Find Yourself Again at Portland Riverside Retreat in Jamaica

We have left Portland Riverside Retreat only a few days ago, and I already miss it terribly. It always takes me some time to let go of a place and ground myself into another. There are those few days that I feel somewhat “in the air”. It’s especially true when it’s a place that left such a strong impression on my soul. That feeling when a place feels so much like home, so much part of you from the moment you arrive. Maybe some flashbacks from a past life…

There is undeniably something calling me to Jamaica and this time, on the river, it’s like I discovered the absolute core, that precise pressure point from which this love originates. In Swift River, the natural beauty is abundant, the shades of green are unlimited, and the respect for the land is palpable.

The kids and I had the absolute delight of being hosted by Miss Claudette and Mr. Landy. They are some of the very best and most loving humans I have been blessed to meet in my life. I felt a wave of comfort and love from the minute I was greeted by Miss Claudette. A beautiful woman with a cheerful attitude and a contagious laugh, she really spoiled us from the beginning. I mean, being offered a fresh soursop juice on arrival! How did she know that was my favorite?

The home itself is brilliant. Miss Claudette keeps a clean house. Everything is tidy, the kitchen is spotless, it’s as if my mom lives there. The beautiful woodwork throughout the house makes you want to linger and enjoy the simple moments. In the bright kitchen, it always smells nice. Miss Claudette definitely knows what she’s doing in there. We were kept fed and happy, making our way through plantains, smoothies, an abundance of fresh fruits, and wonderfully tasty plant-based meals. Everything is made from scratch, using what is available at the moment. Miss Claudette gets a lot of her ingredients from their farm, which is located a short driving distance from the retreat. We all loved snacking on sugar cane while drinking a peanut smoothie. Pure bliss.

When we arrived to Portland Riverside Retreat, we were at the beginning of our third week in Jamaica. It was time for some laundry. I had bought some laundry detergent wanting to wash some clothes by hand, and asked Miss Claudette for a washing basin. She offered to put the clothes in the machine for me, but seeing my enthusiasm in hand washing, she quickly suggested I do it at the river. That was revelation time. Something as simple as doing laundry in the river can truly take you back to the real life. Using a source from nature to accomplish an otherwise mechanical task really resets your system and makes you appreciate the simple, little things. I don’t appreciate my washing machine more, but I appreciate nature and what it allows me to accomplish.

The river, because of its self-cleaning properties, is the source of life here. It feeds and cleanses the body, it brings water to the roots from which the food grows, and it gives life to the multitude creatures participating in the ecosystem. You feel its energy when you drink from it, when you wash in it, and when you are simply swimming in it.

And thanks to the river, Portland Riverside Retreat boasts many fruit trees like banana, plantains, coconut, and mango. During a hike to a nearby spring, Miss Claudette showed us many other trees like jackfruit, mammee, and something we never had before, rose apples. The kids fell in love with the floral aroma of the unique fruit and were inspecting every single rose apple tree to see if any ripe ones were still hanging low. Known also by its scientific name Syzygium jambos, the rose apple tree, indigenous to Southeast Asia, has been naturalized to Jamaica. It grows nicely on the riverbanks, and I might have to find a way to plant one in Arizona.

Kids eating rose apples found by the river.

The retreat is also surrounded by growing pineapple. Pure, organic sugar loaf pines. They are of such beauty and majesty. Mr. Landy takes good care of the garden and the farm. The kids loved reasoning with him and asking questions. He’s a man of presence, kindness and zen. Along with Miss Claudette, they are the perfect balance, a pair that simply vibrates different.

The whole time we were there felt like we were away from the world. In a very good and blissful way. All we wanted to do was enjoy the river and its serenity. You don’t need wifi, music, or even books. Nature is running the show. We would wash ourselves in the river and head to bed early. One last game of Uno before I close my eyes… I was always the first one asleep, and would rise with the birds and the sun, always refreshed after at least ten hours of deep, restful sleep.

One day, we planned a visit to Moore Town with Maurice from Kromanti. I wanted to explore the sites and waterfalls dedicated to Queen Nanny of the Maroons. Back in the 18th century, Nanny and other enslaved people sought refuge from the brutal slave society in the mountains, where they established a Maroon community. In 1720, Nanny had become the leader of the Maroon settlement, Nanny Town, in the Blue Mountain region. She now appears on the five hundred Jamaican dollar bill and has been declared a national hero.

That whole day was a blessing. I felt the love, bathing under those beautiful falls with the strong presence of Nanny’s spirit. The kids enjoyed the experience very much and collected many medicinal herbs along the way, all of them explained in detail by Maurice. They were like little sponges with all the new information. They still talk about the falls, about Nanny and about Joseph’s Coat. If you go to Nanny Falls soon, you might even see the makeshift raft the kids put together with bamboo logs they found lying around.

