Cacao .... Food of the Gods
Okay - so those that know me well realize I am addicted to chocolate. Real chocolate. Natural 100% raw chocolate. Not that crap on the supermarket shelves they claim is chocolate. No - I search hills and valleys, all through the forests of Portland Jamaica to find cacao. I want to plant it, grow it, harvest it, and make my own chocolate one day. So far I'm at the growing it stage. My seeds come from cacao pods I find growing wild in the rainforests of Portland. Years ago when I learned that Cacao translates to 'Food of the Gods' I wanted to know more about this food I love so much. Thank you to Six for coming on my cacao journey, climbing the trees and helping to find the best chocolate in the world, the Criollo cacao pods.
Here is some great info courtesy of onegreenplanet.org
Did you know that Cocoa is a Medicinal Plant, a Sacred plant, a Hot Plant, and a Psychoactive Plant?
Did you know Cocoa (Theobroma cacao) means "Food of the Gods"?
Did you know that the Aztecs regarded cocoa as a sacred plant, and they valued cocoa beans as currency?
Did you know that Cacao trees bear cocoa pods that jut out directly from the trunk?
Did you know that chocolates can vary as widely in flavor and aroma as do wines?
Did you know, that of all foods known, cocoa has the highest antioxidant polyphenol content, and provides the greatest cardio-protection?
Did you know that even small amounts of cocoa can reduce cholesterol in the blood, and can lower blood pressure?
great educational clip planting and growing cacao www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWI3Ykl7cPw
making chocolate from scratch www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUJ0heMcE-g
making chocolate balls in Jamaica https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oparBcQyzs
Chocolate Tea is the Jamaican version of what is known in other parts of the world as hot chocolate. This recipe uses all-natural ingredients and there’s nothing like the authentic taste of real chocolate. In Jamaica chocolate tea is usually enjoyed at breakfast time. The Kuna people of Panama drink 4-5 cups of a similar chocolate tea every day. The Kuna are among the healthiest people in the world.
2 cups Water
2 cups Coconut milk
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Pimento Leaf (or 5 Pimento Berries)
1 pinch Ground Nutmeg
3/4 cup Raw Chocolate, grated
2 pinches Salt
Sugar or Honey to sweeten
1. Combine water and coconut milk in a medium-size saucepan
2. Add cinnamon stick, pimento, nutmeg and chocolate and bring to a boil, stirring for 5 minutes
3. Stir in salt and lower heat to a simmer.
4. Remove cinnamon stick and pimento
5. Add sugar or honey to sweeten
6. Pour chocolate tea into mugs using a small strainer
Enjoy! Serves 4
Snow Hill Jamaica/Canada Link - This dance was a few weeks ago. Lil delay in posting.. but hey, i had to recover from it. Was not expecting to be working at this dance, but sometimes the vibez jus' go so. A friend of a friend was hosting the dance, and they spotted my camera, and asked me to document it for them. This is the result. The dance went well into the next day, Watching the women going home in their amazing outfits in broad glaring daylight after a night of dancing and partying is really something special. If anyone is interested in attending some of the best parties/dances in Portland, link me and I will hook you up with my peeps, The photo's speak for themselves. Enjoy the party from your desktop, play some dancehall music and learn the A-Z's of some dance moves right here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9h8YERO27p8
Jackfruit - the largest fruit in the world, is an amazing food and fruit. In jamaica, it is eaten primarily as a fruit, but there are many other ways to eat it. The first thing you might want to know about jackfruit though, is how to eat it as a fruit. It's not a simple peel and eat it type deal. Some advice - do not plan on touching anything while you are preparing the jackfruit or eating it. Leave the phone and whatever else for later. because you WILL make a mess.
1: Pick a ripe jackfruit. Twist it off the tree. The spiny skin surface needs to be spiny not flattish, that is how you can tell when it's more ripe. Drop the jackfruit onto a hard surface, (like concrete) from a standing position. Drop it onto a plastic bag or cardboard laid out. Do this 2 or 3 times and let it drop on different parts of the jackfruit. This helps the white latex substance to draw towards the center of the jackfruit, (so it isn't everywhere else when you eat the fruit).
