink eggnog out of a carton after experiencing it homemade? I can truthfully say that I have tried it twice in a carton in my life and decided that mother's eggnog will always be the best.
I thought about what I loved the most in the Caribbean cookbook arena. In the process of figuring out what I wanted to contribute, I figured let me call my sister, Kendra Nugent and my mother for some assistance. My sister is an awesome cook. She is often chosen to cook for family events so I called her. My mother was actually visiting her at the time too. I thought how hard could this be? I asked for a curry chicken recipe.
My sister told me immediately that she does not have a recipe, she just makes it. My mother told me that she does not have a recipe written down either. I definitely did not have a recipe written down. I realized that we all just make our Caribbean food from scratch without a recipe. We all started laughing. It was interesting collecting the ingredients. A few changes were made to Americanize the recipe, like we omitted the coconut milk and the optional chick peas.
My mother emailed me the recipe with instructions like "a pinch of this" and "one potato". I was looking for measurements. So I took on the task of measuring everything out and writing it down. What I thought would take a day to obtain actually took two weeks to create. I shared the curry chicken with a family that had not had it before. Needless to say, they are waiting for the next curry chicken dish to be made. The response was, "It was so good we smashed it". It was from a thirteen year old as well. Never underestimate your children's taste buds.
I was excited. I put one of the "Carrington girls" favorite family recipe, curry chicken down on paper. The only thing is that now you will have to wait until the book comes out to try it. In the meanwhile, write your favorite family recipes out. Get input from other family members. Food history is important and the stories that go along with it. Create new family traditions.