Introducing Shirley Ann Cooper
From: Puerto Rico
Currently resides: Florida, USA
Coming from a multicultural family, I have learned to examine the world from the inside out. Because of my cultural background, my eyes are opened to new things, whether through the fashion industry or the food world. I enjoy the many colors that pour out into my life and the culture that follows.
My life has been a tremendous teacher, leading me to an amazing journey that breathes life into my soul. I thank my God that I am able to understand others more every day and the lives they live, through their cultural background.
Being mixed of two nationalities, Puerto Rican and Filipino, has helped me in the way I express myself through my writing. I am able to grasp the reality that every blood is different; A beautiful rainbow of colors. The wide spread phenomenon in the foodie department has been quite fascinating, and it’s a blessing to know that the food I was raised enjoying has shaken the culinary world.
I was born in Ceiba, Puerto Rico, with my mother being Puerto Rican and my father being Filipino. Although I have never stepped foot into the Philippines, I learned how to cook the food well. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the pleasure of indulging in the beautiful island I was born on, but hope to one day return.
Today, I reside in McAlpin, Florida with my husband of 32 years. I am the mother of four amazing children, with wonderful in-laws that I love very much. I’m a grandmother to the cutest grand kids, who all now share and enjoy the culture I was so blessed to soak in.
No matter where I stand, I will always take pride in the blood that runs freely through my veins.
Shirley’s page: www.facebook.com/From-Heaven-ablog-219583824881505
My Island, Beautiful
My Island, beautiful. It’s where I was blessed enough to live my first five years of life. The beautiful beaches and the smell of the ocean were just captivating.
I remember playing in the sand and running from the land crabs and huge bullfrogs. On my island, these crustaceans and amphibians are famous, especially a tiny frog the size of a pinky nail, called the Coqui. They are celebrities found in books, television and bedtime stories. These faint memories certainly bring back the little girl who once spoke in her native language. It brings tears to my eyes as the island carries more than my youth. It’s a place where my parents fell in love.
The sun in Puerto Rico is absolutely gorgeous, along with the palm trees, and the coconuts that clung to them. Let’s not forget the food. How delicious a life? I thank God that today I am able to share my life on the island with my children, through cooking.
The many foods cooked from the homes of the island people blended well with the tropical breeze, making every taste bud close by fill up with saliva. I remember being at my aunt’s house for dinner and the main course – pork – was celebrated. I had no idea what that meant until the food was done and everyone went outside to eat. Mom made pork all the time, so no big deal, right?
Wrong! When I looked out into the field, what I discovered would change the way I welcomed food. There in front of me was a large pig on a pole, above a fire. I ran away faster than I did when I was being chased by land crabs.
I must say, that I truly miss my Island, beautiful, and hope to one day return.
El Yunque Intertwined With My Heart
The smell of rain filled my nostrils like an overwhelming joy,
The breeze that followed every step would drown out all the noise.
Each time I walked or ran through the forest grounds,
I’d find myself lost in the beauty of the sound.
The beautiful chirps of tropical feathered friends,
Would stay embedded in my ears to never end.
The waterfalls that stretched far and wide,
Would be my partner and my guide.
The scenery and wildlife that stood still adorned my eyes,
As it captivated my heart and became mine.
In search of peace I discovered something new,
The peaceful life of the Caribbean shined through.
The concession stand that smelled of delicious island delicacies,
Made taste buds wild and tickled the belly.
The stars shined brighter than the sun itself,
The dark skies made every heart just melt.
My feet felt the stones that lay still,
As I walked over every bump and hill.
I remember when the time drew near,
To leave this place made me tear.
The dance poured out as the end came close,
This is the place I’ll miss the most.
When memories are shared they’ll never spark,
Like that gorgeous place that grabbed my heart.
El Yunque, the rain forest dream,
Became everything it intended to be.
As the distance kept us far apart,
It will forever be intertwined with my heart.
Recipe: Red & Pink Beans
No matter where or when you get the chance to finally make this recipe, I hope that you, your loved ones, and friends, enjoy my homes most beloved meal.
SERVINGS – 8 UNITS (US)
- 1 (16 ounce) can red kidney beans (habichuelas coloradas) and 1 (16 ounce) can pink beans (habichuelas coloradas)
- 1 teaspoon adobo seasoning (a flavored salt used in Latin cooking)
- 4 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 stick butter or margarine
- 1 – 1/2 cup large cubed boneless rib pork meat with fat
- 2 teaspoons garlic cloves (chopped)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 (5g) packet sazon with azafran seasoning (comes in envelopes in a box, gives color and a distinct flavor to latin dishes)
- 3 tablespoons Sofrito sauce and 3 tablespoons Recaito sauce (comes in a jar, a necessary ingredient in Puerto Rican cuisine)
Note: you can make these sauces homemade as well to give this dish an even more authentic taste.
1 can of Goya tomato sauce
- In saucepan, heat oil on low-medium heat and put in the pork.
- Once it starts to sizzle, add the garlic powder, and chopped garlic cloves, black pepper and Adobo seasoning.
- Then add the Sofrito and Sazon con Azafran seasoning, stir.
- Slowly stir in tomato sauce.
- Next add red beans, add butter.
- Cook to a boil. Mix well. Cover with lid and simmer.
- Serve with Goya short grain white rice. (Spanish style)
(On my island beautiful, Puerto Rico, it’s traditional to serve rice and beans with almost every meal, with Spanish style pork chops and fried garlic plantains on the side) The rice must be Spanish style as well. Using Crisco lard and salt during the cooking process.
Shades of the Same Skin is an anthology of culture. The world is in need of a vigorous seasoning and it is why the poets in this book are willing to share their ethnicity. Each one will give some insight into their culture, music, clothing, food, traditions, and even share a few recipes. Some will engage in unique stories and folklore. Others will take us back to their childhood days and compare it to the experience of children today. A few will even welcome us into their homes to share items from their heritage.
This is also a book of unity. Its purpose is to show that without diversity, the world would be a boring place. Each poet in this anthology has a unique style because of where they came from, their experiences, and who they are. Their words are printed on these pages to inspire why we belong. We are all vital ingredients for the recipe to keep the world stirring.
Shades of the Same Skin is Available at the following Retailers:
Create Space: www.createspace.com/6171447
Creative Talents Unleashed: www.ctupublishinggroup.com/anthologies.html
100% of all proceeds from this book are being donated to the “Starving Artist Fund” to assist writers in becoming published authors. Purchasing this book can help a writer become a published author!