2: Put a little oil on your hands and rub over both hands evenly. And it doesn't hurt to put some oil around your mouth area/lips) This prevents the white sticky latex substance from adhering to your skin. (trust me, it is very hard to remove if you don't use the oil)
3: Spread some plastic on a bench, put the jackfruit on it before digging in with the knife. Put some oil on the knife too. Make it a long bladed knife because jackfruit is very big.
4: Cut into the jackfruit just like you see in the picture above. (not across, but down, and to the center core area all the way down. You can cut the whole thing in half to make it more manageable, or just cut a 'slice'.
5: When you have a 'sliced' piece of jackfruit in your hands, you need to cut the heart/core from the fruit area. You will see a lot of the white latex come from the core and also on the top of the jackfruit segments. Use this core that you remove to wipe away the latex from the top of the fruit area. Wipe the fruit with the core, and you will see it 'take away' the latex from the fruit. Do not eat the core area, and avoid eating the latex please. (it has other uses)
6: Now you are ready to eat the jackfruit segments. You will see the obvious 'fruit' in sections. It is held into place by stringy whitish strips that are stuck to the fruit and the rind area. Place your fingers between the segment and stringy strips and pull these away from the fruit. Pull the fruit segment with your fingers near the base of the rind where it is attached.
7: Now you eat it. Then eat more. And more. It's really good. And versatile too.
DID YOU KNOW :
Jackfruit seeds can be boiled and eaten.
Young jackfruit can be used a meat substitute.
The wood of a jackfruit tree can be used to make an orange dye.
The whitish latex substance from a jackfruit can be used as a glue.
Savory Jackfruit Cutlets (makes 2-3 cutlets / burgers)
This recipe can be used to create a main entrée jackfruit "steak" or a jackfruit "burger," as well as jackfruit "meat" balls or the "meat" filling in a casserole. A basic recipe is provided here. You can personalize it with dried or fresh herbs and spices..
Spray skillet with oil. Cook onions, chili, and garlic until soft, about 2 minutes. Add jackfruit mixture; cook and stir over low heat for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or overnight, if desired).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Shape cooled mixture into "cutlets," "burgers," or "balls." Place on non-stick baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, turning once. The prepared "cutlets" or "burgers" can then be (carefully) grilled or finished in a skillet (with a small amount of vegetable oil spray). The "balls" can be briefly steamed.
Total calories per serving: 127 Fat: 1 gram
Carbohydrates: 28 grams Protein: 3 grams
Sodium: 41 milligrams Fiber: 9 grams
great article !!!
try these cool satay jackfruit kebabs too !!!
very good recipe with pictures and entire process to make vegan 'pork' from jackfruit
Currently working with a wonderful Jamaican woman at her eco-friendly base in St Margaret’s Bay, Portland. Polly’s place has a special feel, due in large part to the completely authentic Jamaican vibe you find here. Unspoiled.
At the moment we are building some outdoor showers, with the help of Yellow, (the construction guy here) for visitors to use after they swim in the sea or for guests who stay here. We are using stones from the shore as the flooring and recycling old wood and zinc for the walls.
There are three cottages, two small one room cottages and one larger cottage, all with electricity. The larger room has inside bathroom, the other rooms have outdoor bathroom.. Polly continues to recycle materials in much of the building and landscape design on the property. (She also has two rooms available about a quarter mile off the main road, fully furnished with water and electricity). There is a bar on the premises, playing reggae and dancehall on Friday nights with local DJ’s providing the music, and talented youth on the mic.
