Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Coconut Dream

It came true last week. Just before the trial of sickness began in earnest. And no, this is not about our new dog. Believe me, this smells much better!

I had been dreaming of going to Global Foods ever since I purchased Serene Allison's Rejuvenate Your Life: Recipes for Energy. I'd read here and there about young coconuts; especially in regard to making kefir from the water of young coconuts. But I'd not heard about the delectable, creamy, scoopable flesh of the young coconut until reading Serene's recipe book. And about the myriad of health benefits associated with coconut water. There were other things I wanted from Global Foods, like Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a tin (so as not to be rancid), and tahini, but the coconuts were my main motivator.

So we drove for an hour and fifteen minutes on Monday to get to this marvelous market. It was truly a smorgasbord of many foreign and unusual foods. As you walk in the door, you pass a large chocolate section with all of the quality chocolate you would find at a regular grocery store, plus all of the foreign chocolate you can imagine! I lingered here as long as I dared with five children in tow.

Next we perused the produce section, which was huge! I asked the produce-man where to find young coconuts, and he directed me to the third table down. I am ashamed to admit that I still couldn't find the coconuts! The annoyed man had to show me personally, because I didn't know what a young coconut looked like. It isn't brown, hairy or round, which are all adjectives I associate with the word "coconut". The young coconut is actually green, but for the market it has been carved, and so it is an off-white color. It is shaped like a rounded pyramid house, and covered with plastic wrap. I put five of them in the cart. They were $1.89 apiece and $1.00 for the older, semi-moldy ones. I "hurried" through the rest of the store, with only a slight detour at what I've dubbed "the wall of coffee". Each aisle was labeled with countries, and it was hard to find what I wanted when I had to locate personnel for each item on my list! Laborously, I located the Extra Virgin Olive Oil (first cold press) in a tin, tahini, and Nori sheets. The store apparently did not carry Nama Shoyu (a natural soy sauce). The bulk nuts were reasonably priced and I picked up some walnuts and cashews to make crispy nuts. We hurried home, with yours truly dreaming of the Coconut Cream shake I was going to make with my young coconuts.

Well, it was that night when Rebekah (my eight-year-old) began to be sick with some sort of stomach virus. My coconuts stayed in the fridge, forgotten, as I began to care for her and juggle school, new puppy and nursing her back to health. When she continued to lose fluids for 2 days, I immediately thought of the young coconuts. I already knew that the coconut was very good for you, but as I began to investigate, I was truly amazed at the astonishing properties of the young coconut. The water inside the coconut is the most sterile available from a natural source. It is actually used as a blood plasma substitude in third world countries, known as the Coconut IV, because it's makeup is nearly identical to our blood plasma. It is full of minerals and the most natural electrolyte beverage available (much better than Gatorade). So naturally, I wanted to rehydrate my sick daughter with this wonderful beverage.

But first, I had to get the water out. Fortunately, Serene Allison's book had instructions for opening the coconut in a non-frustrating manner. First, I sawed off the top of the coconut with a good, serrated knife. The sawn-off part resembled a spinnable toy top. Then I was rescued by my over-protective husband from a flimsy knife, as I stabbed a hole in the newly flattened top of the young coconut. I wiggled the knife around until I had a sizable hole, and then poured off the coconut water. I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of water I obtained from one coconut. It was surely more than 2 cups.

The next part required a bit of strength and again a good, solid, sharp knife. I turned the coconut on it's side and carved a circle, the size of which a spoon can enter to scoop out the tender coconut flesh from inside the coconut. My 'circle' was really more of a triangle. I first scooped the flesh from the bottom, using just enough force to scrape the white flesh and not too much of the darker rind underneath. Then, I turned the spoon over and scooped from the top, removing the flesh from the upper third of the inside of the coconut. I scooped it all out into a bowl and removed any larger portions of the rind still attached to the flesh. The coconut flesh was moist and slightly sweet with a subtle, tropical flavor. Nathan and I both loved the coconut water also, as it has a sweet, mild flavor which does not scream "coconut!"

Well, imagine my surprise when my daughter, whose sense of smell had been elevated to super-sensory, was apalled at the coconut water! She truly did not like it all. I am happy to report that I forced her to drink some on that first day, and she was able to hold it down for quite a while, so I'm sure that it was helpful to her rehydration, but I was truly disappointed to encounter reluctance in the face of such a gift! However, I've not given up hope. I think that she may change her mind in the face of some of the delicious smoothies coming her way.

So far we've made 2 coconut smoothies. The first was Coconut Cream, from Serene Allison's book. It was truly a delight, containing the coconut flesh, water, vanilla, maple syrup. The second was my own concoction, with coconut flesh, kefir, lime juice, maple syrup, and vanilla. Mmmmm-Mmmm! It was a delight! I was motivated by the much-loved muppet song chorus line: "put de lime in de coconut, and drink 'em both up."

The coconut dream, it seems, has only just begun. I just found three more ways to open a young coconut, and I've got 3 more in the fridge ;-). I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Smell of Dog

My ear was familiar,
But my nose a stranger -
Until our newest member came.

In the water she went,
And bubbles abound,
But woe is me - she smells the same!

I write in response to my recognition of the smell of Coco. Truly I had been unfamiliar with this odor until our little (for now) English Mastiff came home from vacation with us. She is a delight in every way. We've already trained her to potty outside and she is cute as can be. However, if it looks like a dog, and it sounds like a dog, and it acts like a dog, then it is very likely that it smells like a dog ;-). Recognition brings delight :-).
[caption id="attachment_250" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="The newest member of our family."][/caption]