Desert Morning

Usually I can go back to sleep for an hour after I wake at 5:30, but yesterday my cell phone beeped, needing to be recharged.  (Like a virtual pet, needing to be fed.)


Three deer were munching the bushes outside my fence.  My cat’s movements frightened them off.  (My, but they’re skittish!) 

In the afternoon they were back, lying under the mesquite trees, panting like crazy.    I felt kinda bad ‘cause the area should have been blanketed by soft mesquite leaves, but was marred by rocks that I toss over the fence when I’m digging in my garden.   101° at 2:30 – the ice has melted on the Santa Cruz.
http://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/the-ice-melted-on-the-santa-cruz/.

Back to morning.  Then a bobcat stalked by, but didn’t enter the yard.  (You can follow a bobcat through the dense underbrush, even though you can’t see it, by the bird ruckus wherever it is.)

The birds took turns at the birdbath – an Inca dove (smaller than white-winged), a towhee sharing with the female cardinal, a goldfinch.

5:30 is probably a good time to be up when it’s going to be over 100°.

Liquid Diet

The cherries on sale never ripened – they just started to mold, so what to do with tasteless cherries?  Cherry soup!  A delicious summer dessert.  Served after a cold sweet potato/carrot/curry soup with coconut milk – what a great liquid lunch.  (Ok, I did have a slice of homemade bread made with chopped fennel and herbs de Provence, too.  Will pass on any recipe you want.)  Was musing how easy it is to buy coconut cream or coconut milk in the grocery store today.

Forty years ago, when I was in the Peace Corps in Jamaica, to make the national dish of “rice and peas” (actually beans) you needed coconut milk:

    1. Cajole one of the kids in the neighborhood to climb one of your coconut trees for the fruit
    2. Hack at the coconut with a machete (a handy tool used for everything, including cutting a lawn – really!) and peel off the husk
    3. Now you have the hard shell.  Hack at it with the machete until it breaks, insert point (or a screwdriver) under the shell and pop out coconut pieces (Note: the coconut water, which is what you drink on the plantation tours, combined with the rum that the guide pours into the hole he punches in each coconut before inserting a straw, tends to give you the runs if the rum isn’t added, so I tended not to save it)
    4. Peel off the hairy brown skin – not an easy task (and no Jamaican would not peel it!)
    5. Shred the coconut meat – also not an easy task (without a very powerful blender)
    6. Boil three cups of water and pour over shredded coconut and let stand for 20 minutes
    7. Pour through a clean handkerchief, squeeze every drop of the cream out, and throw out the coconut meat!
    8. Use coconut milk to cook rice and red beans

At some point there had been a shortage of cooking oil.  (Sometimes there would be a rumor that there was a shortage of something, so everyone would buy lots to hoard, thus creating a shortage.)  So I did the Jamaican thing and cooked with coconut oil.  If you leave the coconut milk sit overnight, the oil goes to the top, and can be picked off.  It is solid at room temperature.  Very high in cholesterol.  But absolutely delicious for frying plantain (which can’t be eaten raw), or making banana chips.  (Making banana chips is only one thing you can do with bananas when someone gives you a rope of them – there are about 14 hands of bananas on one rope and each hand has about 15 bananas in it, on average – but that’s another story.)

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5 Responses to “Desert Morning”

  1. Jim Says:

    Nice shot of your bobcat, Lynne. Our female bobcat strolled by last week in the late evening; and the following morning I heard her mating cries. A close friend of ours in Tucson is so trusted by her bobcat, that he takes naps on her patio.

  2. N Says:

    Not to offend, but plants do not contain cholesterol, Lynne, hence neither coconut milk nor oil has any. It is, however, very very high in saturated fat. This serves as a precursor to the production of cholesterol in the human liver. My Masters degree in Health Science 1987 still comes in handy!

  3. Jim Says:

    What is the current scientific state of knowledge regarding coconut milk?

  4. laura Says:

    love this post! what great tales of Jamaica. I need to interview you about how you prepared your Peace Corps application. I still dream of taking that plunge.

    • notesfromthewest Says:

      I totally recommend the Peace Corps before any forever life changes such as kids. (Marriage is ok as long as you both want to join.) Do you have a degree? (Ninety percent of Volunteer positions require a bachelor’s degree.) Then there’s the language thing. (A demonstrated ability to learn a language in the last ten years is an important factor in being selected as a Peace Corps Volunteer.) Unfortunately, I was sent to a country that spoke English, so I didn’t get their excellent language training.

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