St Margaret’s Bay appears to have been somewhat overlooked by the Jamaican tourist industry, (thank goodness) most likely because it does not have the ‘pretty’ white sand beaches. It has beautiful black sand, and even more beautiful stones that wash up on some of it's shores. The Charles Town Maroons are very close by in Buff Bay, Slave ships used to come here, and there are amazing stories about the Africans who fought and won their freedom. They are the Charles Town Maroons, who can take you hiking from the sea to the mountains, and teach you about their very important history. http://www.maroons-jamaica.com/q/index.php/component/k2/item/25-about-us
We are collaborating and developing craft products, using driftwood, stones and sustainable materials found close by. Crochet covered rocks to use as paperweights, beaded curtains using local bamboo, driftwood and recycled beads that would otherwise be destined for the landfill.
St Margaret's Bay is a beautiful location, and Polly's Place is a great place to be if you want to learn more about Jamaica and the black history here in a hassle free zone. Support Jamaican entrepreneurs who are working with the environment in positive and progressive ways. Link us here to contact Polly.
the laughing treehouse . . .
I was told about a unique treehouse in Ranch Hill, Portland, and recently met the owner/builder, Junior, . From the words Jah Jah Bless carved into the bushes at the entrance, and seeing grass hearts growing inside the concrete driveway.... well let's just say the vibes were strong from the start.
Junior exudes happiness, humbleness and peace, along with something that makes you suspect his descendants were African kings. A very tall man. An artist. A true outsider artist. An artist of the land and the trees and whatever else he puts his hand to. Creativity surrounds him and you too if you are fortunate enough to meet. He makes everything beautiful. Literally.
Junior built his treehouse because of a Japanese woman he met some years ago. She suggested he build a treehouse and he decided he would do it. (In the hope she would return) The Laughing Tree House is a work in progress, built organically with hand tools. The land surrounding the treehouse has many tropical edibles. Junior loves to farm and the farm loves him back. (based on the amount of food available on his land). Junior is also a brickmason, and is building a house for his mother as time and finances permit. Current plans to help reach those goals, involve collaborating on sustainability projects, in particular - making breadfruit flour. Thanks to the brilliant Mary McLaughlin at TREES THAT FEED for their knowledge and assistance in this area. Breadfruit will soon be ready, and we will get to work drying and preparing it. Updates posted when that is in the works so everyone can learn the process for themselves. We are also experimenting with drying tropical fruits and medicinal plants. A Laughing Treehouse 100% natural produce brand will be launched soon. Through partnerships with like minded people, we can all reach the goals we set for ourselves. "Ain't nuthin' to it - but to do it" And this visionary brother most definitely is doing it.
Jamaica Naturally home base ....
So many creative people residing in Portland, Jamaica - I hardly know where to start. Fairy Hill has some of the best artists and stores though in my eyes. Seen this craft shop many times on my way to Port Antonio from Long Bay, and one day my taxi driver stopped to say hi. Very thankful he did. The store is run by Junior, a gifted young man in his early 30's. He has a team of fellow artists (including his mother), who work on the items you see.
The store is located on the main road that goes through Fairy Hill. They specialize in handmade woven items, the weaving skills passed on and preserved through Junior's family, and via their ancestors in West Africa. They also feature beautiful crocheted products and all kinds of natural items. (at really great prices and without any pressure to buy) Junior's store will become Jamaica Naturally's home base in Portland. Our days are spent weaving, designing, painting, sewing, carving and much more. Today I sewed the first of two flags, and the brothers found the right size bamboo to place it on, and we launched it high in the air. Beautiful individuals here making art every day, staying positive, peaceful and progressive. Nothing like working together. So much can be accomplished.
Please support the artists and their work when you see our online store launch within the next week. All products online are 100% natural and made in Jamaica. If you are in Jamaica, please stop by, say hello, and remember Winifred Beach is just around the corner. You can walk to the beach from the store. A gorgeous place and one of the only calm clean beaches in Portland still free for locals and visitors alike. Say hi to our fellow artist Lee at his booth there who makes stunning jewelry pieces using locally sourced materials.
