Woodpecker House – Hope Town, Elbow Cay, the Abacos
Ten days of relaxed bliss, crystalline turquoise waters, soft white sand beaches and that wonderful, salty sea air———ahhhh, the Abacos! My late partner Bill and I stayed in an old wooden house on the ocean that gave you a whole new respect for the term”rustic”! It was riddled with Woodpecker holes ( we didn’t know this until we arrived late on a Sunday night—too late!). Sugar ants wondered what we were doing in their house, so any groceries had to be kept in the minuscule refrigerator or hung in bags from the rafters.
Noisy Woodpecker visits during the afternoon nap in the back bedroom were a little disconcerting, but harmless after the first scare! We decided to call the place “Woodpecker House”.
Our visit was great fun, though, with long walks on the beach in search of shells and beach glass to add to our collections. Curly tail lizards, very curious and almost tame, always kept us company while lounging on the deck with our evening martinis. Bill was petrified of them, so naturally, they wanted to give him special love and attention! I thought they were cute and enjoyed trying to feed them leftover bits of food.
We first sampled peas and rice, a staple of that culture, on one of our many excursions via golf cart ( pretty much the only means of transport!) into Hope Town proper. A friendly native lady was cooking peas and rice in a ramshackle clapboard hut and convinced us , easily, that we needed to have some for lunch. It was savory, creamy and delicious!
Here’s my take on Bahamian Peas and Rice with a southern spin and reminiscent of Hoppin’ John eaten by all self-respecting southerners on New Year’s day to bring good luck and prosperity! The flavors of the Abacos and Georgia come together, rich and luscious!
The original recipe uses Pigeon Peas and brown rice and has as many variations as there are cooks! Try your own!
You will need:
Olive oil; 1 sweet onion, chunked up; 1 medium jar chopped pimento, drained; 8 or more ounces cooked pork, cut into bite sized pieces; 4 tbsp ketchup; 1 tomato, chopped; 2 cups fresh or frozen black eye peas, cooked with salt and pepper and some of the pork for flavor , than drained; Garlic powder to taste, 2 sprigs fresh thyme( you can use dried); salt to taste; lots of freshly ground black pepper; a 10 oz. can coconut milk; 3 cups water; 3 cups chicken stock; 2 tsp browning sauce; 3 cups uncooked long grain white rice; Worcestershire sauce.
Heat oil in large pot and saute pork briefly to get some of the flavors into the oil, remove pork and cook onion till transparent.
Add Pork back to the pot along with ketchup, tomato, peas, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper.
Stir in coconut milk, water, broth and browning sauce; bring to a boil and add rice. Simmer covered on low heat for 45 minutes.
Serve in bowls with a splash of Worcestershire sauce on each serving along with some Bahamian sweet bread. This is and a wonderful and nutritious one dish meal!
I hope you will enjoy this story and taste of Hope Town!