Tag Archives: union city

#WriteWed The Ironbound Section & At the Shore

One of the things that I wanted to show with the At the Shore contemporary romance series is the diversity of New Jersey, both ethnically and economically. While Maggie and Owen from ONE SUMMER NIGHT are both well-off, Connie and Emma, the heroines of #2 and #3 in the series respectively, have both had to work hard to achieve what they have.

As for ethnically, Connie represents the large Cuban population of Union City. Emma is a suburban girl from Edison. The hero in #3 is Carlo Texeira from the Ironbound section of Newark.

I’m getting ready to write a scene in #2 where you find out a little bit more about Carlo and his family, who play a substantial role in #3. In that scene, you get to see a big Portuguese-style family dinner at their Ironbound home.

The Ironbound is a unique section of the city of Newark. It’s located not all that far from Newark Penn Station and between the airport and the Passaic River. It is a largely Portuguese neighborhood with the first immigrants from Portugal arriving in the early 1900s along with Spaniards from Galicia (my family’s part of Spain). In fact, many Portuguese food dishes are very similar to those from Galicia.

The main avenue in the Ironbound is Ferry Street which abounds with a number of mom and pop Portuguese shops along with a number of other Latin restaurants. In #3, the hero’s family has owned a successful bakery there since the 1930s. Carlo’s older brothers now run the business and Carlo has struck out on his own to make a life down the shore. He’s Emma’s Go-to-Guy in more than one way, although she refuses to admit that.

Ferry Street, as you might guess, was named after a ferry that ran between Newark and other locations to the east. Check out the video below that shows you Ferry Street. If part of it looks familiar, it’s because it made an appearance in the beginning of the 2005 remake of War of the Worlds (2:30 to 2:45 in the video). If you can’t see the video below, use this link: https://youtu.be/PGP_94G3Vms

#WriteWed Behind the Scenes of THE PERFECT MIX

THE PERFECT MIX Contemporary RomanceThis Wednesday I’m offering you a little behind the scenes look at the location for Bianca and Rey’s story in The Perfect Mix which will be released shortly.

The Perfect Mix will also be available in the Lucky 7 Bad Boys Contemporary Romance Box Set!

My hubby and I always have a Christmas Eve errand to run, namely, to head up to Union City to get Cuban goodies we can’t get locally. That entails taking a shortcut through Weehawkin so we can get a glimpse of New York City. We both love the city!

One of our trips to this area was when we were in the midst of renovations to our current house. We had decided to redo the kitchen since the stove had shorted out, drawer fronts were coming off in our hands, and the 1960s yellow linoleum and missing wall behind the fake brick paneling were finally too much to handle.

As we reached Hamilton Park in Weehawkin, we stopped to snap some photos of the city. It was a day much like this one!

Hamilton Park, Weehawkin

Photo Credit: NederlandsNederlands@en.wikipedia.com

When we got back into the car, we passed by a building at the end of the park. It seemed empty at the time and had been a restaurant at one point and it made me wonder, what would it be like to take over that space with those fabulous views and renovate it?

Well, as you can imagine, The Perfect Mix was born. In this story, Bianca is a chef who, together with her two partners, is undertaking just that kind of task. The hero, Rey Ramos, is the contractor who has been recommended to them and the sparks between Rey and Bianca are instantaneous!

Rey takes on the task of renovating the restaurant, but along the way, has to deal with falling in love with Bianca and having to share a very painful secret with her.

Anyway, here’s another photo from the same location. It was really overcast and cloudy this year, but I love the way this photo came out!

Citrus-Marinated Roast Pork

During my recent visit to the wonderful blog of my friend and fellow author Kelly Moran, I was asked about my signature dish for Christmas. Now in my house, Christmas Eve is a mix of Italian, Cuban and American foods, but the signature dish has to be the Cuban-style citrus-marinated roast pork.

We, because it is a family affair to cook this dish, start preparing it the night before after a trip to Union City, New Jersey to pick up some Cuban staples and the pork leg.

