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Trinidad Stewed Chicken

Lately, it seems like everyone I know escaped to Hawaii over the winter holidays. My Facebook feed consisted of everyone boasting about tanning, swimming, reading, lazying about in Hawaii.

Meanwhile, the weather in Vancouver is overcast and hovering around 4 degrees Celsius. I longed for warmth and sunshine.

As I was looking through my recipes for dinner, a tweet caught my eye. The office of Charlie Hebdo was targeted by three men killing twelve people, including journalists, cartoonists, police officers and other innocent civilians. My heart aches for the victims and their families as a result of this senseless and cowardly attack.

I was no longer longing for a sunny beach in Hawaii. I felt shaken as the attack was a direct assault on freedom of speech, which is something I value. It was a flashback to September 11th and when Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a Canadian ceremonial guard, was gunned down point blank. It was not a fair fight.

People all over the world started holding signs that said "Je Suis Charlie" (I am Charlie) and pens (symbolizing the freedom of speech) to stand in solidarity with those who lost their lives in Paris yesterday. Now I longed for everyone to have the right to freedom of speech, without fear of retribution or violence. I longed for disagreements using words rather than violence to resolve differences.

As I was making this Trinidad Stewed Chicken, I thought of my friend Tina, who gave me this recipe 5 years ago. Our friendship was a unique one as we are polar opposites in many respects, except when it came to food. The aroma of the chicken simmering on my stove reminded me of a happier time and filled my house with warmth. Though the chicken stew was delicious and enjoyed by everyone, it felt like a dark cloud was hovering above us. I am still sad and confused over how satirical cartoons can be a death sentence for 12 innocent people. It continues to baffle me.

The slain editor of Charlie Hebdo, St├ęphane “Charb” Charbonnier, infamously said "I prefer to die standing than living on my knees". I strongly believe the best way to memorialize the 12 victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre is not be afraid and to continue to exercise our right to freedom of speech. Je Suis Charlie.

3-1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs (cut into 1 inch pieces)
3 tbsp minced green seasonings (chives, green onions, cilantro)
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp salt (I omitted this)
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp brown sugar (loosely packed)
1 cup chicken broth or water
2 medium tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp hot pepper to taste, dried chili, red chili pepper or habanero (optional)
1 tbsp butter, added for flavor (optional)

1. Season chicken with green seasonings (I only used green onions), garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Mix. Cover and allow it to marinate for 30 minutes.

2. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add brown sugar and melt.

3. Add chicken and brown all over, tossing continuously until the liquid dries out.

4. Pour in 1 cup chicken broth (or water), tomatoes, ketchup, soy sauce and hot pepper. Mix. Cover pot and simmer on low-medium heat until the chicken is tender (about 15 to 20 minutes).

5. Optional: Once the chicken stew has finished cooking, add in a tablespoon of butter. Stir and serve over rice, noodles or with a crusty loaf of bread.

Source: Tina HC

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