Lying in the sand, in the warm Jamaican breeze, listening to my uncle’s music in the place where he grew up, I couldn’t help but think about life. After all, everything was set up for this to happen for me…the sand, the breeze, the music, the family history of where I was in that moment all conspired to fire my thoughts. Listening to the lyrics of “Three Little Birds,” I realize how right Uncle Bob had it when he said “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cause every little thing is gonna be alright…”
Here I am, on the island of my ancestors, enjoying the simple things in life at a leisurely pace, realizing that my ancestors knew the secret to happiness – and they lived that secret. Worrying is a waste of time, effort and energy. And what’s the one thing people worry about the most? Money and all it can buy. Money isn’t the biggest thing in this world, although it might make it possible to buy the biggest things. Money, in itself, doesn’t bring the biggest things in life to you. Which lead me to question myself about the biggest things in life…
Listening to the song, “One Love,” I have to say I believe love is the biggest thing in this world, and as far as I know, love is free to anyone who wants it. Peace, about which my uncle wrote a lot, is free. As are happiness, harmony, fun, joy, creating, and on and on the list of free things can go. All the really valuable things in life are free. Enjoying life with the ones you love is priceless.
As I’m lying here, I notice a group of people just up the sand from me, enjoying one of Jamaica’s favorite food, curried goat. What started off as a food traditionally served at weddings and on special occasions has become an everyday favorite. I’m with the Jamaican people on this; if you love something, why only save it for special occasions? Enjoy it anytime, anywhere and in any place – especially if that place is on a beach in Jamaica.
A vacation to remember, together with some special memories and rediscovering the meaning of life, deserves a little traditional goodness, so I head on over to check out the curried goat. Jamaican people are generous, so it’s not long before I’m sitting down, laughing, talking and eating with some very happy new friends.
The meaning of life, warm sand, a soft breeze, happy friends, great music and some excellent Jamaican curry goat makes for the perfect day. Ah, this is the life. Come on, my friends, and try it along with me…
Here’s My Mom’s recipe for Jamaican Curry Goat with Dumplings, Rice and Peas
Goat is a healthy, low-fat meat, so don't dismiss this recipe just because you haven't' seen it in the supermarket lately! I've adapted it here using mutton.
2 tbsps canola oil
1 pound boneless mutton, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 14.5oz. canned vegetable broth
1 tbsp red or white wine vinegar
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp allspice
1 bay leaf
For Rice and Peas
1 15oz. can red kidney beans, unstrained
1 13.5 oz. canned coconut milk, shaken well
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp butter or margarine
2 cups long-grain rice
1 Scotch bonnet chile
1 tbsp bottled jerk sauce
In a large skillet over medium heat, warm the oil, then add the meat and cook until browned on all sides. Remove the meat to a plate. Add the onions to the oil in the skillet and cook, stirring, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the broth, vinegar, curry powder, and allspice. Return the meat to the skillet, and the bay leaf, cover, and simmer over medium - low heat for 2 hours. About a half-hour before the meat will be done, make the rice and peas. Combine the beans with their liquid, the coconut milk, onion, garlic, and butter with 1/2 cup water in a large skillet. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then stir in the rice. Reduce the heat to medium - lo, place the whole Scotch bonnet Chile on top of the liquid, cover tightly, and cook until the rice is ready, about 30 minutes. Discard the Chile before serving. When the meat is done, stir the jerk sauce into the curry. Adjust the seasonings to taste and serve with the rice and peas.