This Dame Cooks A Collection of Recipes from Alaska to the South Pacific and Caribbean

Homemade Papaya Jam Over Fluffy Pancakes

Papaya is available nearly year round here in Puerto Rico.  Unlike Hawaiian varieties, Caribbean papaya tend to be large…2 pounds or more is not uncommon. It’s a versatile fruit that can be used in all its stages of ripeness.

Drizzle lime juice over slices of fresh ripe papaya for a cool and refreshing breakfast…so good and loaded with vitamins and minerals.  Over fluffy pancakes papaya jam is to die for.  Green papaya makes a terrific chutney as piquant as you dare and even a pickled salad Filipino style.  A popular dish in the Polynesian South Pacific is lo’i lesi.  Its a papaya filled with coconut milk, a little cinnamon and raw sugar. Then it is wrapped in banana leaves and baked in an umu (underground oven). What a treat! Like pudding.  Polynesians also use shredded green papaya to tenderize lamb, beef, giant clams, octopus and conch.

This jam is even better with a few of the seeds thrown in.  The seeds become tender and have a slight peppery flavor when cooked.  They add a little more character to the jam, at least in appearance.

Papaya doesn’t have alot of pectin and needs acid inorder to jell.  Lime juice goes very nicely with sweet ripe papaya.  You can cook it for a long time to get it to jell but you lose so much flavor and compromise the bright colors.  Again, if you’ve read my other tropical jam posts, tropical fruits are delicate in flavor so over cooking is definitely a no, no.

Papaya is available in major stateside supermarkets so do try this jam.  Don’t forget to make a few jars for gift baskets.


  • 4 cups of ripe papaya flesh
  • 1 Tbsp papaya seeds
  • juice of 2 large limes (about 1/4 cup and reserve the juiced peels)
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 pouch Certo Liquid Pectin


  • Wash jars in hot soapy water, rinse well, sterilize in boiling water for 10 minutes and keep jars warm until ready to fill.
  • Juice the limes.  Slice, chop or grind the lime peels with the pips and pith, place in a small sauce pan with 1 cup water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat, strain, pushing against the pulp to extract the pectin.  Cool the natural pectin and add to the lime juice.
  • Wash papaya thoroughly.  Slice off blossom end and stem end and slice down middle of fruit.  Remove the seeds and stringy flesh with a spoon, reserve one tablespoon of seeds.  Remove the flesh with a spoon and coursely chop or mash until you have 4 cups. You want some texture.
  • In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan place papaya flesh, lime juice mixture and sugar .
  • Stirring constantly to dissolve sugar, bring to a boil, add the reserved seeds and cook 15 minutes over medium high heat.  Raise the heat and bring to a full-roiling boil (a boil that cannot be stirred down).
  • Remove from heat and stir in Certo liquid pectin.  Return to high heat and bring back to a roiling boil for 1 minute.  Remove and let set for 3-5 minutes.  If a skin forms and wrinkles when pushed it has reached the jell stage.  If no skin forms return to heat and cook another 5 minutes.  Repeat jell test.
  • Drain warm jars, fill to within 1/4-inch of rim, wipe rims and seal.  Bring water-bath to a full boil.  Water should be 1-inch or more above jars.  Process jars for 10 minutes.  Remove jars to a draft-free area and cool.  Check seals.  Store in a cool, dark, damp-free pantry.  Refrigerate once opened.



Eco Rugs Workshop Wednesday, January 23, 2013

01.10.2013 · Posted in Recipes

Eco Rugs Workshop is scheduled for Wednesday Jan. 23, 2013, 6pm – 8pm at Tres Puertas Galleria in Rincon. We need 5 participants to hold this event so pass the word. Instructions will be given for preparing plastic shopping bags to crochet throw rugs. Plastic rugs can be washed in a machine or sprayed clean with a hose. They dry quickly and bugs don’t like them…great in front of a door, sink, shower, refrigerator. We’ll also cover recycling t-shirts into crocheted rugs. You’ll need to bring scissors, plastic shopping bags, an old t-shirt and a crochet hook (USA size Q or 16mm) available at Walmart in Mayaquez. I have a few crochet hooks I will sell for $5 ea. Cost of the workshop is $20. If interested please call 787-672-5284.

Gingerbread Men Cookies without Molasses

Gingerbread cookies are a tradition at Christmas time.  They make terrific gifts for school parties, hostess gifts and neighbors.  So cute all dressed up in royal icing and candy hearts.  Molasses is typically used to make the dough but here in Puerto Rico its next to impossible to find Gramma’s Molasses and the Blackstrap Molasses available here in health food stores yields nearly a black cookie rather than a golden brown cookie.  Honey makes a terrific substitute as long as you use dark brown sugar which has a higher molasses content than light brown sugar.  After making a couple sample batches of dough I’m really pleased with the flavor and color achieved with honey and dark brown sugar…these cookies are just like Mom made way back when.

The El Coqui Rincon magazine was kind enough to advertise my cookies for sale in the November issue (check out  Each cookie is 4-inches tall, wrapped in a cellophane bag and tied with a red ribbon.  Orders are pouring in this week and I expect they’ll continue to come up until Christmas week.

