Monday, October 8, 2007

Conch Chili, gas tank problems, Caicos Bank photos

Someone had asked some time back about how we cook the conch. Well, yesterday’s justification for taking the boat trip ( like we needed one) was to make up a batch of “conch chili”. We call it conch chili because the lady we got the recipe from originally calls it conch chili. She is a Bahamian, and a long time friend of La GringaSuprema. She owns the Sip Sip restaurant on Harbour Island ('Briland’) in the Bahamas.

Since its got peppers and onions in it, I suppose a Bahamian would think of it as chili. I am, however, a Texan. We would not call it chili in Texas. Its way too mild for that. We would, however, call it delicious.

Steps one through four were to move to the tropics, buy a boat, learn how to find conch, and put in the time learning how to clean conch. (If you got access to conch, you can skip steps one through four)

Next you assemble all the ingredients you need. This is enough for two batches, heavy on the conch. That’s 19 cleaned conch in the bowl.

Note: La Gringa Suprema assures me the mug of rum and OJ is required, although I don’t see it listed anywhere in the recipe itself.

Then you try to figure out some way to clamp a meat grinder to a counter top that’s a.) too thick for the clamp, and b.) not YOUR counter top. Hey, with some scrap clear cypress from a certain construction site, and a couple good clamps, many things are possible.

Then, while you take the photos, your better half grinds up the conch. We only grind it up for two dishes, this chili, and conch fritters. For all the other recipes we use we slice and pound it. When we do the chili, we typically do enough for two batches. It's like a lot of other foods I can think of ( lasagna comes to mind, and some meatloaf) its actually better after its been frozen and then re-heated. The recipe for this even says to make it one day, refrigerate it overnight, and heat and eat it the second day. All the flavors blend together better I think.

So, this is one batch. She cooks it in two separate batches only because that’s the biggest pot we have at the moment.

After it cools off a bit, it goes into these little containers that just happen to hold enough for two servings each. One pot is seven of the dual servings, So with the second batch now cooking, we get 28 dinner servings out of yesterdays trip. Its worth it. And I only know one restaurant where you can get this stuff.

We typically nuke it or heat it frozen on the stove, and then serve it over rice:

If we are out of rice, its just as good over pasta. Or by itself. Put lots of grated cheddar cheese on it. It has a sweet taste to it, nothing like spicy chili. It would be easy to add some jalapenos, or habaneros (scotch bonnets for you Brits) to it, but we never know who we might be serving it to. Lots of people don't like it that spicy. The locals here, for example, wouldn't touch it if it had habaneros in it. So we make it mild and let people add what they want.

We have been known to hit it with the odd shot of hot sauce. Anything from mild (Tabasco, or Crystal) to more serious ( Dave’s Insanity, or Endorphin Rush) will certainly warm it up if you like spicy.

wow, I just noticed this is up to 36 pages...unreal. Who woulda thunk it? and we have some pretty good trips in the planning stages. French Cay is probably next. I think I am starting to get a handle on taking the underwater photos. We are going to be adding a metal detector, Preacher is still talking bout a Salt Cay trip, we still want to see East Caicos and the ruins of Jacksonville, we have the entire Caicos Bank to explore ( Big and Little Ambergris, Seal Cays, etc. There are 42 islands here) and of course the move into the house should be a real Keystone Kops...hopefully without the cops.

And people tell me the fishing starts picking up soon..

And I'll keep posting as long as its entertaining somebody and there's interest.
We are really happy that people are enjoying this thread. It's fun for us, and it's really not much trouble. I just try to remember to drop the little camera in my pocket when we leave the house. Uploading the photos to Image Shack is the only part that's time consuming, and that's really something like 30 seconds per photo. This is all stuff we do anyhow. I do wish I had been taking more photos in the two years we have been living here. There were a lot of things I wish I had documented.

Not much new to report today. It started out looking like another good weather day at dawn:

I need to work on the gas tank on the boat again, I have yet to find the leak. That's part of the reason we aborted the trip out snorkeling on the reef Sunday. We had filled the tank at the marina, after I think I fixed the small leak where the fuel gauge sender goes. But when we got out to the reef we discovered a lot of gasoline in the bilge, again. We needed to run the boat for a while, to burn the fuel level down to three quarters of a tank. It doesn't leak then. So, we went cruising and you have seen where we went.

So about all I can think of that it still could be is where the filler hose or the vent hose connect to the tank inlets at the forward end. Unfortunately, that is not accessible. Nor even visible. Its either that or a cracked weld which is unlikely.

This morning I drove down to the boat parts place, and bought an 8" deck hatch. Got blocked in by this decrepit old van, and was getting a bit aggravated until the two guys who were driving it came out of the store. They had to be two of the most stoned rasta men I have seen in a while. I COULD be wrong...its possible. coulda been paint fumes, or something.

Then went to the hardware store to buy a two inch hole saw. Ran into one of the best Yamaha mechanics on the island. Our friend Evan is working for him now. That's a good thing, I reckon. Having one of our best friends training as a Yamaha mechanic.

Then it started raining. I am not going to go run power tools in the rain, I guess. I am already nervous about cutting into the deck above the fuel tank.
Afternoon thunderstorms are normal this time of year. About the most exciting thing that's happened all morning is having to wait for a crane to cross the road...

I swear he was moving slower than the Rastafarians...but his eyes weren't nearly as red and he wasn't laughing hysterically and slapping his knees while trying to find his car keys...

Then he took off, but instead of flying away he decided to fly right down the road.

This crane flies at about 8 mph. Thankfully, he entered a left crosswind to stay in the pattern, I guess....while I opted to fly a right turn-out and head home. High drama in the tropics!

But I gotta tell you, it beats road rage on I-95.

So, Will I get to the marina to cut a hole in my boat today? I don't know. It's raining. But I did manage to make a major step in that direction, got the hatch, some silicon, and a hole saw.'s da islands, mon.

You cant be a "Type A" and live here happily. It'll either cure you or it'll drive you nuts.

I'm still wading through the 119 photos we took Sunday, thought I would stick up a couple blue ones.

"You know the ocean is a desert with the life underground and the perfect disguise above...."

('Horse with No Name', America)

Imagine you are a keel, and you are cruising along with twelve to fifteen feet of water under you. Ever wonder what it would look like to suddenly come upon a coral head that came to withing three feet of the surface?

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