Friday, March 02, 2012

Making Chocolate ~ First Failed Attempt

A couple of weeks ago I was at the farmers market and there were organic cacao know...what CHOCOLATE is made from!!!
I've been told that Hawaii is the only state in the US that can grow cacao beans, AND that the only places in the world that it can grow is 20 degrees above or below the equator...were at 19something degrees above the equator.
The kind market farmer told me that I could start my own cacao tree from the seeds if I dry them, then sprout them. I thought that was pretty cool, but I was mostly interested in making my very own chocolate. Hastily I did a quick google on how to make chocolate. I did not research very long or bad.
What I found told me that to make chocolate you first need to ferment the beans. It said that traditionally this is done in the field and that the beans are put in a pile and covered with banana leaves. I thought cool I have banana leaves, I'll do that. I didn't want them to be left on the ground...lest some unwanted snail or slug crawl over them and leave me with unwanted rat lungworm nematodes!!!
(Stella and our banana leaf)
So I decided to wrap them up in a banana leaf and set them outside under our black composter lid.
This was not a good idea! It rained all week and I'm sure the beans in the banana leaf did not reach the required 125F needed to ferment. When I checked on them at the end of the week they were beyond gross...too gross to take a picture of them. Maybe I was supposed to use brown dead banana leaves??? They were all covered with gray/black fuzzy mold. I tried to salvage them and rinsed them under hot water and even tried to dehydrate them in the oven for a couple of days, but the mold caked on so that I was thoroughly disgusted and pitched them in the compost.
I will try again. I will not give up. I was so excited in the beginning and took my "step by step" pictures that I decided to post them and my failed attempt.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Family Walk

Back in Wisconsin we were very dedicated to our family walk. Even the snow and bitter cold winds did not deter us from our mile trek everyday before supper. Up until last night we had not taken 1 family walk in Hawaii...why? I think it's been a combination of factors: 1)It gets dark around 6-6:30pm and before we had power that meant we were eating and cleaning up for supper all before the darkness hit...not so easy doing dishes by candlelight. Now we have solar power so this issue has been eliminated. 2)Transition...we're still transitioning, adjusting, moving...the boys started school and that has been a huge adjustment/transition. Now we follow someone else's prescribed homework assignments and strict due dates. 3)Neighborhood Uncertainty. We were VERY comfortable in Wisconsin. We knew our land, street, and neighbors well and there was no fear on our evening stroll. Here we're not so certain of our hood...neighbors here cherish their privacy. We don't want to spook anyone, the Raye Family walks aren't exactly quiet. It's a time for the kids to get their sillies out before we settle down for the evening. It will probably take years for us to feel that same level of comfort that we had in Wisconsin, but we decided last night we were going to get back into our walking rhythm.
 Above Picture: The scene before we left on the walk...Stella had been painting with watercolors, Kyle had been eating oranges (local navals = yum!), and Reeve had cranked up the hand-crank radio to listen to some good ol' NPR...namely Car Talk which airs at 5pm here and Garrison Keilor's A Prairie Home Companion. Our 3rd Favorite radio show is a Wisconsin Public Radio show called Olde Time Radio Drama and we will try to stream that on the internet tonight for the first time since we left Wisconsin. Reeve is very hopeful it will work! He was a dedicated listener.
We started out going in the kind neighbor's direction...kind meaning he consistently mows as much of our lawn on the road that he can. The pothole in the above picture is a baby...a lot of the pot holes are small ponds that take up the entire width of the road.
 There were only a couple of times when we thought maybe a neighbor we didn't know would get spooked, but overall it was a very peaceful walk. Stella stopped to pick some roadside orchids along the way.

 There was a sliver of a moon and some planets as we turned around and headed back towards home.
 Hopefully we can continue our evening walking rhythm and explore the hood without spooking anyone.