The dough is quite soft so to roll it out I use parchment paper dusted very lightly with flour, then dust the top of the dough with a bit more flour and place plastic wrap on top.  Once the dough is rolled to about 1/8-inch I remove the plastic wrap, cut the cookies with a floured cutter, remove the excess dough and place the parchment with the cut-out cookies on a cookie sheet.  Pop the whole baking sheet of cut-out cookies into the freezer until they are firm.  This will prevent the cookies from spreading too much.  I got this idea from Laura Vitali’s video and I thought it was so clever.  When the oven is up to temperture 350° F. (180° C.) I bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes.

Do try this recipe and method.


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1-1/2 cups butter (salted) (3 sticks as room temperature)
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 whole egg


  1. In a medium sized bowl whisk the first 6 ingredients together and reserve.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the dark brown sugar until fluffy, add the honey and egg, beat well.  Gradually add the reserved flour mixture to the butter mixture.
  3. Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap sprinkled with flour and using the plastic wrap shape the dough into a rectangular package.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or up to one week.  Remove dough from frig when it is quite firm.
  4. Preheat oven 350° F.  Roll dough 1/8″ thick and cut out gingerbread men using parchment paper as detailed in blog post above.  Chill cut-outs 20 minutes before baking.  Bake until golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes for my oven but your’s could be only 10 or 12 minutes.
  5. Remove baking sheets and let set 5 minutes before removing cookies to a cooling rack.
  6. Decorate cookies with royal icing when they are completely cooled.



Ginger and Starfruit Jam

11.15.2012 · Posted in Preserves & Condiments, Recipes

Starfruit and Ginger Jam

Hurricane Sandy did a number on some of the beaches in Rincon, taking away the sand right down to the bedrock in some areas.  My friend, Judy, lost several beautiful fan-palms on the beach side of her home leaving an eight foot drop off.  Fortunately the rest of the property was intact and the fruit trees were unharmed.  Judy had one starfruit tree loaded with fruit so I brought home about 10 pounds of fruit for chutney and this jam.

Tropical fruits are very sweet when ripe with delicate flavors and its important not to overcook them or add ingredients that will overpower their intrinsic flavors.  A couple tablespoons of fresh grated ginger was all that was needed to turn a batch of starfruit into a jam with just a hint of sparkle.  Starfruit tastes like a strawberry with apple tones and has the texture of watermelon or ripe pear depending upon the ripeness.

Do give this jam a try and remember jams make lovely Christmas gifts.


  • 2 cups cubed starfruit (about 6 medium sized)
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2  Tbsp liquid pectin


  1. Remove stem, blossom ends and any brown skin from the star points of the fruit.  Cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
  2. Place in a heavy bottom saucepan.  Add water and bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until fruit is tender.  If necessary use a potato masher to smash the fruit.
  3. Add lemon juice and pectin, bring to a roiling boil and quickly stir in sugar until dissolved.
  4. Add ginger and bring back to a roiling boil for 1 minute more.  Remove from heat and fill jars.
  5. For long-term storage – wash jars and lids in hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly.  Keep warm until ready to fill.  Fill jars within 1/4 inch of the rim.  Wipe the rim and place lid on finger-tight.  Place jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Remove to a draft-free area and let sit for 24 hours.  Check lids have sealed before storing.  If lids have not sealed, refrigerate jam.
  6. For more info on canning jams check out YouTube

Snowmen with Paper Mache Clay – Weekend project

11.14.2012 · Posted in Craft Projects


Puerto Ricans are mad about snowmen…who knew!  I suppose its a novelty for those who haven’t seen nor experienced real snow.  I had lots of requests last year for snowmen so I made these little ornaments from 1-1/2 inch and 2 inch styrofoam balls with paper mache clay to form the noses, eyes, buttons and hats.  They’re sitting on cork platforms with paper mache clay filler so they’ll sit by themselves on a mantel.  Red and green pipe cleaners were used for the scarves and ear muffs.  The cap and scarf on the snowman to the far right was made of stretchy T-shirt fabric.

Paper mache clay is one of my favorite mediums for crafting.  Its used in place of paper mache (paper strips and paste) over an armiture.   It’s simply toilet paper soaked in water, squeezed dry then shredded fine in a food processor.  Joint compound, homemade white glue, flour, bleach and gylcerin was whirled with the shredded paper until a smooth dough was achieved.  This recipe is adapted from Ultimate Paper Mache. Check out the recipe video below from Ultimate Paper Mache.  Jonni Good is the author of Make Animal Sculptures with Paper Mache Clay.

Paper Mache Clay Recipe – makes 1 quart or 2 pounds

  • 1 roll Angel Soft toilet tissue
  • 1 cup regular joint compound
  • 3/4 cup homemade white glue (recipe to follow) or Elmer’s Glue All
  • 1/2 cup flour (all-purpose)
  • 1 Tbsp Chlorine Bleach
  • 1 Tbsp Glycerine

Homemade White Glue

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp vinegar

Place homemade glue ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened like a medium thick white sauce.

To prepare the paper mache clay: Remove the cardboard roll from the toilet paper.  Place toilet paper in a bowl of warm water until completely saturated.  Squeeze as much water as possible from the toilet tissue. Break up the roll of toilet paper into chunks and whirl in a salad spinner until it feels just damp.  Transfer to a food processor, pulse and whirl the paper until finely shredded.  Add the remaining ingredients and whirl until its like cookie dough.  Place in a plastic container with tight fitting lid and let set 3-4 hours or overnight.

Three Kings with Paper Mache Clay


Next up – Three Kings statues made with wine bottles and paper mache clay.