So coconut has been on my mind for sometime, for many, many reasons:
- I am once again dreaming of adventures on tropical islands
- I’ve had many people ask me recently about coconuts for health and nutrition, especially for children on the autism spectrum and folks with eczema and other skincare issues
- It’s Mother’s Day and how a person live in the semi-South without making a coconut cake for her mother….or since my mom is far away for the surrogate moms I adore
- I just love coconuts. I remember vividly how special it was when as a child we were lucky enough to find a coconut at the local Safeway. We’d try to crack it with a hammer and screwdriver, and all of us kids would stick in a straw for just a sip.
In Hawaii, you can choose your own coconut from a roadside heap. The vendor lops off the top with a serious-looking machete (most of these guys are quite cute and muscular and the machete feels sort of Romancing-The-Stone-esque and so you spend altogether too much money on coconut water….but they (the coconuts! look so good and the water is so good for you!).
Inside the coconut is that softly sweet, wonderful coconut water. Insert straw…sip…heaven.
I’ve done a lot of reading on coconuts lately. And a lot of cooking too. I won’t bore you with all the details, but you do need to know just a few things.
A coconut is made up of three layers.
Second, the hairy coir layer. Here’s the kicker–people see these brown exotic looking little balls at the grocers and think they’ve been transported to the Pacific. Not so! These are old coconuts that have done their fair share of traveling and don’t have much water left inside. Buy them for the meat only, which you can grate, make into chips, or dry.
Third, the meat layer- this is clear, bright white, soft and entirely edible. Use a knife or spoon to scoop it out to use for any number of applications. Coconut milk is made by pressing the oils and any juice out of this meat, or by passing water or milk over grated coconut pieces. Easy enough to make at home!
Inside those three laters is the water, a/k/a the elixir of life.
Imagine how coconuts sustained entire tropical cultures. Shells for vessels, coir for rope, fiber, roofing and even clothing, water and meat for nutrition. It’s survival in a little portable ball.
A few weeks ago I met Dyan Ng, Executive Pastry Chef at the Four Seasons in Baltimore. She’s young, beautiful, full of passion for her craft and drive to succeed. And she loves coconuts. She gave me three recipes for you to try. I only have photos of the one I’ve made so far, but plan an seeing the others soon. Coming up I will also show you some other coconut-ty treats, like these amazing Cowboy Cookies and this Coconut-Lime Simple Syrup.Feel free to share...