Palm trees line either side of the driveway, ushering me toward the little round house that is to be our home for the next few weeks. We are tired. Sprinting across the east coast of the United States for eight weeks left us exhausted.
So we stop.
At the little round house on Pine Island, Florida.
The breeze slaps palm fronds together as if applauding our arrival. Little lizards scamper up the wooden staircase. Inside the house, a full kitchen awaits. I’m so excited I don’t even know where to begin.
Coconuts litter the ground, more than I can count. A perfect beginning.
I pick one up and use the claw of a hammer to break and then peel away the outer husk. It’s a process; sweat drips down my face. Coconut husk particles cling to my legs like sawdust. I’m a mess, and I have a beautiful coconut in my hand.
A few You Tube videos later, I hurl a pick axe into the ground and use the other end to pry the husk off the coconut. It takes half the time. Thanks internet!
Matt cuts down some green coconuts for me to use; their water sloshes inside them as I drag the heavy branches under the house. The husk of a green coconut pops off the nut, and I decide to avoid the brown coconuts from now on.
I read a couple tutorials on how to open a coconut, grab my knife and clobber the nut several times, fibers flying everywhere, until the liquid gushes into the bowl.
Eventually, the coconut shell lays in pieces on the countertop. Not wanting to turn on the oven in this heat, I skip the advice of this tutorial and instead, follow the advice of this one to pry the meat from the shell.
I begin to wonder when the coconut will be ready to use. Removing the husk, extracting the water, and prying off the meat leaves just one more step: peeling the brown skin off the meat. A vegetable peeler makes this last step a breeze.
The coconut lays deconstructed on the table waiting for me to decide how to use it. Ideas race through my mind but a favorite quickly emerges: Coconut Milk.
Pure. One ingredient. No preservatives. No additives. Just coconut.
Impossible to find in any store.
This delicious gem gets drizzled onto my oatmeal in the morning, poured into my coffee, added to mashed sweet potatoes.
Yes. I will make coconut milk. My heart flutters with excitement, and my mouth begins to water.
Nancy lends me a food processor for which I am forever grateful. Whizzing pierces my ears as the machine pulverizes the coconut meat. Silence fills the kitchen while I add some lukewarm tap water to help release all the flavors and nutrients of the coconut. Whizzing again. For 2 long minutes.
The gentle scent of coconut wafts through the house. A nut bag would be really handy right now, I think to myself as I press the pulp into the fine wire mesh strainer to extract the silky white cream. The coconut water swirls into the cream creating cirrus clouds.
I take a sip.
Nutty, creamy, sweet coconut milk.
Labels: Bokeelia, Coconut, Coconut milk, Florida, Homemade, Palm Trees, Pine Island