I’m normally feeding anywhere from 15 to 25 people on Christmas Eve, so I need a really really big pork leg (pork shoulder/picnic ham/pernil). I normally get a piece of pork that weighs around 25 pounds, but you can buy a much smaller piece and adjust the cooking times (more on that later).

Ingredients:

    10-15 navel oranges
    10 lemons
    10 limes
    6-8 Seville (aka Sour) Oranges
    6 pink grapefruit
    10-20 gloves of finely chopped garlic
    Ground cumin
    bay leaves
    Pork leg/shoulder/picnic ham

Directions:

Juice all the above citrus into a large pot. We use one of those large buckets in which your grocery store deli get its potato salad, etc. Drop by and ask them for one! Ours is only used for the Christmas Eve pork.

The citrus mix should be sour, but with a strong hit of sweet (the navel oranges and grapefruit really help with that). You should have enough citrus juice to fully cover your piece of pork. Once you’ve tasted the sweet/sour mix, then add 3 to 4 bay leaves, about a half cup of garlic (less for a smaller piece of pork) and about 1/4 cup of cumin. Mix this all up.

Take your piece of pork and make multiple slits in it so that the marinade can penetrate into the meat. Place the pork leg in the citrus juice, cover and refrigerate. You’re probably wondering how I keep that big a bucket cold? Put the bucket in one of those big party tubs, place it in your garage (which should be slightly colder anyway) and fill the tub with ice. It should be icy cold in the morning unless you are in a really hot environment in which case you will need to keep on adding ice to keep the meat cold.

In the morning (around 6 a.m. or so) pre-heat the oven to 425. Remove the pork from the citrus and place it in a large roasting dish. Keep some of the citrus juice, bay leaves and garlic for use as a marinade. Discard the rest. Ladle about 1 to 2 cups over the pork and then stick the pork into the oven for one hour at 425. For a small piece of pork, cut down this initial high temp roast accordingly. For ten pounds make it around 30 minutes, anything smaller than that no more than about 15 minutes.

Do not baste the pork during this high heat roast.

When the high heat roast time is up, baste the pork and lower the oven temp to 325. Then cook until the meat pulls away from the bone in the leg and is starting to fall off. Marinate every half an hour during the cooking process. For a 25 pound pork leg, I will cook it for about 8 to 9 hours. The pork will turn this beautiful mahogany brown and just melt in your mouth.

For smaller pieces of pork, adjust the cooking times. A 10 pound picnic ham may take only about 4 or so hours. The key is to keep on basting and cooking at a low temp to keep the meat juicy.

If the pork begins to brown too much, just cover with aluminum and keep on cooking until the meat is fork tender.

Hope you enjoyed today’s Tuesday Tip. Here’s a shot of family and friends sitting around the Christmas Eve table, waiting to start the big meal!

Sharing some photos!

We’re off later for our annual trip to New York City to see all the holiday sights! In the meantime, I wanted to share with you some photos of our Christmas holiday. If you can’t see the slideshow below, you can also see the photos by using this link to visit my photo album at Facebook.

Still making those lists, checking them twice!

Sorry, Dee. I know you probably didn’t want to see those words again!

I’m still making lists, one of the best ways to avoid missing something I must do for Christmas Eve. So there’s the gift list and the wrap list. One is done the other is slowly being whittled down.

There’s the food list which I haven’t even begun, but must do so that I can start the food shopping this weekend. Then there’s the Cuban food list because to get a lot of the things I need for Christmas Eve I have to head up to Union City, home of La Roca grocery store and El Fenix Bakery!

But while I am making all those lists and checking them often, I’m still taking time out to enjoy this holiday season. In spite of the cold, it’s one of my favorite times of year.

This morning I walked through Bryant Park where The Pond is open for business. Skating is free if you have your own skates. There are also a number of food and gift kiosks all around The Pond. Hope you enjoy this photo below or if you can’t see it, click here to see The Pond at Bryant Park.