Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The home schoolers go indigenous with the Caribbean Indigenous Arts and Crafts Museum on St. Croix!

Today, we had the pleasure of going on a field trip to the Caribbean Indigenous Arts and Crafts Museum at Cane Bay! Whew, what a mouthful! This trip, although open to all ages, ended up being all elementary kids. There were three girls and three boys - what a great group they were too!

The kids arrived and were instantly captivated by Kelly the Parrot who sand Happy Birthday, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, some opera, and cried like a baby!  She was really cute and hates to not be the center of attention.  Anyway, after talking and interacting with Kelly, they all went over to the open air picnic area and took their seats.

The children learned all sorts of fascinating things about Tainos. Tainos were the indigenous people who lived here on St. Croix from PreColumbian times up until shortly after Columbus "discovered" the Virgin Islands.  They were one of the most populous groups of Native peoples in the Caribbean. They farmed, hunted, gathered, and created beautiful works of art.  It is thought that their farming techniques were so far advanced that they only had to dedicate 2 hours a week to gardening. They produced such food stuff as pineapples, cassava(or yucca), peanuts, and sweet potatoes. They also grew cotton. Apparently when Columbus came by he noted, as did other explorers, that the island of St. Croix was heavily terraced and farmed with cotton plants.

Some of the islands in the caribbean still retain their Taino names. Some of these islands are Jamaica, Cuba, and Haiti.  It is thought that St. Croix's name was AyAy which means The River. Now, why would St. Croix be named The River? There are no rivers or flowing bodies of water here! Well, way before the plantation industry got going here, St. Croix was FULL of rivers and streams and guts. With the advent of plantation farming, all the trees were either burned or cut down and it stopped raining here.  Once the rain stopped, guess what else stopped? THE RIVER!! Salt River is named just that because there was a river of water that flowed out of the hills and into the ocean. When we have tremendous rains, our guts fill and flow into the old path of our ancient river. I wonder what St.Croix would look like today if those plantation owners hadn't deforested our island - don't you?

ANYWAY back to some facts that our group thought was neato:

  1. There were between 20 and 30,000 people living on St. Croix at the time of Columbus' arrival
  2. A Taino woman shot one of the Spaniards with bow and arrow when Columbus' men came ashore
  3. Columbus never actually set foot on St. Croix
  4. Tainos had parrots
  5. Tainos used blowguns
  6. Spent a lot of time making very cool art
  7. They wore feathered hats
  8. Taino Indians were some of the first Indians to live on St. Croix
  9. Many words came from the Taino Arawak language

So folks, if you get a chance to go visit Brian and his wife Jill at the  Caribbean Indigenous Arts and Crafts Museum at Cane Bay, please let us know what you think.  This is a great resource for artists, collectors, and children to learn a bit about our history here on St. Croix before the European conquest.

Monday, 17 September 2012

The Summer of Ice Cream!

Pure ingredients
It seems like in years past each summer has had a theme. Last summer was jams and jellies. This summer has been ice cream!  When I was little my Dad made homemade ice cream every once in a while.  I don’t know why he didn’t make it more often, but I do remember that we had an old White’s Mountain hand cranked ice cream maker. It was the kind you had to put rock salt and ice into.  Maybe we didn’t make it more often because my Mom didn’t like the egginess of homemade ice cream, or maybe because finding rock salt on the island was hard back then.  Who knows, but I do remember being sad when Hurricane Hugo destroyed it.

The secret to tropical ice cream!
A few years back, my Dad got a new Cuisinart ice cream maker that was electric and had a freezer bowl. It was genius! He started making ice cream again, and since he usually had an excuse to make it when we came for dinner, it became tradition for A to tell him what flavor to make. He started making Cinderella and Ariel ice cream….. what is that exactly? It’s vanilla ice cream or almond flavored ice cream that has been dyed the appropriate color to match the Princess in question’s dress. Hence blue ice cream for Cinderella and pink or red ice cream for Ariel.  My niece L also got into and started asking for Aurora ice cream, and then later Pocohantas ice cream. I am sure that is Disney got a hold of this site, they would make an even larger fortune!

