About Me

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Hello!! My name is Tanisha Bailey-Roka, and I live on the beautiful island of St. Croix in the United States Virgin Islands.

I am an attorney by day, (nights, weekends, and even some holidays) but in my remaining free time, I enjoy learning, studying, creating, crafting, and sharing food!

As an homage to my favorite Celebrity Chef Ina Garten the Barefoot Contessa, my close friends have taken to calling me the “Crucian Contessa” (given that I live on St. Croix)! This blog is my culinary diary, a collection of  images, foods, and some recipes that have meant the most to me, that mark special moments, or simply sparks my curiosity!

I tend to use premium ingredients to create food that is simply unforgettable.  And as much as possible, I rely on local island ingredients. I also adore ingredients like real Tahitian and Mexican Vanilla Beans, whole Dominican nutmeg (essential element to almost every dessert),  and Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar or local Crucian Honey as sweeteners.

Although the island definitely influences what I create, it by no means limits it. I have such a curiosity about food and the creative process of it. Don’t be surprised to find a recipe for pico de gallo nestled below a recipe for Crucian Cocoa Tea on this blog. Food is fascinating, whether it originates around the corner, or around the world. We literally are not islands. We are all connected.

I hope you enjoy the stories, images, and recipes here. Feel free to share your thoughts, feedback, and experiences. I am eager to hear about how your own culinary adventures turn out!

I am passionate about food, and believe simply that making it yourself is making it best!

Enjoy!!

Tanisha (the “Crucian Contessa”)

P.S. Here are a few pictures from my island home–St. Croix, U.S.V.I. It truly is an amazing place.

How can you not be creative when you are surrounded with this kind of uncompromising beauty? When was the last time you stood eye to eye with a rainbow? Only on St.Croix!

A make-shift BBQ on the beach from fish and lobsters we found right in the nearby waters. It doesn’t get any fresher (or better)! Notice the difference between these lobsters and the more common Maine Lobster? No claws. And WAY sweeter!

 

68 thoughts on “About Me

    1. Seeing your blog makes me so proud! I’m from St. Thomas and was just surfing the internet for Conch recipes and discovered you. You pictures are phenomenal! Thank you for representing the Virgin Islands so well!!! I will be following you from here on …keep up the great work!

  1. Congrats on your new website Tanisha! I guess this is where I have to come to get your recipes since you do not give them out. I will be trying your salt fish cake recipe. I love it :)!

  2. A woman after my own heart! We’ll definitely have to play in the kitchen when we visit this summer! I’ll share some Belizean dishes! I’m sure we’ll enjoy the Crucian dishes!

  3. Congrats on this venture. I am ever so proud of you and even happier that you get to share your talents with more than just your little ole friends/neigbors in MStar. 🙂
    I know the list is long for wanna be tasters, but I want special consderation!
    This is fantastic! 🙂
    Nadia

  4. This is so beautiful. Beautiful photography and great ideas. You are so talented. I am sharing this with my daughter, Tiffany Moorhead. She is in the U.S. right now and loves cooking too. She attended some culinary schools while vacationing in N.Y. Congratulations for all that you do.

    1. Mrs. Molloy, that means so much to me coming from you! Please feel free to share the site with as many people as you wish! It is just a way to share some more of our little island with the world! And Peter and I are waiting to share some food with you, when you have some time to share with us! 🙂

  5. I really enjoyed going through your website. It will be one of those that I pass on and return to for updates. Thanks for the “heads up” on it, and I hope other League ladies enjoy it as well.

  6. Tanisha,

    I’m again enjoying your blog — and look forward to trying some dishes when I visit my family in “the old country”.

    I’ve never had a meal I didn’t absolutely love at your home!

    1. Frandelle, I see your email address says Chantvi? Do you work with The CHANT food competition? If so, I just wanted to tell you how wonderful an idea I thought that event was. And how necessary it is for us to explore all the things that our traditional foods can do and become! If not, then I still loved that program anyway! lol.

  7. I love your site! Your photos are beautiful and capture the essence of Caribbean foods beautifully. I’m an avid foodie and share your passion for the culinary arts. Love your ideas on what to do with our fruits. We tend to have an overabundance at times and need new ideas. Keep it coming!

  8. Hi Tanisha,

    Are you Laura and Gilroy’s sister? I absolutely love everything about your site and share it with every and anyone. Can’t wait to try the mango pound cake this weekend.

    Warm regards,
    Damarie
    #40 WHite Lady :o}

    1. Damarie!! Yes, I am!!! It has been so long!! I see your mom all the time, we usually run into eachother at the airport!! lol. I am back on island and enjoying the beauty of home. We come from such beauty, no reason for us not to share it!! Thanks for sharing the site with your friends! I just started it earlier this year. Its a labor of love. Most of all, I just have fun with it!! so, good to hear from you!! 🙂

      Tanisha

  9. I’m from St Croix and left for college in 98…I’ve only been back home for a total of 4 days since. One of the things I miss the most is the food. The Johnny Cake most of all. Hopefully with your help… my kitchen could bring me a little bit closer to home.

  10. Please, pretty please do you cater? Those avocado egg rolls look too good for me to mess up with my clumsy self -_-
    I’ve always enjoyed your blog and FB posts and will keep on reading for great quality recipes and mouth watering photos. Your creative cruzan contessa-ish spirit is contagious 🙂

  11. I just found your blog, linked from Caribbeanpot.com. What a wonderful way to “visit” my favourite island!

    -a Canadian who’s heart is in St. Croix! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Heather! I am so glad that you enjoy it! It is a labor of love! I don’t think there is any better way to visit an island than through its food. Well except maybe actually going there! 🙂 Canada is one of my favorite places to visit as well. Love B.C. and Toronto! Keep reading and sharing! And don’t forget to “like” it on FB! 🙂

  12. I just found your blog…lucky me! I have been to your amazing island a few years back, and loved it. While there, a friend who lives on the island took us to this bar way out in the jungle that feeds beer to a pig, as well as serving some seriously strong drinks. A most unusual, but fun experience. My husband and I recently purchased property on Ambergris Caye in Belize and will be moving there next spring, so finding a source for Caribbean cooking ideas, recipes and inspiration through your blog was a fantastic find. Can’t wait to start cooking with local tropical ingredients once we hit Belize!

