Life is Like a Coconut…

…you’ve gotta work hard to get to the good stuff.

I think I just created my own mantra. Can you tell I’ve been getting into yoga?

Two weeks ago, the local coconut-picking contractor (who just may have one of the scariest jobs ever–see below) came by our compound and removed the coconuts, which, by the way, look nothing like what you know from Gilligan’s Island (at least not the variety here in Gabon). This led to sighs of relief from us paranoid parents (ok, mainly me), who were becoming increasingly freaked out by the thought of small boulder-like nuts falling on unsuspecting toddlers. It also led to my self-education of the ins and outs of a coconut–namely how to open one and what to do with it.

This man cut down coconuts with a chainsaw while precariously perched in a palm tree. And you thought your job was hard.
This man cut down coconuts with a chainsaw while precariously perched in a palm tree. And you thought your job was hard.
A coconut straight from the tree, as displayed by the kiddo who apparently is getting an early start on CrossFit.
A coconut straight from the tree as held by our kiddo, who apparently has jumped on the CrossFit bandwagon. Next I’ll find her pulling Radio Flyer tires across the yard.

Once the coconuts were down, the next step was opening them–which is no small task, particularly when they’re still covered in their thick green casings. Without a machete, the preferred tool of the locals, Ben used the next best thing–a hammer and a chef’s knife–to cut off the casings. Once they were out of the way, we could then follow our friend Jessie’s lead over at Peeps From Abroad, where she graciously documented her coconut-opening successes for the rest of us.

My coconut cracking station, complete with makeshift drainage device
My coconut cracking station, complete with makeshift drainage device
I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts...
I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts…
My coconut milk making station
My coconut milking station, complete with yet another makeshift drainage device

After using the coconut flesh and water to make coconut milk (check out the step-by-step from Jessie here), I then tried my hand at a variety of coconut recipes. We’ve enjoyed fresh coconut butter (terrific on sweet potatoes), coconut milk chia pudding, coconut sorbet and coconut ice cream. I even managed to fit in one of the State by State Desserts, which I’ll hopefully write about over the weekend. While all of these are scrumptious, our favorite by far has been coconut ice cream. Not only is it rich in flavor, but, unlike most homemade ice creams, it stays soft even after sitting in the freezer for a couple of days. Simply take your favorite vanilla ice cream recipe (if you have a Cuisinart ice cream maker, use the recipe in the included recipe booklet) and substitute coconut milk for regular milk. Kick the sophistication up a notch by mixing in dark chocolate chunks with crushed coffee beans. Now, that’s good stuff.

Too busy scarfing down ice cream to take any decent photos
Too busy scarfing down ice cream to take any decent photos

 

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