Dark and Stormy Weather


**I am sitting out on my back porch as I write, Magen’s Bay as my backdrop, watching the pelicans dive for their meal and listening to the water gently lapping at the shore below me. Yet I know this peaceful setting will disappear come morning…

In the oven: Pork Shoulder, braised in white wine with a medley of vegetables; Tex-Mex Black Beans; Rice; Carrots Glazed with Mustard and Brown Sugar

In my glass: A Dark and Stormy (see below)

The past several days have been crazier than normal for me. Between traveling, a funeral, and preparing for Once-Hurricane-Then-Tropical-Storm-Now-Tropical-Depression Danny I have stayed plenty busy! Danny is supposed to come through late this evening, and while we certainly do not need the flooding and winds that come with a hurricane, here in the islands we have been experiencing a drought and could really use a good soaking rain and filled cisterns. This is the driest I’ve seen it in the two years we have been living here.

Every indication is that the storm will barely cause any damage and bring maybe 2-4 inches of much-needed rain. The Sahara Dust that hovers in the air keeps most of the approaching storms at bay; however, Danny may bring enough moisture to clear away much of that dust, and the storm lingering just beyond Danny could be trouble. So really we are worried more about the storm brewing behind this one. As any good Girl/Boy Scout knows, it is good to be prepared…

And so we are now properly stocked up on water, canned goods, batteries, and Rum…you know, island essentials. Our landlord has installed the Hurricane Shutters on the house we rent and made sure the generators are fueled. Most of the boats we normally see moored around the island have been moved to safer waters. It seems odd to drive around the island and see so much open water harboring so few boats. The cruise ships are even keeping their distance, meaning fewer tourists, as well. On a positive note: this makes for much less congested trips to run these all important pre-storm errands.

‘Dark and Stormy’ 2 parts ginger beer, 1 part blackstrap rum. Serve over ice w/ lime wedge

Despite the impending storm, today has been rather sunny. The skies are only just beginning to cloud over now. But I know once that first storm of the season passes, it will take with it the refreshing breezes we have now, and the air will grow still and mosquito-filled. This will last until some time in November or December when the Christmas winds return. Until that time (which may be sooner than later) I will enjoy every second I get of this. 

Tonight I am preparing a hearty meal in anticipation of the weather to come (see above menu) and hope I get enough for two meals so I don’t have to cook tomorrow. Somehow it seems appropriate to have a robust meal when a storm is coming, even in this heat. Below is the recipe for my Braised Pork Shoulder. Enjoy!!

Braised Pork Shoulder

  • 1 3 lb pork shoulder (season both sides with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 celery stalked, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 T whole grain mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 c. White wine
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Brown the pork shoulder on both sided in a heavy duty dutch oven. Remove from pan and let rest.

Add vegetables to the pan and sauté until softened. Stir in the mustard and garlic.

Add the wine and bring to a boil. Place the pork shoulder back in the pan and remove from heat.

Cover, place in oven for 30 minutes. Turn after 30 minutes and cook for another 30 minutes or until done.

When done, take pork out of pan, let rest for 10-15 minutes, then slice and serve. Don’t forget the vegetables!!




It’s a HOT summer day here in TX, and a nice rum drink – preferably with one of those cute little umbrellas attached – is a happy way to make the heat feel a tad less oppressive…


I have spent a LOT of time in the Caribbean in the past couple of years, and rum drinks abound there. Cruzan Rum is original to St. Croix, and Captain Morgan moved its operations there in [I believe] 2010 from Puerto Rico. Both are wonderful rums!

