Jerk patties with pigeon peas, butternut squash and kale

Jerk patties with kale and butternut squash

Jerk patties with kale and butternut squash

Malcolm has been trying to remember a song. It’s a song I listened to all the time when he was little, that I sang along to. (These claims check out, because I do tend to become obsessed with songs and sing along with them over and over.) Malcolm is the boy with the long memory. If we’re trying to remember where we put something, or if we watched something, or who said what, we ask Malcolm. I love to think about Malcolm looking out on the world with his wise, observant, beautiful eyes, these past ten years, and collecting a trove of thoughts and images and recollections, and storing them in his remarkable brain. It’s one of the things that makes him seem wiser and more mature than his years. (As opposed to, say, giggling over fart jokes with his brother in the back seat. And there’s also plenty of that!) I used to have a good memory for strange, inconsequential things, but I feel as though my memory is fading with my eyesight, which is a weird sort of impaired, half-awake feeling. So we’ve been trying to recall this song. On Saturday night we sat on the couch, and he leaned heavily against me in the sweet way I’m sure he won’t do for much longer, and he played songs on his iPod (or fragments of songs – he’s an erratic DJ!). We thought about all the songs we’d listened to when he was very little. We listened to songs that used to make me burst into tears when I was very pregnant or just after he was born, because I was overwhelmed with the scale of our impending change. We tried to remember all of the songs he’d sing along to, with delightfully incorrect words. And there’s no medium more powerful for conjuring recollections than music! And as we listened for old memories in the songs, we were weaving new ones as well, so that years from now these songs will have layer upon layer of remembrance. We never did figure out which song he had in mind, but in the end, of course, it didn’t matter. The joy was not in remembering this one song, the joy was in remembering.

Food is another great trigger of memories! I remember walking around Central Park in the blazing hot sun during a street festival. I coveted the jerk patties, so bright and festive and fragrant, but they usually had chicken or beef in them. Not these, my friend! These have kale and pigeon peas. And I developed a new technique with the butternut squash. I grated it and then roasted it. I like it this way, especially in a pie – it turned out more roasty, and a lovely texture. I tried to minimize the time it took to make these by rolling out a long thin sheet of dough (two feet by ten inches, maybe) putting big glops of dough along one side, folding over, sealing, and then cutting apart. Kind of like making ravioli. If this seems, actually, to be more work, feel free to divide the dough in six, roll out thin rounds, and make this half-circle shaped.

Here’s Stars of Track and Field by Belle and Sebastian. Malcolm used to sing “Stars and dragons still too far.”

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Pigeon peas, saffron and artichoke hearts. W/ jerk-spiced roti

pigeon peas and roti

When I was in college, I used to meet my brother (and best friend) every Thursday night at the Jamaican Delight restaurant. We’d both spent some time away…he’d been in Italy and Minnesota, I’d been at Oxford. We’d both had some rough times, and now we were back in the city across from our home town. It had always seemed like a last resort, but now…it seemed magical! It smelled sweet (turns out there’s a candy factory there!), the people were wonderful, we both had remarkable mentorish teachers, the possibilities were dizzying. So we’d meet every Thursday night, and talk about everything that was important to us, then, in our early twenties…when everything is important. We’d go across the street to Spirit Mart, buy one beer each, and order the same thing every time…vegetarian delight, vegetable roti, plantains (if they had them) and grape nut ice cream.

The other day I bought some plantains, because I remembered loving them, and I thought my boys might like them, too. Then, of course, I had to try to make some roti. And somehow pigeon peas fit into this picture. So I asked my husband what would be nice with pigeon peas. He consulted his inner culinary genius and said, how about saffron and artichoke hearts. Wellawella! What a good idea that turned out to be! So I made a spicy, brothy mix of pigeon peas and art hearts. Some basmati rice. Some fried plantains. And I made some roti, but not the kind you can wrap around vegetables, like we used to have at the old Jamaican Delight. Since I had the oil all heated up for the plantains, I decided to drop the roti in there. Oh, yum! And I had flavored the dough very subtly with jerk seasonings, viz: thyme, allspice and cayenne. Okay, that’s my version of jerk seasonings. Nice though! It was a really fun meal to eat, with lots of little parts that added up to taste well together.

Here’s The Jerk, by the Clarendonians.
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