About the Author
Born on the island of St. Lucia, in the Caribbean in a very small house, my father died at the young age of 35 and left six children behind for my mother to care. At the time my father passed away, I was the youngest and only eighteen months old. My father was a farmer who planted vegetable gardens, fruits, and raised domesticated animals such as pigs, goats, sheep, horses, cows and chicken.
Growing up in St. Lucia with my mother and siblings, I learned to do what is considered as domestic work in the home and this includes but not limited to cooking, baking, washing, sewing and cleaning. One of my early jobs in the neighborhood was working at a local bakery as a cook. At the bakery I cook stews and bake breads. This bakery had an old brick oven shaped like an igloo with wood and charcoal inside. Wood was burned in the back of the chamber, and evenly created heat throughout the oven. We used a long handle wood spatula to put bread and cakes in and out of the ovens. While at the bakery I made cakes for special occasions such as first communion, confirmation, christening and baptism, and enjoyed decorating the layers as needed. Over the years I have called on this early experience to bake cookies, bars, pies, and rolls for my children, grandchildren. Now I use a conventional oven instead of the wood and charcoal brick oven but with nostalgia do think of those days on a regular basis.
Cooking became an interest in those early years and I thought it would be a great skill to have as I contemplated immigrating to Canada to work. During those times at the young age of 16, I became a full-time cook, cooking for my brothers Jerome and Robert and their guests. I had moved from the countryside and was now living in the city at one of my brother’s home while attending school. On weekends I would return home to visit my mother and while visiting I would also help her with the cooking duties and when returning to the city I would bring meals for my brother as they had become accustomed to it and look forward to my food.
At the age of 24, I married my husband of 50 years. He was a member of the United States military and stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. I stayed behind in St. Lucia for a short time while my husband reported back to his duty station and then joined him in Colorado Springs. We had two wonderful children who were both raised in Colorado and later moved to Wisconsin.
While living in Colorado, I worked at the Broadmoor Hotel as a machine operator. With the assistance of the Urban League in Colorado Springs, I became a US citizen. Later, I attended the El Paso Community College and earned an Associate in Science degree. After obtaining my degree I took supervised work experience at the Operations and Maintenance Service (Project Headquarters for the Air Force) in the purchasing department. I also completed additional work study at the Dean of Instructions Office at the El Paso Community College. After my family and I came to Madison, I was employed by Rayovac Corporation and worked there for 10 years. After leaving Rayovac, I worked for the State of Wisconsin, and the University of Wisconsin fora combined 26 years. While working for the State I took evening classes at the Madison Area Technical College and earned a Certificate in Human Resource. During the time that I worked for the State, I was a Program Assistant/Office Manager and was a Site Manager/Financial Specialist at the UW. In 2010, just prior to the collective bargaining debate at the University of Wisconsin, I retired.
When I arrived in Madison in 1974, one could not find Caribbean foods in the local grocery stores but over the years that has changed significantly. Chicago and Milwaukee were the closest areas where one could find a minimal supply of Caribbean produce or restaurant with Caribbean influence.
As I am now retired, I have embarked on this project of creating a cookbook, primarily to honor my mother and brothers who I have lost over the years and also to share my experiences in the kitchen with those I love.