The rest of our days flowed comfortably. We enjoyed the spring, the hike, the absolutely exquisite food and simply living to the beat of the river. Before we knew it, it was our last morning, our last swim. I always get emotional the day of departure. Tears flow. How do you leave such a place? A place that changes the way you view the world, the way you understand your kids, and the way you interact with nature. Mr. Landy looked at me and said: “You’re doing good. Keep on trodding. Go with love in your heart.” I will always remember his wise words and I am leaving only with the certainty that I’ll be back.

For more about my enduring love for Jamaica, please read Jamaica: A “Feel” Trip and Treasure Beach and the Mystical South Coast of Jamaica.

Treasure Beach and the Mystical South Coast of Jamaica

A stay at the stylish Sea Urchin, all the feels at YS Falls, and miles of unspoiled, vast beaches. The south coast of Jamaica really has a vibe all its own.

There’s always this unique feeling in me when I’m in Jamaica. It’s something deep I can’t really explain. And many years ago, I stopped questioning it and decided to just keep coming back as often as I can. I’m experiencing this strong and loyal feeling right now, as we are on our second week of a month-long adventure on the island. I have to say, this last year has brought many blessings upon our family, and being able to “bring school” with us has been completely life-changing.

Leaving from Miami, we landed in Kingston, after a quick and uneventful 90-minute flight. I later found out that landing in Montego Bay would have saved at least an hour in driving time to Treasure Beach. We rented an SUV (recommended in Jamaica, because potholes), and headed west to spend the first leg of our trip in Treasure Beach, in the parish of St. Elizabeth. St. Bess, as it is locally known, originally included most of the western part of the island and was the largest parish of the island. It is now the second largest, since Westmoreland was taken from it in 1703, and a part of Manchester as well, in 1814.

Jamaica Parishes
The Parishes of Jamaica

Early settlement in St. Elizabeth began in the Pedro Plains. The Taínos, an Arawak people and the first known inhabitants of Jamaica, were established along the coast. When Europeans started occupying “discovered” land, a.k.a. colonizing, in the late 15th century, the Taínos were the main inhabitants of most of Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico. Taíno indigenous groups are still present in the region today and you may even find remnants of pottery if you look around the fields, especially after a rainfall.

With all this mystic, it is clear why it feels so special in Treasure Beach. The beaches dotting the coast line are raw and natural, making it enticing for the kids’ curiosity. There is so much to see and do, and the kids were lucky enough to spot an octopus going about the reef! The sea can be rough in certain areas, but there are many quiet coves where the water is tranquil and swimming is chill and enjoyable.

Of all the memories we carry back from Treasure Beach, the one about the melody of the wind will always give me goosebumps. You see, my Jamaican trips are usually filled with music, but in Treasure Beach, we rarely listened to music. There seemed to be no need to add to the already complete song of the breeze.

The pace on the south coast brings you back to simpler days. Your body adapts to the movements of the sun and the moon, and you adjust your internal rhythm to Mother Nature’s heartbeat and simply allow yourself to be. After spending a week in excessive Miami Beach, the change of pace was most welcome, and staying at Sea Urchin was the perfect landing spot for the beginning of our month on the island.

The house is gorgeous, appointed cleverly, and complete with everything you need. Everywhere you turn, you find beauty, purpose and intention. It was the perfect home to support our mission for relaxation, offering many different spaces to unwind, read, hang out, and play. We filled our mornings with swimming at the beach, after which we would do school work (although a bit reluctantly) and then have lunch. The afternoons were made for lounging at the house, escaping the hot midday sun. We would then return to the beach to enjoy a refreshing sunset swim. A dream routine! And speaking of routine, Rama was even able to take a bike for a spin one morning toward the Great Pedro Bluff.

“But Karine, what about the food?”, I hear you say… Clearly, all this lounging was obviously punctuated by intentional food. Now, I can’t be the only one with a sweet spot for Jamaican food! Well, Sea Urchin didn’t let me down either. Tamesha and Catherine spoiled us from the very beginning with the most delicious meals and the freshest fruits. The kids were always excited to see what was for dinner and I think they might even give me the side eye when we return home. I admit, it was quite a treat to be cared for and nourished for a whole week, something I have never experienced before in such private and gorgeous settings.

Even though we took it slow the whole week, we managed to drive into the vibrant town of Black River, the capital of the parish, to replenish our fruit stash at the farmers market. We also had the chance to experience YS Falls, a beautiful seven-tiered falls set in the middle of beautiful gardens and everything nature has to offer. Jumping off the cliff and swinging from a rope over the water truly made me feel like a kid again. The kids (the real ones) had fun doing the zip-line over the falls and jumping again and again in the beautiful natural pools of water. What I thought would be a quick sightseeing visit ended up being a three-hour stay.

Our week in Treasure Beach was relaxing and grounding. We spent some wonderful family moments that will stay in our hearts forever. It was my first time visiting that part of Jamaica, and I can wholeheartedly say that I will return. After meeting a resident on the beach a few times and exchanging thoughts, something clicked. You come to Treasure Beach for peace, tranquility and mystical history. We are grateful for all the ones who made this first week so magical and promise to return. One complete love.