    Best to you and yours,
    Ina

    1. Yes, the beer drinking pig! lol. I heard he has now been switched to non-alcoholic beer. I’m so glad you enjoy my blog. (And I love your name it reminds me of my favorite celebrity chef!) I hope you visit out little rock again soon! It really is a magical place. 🙂

  13. My family and I moved to St. Croix in 1995 from Massachusetts. It was the best time of our lives. Lost my job in 2000 and had to move back to Massachusetts. I have missed St. Croix every day since then and have managed to visit friends a couple of times since. I understand that things on island have changed over the years but there isn’t a day that goes my when I do not think of living on Crucian Time and enjoying the food and island life in general. Thank you for you blog and recipes – they shall bring a small piece of St. Croix into my kitchen.

    1. That is wonderful, Charlie. Thank you! St. Croix is a magical place. That’s the best word I can use to describe it. I’m glad that you enjoy the blog, and maybe it will lure you back to the island! 🙂 Feel free to share it and visit often!

  14. I really wish you all the best! Our culinary culture is loosing its way, but with such persons like yourself, I continue to have faith! I love aloof your VI recipes and have just liked your FB page!

    1. Thank you, Michael! Please feel free to share it! I try to take recipes and give them a twist. And share some of my own! If you ever make one of them, feel free to post it on my FB page! I would love to know how it came out! 🙂

  15. What a beautiful blog!! I am so happy to see your recipe for pumpkin spice latte. I like that drink very much, but I recently gave up dairy milk, so it’s nice that yours is based on almond and coconut milks. Well, I live in California but my husband and I recently began discussing the idea of possibly moving to the USVI, and if we ever do, I hope to shed my American habits a bit and embrace a different rhythm. Your writing about food is wonderful and the recipes look delicious, so I will refer to this blog often as we begin dreaming our island dreams.

    1. Hi, Kalle! I am SO glad you enjoy the blog! I hope you do decide to move to the island. But I have to warn you that island living is tough. It is challenging. But if you are up to it, it is magical and rewarding! If you do decide, let me know how your adventure goes!! 🙂

  16. I look forward to trying some of your recipes. My grandmother was born in St. Croix. Having recently learned much of my family history there I anticipate a visit.

    Axel Ovesen was my great grandfather and my great great grandmother (Doo Doo is all I know her by) worked on the plantation. Can’t wait to try some of the Curcian dishes I’m sure she must have prepared herself.

    1. Hi, Neil!! I am so glad you enjoy it! I hope you are able to visit the island soon enough. To say it is beautiful is an understatement. If you do try any of the recipes, please let me know how it came out! And feel free to share the blog or like it on Facebook! 🙂

  17. I am so thrilled to have found your website! Can’t wait to try some of your recipes…they all sound so delicious! My husband and I have been returning to St. Croix each January for over 30 years. We have been so blessed to have friends who invite us along with other couples to stay and enjoy the island and all it has to offer. One memory my good friend and I shared was enjoying the delightful guava cream pie offered at the Tivoli Restaurant in Christiansted. We have been trying to find the recipe ever since they closed, to no avail. The waiter at the restaurant said it was made by a dear woman in the kitchen. Do you know of any recipe for this pie? Looking forward to your blogs and to passing them along to my good friend!

  18. Have always wanted a conch chowder recipe similar to “Duggan’s” on east end of St. Croix, can you help? Using your recipe for tenderizing fresh conch (long process) before adding to my soup as I write this email, if I don’t hear from you will use a recipe for crab soup I found online from “Epicurious” website improvising as I go along, awaiting your reply, thank you. GOD Bless…

  19. Crucian Contessa

    I visited your site today after our nice conversation and am very impressed. Wow, that spiced coffee looks delicious. I am very happy that you and Peter appreciate the wonderful coffee I am able to provide on St. Croix. DonTomas Coffee….my hand to yours.

    1. It really was very nice talking with you and learning more about the work you do to share your passion with us! Thank you for the delicious coffee! We had some just this morning! And I suspect we will have some again tomorrow! 🙂

  20. I am SO glad I rediscovered your blog! I’m from St. Croix and have spent the last 6 years in the states and extremely homesick. Your blog is amazing with beautiful pictures. This makes me so proud to see other Virgin Islanders expressing love for our home in all kinds of creative ways! I can’t wait to start cooking 🙂

  21. I absolutely LOVE your blog fellow VI’der! Your Red pea soup recipe is magnificent and I have shared your blog with many! Very proud of you my dear as I am a woman who LOVES and adores cooking and eating! Cant wait to go home and devour some food in december. You have no idea!! Keep up the great recipes!!

  22. Hi,

    We are cooking your banana fritters tonight, they sound yummy. AND we will be moving to St Croix by the end of 2015 or early 2016.
    We were happy to find your sight and look forward to becoming Crucians ourselves!
    Looking forward to the mango margaritas too!
    Best, Terry & Carolyn Barker

  23. I am one of the lucky media representatives that had the honor to meet you and be invited into your home during April’s Taste of St. Croix event. I’d like to include you in my story for our October Food and Wine issue. Can you email me so I can ask you a question off-line? Thanks!!

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