Fri | Apr 28, 2017

Food, love and family

Published:Thursday | March 12, 2015 | 3:00 AM
Monica Simpson (seated) with her daughter Andrea Cowan (left) and grand-daughter Dr Kristen Cowan-Lyn (right).
Dr Kristen Cowan-Lyn hi-five her husband Peter.
The happy family enjoying a Sunday dinner.
James and Monica Simpson have been married for 56 years.
They say a family that eats together stays together. Three generations from left: Peter Cowan and his wife Andrea, her father James Simpson, Dr Kristin Cowan-Lyn, and her grandmother Monica seated.
Chocolate a la mode with a molten centre.
Grilled pork chops with basil and sweet mango puree
Sweeny adds the finishing touches to his mussels and shrimp in jerk sausage and white wine broth.
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Recently, Food had the privilege of joining in on an extra special family event where love permeated through every member present. Celebrating a combined 90 years of wedded bliss were James and Monica Simpson (married for 56 years), Peter and Andrea Cowan (married for 29 years) and Alan Lyn and Dr Kristin Cowan-Lyn (married for five years); three generations of devotion.

Chef Christian Sweeney and his team crafted an exquisite three-course menu, along with accompanying wines, to match the mood of the evening. Just before the first course was served, there were many family stories shared, and the wise anecdotes started to flow.

Monica met her husband James nearly 60 years ago when they were in their early 20s. It took James just a year to make Monica his wife, although she quipped that he 'tricked' her into marriage. The union produced two children - Richard and Andrea, who are now both happily married with children of their own - Kristin and Brandon.

High-school sweethearts, Alan and Kristin met while auditioning for a Jamaica Junior Theatre production and became fast friends. Alan made it very clear to Kristin's parents that he wanted to someday marry their only daughter. Andrea laughed in his face.

"He was 16 years old at the time and wanted to gift my daughter with a promise ring. I didn't believe him at first," said Andrea.

"Kristin is my first girlfriend and, from then, I knew exactly what I wanted," Alan told Food. Today, they are married with a son - three-year-old Ethan.

The evening was filled with laughter and reminiscing about old times, punctuated by course after delicious course. After a starter of mussels and shrimp in Copperwood Pork's jerk sausage and white wine broth, it was time for the main course that stole the show. Sweeney prepared a grilled pork chop with sweet mango and basil purée, served with potato fingerlings and caramelised carrots. Dessert was a perfectly sweet chocolate ‡ la mode with a molten centre.

The family credits their cohesiveness to regular family dinners, where everything is discussed from what happened in each person's day to current events. It has remained a crucial part of bonding for the group, and Sunday dinners for the extended family are the norm.

When the conversation turned to maintaining a nutritious and healthy diet, Monica and Andrea stressed that its all about making it a team effort, as both women juggle the demands of a career and growing families.

All the men know their way around a kitchen, and James, Peter and Alan expressed a love for cooking and adventure. According to Kristin, "Alan really is a superdad. He has always been a bit of a chef in the family. Whenever we have gatherings, he's always the one to cook up a fish or get on the grill. With my long hours as a doctor, he's always there to cook and really come through.

But Kristin does the shopping on a Saturday. They map out the meals together and make a plan. It really is teamwork.

An avid angler, Peter lists fishing as one of the many activities he and Andrea enjoy together. In fact, Peter caught the marlin that was served at Kristin's and Alan's wedding.

 

We asked for some advice from the experts on making love last the test of time:

 

 

Peter Cowan

 

Communication is key. Being married for 29 years, I've seen a number of my friends, who got married just around the same time as I did, end in divorce. Celebrate every milestone and do not walk away until every possible option has been exhausted.

 

James Simpson

 

Marry not for material things, but for love. Ninety per cent of those advisers encouraging you to leave your marriage are miserable, and misery loves company.

 

Dr Kristin Cowan-Lyn

 

Don't wait to sort out an issue with your partner. Talk it out, you may need to walk away to cool off, but do not go to bed until the issue is sorted.

 

Alan Lyn

 

It's not about finding the right person, but being the right person.

 

Andrea Cowan

 

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. Respect is very important.

 

Monica Simpson

 

Patience. Lots of it.

 

Chef Sweeney shared with us two recipes from the night that are easy and that you'll want to try at home:

 

Easy Grilled Pork Chops with Basil and Sweet Mango Purée

Mango reduction

3oz dehydrated mango

1tsp lime juice

1tbsp white wine

Salt to taste

2 cups water

 

Directions

 

1. In a small saucepan, boil two cups water.

2. Add mango pieces and let boil until mango softens (approximately one hour).

3. Place remaining broth and mango in food processor.

4. Add lemon juice, white wine and a dash of salt.

5. Purée until smooth.

Pork chops

2 tbsp chopped basil

2 tsp chopped rosemary

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tray pack bone-in Copperwood Pork chops

Salt (to taste)

Fresh cracked pepper (to taste)

 

Directions

 

1. Place basil, olive oil and rosemary in a blender and purée until smooth.

2. Rub pork with salt and pepper, then olive oil mixture.

3. Heat grill and place pork chops on, turning once every five minutes until done.

4. Serve immediately with mango purée.

Mussels and Shrimp in Jerk Sausage and White Wine Broth

1 pack mussels of your choice

1 bag shrimp (raw peeled and deveined)

1 pack Copperwood Pork jerk sausage (casing removed and sliced)

1 cup fish stock or water

1 cup white wine

1 large tomato (deseeded and finely diced)

1 medium-size onion (finely diced)

2 cloves garlic (finely diced)

2 tsp fresh fennel fronds (optional)

2 tsp fresh Dill fronds (optional)

1 tsp olive oil

Salt (to taste)

Red Chili Flakes (to taste)

Fresh cracked black pepper (to taste)

 

Directions

 

1. Heat a large shallow pan and add 1 tsp olive oil when hot.

2. When oil starts to slightly smoke, add jerked sausage and let render for three minutes, constantly stirring.

3. When juice from jerked sausage is visible, add tomatoes, onions and garlic.

4. Let cook until onions are translucent. At this point, stir in the shrimp, add white wine and then fish stock.

5. Pour in mussels and stir the mixture.

6. Add all remaining ingredients.

7. Cover and let steam for seven minutes (if using black mussels, when they open up, its ready).

To Serve

1. In an oval serving platter, place jerked sausage down first, then shrimp, and arrange mussels on top.

2. Pour the remaining broth all over the platter.

3. Serve immediately with warm crusty bread for dipping in the rich broth.

Serves 4-6

Chef's tip: Add one pint heavy cream, two tablespoons Parmesan cheese to broth and one pack of your favourite pasta, to make it a full meal