Tag Archives: cuba

Cuba & The Florida Everglades

One of the things that first attracted me to the church I currently attend is that there is a sister church in Cuba. I didn’t even know this was allowed in Cuba until I started attending PUMC. I have visited Cuba twice, & have a heart for the people of my parents’ motherland.

I’ve become very involved with our sister church Iglesia Hefziba in Consolacion del sur, Pinar del Rio. PUMC visited Iglesia Hefziba in January, & then invited the Pastor to come visit us here in the US. Thankfully, he was granted both his exit visa from Cuba & his tourist visa here in the US. He arrived last week, & stayed with my husband & me for 2 nights before going to another family’s home.

It has been a lot of fun showing him new things. Pastor Oscar has been to the US before, over 10 years ago, but there are so many differences between life in Cuba & life in the US. For example, in our house he had waffles (of course my husband made him waffles) for the first time ever. He loved them!

This past weekend we took him to the most Florida place of all Florida. No, not Disney World.

The Everglades.

Everglades Mrs. Dessert Monster

Obligatory tourist Everglades photo!

We had a lot of fun! Our friends Beth & David came with us.

Everglades Mrs. Dessert Monster

It had been like 15 years since I was on an air boat.

Everglades Air Boat Mrs. Dessert Monster

We saw alligators & lots of other animals.

Everglades Alligator Mrs. Dessert Monster

Pastor Oscar’s favorite part was when the air boat went fast. Those things can get to over 50 mph!

After the air boat ride we saw a gator wrestling show. This guy is crazy, but hilarious. He’s from the show Gator Boys on Animal Planet.

Everglades Gator Boys Mrs. Dessert Monster

It was a really fun day.

Everglades Mrs. Dessert Monster

My husband has been so great with Pastor Oscar. He was a very gracious host & he’s more motivated now to work on his Spanish! I cannot express enough how grateful I am to have such a wonderful man to call my husband.

I’m really glad that Pastor Oscar is enjoying his time here, but I can’t help thinking about the fact that he has to return to Cuba soon. He runs his church out of his home because building churches is illegal in Cuba. Beef is illegal in Cuba. The internet is mostly illegal in Cuba. Pastor Oscar tells me that flying the Cuban flag is illegal for private citizens in Cuba.

Cuba breaks my heart. My mom was 6 months pregnant with me when she & my dad came to the US. I am one of the lucky ones to be born in this country. I didn’t do anything except have parents who were lucky enough to immigrate here. I still have family members in Cuba that aren’t so lucky.

The good news is that we all have a God who answers prayers & sent his son to save his people. Please pray for Cuba with me.

Cuban Black Beans & Rice (Congri)

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - Congri

I’m not a big rice person. Maybe it’s from having to eat it all the time when I was little. Cubans eat rice only second to Asians (One of my old college roommates was Chinese-American & did not consider it a proper meal unless she had some white rice. She also had like this 6th sense ability to know when the rice cooker was done. I love her.) I like to make Cuban food when I’m cooking for people, and most of the time that includes rice. Especially in this case. My husband & I were going to visit some friends who had recently had a baby & bring them some lunch. We asked the new mom what she would prefer & she said rice would be great. So as you can see, I had to. Rice, rice, rice.

I was actually excited to make this recipe. We call it Congri. If you call it Moros, we can’t be friends. Just kidding! If you have no idea what either of those words means, we can still be friends & you learned something new.  My mom gave me this recipe, & I hadn’t made it in a long time. It was also the perfect excuse to break in our cast iron dutch over. The only thing is that I forget that when I took down the recipe from Mami, I was making it for a party. This recipe makes enough rice for like 15 people; 10 if they are big rice fans. Rice.

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - Congri

I gathered & prepped all my ingredients (in my pretty bowls, just for you guys) & got to work.

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - CongriThe first step is to sofreir  -sauté- your rice with oil & Sazón. Mami says this step opens up the rice kernels & makes them taste better. If nothing else, this will help keep the rice from sticking & season it evenly. I did this for just a few minutes until the oil was making a hissssss sound.

Next you add all the other ingredients. If you don’t know what Recaito is, it’s a mix of onions, roasted garlic, sweet peppers, green bell pepper, cubanelle pepper, cilantro, & culantro blended until smooth.

Rec

If you make your own beans for this recipe (the old fashioned way it’s supposed to be done), use the water you boil the beans in to make the rice – it gives it that traditional congri color. I didn’t do that. I used canned black beans that I drained & rinsed because the water inside the can is always yucky to me. This is why my rice came out kind of orangey instead of grey/black. My mom gets around this by adding a little bit of browning sauce. But I believe Congri should be judged not by the color of the rice, but by the content of the flavor.

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - Congri

Bring it to a boil, then to a simmer. The highs & lows of cooking. Cover & let simmer for 20 minutes.

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - Congri

After 20 minutes, stir it up. Simmer for 10 more minutes, & voila!

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - Congri

Even for someone who’s not a rice lover (me), this is delicious. I served it with some pork roast I threw in the crock pot with mojo, fresh garlic, & cumin (I don’t think it’s a coincidence that cumin & Cuban rhyme).

Cuban Black Beans & Rice - Congri

Congri

Makes 12 half-cup servings

  • 4 cups parboiled rice
  • 2 cans black beans, drained
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 3 strips cooked bacon
  • 2 packets of Sazón (3 tsp)
  • 2-3 tbsp Recaito
  • 6 cups water
  • 1-2 tbsp oil
  1. Sauté the uncooked rice in oil with the Sazón for a few minutes.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients & bring to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, turn heat to low & cover. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. After 20 minutes, stir the rice until mixed evenly. Simmer for 10 more minutes.
  5. Serve & enjoy!

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