In the British Virgin Islands there is a drink called a Painkiller which hails from The Soggy Dollar Bar…it is rum-based and fruity and delicious! Pussers is usually considered to be the original rum used; however, that is heavily debated by many. In any case, it is my favorite rum to have in that drink. A Painkiller consists of Pineapple Juice, Orange Juice, Cream of Coconut, [Pussers] Rum, and a dash of nutmeg on top. [drool]

Hmmm, pineapple juice, rum and cream of coconut…that sounds familiar… This brings us to the Piña Colada, which is original to Puerto Rico. Barrachina Restaurant is considered by many to have made the original, though this is disputed by The Caribe Hilton (who claim to have invented it about 10 years prior to Barrachina). I’ve been to Barrachina, and I’m not sure if what they serve is the original recipe, but it was a frozen pre-made concoction. I cannot vouch for the taste of the Caribe Hilton as we did not make it there. My husband and I found our favorite piña colada at a place called Moreno Spot. Theirs was made to order and served in a hollowed out pineapple (the juice of which was actually in the drink!). It was $12 and well worth it!

So…What is YOUR favorite recipe using Rum? And do you have a preferred rum?

My recipe for a Painkiller:

  • 3 oz Pusser’s Rum (you can vary this to taste)
  • 4 oz Pineapple Juice
  • 1 oz Cream of Coconut
  • 1 oz Orange Juice
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

Add ice to a cocktail shaker and pour the first 4 ingredients in…shake to mix. Pour into the glass (I include the ice) and grate nutmeg over the top. Garnish with an umbrella, preferably speared with a chunk of pineapple and a cherry.

Sit back, admire your concoction…then sip. Repeat until glass is empty.


Evolution happens all around us. It is in everything; it is everywhere.

I have had my own transformations over the decades of my life, especially in the past two years. Cleansed Palate is no exception to the evolution process. For the past few years I have been struggling with this blog. My writing has stalled, and I’ve had trouble figuring out how to make it come together on the site as well as it does in my mind. I have brainstormed and written and made all sorts of lists in this process called Evolution. Yet I have been unsuccessful.

So what has been the issue? What was “wrong” with Cleansed Palate as it already was?

Nothing, really. I could have just kept it going, aimlessly, continuing with it as just an average food blog. However, that was not resonating with me. Food is my life’s passion. I am a food geek. Anyone who knows me gets that in about five seconds.

But I also love to travel, to meet new souls in my journeys, to renew relationships with old souls. I love history and spirituality. I don’t even mind the [occasional] round of political discussions. And I want to write about it all.

So how could I tie all of this together? And could I do that under the Cleansed Palate name, making it into one cohesive blog?

I love the name, and there has been something just under the surface telling me that it really does all tie together. Ah, but “HOW?” I kept asking myself…How, indeed…

So now let me digress a tad. I have recently been participating in a memoir-writing workshop. It is four classes and made up of some absolutely amazing souls on a similar writing path as my own. Despite the fact that it is a memoir class, I originally had no intention of writing about my life. Oddly enough, I was ‘tasked’ with writing my life story recently. I had postponed beginning. And then one day there appeared in my inbox an email for this Memoir Workshop.

The Universe had spoken.

So I signed up, and I have attended the first two classes so far…two more to go. And it has really jump-started my writing. I have written more in the past few weeks than I have in the past 3 years. I think I have only missed one day of writing since I began. I am amazed at this sudden transformation.

Let’s now fast forward to this past Friday when I had a session with my writing coach (First of all: WooHoo!! I have a writing coach!!!). We spent much of the session discussing Cleansed Palate and how I could make it work for me. At the end of the session I had committed to writing this post, by today. And so here I sit, writing this post.

On Saturday I woke early, lying in bed pondering why in the world I could not sleep (seriously, why can others seemingly lounge in bed on a weekend morning so readily??) when, suddenly, an amazing thought popped into my head, “Cleansed Palate IS my memoir”!!!

What an incredibly perfect name for the memoir of a food writer. I can incorporate all of my passions in one place: food, spirituality, recipes, travel…etc, etc.

And I fully intend to do just that…thank you, Universe. You have spoken, and I have listened.

Stay tuned for more tales from the memoir of this foodie…