To read more about my previous adventures in Jamaica, check out Jamaica: A “Feel” Trip.

Jamaican Jerk Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Black Beans and Chickpeas

Jamaican Jerk Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Black Beans and Chickpeas
Jamaican Jerk Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Black Beans and Chickpeas
  • How I love this Jamaican Jerk Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Black Beans and Chickpeas! It’s spicy, it’s tasty, it’s Jamaica! You can make your jerk blend in advance, and assemble the cauliflower right before dinner. Takes 45 minutes of hands-off cooking in the oven, and you get a complete meal, served over rice. For the jerk sauce, I took inspiration from a recipe by @VeganVonnie13, plant-based chef at VeganVibrationz, based out of Dallas, Texas. Give thanks for the flavor, Chef!

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see it. Please tag @LivityGardens on Instagram and use the hashtag #LivityGardens.

Check out this Cauliflower Adobo with Red Kidney Beans for a different flavor profile for a whole roasted cauliflower.

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Jamaican Jerk Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Black Beans and Chickpeas

Jamaican Jerk Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Black Beans and Chickpeas
  • Author: Karine K
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 6 Scotch Bonnet peppers (or Habanero), chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 scallions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup vinegar
  • 1/3 cup coconut aminos
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 ounce ginger (about 2″ piece), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons allspice berries
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup shallots or red onion, minced
  • Garnishes: fresh cilantro

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400°. Place the Scotch Bonnet peppers, garlic, scallions, vinegar, coconut aminos, sea salt, black peppercorns, ginger, allspice berries, brown sugar, nutmeg, coconut oil, thyme, and lime juice to a blender. Blend on high until well combined. Set aside. Can be made a day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Remove the leaves from the cauliflower, then trim the stem flush with the bottom of the head so the cauliflower sits flat in a Dutch oven and the lid can be closed tight. Place the cauliflower in the Dutch oven.

Spread the reserved jerk sauce over the cauliflower and rub, with your hands, until the sauce is in all nooks and crannies. Pour the vegetable broth at the bottom of the Dutch oven. Place the lid, pop in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the beans and the minced onions on the sides of the cauliflower. Put back in the oven and cook, uncovered this time, for an additional 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh cilantro, serve over rice, and enjoy!

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Chou-fleur jerk aux haricots noirs et pois chiches

Jamaican Jerk Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Black Beans and Chickpeas

J’adore cette recette! C’est piquant, c’est aromatique, c’est la Jamaïque! Pour encore plus de facilité, vous pouvez même préparer votre sauce jerk le jour d’avant. On cuit ensuite au four pendant 45 minutes, et on sert sur du riz pour un repas complet, facile et équilibré. Pour la sauce jerk, j’ai puisé mon inspiration d’une recette de @VeganVonnie13, chef pour VeganVibrationz, à Dallas, Texas. Merci pour l’explosion de saveurs, Chef!

  • Author: Karine K
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 6 portions 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 tête de chou-fleur entière
  • 6 piments Scotch Bonnet (ou Habanero), hachés
  • 6 gousses d’ail, hachées
  • 6 oignons verts, hachés
  • 1/3 tasse de vinaigre
  • 1/3 tasse d’aminos de coconut
  • 1 1/2 c. à thé de sel de mer
  • 1 c. à table de grains de poivre noir
  • 1 once de gingembre frais (environ 2″), haché
  • 2 c. à table de grains de piment de la Jamaïque entiers
  • 2 c. à table de sucre brun
  • 1 c. à thé de noix de muscade, fraîchement râpée
  • 2 c. à table d’huile de coconut
  • 8 branches de thym frais
  • Jus de 1 lime
  • 2 tasses de bouillon de légumes
  • 1 boîte d’haricots noirs, rincés et égouttés
  • 1 boîte de pois chiches, rincés et égouttés
  • 1/3 tasse d’échalotes françaises ou oignons rouges, émincés
  • Garnitures: coriandre fraîche

Instructions

Préchauffer le four à 400°. Placer les piments Scotch Bonnet, l’ail, les oignons verts, le vinaigre, les aminos de coconut, le sel de mer, les grains de poivre noir, le gingembre, le piment de la Jamaïque, le sucre brun, la muscade, l’huile de coconut, le thym, et le jus de lime dans un mélangeur. Mélanger jusqu’à l’obtention d’un mélange homogène. Réserver. La sauce jerk peut être faite à l’avance. Couvrir et placer au réfrigérateur jusqu’au moment de l’utiliser.

Retirer les feuilles de la tête de chou-fleur et couper ensuite la base de la tête, si nécessaire, afin qu’elle puisse être disposée dans une cocotte avec le couvercle bien fermé. Mettre la tête de chou-fleur dans la cocotte., mélanger l’huile d’olive, la sauce adobo, la poudre d’ail, la poudre d’oignon, l’origan, le cumin, le sel de mer et le poivre.

