Hurricane Isaac Gave Me Floating Coconuts

I feel like I did back in my college days when I was a windsurfer. I used to chase hurricanes down for a thrill ride. I’m still adventurous, but if I did that today I’d probably break something. And now, one of those storms found me.

The wind wasn’t so bad, but we got 15 inches of rain where I live in South Florida. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that much rain, but I have a 2½ acre yard, and about 2 acres of it is a lake. And there are coconuts floating in it.

The silver lining is that since they blew down, I don’t have to climb all the way up the palm trees to get them. I consider myself to be in pretty good shape, but I can’t climb those trees very well.

In Jamaica they seem to be able to literally run up the palm trees. It’s a lot harder than it looks. I’ve tried it when I’ve been there because we gather coconuts constantly, since they use coconuts for everything. In fact, I think of them as a staple now.

Jamaicans especially use coconut oil, both internally and externally. They use it in makeup as a base and as a skin and hair conditioner. Warm coconut oil can cure dried out and damaged hair.

They also flavor foods with it, and use it as cooking oil. It’s always around the house… it’s in every kitchen and probably every bathroom.

My friend in Jamaica, I call him “Rasta,” showed me how to scrape the coconut out of the shell and mash it up. We used a grater like you would use for cheese and scraped it off that way.

Then I put the shredded coconut in a big pot of water – a lot of water, like maybe ten times as much as the coconut – and Rasta and I boiled it.

It looked to me like kind of a coconut stew and bubbled like a cauldron. It eventually looked like lava bubbling slowly. When it stopped bubbling, that meant all the water was gone.

What’s left afterwards is the coconut oil. Then we put it into jars to cool it, and it’s solid at room temperature.

To make it a liquid again we just put the jar outside in the heat, then you can use it for just about anything.

I like nuts cooked in coconut oil. Peanuts are really good. Almonds are very popular in Jamaica, too. Almond trees are all over the place. They take the almonds, dry them in the oven and then kind of char them a little in coconut oil.

Coconut oil is also useful when you cook with it because it slows down the digestion of food, which helps you feel fuller after you eat.

In my next letter to you, I’ll tell you a bit more about my own “island” in the middle of the storm..