Anyway, I have an attachment for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer that promises to make ice cream. I tried it once and it worked marginally. This summer, I was determined to figure it out and make it work!  So, I experimented – a lot J

Tricks to using a KA ice cream attachment in the Caribbean:

1.     FREEZE your bowl for at LEAST 5 days.
2.     Chill in the freezer your cream for at least 2 hours before you mix it into your base
3.     After mixing your base, CHILL for 2 days in fridge or FREEZE for 8 hours.
4.     Start mixing as EARLY in the morning as possible(5 am is NOT too early in this case)
5.     Cover your KA with a fluffy bath towel while it is mixing.
6.     Once mixed and soft serve consistency, place into metal or ceramic bowl and put back into freezer at least overnight
7.     Eat with friends and family outside while admiring the lingering heat of the day

Basic ice cream recipe:

1C whole milk*
1C sugar
2C cream
4-6 egg yolks(large)

*The more whole the milk you use, the creamier the ice cream

Scald milk and sugar in pan. Beat yolks in separate bowl. Add scalded milk to yolks once milk is slightly cooled. Mix continuasly so yolks don’t cook.  Return to stove top and stir until the mixture coats the back of your spoon. Once it is thick and coats spoon, mix into super chilled cream, add flavoring and chill in fridge or freezer.

Some notes: If you are using whole flavorings like mint leaves, cinnamon, rosemary, etc steep those in the scalded milk for at least 30 minutes then rewarm milk and add to yolks after removing flavoring(or not – your preference)

Some of our favorites this summer were:

Mango and Morita Chili

Rosemary, Blood Orange Olive Oil, and roasted Pepitas

Chocolate Decadence with Cocoa Nibs

French Vanilla

Mint Chocolate Chip with real mint leaves

Mamey, Cinnamon, and Piloncillo



I have a few other flavors up my sleeve but will not tell you about them just yet!

We enjoyed this summer’s theme. Did your summer have a food theme?

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Where has it gone?

Sailing camp

The summer is at an end.  About 3 months ago I had all these plans for our down time. I was going to clean out closets and under beds, go to the beach 3 times a week, finish a quilt, pick up a few other sewing projects, cook up some great meals, fix the garden beds, explore a different part of St. Croix every two weeks, etc. 

Here is what I ACTUALLY accomplished – cooked great meals, ran errands, took A to multiple camps, ran C around to different play grounds, played with both kids, started tutoring, became a mom mobile, hung at the beach, made new friends, explored science stuff with the kids,  cleaned the house,  read, put our dog to sleep,  rediscovered Buck Island, realized that I NEED salt water, built multiple train track configurations, did arts and crafts with A, and had a GREAT time.

Watermelon Ice Pops!
Did I accomplish what I wanted to accomplish – no. Did I get frustrated when I realized that my closet and under my bed is still a mess – yes, but did I also get to create some wonderful memories with my family – YES. Was it a good summer despite not getting through my to do list? Most definitely!

I think that A has had the best summer of her life to date. She was in Danica David’s art camp and got to do art 5 days a week for 1 month, she made new friends, went of field trips, and got bitten by the art bug.  Here is a video clip of their end of the camp song:

Then she met not one, but two new friends named Alex. If she doesn’t marry the one later in life I’m going to be crushed. She made new girl friends who allowed her to stay multiple nights in a row for sleepovers, she swam in someone’s pool or the ocean everyday, she learned how to sail, she had friends over to play all the time, and she had 2 birthday celebrations!

Birding at the Buccaneer
C got to go play at the beach a lot, he played in his sandbox, got Mommy all to himself, and missed his sister ALL the time! He took walks, learned how to speak a ton more, came up with some great witticisms, and started requesting odd, odd, odd songs at bed time. Anyone ever hear of the song about the Farmer who ate his chickens pollos, the big friendly dinosaur who played with horses, or the some about the bleeding dog in the bushes? I hadn’t before this summer, but now I know them VERY well.

I LOVED my summer and I’m not really too disappointed that I didn’t clean out the closets or under the bed. There are more important things in life.  How was your summer?