Verser la sauce jerk sur la tête de chou-fleur et badigeonner avec les mains afin de bien la distribuer. Ne pas oublier le dessous de la tête de chou-fleur. Verser le bouillon de légumes au fond de la cocotte, en évitant de verser sur le chou-fleur. Placer le couvercle et mettre au four pendant 45 minutes. Retirer du four et disposer les haricots noirs, les pois chiches et les échalotes françaises émincées autour du chou-fleur. Remettre au four et cuire, à découvert, pendant 7 minutes de plus. Retirer du four, laisser reposer pendant 10 minutes. Garnir de coriandre fraîche et servir sur du riz.

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Jamaica: A “Feel” Trip

The beach at Old Fort Bay on the North Coast
The beach at Old Fort Bay on the North Coast

All the feels, one destination: Jamaica. It always takes me some time to write about travels and experiences. It feels like my heart is never really ready to let go of the words. As if once they are on paper, they don’t belong to me anymore.

When it comes to Jamaica, however, there is a difference. The place never really leaves me, and it seems like I never really leave the island. It’s as if my body gets back home, but my soul never fully returns to my physical self. There is something inexplicably deep about my connection to the island, something surely from a past life. When the deep, soul-reaching sounds of conscious reggae music hit me, I feel transported somewhere where my body just can’t reach.

There is also something undeniably mystical about the mountains in Jamaica. And that’s exactly where my trip started, nestled in the Blue Mountains, at the famed Strawberry Hill Hotel. The drive to the hotel is a trip in itself. The views of Kingston fading away on the horizon are balanced by the deep tropical forest that engulfs you as you climb up. The hotel, owned by Chris Blackwell, record producer and founder of Island Records, is a stunning 26-acre property composed of cottages, well staggered for privacy, and perched around a great house and a gracious infinity pool, where guests can linger and replenish. Not a bad spot to chill after a PHX-MIA-KIN red-eye.

Jamaica Blue Mountains from the Strawberry Hill
Jamaica Blue Mountains from the Strawberry Hill

After this much needed first night of rest, I am heading towards the north coast of the island. I rented an apartment in Old Fort Bay, about 7 minutes by car from the town of Ocho Rios. This is where my body truly landed. This is where I unpacked, where I went food shopping, where I was coming home after a nice, fulfilling day of learning.

Despite its relatively small size as an island country, Jamaica shines bright on the global cultural scene. The level of energy, once you reach, is unbelievable. The island also has heaps to be proud of, especially when you think about music, literature, film, cuisine, and sports. My focus this time, however, was on food and music.

And up there, in the hills of Bamboo, about 40 minutes from Ocho Rios, is what called me back to Jamaica: Stush in the Bush. I will never say enough about Stush. It’s this 15-acre piece of heaven where farm-to-table takes on a whole new dimension. This time, however, I wasn’t going to eat. This time, I was going to experience the magic that happens behind the scenes. I took a chance, called on my friend Lisa (co-owner of Stush), asked if she’d be willing to let me come and work with them for a week. She graciously accepted, and my adventure began.

Now, let me put Stush in the Bush in perspective. The whole thing is really about them: Lisa and Chris. It’s their love for the land, their love of food, and their passion for sharing it all with others. It is their love story, imprinted in every single thing your eyes land on. The fully organic farm, headed by Chris, supplies the creative juices to keep Lisa going in the kitchen. It’s a completely symbiotic relationship with nature, in accord with the revered relationship between food and life.

As I’m pulling up the first day, the feelings come rushing back, a flood of emotions reminding me exactly why I loved this place so much the first time. Lisa greets me on the steps with a warm hug. I immediately feel at home. You wouldn’t expect anything less from this gorgeous, loving, and spirited soul. Everything she touches turns to beauty. She has that undeniable knack for style and panache that I love so much when it comes to food.

But now that I’m at the farm, I understand why I’ve thought about this place for the last three years. Inside the open-air kitchen, the mood is light. Happening today is the celebrated Stush Cooking Club, an intimate gathering of friends around a meal prepared and eaten as a group. I’m the nervous one, because I’m new in the Stush kitchen, and I need to find my bearings. But Tyler, Lisa’s daughter and Stush’ sous-chef, quickly makes me feel comfortable. She has a magnetic personality and a strong intuition in the kitchen. I’m in for a great time!

Activated Charcoal Tortellini Stuffed with Pumpkin from the garden and served with a fresh Romesco Sauce at Stush in the Bush
Activated Charcoal Tortellini Stuffed with Pumpkin from the garden and served with a fresh Romesco Sauce at Stush in the Bush

Throughout the week, I get to cultivate inspiration. As I work my way through making crêpes for the fabulous Crêpes Cake with Mulberry Cashew Ricotta, preparing and chopping some of the best vegetables the land can provide for dishes like pumpkin-stuffed dumplings, D’Avignon radish salad, activated charcoal pasta with romesco sauce. The list goes on, really, and the revelation is clear.

