Monday, October 19, 2009

New Jersey - Saturday

The gracious hosts, Paul (A.) and Catherine with an old woman

After we finished lunch, Doug and I returned to his Toyota Celica and headed for New Jersey to the home of Paul (A.) and his lovely wife Catherine. I finally rode the New Jersey Turnpike, about which I have heard so much. The traffic was not bad that day. I saw the port, rows and rows of empty containers, the oil storage tanks, the utility company structures, the most scenic features of the Garden State. (Ouch! That's a low blow. Sorry, New Jerseyites, I couldn't resist.)

Doug is a good driver, and with only one pit stop for Doug to buy cheaper New Jersey gas and a visit to the facilities, and a stop at a Filipino bakery in town to buy dessert, we made our way to Paul and Catherine's home. Paul emailed Doug clear and detailed directions, and he found his way to the house without difficulty.

Paul, Catherine, their beautiful daughter Elizabeth, and Allie were waiting for us. Allie looked wonderfully intact, considering that she had been thrown off her bicycle by a hit and run driver only days before. I was so happy to see gorgeous Allie looking so good. See for yourself below. I'm thinking that black is perhaps not my color, or maybe I just look that bad in any color. Oy!

Allie and me

Catherine and Paul(?) prepared a delicious meal for us which included appetizers of salmon, cheese, and crackers, and large and delicious boiled shrimp with a spicey dip. You know the shrimp were tasty if I say so, because I'm accustomed to good Louisiana shrimp. Paul didn't know where they came from. Oh, I nearly forgot the fresh strawberries from the garden.

While we had our drinks of choice and nibbled the appetizers, Deborah arrived. It was not until well into the visit that I realized that we had a priest in our midst. Deborah is the rector of the church that the family and Allie attend. I said, "Oh, you're a priest!" and I gave Deborah a big hug, just in case I had embarrassed my hosts and Allie in front of their rector. They said no, that she was cool and not easily embarrassed.

Then we had dinner. The menu consisted of a black bean and sweet potato stew, risotto, and salad. Everything was delicious. The ingredients for the stew sound like an unlikely combination, but it was gooood. Catherine sent me the recipe, which is below.

Two good-looking dudes - Doug and Paul

Last course was dessert. Allie made a scrumptious toffee-banana pie. It was the best. And we had the desserts from the bakery, and perhaps more. My memory is fading. Another lovely evening. And Doug was kind enough to put up with me all day Saturday. Poor man.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Stew

prep time: 10 minutes | cooking time: 25 minutes | makes 2 to 3 servings
I really like this recipe, its similar to chili but different enough to be interesting.
large saucepan, knife

3 Tbsps. Olive Oil
1 C. chopped Onion
1 Bell Pepper, seeded and chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. Chili Powder
1 1/2 C. diced peeled Sweet Potato (about 6 oz.)
1 can Mexican style stewed tomatoes (14-16 oz.)
1 can Black beans or 2 cups drained cooked Black Beans, rinsed.
3 Tbsps. chopped cilantro
1/2 tsps. Tabasco or Hot Pepper Sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste (it may not need it)

1) In a large saucepan heat olive oil. Add the onion, green pepper,
and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes.
Stir in the chili powder and cook 1 minute. Add 1 cup water and sweet potato. Cover and cook
until potatoes can be pierced with a sharp knife, about 10 minutes.

2) Add the stewed tomatoes and beans, breaking the tomatoes up into smaller chunks
with the side of the spoon. Simmer the stew uncovered over medium-low heat until
the potato is very tender, about 8 minutes. To thicken the sauce slightly, mash about
a quarter of the beans against the side of the pan.

3) Stir in cilantro and season with Tabasco and salt and pepper (if desired).

Recipe from Post Punk Kitchen.


  1. New Jersey just sends all the tourists through on the Turnpike so they can't find the lovely spots.

    I mostly grew up in New Jersey though I haven't been back for a long time.

  2. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! (Especially the food - YUM!)

  3. They are wonderful hosts; we stayed with them during our New Jersey visit in early June. Mona loved picking strawberrys every morning for breakfast.

    Did you play the marimba?

  4. You really need to visit the rest of NJ -- like the coast and the area that gives it the name "the garden state" as well as the Pine Barrens.

  5. We had a great time, lotsa laughs. And the food!

    Padre, I did not play the marimba. I never saw the marimba.

    And yes, I should get around and see more of the Garden State. It's not called that for nothing.

  6. What a lovely time you had! Thanks for telling us about it.

  7. Sorry about that, Mimi. The marimba is at the far end of the living room, and is rarely uncovered now that our percussionist son is no longer in residence. Next time. BTW, the "lovely" part of the Turnpike you describe is the infamous Exit 13. We are actually Exit 9, a much nicer area. (Jersey joke.)

  8. Mimi, it was marvelous to see you as well. And yes, please do visit the rest of NJ!

  9. Susan, we did have a lovely time. I love telling about my good times.

    Catherine, I forgive you for the marimba, in light of your graciousness in all else.

    Allie, in addition to enjoying your company, you have no idea how relieved I was to see you looking yourself after your accident.

  10. "I saw the port, rows and rows of empty containers,"

    I used to work at the Seamen's Church Institute of New York and New Jersey in Port Newark. Part of working at SCI was driving around the port avoiding straddle carriers (huge things that move containers and are kamakazi drivers) and fetching seafarers and bringing them back to the SCI center.

  11. Caminante, you've had an interesting life. :-)

  12. I'm so sad I was unable to join you. I was just feeling so rotten! It looks like a fabulous time was had by all - says Eileen who lives in NJ by the Pine Barrens and the seashore!

  13. Eileen, I'm sad, too. We missed you, luv. We cried for you. But then we went on and had a fabulous time. Another day.


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