A Rainy Day in the Kitchen

The rainy season in Florida is no joke. There’s nothing to do but take shelter and think about how lush your gardens will be afterward.

Waking up this morning was some kind of amazing. A massive system of strong thunderstorms has been moving through the area across several hours. If you have never seen Florida during its rainy season, well … It’s something to behold. More rain that you can even conceive of falls from the sky and lightning shakes the house every few minutes. The fact that you can even hear the lightning in our castles made of cement (built to withstand hurricanes) is incredible. On days like this, it’s pointless to think about going out. Just sit back and enjoy the rhythm of the rain beating against the windows.

Around midnight last night, R put a rack of baby back ribs and a rack of St Louis ribs in the oven to cook slowly overnight. We have long since concluded that the best way to do ribs is to season them with salt and pepper or Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, wrap them snugly in foil, and forget about them for 12 hours. Trying to slather them in sauce periodically means opening up that glorious tent and letting heat and moisture and pressure out, which pretty much guarantees the meat will dry out. I love the white barbecue sauce they use in Alabama, so that’s my go-to once the meat is done. By the time we woke up, the contrast between the aroma of comfort food and the toasty kitchen and the storms raging outside could not have been more intense.

We made some French potato salad to go along with the ribs, with thinly sliced al dente red potatoes, tossed with a Dijon vinaigrette with lots of chives, parsley, and tarragon.

Bowl of French potato salad.

Last night, I got it into my head that I could probably make carrot halwa in our crockpot. When I woke up this morning, I went to work peeling and grating a few pounds of carrots for a pot of halwa. (A labor of love, let me tell you.) My plan is to cook them for a few hours with a few cups of milk, then add in a bunch of sugar, cook for a few more hours, add in toasted almonds and cardamon, cook for an hour more. I don’t know, I might add in some raisins to plump up from the steam too. If it turns out, the halwa will be dessert for dinner tonight.

E loves carrots more than anything. I can’t even trust her to make it out to the stables with a bag of carrots for the horses. She’ll eat them all herself. (Imagine being the parent who is inconvenienced by how much their kid loves vegetables….) I expect her to love carrot halwa.

The first time I tried halwa, it was at an Indian restaurant here in Florida. The town we live in has a substantial Portuguese population. The people running this restaurant were from the region of India settled by the Portuguese. One of the things I love about living in Florida (and this extends to the Caribbean too) is the fusion of cultures. It produces some pretty incredible food and art.

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