Crêpes Cake with Mulberry Ricotta at Stush in the Bush
Crêpes Cake with Mulberry Ricotta at Stush in the Bush

After a few days in the Stush kitchen, it’s time to hit the road and head to Kingston for the Jamaica Observer Food Awards. It is the 20th installment, so it’s a big deal! Not only is Stush in the Bush nominated in three categories, they are also hosting guests and attendees in their very own Stush pop-up. Oh, and they won all THREE! What a joy to be there and witness it all! I can testify to the amount of work that goes in, day in, day out, and they deserve all the praise they get!

After the Awards, I spend the night in Kingston, in preparation for my relaxing long weekend at Jamnesia, in Bull Bay. I am sad to say goodbye to my Stush family, but it is now time for the music part of the trip.

Jamnesia... In the World Only One
Jamnesia… In the World Only One

At this point again, it is hard for me to find words to describe my experience. And I have a feeling that no matter how I try to explain it, there are no other ways that can describe my own unique experience other than being there to live it. Nobody really knows what your soul is after, so experiences are felt very differently from one person to the next. All this to say that my words are only my words as I write them, and that the experience that stays with my soul will always be much stronger.

I arrived at Jamnesia on Friday morning, just before lunch. First person I stumble upon on arrival is Billy Mystic himself. Billy “Mystic” Wilmot is the lead vocalist for the acclaimed reggae band the Mystic Revealers. He is also the man behind Jamnesia Surf Camp. I’m here for the music, and clearly, it’s starting out on a high note.

Jamnesia is as much a surf camp as it is a music venue. It’s a chill spot and a meeting spot. From the moment I put my bag down in my room, my internal vibe changes. Something at Jamnesia turns your physical needs and worries into dust, and it happens in very little time. Hair down, no mirrors, no makeup, no clock. I had to tune into the beat of Jamnesia’s drum, literally, and surrender to the sweet sounds of music.

That first day, after a quick nap and some fresh fruits, I feel completely free and at ease. Everybody is so warm and welcoming, it feels as if I’ve always been here. One of my big moments comes when I am served my first meal. It is true that I came to Jamaica for food and music, but I never thought I would find the latter to be a highlight of my time at Jamnesia. That night, my plate was full of plant-based goodness and the bean stew is the best I’ve had in my life.

The next morning, I inquire about the chef and am informed that one of Billy’s son, Ishack, went to culinary school in Canada. Every single meal Ishack cooked was perfectly balanced, the composition stellar, and the taste heavenly. In the morning, Miss Maggie makes my breakfast, and I find myself looking forward to getting up to fully enjoy my meal. Miss Maggie is Billy’s wife, and she is a joy to get to know as well. She has a deep love for the land, and one morning, as I am devouring my breakfast, she reminisces about the time she was working the land and, afterwards, when she devoted herself to children with disabilities. There is no doubt about it. Jamnesia is keeping me nourished, physically and spiritually.

My typical breakfast at Jamnesia
My typical breakfast at Jamnesia

The next day is a Saturday, and Saturdays are meant for Jamnesia Sessions! I had been waiting for this night for a long time, and I felt beyond blessed to be part of it. The people I met, the words I heard, it was electric. That weekend at Jamnesia was one of the best experiences of my life. It brought me back to the essentials: sun, sea, music, food from Mother Nature, and human warmth. I realized, during my time in Jamaica, that we, humans, don’t need much to live our best lives. It seems that we complicate everything with our worldly desires and temporal boundaries.

Sadly, after my weekend at Jamnesia, it was time to head back home. Leaving Jamaica is always difficult for me. It seems like the island remains in my heart, but this time, there was something different. I came looking for something spiritual, and I found it. My soul was searching, and the answers came. Now, it is time to bring the food, the music, and the vibes to Arizona. What do you say?

There is something special about traveling differently, traveling as if you live somewhere. It’s renting a car, grocery shopping, volunteering, helping out, being part of the local community. The rewards are grand. You leave with an imprint on your heart. You meet people you feel you’ve known all along and they become a part of your soul. And then, you realize that we are all one.

I want to give thanks for every single person I got to vibe with during my time in Jamaica. I trust that I met every single one of you for a reason, and I am forever grateful for all the blessings you all brought into my life.

ONE LOVE AND UNITY, ALWAYS.

The Beach at Jamnesia, in Bull Bay
The Beach at Jamnesia, in Bull Bay

Baked Jerk Tofu

Baked Jerk Tofu
Baked Jerk Tofu

This Baked Jerk Tofu will bring you to Jamaica. Jerk has always been one of my favorite seasonings. There is something quite unique about it, probably because of the use of allspice berries. I remember the cookouts on the streets of Jamaica. The smell is something I will never forget… The hot grills, the salt air, the spices. Well, as you would expect, back in my kitchen, I still crave Jamaican cuisine. Often.

I have a dry jerk seasoning blend that I usually have on hand. I use it on roasted cashews all the time. I am not sure where I got the recipe as it was written on a piece of paper in one of my notebooks. But it was exactly what I needed here!

