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Cooking from drab to fab… Haitian style

Haitian Cooking Party

I really like to host dinner parties, except for one thing… the cooking! It’s so much darn work. By the time you are all done getting ready and making all that food, you’re almost too tired to visit with your guests. Can you relate?

So I tired a new kind of dinner party. My Zumba bestie, Sandi, and I hosted a Haitian Vegan Cooking class at my home. My friend, Adeline, (ATAP Endeavors) from Haiti, came over and taught me and my friends how to cook Haitian style.

Haitian Cooking Night

We made everything. Adeline guided us and told tales of how they cook in Haiti. Friends, be very grateful for what you have, and remember to give back to those in need. I have a true appreciation for my cutting boards after our party. It was wonderful to her how Adeline and her family give back to Haiti through these classes.

The night gave a cultural look at new ways to prepare food we have in our home. We looked at how to make a dish such as eggplant, which most people shy away from, one of the most simple and tasty dishes at the table.  Even the non eggplant lovers were devouring it.

We watched Adeline skillfully smash a coconut over a rock, in the snow, and then taught us how to get all the goodness out of it… from meat to milk.

Haitian Cooking Night

Everything was made to taste.  There were no recipes to be found here. My friend, Theresa, noted how “All Spice” is really whatever you want it to be. We put thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, parsley, garlic, cloves, and pretty much everything in the pantry to make one awesome seasoning.

When Adeline would make use of salt, she referenced, if you buy anything processed, do not add salt, but when cooking fresh use salt. Our bodies need salt, just not the excess amount in packaged foods. My friend, Vikki, stated she did not realize it was actually okay to add salt when cooking from scratch as she had been automatically skipped it.

Haitian Cooking Night

Now as a vegetarian, I understand how it can be a challenge to get protein in your diet in a convenient way. It takes planning, but Adeline, showed us how easy it is. This was a vegan meal so that means my go to of having eggs was out. We put black beans in multiple dishes. Even our basmati rice, with Adeline’s homemade vegan hot sauce.

One thing Adeline noted was the concept of wild rice was bizarre. In Haiti there is no such thing. They grow their own rice, she couldn’t fathom the concept of “wild” rice and stressed to go for organic and non-gmo. We also learned when cooking rice, you should not be able to see the rice under the boiling water.

We had to pick through dried beans to find the good and pitch the bad. All hands on deck! Then we cooked them from scratch. Not gonna lie, cooking dried beans takes extra time, but you do miss out on all the preservatives in canned beans.  If you don’t have time to cook beans, at least make sure to look for organic beans in BPA free cans (that’s my tip!).

Haitian Cooking Night

Our menu:  beet salad; three variations of coleslaw; quinoa, kale, and avocado made with fresh coconut milk; the most scrumptious black beans, and of course the rice dish.

Now some of us were thinking about how… um… bloated we may may feel from all that fiber and beans but Adeline to the rescue. She made us, or rather had us make, an amazing Ginger Tea, filled with freshly grated ginger, lemon, cinnamon sticks, and whole cloves. I drink ginger tea (from a tea bag… cause I can be lazy like that) all the time for digestion, but this was amazing. I didn’t realize that combination would keep the tummy from being unhappy and let us digest with extra ease.  No bloated tummies here! My mom, wasn’t too sure about the ginger tea at first, but she did comment how the more she drank the more she enjoyed it.

Haitian Cooking Night

Open your mind to new cultures and ideas! Get back to basics. The evening allowed a group of friends to spend time together, cook together, and dine together. Ever hosted or been to a group cooking party? I’d love to hear about it! Share your experience with me in the comments.

Love,
Karen

 

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Comments

  1. Karen, that was one of the best nights of cooking in a long while. New recipes, great fun and all vegan! I loved the feeling Adeline gave of how it would be in Haiti. She made it seem very simple. And I know the eggplant is now a family favourite. Great idea!!!

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