One of our collaborating farmer's is located less than 1/4 mile away, if anyone wants to camp and learn about the land with a young Maroon farmer, this is where you need to be. Backra has vast knowledge of edible and medicinal plants and is a roots man living in harmony with his environment. Please contact us if you plan on visiting Jamaica and want to experience the natural vibez with good people in great places. We link you directly.
Designing on a calabash
There are quite a few ways to design on a calabash, all with unique results.
You can carve on a calabash with simple carving tools or a knife when it is still green and easier to carve into. Easier because the outside surface has not dried and hardened. It does get hard very quickly though so make sure if you choose to design while still green, you work fairly fast. Think ahead about how detailed the design is going to be. You can draw your design on the surface with a pencil and erase later or remove with the technique you decide to use. (carving out the area drawn)
can be done in a few ways.
1. With a soldering type tool plugged into an electrical outlet. (slow unless you invest in the expensive ones.
2. You can also burn into a calabash using the sun and a magnifying glass. This takes a very steady hand. Make sure you wear dark sunglasses while doing this. And AVOID moving the magnifying glass near your skin. Helps to position the elbow of your 'drawing' hand onto a solid surface' to have more control with the design.
3. The other way is to make some tools from metal and heat in a fire or on the stove. Make sure handles are leather bound to avoid heat traveling up into the handle area.
4. You can also darken the calabash skin carefully over the stove on a low heat, or in coals that are not too hot. This technique makes the area much darker, and then it can be carved into when cooled. The areas you carve into will become much more contrasted with the blackened area surrounding it. The combination of burning and carving is one of my favorite ways to decorate a calabash.
Parts of the calabash can be cut away, or drilled to create designs and results in beautiful effects with light. These can be turned into lamps, and covers for tealights creating beautiful lighting effects.
Weaving elements can be added to a calabash, as well as shells, beads or leather. Holes can be drilled in order to put cordage through for this purpose. The possibilities are endless. Many of the techniques described here are used for gourd designs as well. Gourds have different shapes and grow on vines. They are much softer than calabash. Hope you have fun designing natural and functional art forms..
If you want to find some calabash trees in Portland, please contact us and we can link you with someone who can take you on a nature hike to collect a few. Please do not deplete the tree and leave some for others. More tropical nature based projects coming soon.
The images below show some excellent examples by contemporary calabash artists using the techniques described. We are still working on our calabash shown in main photo above utilizing solar design. (Its been raining a lot lately) Will post when they are complete.
Jack Ruby - gone but never forgotten. My early years in Jamaica from 1982 are filled with memories of Jack Ruby's music sessions at his home and business at 1 Music Ave, Ocho Rios. The name of the street has changed but it will always be Music Ave to me. Jack Ruby was most definitely a visionary way ahead of his time. He was constantly listening and reasoning, giving advice to local young men who wanted him to hear their songs and lyrics. Brigadier Jerry, U-Roy, Tiger, SuperCat, Nicodemus, Junior Demus are just a few of the people I got to see at Jack Ruby's back then. Slow winding, slow grinding all night, It was well worth riding from Long Bay on a 50cc motorbike to Ochi and see Briggy do his thing. FatJaw on the turntables, plus nuff young hopefuls hoping to get a turn on the mic. Early morning breakfasts at the restaurant next to his home gave you a reason to stick around longer after the dance was done and way longer than you probably needed to stay. But you just felt like you needed to be there. Like history was being made, but you were not quite aware of it at the time...you just felt the vibez and couldn't leave. That was Jack Ruby's. Felt like magic. Check out the clips and feel the vibez for yourself.
calabash from scratch ...
Have you ever wanted to know more about the wonderful and versatile calabash? I am working on making some for our online store, and am sharing traditional and alternative ways to prepare them for the purpose of creating a functional art piece of your own.