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see it. Please tag @LivityGardens on Instagram and use the hashtag #LivityGardens.

For more recipes inspired from Jamaica, check out this Jamaican Jerk Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Black Beans and Chickpeas and this Autumn Ital Stew.

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Baked Jerk Tofu

Baked Jerk Tofu
  • Author: Karine K
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 block extra-firm tofu, pressed and cut into small cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 teaspoons dry jerk seasoning

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400°. In a medium bowl, mix the olive oil, lime juice, ginger, garlic, and jerk seasoning. Add the tofu cubes to the bowl, and mix until well coated.

Spread the tofu cubes in one layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and cook 15 minutes. Shake the tofu cubes around and return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve with sliced green onions, rice and peas, and cabbage slaw. Bon appétit!

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Tofu jerk cuit au four

Baked Jerk Tofu
  • Author: Karine K
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 portions 1x

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 bloc de tofu extra ferme, pressé et coupé en cubes
  • 3 c. à soupe d’huile d’olive
  • 1 c. à soupe de jus de lime
  • 1 c. à thé de gingembre frais, émincé
  • 2 gousses d’ail, émincées
  • 4 c. à thé d’épices jerk en poudre

Instructions

Préchauffer le four à 400°. Dans un bol moyen, mélanger l’huile d’olive, le jus de lime, le gingembre, l’ail, et les épices jerk. Ajouter les cubes de tofu et bien mélanger.

Étendre le tofu en une seule couche sur une tôle, préalablement recouverte de papier parchemin. Mettre au four et cuire 15 minutes. Retourner les cubes de tofu et remettre au four pendant 10 à 15 minutes de plus. Retirer du four et servir avec des oignons verts émincés, du riz et haricots, et une salade de chou, par exemple. Bon appétit!

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Dry Jerk Seasoning

Dry Jerk Seasoning
Dry Jerk Seasoning

I found this magical Dry Jerk Seasoning recipe written in a notebook at home. Big thank you to whoever shared this. This is something precious in a kitchen, something like a wonderful garam masala recipe. You should always have some on hand. This jerk seasoning is used in my Baked Jerk Tofu recipe, but you can also toss it into simmering coconut milk and serve over pasta. You can toss raw cashews with coconut oil, sprinkle them with the jerk seasoning, and pop in the oven. You can also sprinkle some on fried plantain chips. It’s really endless. It’s spicy and tangy, and you won’t want to live without it!

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see it. Please tag @LivityGardens on Instagram and use the hashtag #LivityGardens.

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Dry Jerk Seasoning

Dry Jerk Seasoning
  • Author: Karine K

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions

Just mix everything in a small bowl. Keep in the fridge in an airtight container. Bon appétit!

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Mélange d’épices Jerk de Jamaïque

Dry Jerk Seasoning
  • Author: Karine K
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 c. à soupe de poudre d’ail
  • 2 c. à thé de poudre d’oignon
  • 2 c. à thé de poudre de cayenne
  • 2 c. à thé de persil séché
  • 2 c. à thé de thym séché
  • 2 c. à thé de sel de mer
  • 2 c. à thé de sucre brun
  • 1 c. à thé de paprika
  • 1 c. à thé de piment de la Jamaïque
  • 1/2 c. à thé de piment chili broyés
  • 1/2 c. à thé de poivre noir
  • 1/2 c. à thé de muscade
  • 1/4 c. à thé de cannelle moulue

Instructions

Simplement mélanger tous les ingrédients dans un petit bol. Conserver au réfrigérateur dans un contenant hermétique. Bon appétit!

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Escovitch Potatoes

Escovitch Potatoes
Escovitch Potatoes

Get a dose of Jamaica with this Potato Escovitch recipe. In Jamaica, escovitch fish is a fish that is fried, then doused liberally with a pickling sauce made from vinegar, pimento, onions, pepper, (and sometimes carrots). It was really one of my favorite things to eat. As I was looking to recreate this at home, without the fish, I was thinking of food that would have a crunch and that could take the vinegar nicely. Potatoes were the winner. In this recipe, I mixed sweet and yellow potatoes, but feel free to use any root vegetable you like!

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see it. Please tag @LivityGardens on Instagram and use the hashtag #LivityGardens.

For other fabulous recipes inspired from Jamaica, check out this Jamaican Jerk Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Black Beans and Chickpeas and this Autumn Ital Stew.

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Escovitch Potatoes

Escovitch Potatoes
  • Author: Karine K

Ingredients

Scale

Marinade

  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 810 allspice pods
  • 2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cut in juliennes
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut in juliennes
  • 1 carrot, cut in matchsticks
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced thin
  • 1 cup green cabbage, grated or sliced paper thin
  • 1 Scotch bonnet pepper, seeded, minced

Potatoes

  • 2 1/2 lbs potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

Instructions

For the marinade: Pour oil, vinegar, allspice, and salt in a small pot and bring to a boil. Add the carrots, let them cook for a minute. Add the green peppers, cook for a minute. Add the red peppers, cook for another minute. Add the onion, cabbage, and Scotch bonnet. Cook until the onions are soft, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool a little, transfer to a bowl, and place in the fridge.

