How Do I Love Coconut? Let Me Count The Ways…

Team Research and Development

I dubbed us Team Research and Development.  Mazen, the funniest Brazilian I’ve ever met, is research and I’m development.  I have no patience for researching things online.  Well, I do but it’s often scant and I get sidetracked.  I start off finding a youtube video on how to make coconut oil and end up watching a video on hydroponic greenhouses noticing how the guy in the video has his purple collared shirt tucked into his jeans which are sitting ridiculously high on his waist and he has a really weird laugh.  Never mind what I’m trying to learn about, I’m too transfixed on his high waisted pants to pay attention to anything else.  What happened to my attention span?  Has it always been this bad or is it a combination of living in a world replete with electronic devices where we are taught to multi-task?  I’ve discovered that “multi-tasking” really just inhibits you from getting anything done in a timely manner.  How many tabs I have open on my internet browser is a good indicator of how little I’m actually accomplishing.  If I have more than three or four, I write on my blog for about five minutes, then I read half an article on Guernica, then I think of a random youtube video I’ve been meaning to watch, then I open up the Spanish English translator to tell me some random word that popped into my head that I’d like to memorize, then I begin an email, get distracted and go back to reading the article on Guernica.  Are you seeing the trend here?  The less tabs the better.  But I digress.

Making coconut water

Mazen’s attention span is slightly sporadic as well but he is into watching informational videos on youtube and not noticing high waisted pants on men.  We’d been talking about all the uses of coconuts and soon realized that we’d make a good team in the production of coconuts.  Do you know all the things you can do with coconuts?  Besides drink their nectar and add years to your life in doing so?  You can make coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut flour, and dried flakes of coconut to list a few.  So we set to a project on it.  Mazen bought three mature coconuts and I took to cutting them open and grating them against a cheese grater to make shredded coconut.  With the help of two others, it took around an hour.  At this point, I’m not sure what happened to Mazen.  Where he was while I was doing all this demanding physical labor against a cheese grater was lost on me.  He must have gotten distracted doing something, I thought to myself.  There’s no way I could ever find fault in that.

When I tracked him down we queued up a few youtube videos on the next steps of coconut processing since both of us couldn’t really remember what to do.  Go figure.  Turns out I didn’t need to shred the coconut, just cutting it into small pieces and putting it in a blender with water would have been sufficient enough.  Too bad I wasn’t paying too much attention to the video I had watched before cutting into the coconuts.  Think of a cat stalking prey, pouncing on it, then freaking out, running off and then serenely sitting and licking it’s paw.  I always said in my next life I’d be a cat, I suppose I’m on my way.

Just like this little guy

The next step was blending the flakes with warm water to make coconut water. Then transferring the coconut water to a bowl and manually squeezing the pulp, then putting it through a cheesecloth to separate liquid from solid (a little FYI, when squeezing it through the cheesecloth, the liquid can spray far and wide like a shaken soda can, my shirt was rather wet by the end).  To make oil, you just boil the coconut water until the water evaporates and the oil remains.  This was Mazzen’s task and I took to researching other various ways to make coconut oil, you can even just set the coconut water on a windowsill and it’ll eventually separate.

Coconut oil!  Cha-ching!

I was super psyched about drying the coconut pulp and making flour with it.  Obviously, a dehydrator would be optimal but the hostel was lacking one so I had to use the oven.  You put it on the lowest temperature and keep the oven door slightly ajar so it dries ever so slowly.  I read this information and only retained the first part.  I also forgot all together that I was even drying the coconut.  I placed the tray in the oven and guess what happened?  I got distracted by one thing and then another so that several hours later it occurred to me that I was supposed to be checking the coconut every hour.  I ran to the oven and could smell burning.  One tray was beyond repair but the other tray was perfect, more or less.  Like trying to draw a straight line on a piece of paper while sitting on a moving bus, it was perfect enough for the first time.

“Mazen, I burnt some of the coconut!”

“How?  Didn’t you leave the oven door open?”

“No, was I supposed to?”

“Yes, we read about it online!”

Slipped my mind.  Regardless, I was able to take the unburnt coconut flakes and put them in a blender and blend them until they were fine.  Then I made savory pancakes!  From a whole coconut, to coconut water, to coconut oil, to coconut flour.  How wonderful to create in the kitchen like that.  Do you know how much those three coconuts cost?  30 cents.  Do you know how much a bag of coconut flour or a jar of coconut oil costs?  Upwards of $10.  Pretty darn cool, if you ask me.  Now get yourself some coconuts and start processing!

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