1: Find a good calabash tree. You want to find a tree that has calabash on them. Make sure to knock on the calabash and 'hear' if it sounds hard and firm. Press it in hard on the surface to see if it has any 'give'. If you can push it in at all, it is not ready. The calabash will be very thin, can bend and easily break. Let it stay on the tree to fully mature. The calabash should NOT have a lot of black lines or markings on them. When you see black spots that are rough this can indicate worms inside. These worms create built up areas inside the calabash that are solid and hard to remove. When you remove these areas, there are holes left from where the worm worked its way inside. Choose a very clean and smooth calabash. Twist it off the branch and carry in a bag where it will not get scratched up. Do not deplete the tree of all the calabash.
2. Cutting the calabash (warning - calabash stains the skin and your hands will be black/grey for days if you dont wear gloves. / anything the stain touches will be dyed)
After decades of working with calabash I find a hacksaw to be my favorite tool to cut it with. I create a line with the hacksaw lightly around the area I want to cut. It can be drawn on if you want. The easiest way to hold calabash and cut it without scratching the green surface (this leaves dark lines on it that will be permanent) is to cut/saw the calabash on some cardboard with it held between your feet. Keep turning the calabash as you cut it all the way around following your line.
3. Removing the pulp This part is crucial and is where the hard work comes in. Or not, - as I discovered some years ago through a mistake that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The calabash is usually scraped out after cutting removing all the pulp and seeds. This is done with a large spoon which can be sharpened with a file for easier scraping. If every part of flesh is not scraped out the black stain residue will remain on your bowls inside surface. It takes an awful lot of scraping to not see any black stain. Till your hands are tired. BUT - i have found a better way than scraping the calabash. I left some out after they ware cut with the pulp still inside, and had to leave them for four or so days unattended. When i returned I assumed the inside would be ruined with the flesh having turned very black after being exposed to light. I was going to throw them away, but tried to scrape out one anyway. I saw it was very dry, and could pull away the flesh from the inside surface in one whole piece. Just put the spoon between flesh and inside edge and pull it off. The inside surface was totally clean and had NO black stain on it at all. This is now the way I remove the flesh. I leave it in a dry and sunny area, wait for the pulp to be black and dry, then pull it out. It produces a very clean stain free calabash without all the hard work.
STAY POSTED FOR PART TWO : The Design
Checking out San San beach in Portland yesterday, a beach that is beautiful but unfortunately charges money to enter. $700JA ($7US) Took Jwyanza, my friends son, to show him where he can take tourists out to view marine life. Jamaica Naturally encourages locals to be pro-active in creating their own jobs through the natural talents they possess, along with the islands natural resources.
Jywanza is a gifted young man, who is a great swimmer and also really motivated to progress in life. I have known his family for over 3 decades. He attends the Lister Mair/Gilby High School for the Deaf in Kingston. He comes home to Portland on weekends and holidays, giving him an opportunity to make money through doing what he loves, to help pay school and boarding fees. He can be contacted directly on FB through this link. https://www.facebook.com/jwyanza.murdock?fref=ts He was born deaf, and has not let this stop him in any way to achieve. He is one of the star players on the school soccer team, loves fishing and swimming, and spending time in nature.
This was the first time he has gone a good distance out into calm sea, that was fairly deep at times, around 20-30 ft. Was my first time too. It was a beautiful experience. We saw a very big sting ray, lots of tropical fish, corals and sea urchins.
The University of the West Indies does research work at San San and the fish are everywhere,. They seem to have no problem with people swimming around them. Sea urchins (kina) black and white are in shallow areas among the seaweed, and in the rock crevices. Jamaican's do not eat kina, (at least I haven't met anyone that has or would so far). I have never eaten it, or collected it before. We put some in a bag and I unsuccessfully tried to get to the 'roe', the edible orange part of it. Thinking of all my kiwi friends in New Zealand who would be in kina heaven if they came to Jamaica..
I want to thank the wonderful staff at San San beach who were so positive and helpful to us, and also let Jwyanza know they support everything he is trying to do in order to advance in life. We had an amazing time. Please contact Jwyanza if you are interested in snorkeling in Portland, or just want to say hi.
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