For the potatoes: Preheat the oven to 425°. Place a piece of parchment on a large, rimmed baking sheet. In a large bowl, mix together the oil, maple syrup, lime juice, garlic, ginger, and spices. Add the potatoes and toss to coat completely.

Place the potatoes on the baking sheet into a single layer. Place in the oven and roast for 40-45 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and caramelized, stirring occasionally. When the potatoes are ready, place on a serving platter and pour the cold marinade on top. Bon appétit!

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Pommes de terre escovitch

Escovitch Potatoes
  • Author: Karine K

Ingredients

Scale

Marinade

  • 3 c. à soupe d’huile de pépin de raisin
  • 1 tasse de vinaigre
  • 8 à 10 graines de piment de la Jamaïque
  • 2 c. à thé de sel de mer
  • 1/2 poivron vert, en juliennes
  • 1/2 poivron rouge, en juliennes
  • 1 carotte, en juliennes
  • 1/2 gros oignon, tranché mince
  • 1 tasse de chou vert, tranché mince ou à la mandoline
  • 1 piment Scotch bonnet, sans les graines, émincé

Pommes de terre

  • 2 1/2 livres de pommes de terre, lavées et coupées en morceaux de 1 pouce
  • 2 c. à soupe d’huile d’olive
  • 2 c. à soupe de sirop d’érable
  • 1 c. à soupe de jus de lime
  • 5 gousses d’ail, émincées
  • 1 c. à thé de gingembre frais, émincé
  • 1/2 c. à thé de cannelle
  • 1/4 c. à thé de poudre de chili
  • 1/4 c. à thé de piment de la Jamaïque moulu
  • 1/8 c. à thé de muscade

Instructions

Pour la marinade: Verser l’huile, le vinaigre, le piment de la Jamaïque, et le sel dans une petite casserole et porter à ébullition. Ajouter les carottes et laisser mijoter pour une minute. Ajouter le poivron vert et rouge et laisser mijoter pendant une minute de plus. Ajouter l’oignon, le chou, et le piment Scotch bonnet. Cuire jusqu’à ce que les oignons soient tendres, environ 2 à 3 minutes. Retirer du feu, laisser refroidir, transférer dans un bol et placer au réfrigérateur.

Pour les pommes de terre: Préchauffer le four à 425°. Couvrir une grande tôle à cuisson de papier parchemin. Dans un grand bol, mélanger l’huile, le sirop d’érable, le jus de lime, l’ail, le gingembre, et les épices. Ajouter les pommes de terre et mélanger pour bien recouvrir.

Placer les pommes de terre sur la tôle de cuisson en une seule couche. Placer au four et  cuire pendant 40 à 45 minutes, jusqu’à ce que les pommes de terre soient tendres et caramélisées. Placer sur une assiette de service et verser la marinade sur les pommes de terre. Bon appétit!

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Autumn Ital Stew

Autumn Ital Stew
Autumn Ital Stew

People who know me, know that I hold a very special place in my heart for Jamaica. I love, amongst many things, the people, the culture, and the food. I head to Jamaica every opportunity I get, and over the last few years, I have explored more of the Ital vegetarian side of the food and lifestyle of the island.

Ital is a Rastafari term meaning vital, where the V is replaced by the capital I. This is done to many words in Iyaric (a name given to the language), to signify the unity of the speaker with nature and the Almighty. With a completely Ital diet, you increase your Livity, or life energy. There are many spiritual concepts associated with Ital and Rastafari, but for the purpose of this Autumn Ital Stew recipe, Ital signifies that no processed, chemically-altered foods have been used. All food items found here can be found in nature, and no salt has been used either. This is a great recipe to start applying the concept of Ital, and you’ll want to explore more of the ways Ital food can be prepared once you taste how good this stew is. Ites!

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see it. Please tag @LivityGardens on Instagram and use the hashtag #LivityGardens.

For other Jamaican-inspired recipes, check out this Jamaican Jerk Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Black Beans and Chickpeas and these Escovitch Potatoes.

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Autumn Ital Stew

Autumn Ital Stew
  • Author: Karine K
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 90 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Method: Stovetop

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 cup dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
  • 1 piece of ginger of about 45 inches, peeled and cut into 1-inch coins
  • 1 piece of kombu of about 3 inches (optional)
  • 2  teaspoons coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 45 big cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Scotch Bonnet pepper (you may sub habanero), seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground allspice or 1015 whole berries
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • 23 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 green onions, trimmed, but left whole
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups winter squash, peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium parsnip, peeled and chopped 
  • 1 small sweet potato or yam, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small Yukon gold potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup kale, sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped and packed loosely
  • White pepper, to taste

Instructions

Combine the beans, the ginger coins and the kombu in a medium saucepan. Cover with enough water to cover the beans by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, removing the foam, when needed. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender, about 60-90 minutes. If necessary, add water while cooking to ensure the beans are always fully covered.  Drain, reserving 2 cups of the cooking liquid. Discard the ginger and kombu.

Heat the coconut oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, hot pepper, allspice, cayenne and thyme sprigs. Let cook, while stirring, for 1-2 minute(s). Add the green onions, bay leaves, coconut milk, bean cooking liquid, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and continue to simmer. Add the squash, parsnip, sweet potato or yam and potato. Keep simmering until the vegetables are cooked through but still hold their shape, about 15-18 minutes. Add the beans and give it a good stir.

Remove and discard the green onions, bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Remove from the heat and add the kale. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Add the lime juice, cilantro and white pepper. Serve warm. Bon appétit!

Keywords: ital, stew, jamaica

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Ragoût Ital automnal

Autumn Ital Stew

Pour ceux qui me connaissent assez bien, la Jamaïque tient une place bien spéciale dans mon coeur. J’adore, entre autres,  les gens, la culture, et la nourriture. Je m’y rends le plus souvent possible, et depuis les deux dernières années, j’explore la cuisine végétarienne Ital ainsi que le mode de vie qui s’y rattache.

Ital est un mot d’origine Rastafari tiré du mot vital, où on a remplacé la première lettre par le I majuscule. Plusieurs mots bénéficient de cette modification dans le language Iyaric, ce qui implique l’union entre celui qui parle avec la nature et la conscience tout-puissante. Avec une diète Ital, on augmente la vie, ou énergie vitale. Il y a plusieurs concepts spirituels associés avec un mode de vie Ital et Rastafari, mais pour le but de cette recette, le mot Ital signifie qu’aucun produit chimique ou altéré n’a été utilisé. On retrouve donc un ragoût des plus sains aux arômes de Jamaïque. 

  • Author: Karine K
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 90 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Ital

Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 tasse de haricots rouges secs, trempés toute une nuit, rincés et égouttés
  • Bout de gingembre d’environ 10 cm, pelé et coupé en rondelles de 2,5 cm
  • Bout de kombu de 7 cm
  • 2 c. à soupe d’huile de coconut
  • 1 gros oignon, haché
  • 4 à 5 grosses gousses d’ail, émincées
  • 1 piment Scotch Bonnet ou habanero, sans les graines, émincé
  • 1 c. à soupe de piment de la Jamaïque moulu, ou 10 à 15 graines entières
  • Pincée de poivre de cayenne
  • 2 à 3 branches de thym frais
  • 2 feuilles de laurier
  • 3 oignons verts, parés (entiers)
  • 1 boîte de lait de coconut
  • 2 tasses de bouillon de légumes
  • 2 tasses de courge d’hiver, pelées et hachées
  • 1 panais moyen, pelé et haché 
  • 1 petite pomme de terre douce, pelée et hachée
  • 1 petite pomme de terre Yukon, pelée et hachée
  • 1 tasse de chou kale lacinato, tranché mince 
  • 1 c. à soupe de jus de date (ou 1 c. à thé de sirop d’érable) (en option)*
  • 1 c. à soupe de jus de lime frais
  • 1/2 tasse de coriandre fraîche, hachée
  • Poivre blanc, au goût

Instructions

Combiner les haricots, les rondelles de gingembre et le kombu dans une casserole moyenne. Recouvrir d’assez d’eau pour couvrir les haricots d’au moins 5 cm. Porter à ébullition à feu moyen, en retirant l’écume, au besoin. Réduire le feu à moyen-bas et laisser mijoter, partiellement couvert, jusqu’à ce que les haricots soient tendres, environ 60 à 90 minutes. Ajouter de l’eau au besoin pendant la cuisson. Égoutter les haricots en réservant 2 tasses du liquide de cuisson. Retirer le gingembre et le kombu.

Chauffer l’huile de coconut dans une casserole à soupe à feu moyen-élevé. Ajouter l’oignon et faire revenir jusqu’à ce qu’il soit translucide, environ 4 à 5 minutes. Ajouter l’ail, le piment, le piment de la Jamaïque, le poivre de cayenne et les branches de thym, et faire revenir pendant 1 à 2 minute(s). Ajouter les oignons verts, les feuilles de laurier, le lait de coconut, les 2 tasses de liquide de cuisson des haricots et 2 tasses de bouillon de légumes. Porter à ébullition et réduire le feu afin de continuer de mijoter. Ajouter la courge, le panais, la pomme de terre douce, et la pomme de terre. Laisser mijoter pendant 15 à 18 minutes, jusqu’à ce que les légumes soient tendres, mais pas trop cuits. Ajouter les haricots cuits.

Retirer les oignons verts, les feuilles de laurier et les branches de thym. Retirer du feu et ajouter le chou kale. Goûter et ajuster les assaisonnements, si nécessaire. Ajouter le jus de lime, la coriandre et le poivre blanc. Servir chaud. Bon appétit!

Keywords: Ital, ragoût, Jamaïque

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