How to make Coco Samoa – fresh hot chocolate from tree to cup

There are many wonderful things to be learned when you live on this planet.  As a farm to table person, cooking and preparing fresh foods and beverages is one of them.  Today we are going to look at a drink common to the Samoan Islands, Coco Samoa.  In this easy 7 step process you will learn how to make this delicious beverage.

First you need some coca fruit.  Ripe fruit is red or orange in color.  These are picked from a tree.  The part of the fruit we will be using are the seeds.

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Fresh and ripe Coco fruit, split open to access the seeds.

2) After scooping the seeds out of the fruit you can enjoy the milky coating of the seeds by sucking on them and then spitting the seeds out into a bowl.  This is the traditional way of preparing them.  This is a tasty step, but it is optional.

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Separate the seeds from the fruit.

3) After you have separated your seeds from the fruit and any internal membrane.  You may rinse them.  This step is also optional and most likely only used if you have sucked on the seeds themselves.  This is not a traditional step in the process.

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Clean off the stems, rinsing is optional

4) Place your seeds on a baking tray or in a pan for toasting.  We use a gas flame and a pan to brown them.  Seeds are ready when the hulls have turned solid.  For a bolder, more coffee like flavor, you can burn the husks.  This step will require your pan to be cleaned so make sure you use an old pan that you don’t mind boiling off for cleaning.  Teflon or other similar surface is not recommended.

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Roast seeds until the skins are hardened and blackened.

5) After seeds are roasted to a hard outside coat, let them cool for several minutes and then husk the shells, separating the beans.  These beans should be a nice dark brown color.  Beans that have been blackened will have a more robust, coffee like flavor.

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Roasted beans will be separated from the husks.  Burnt beans like these will have a more coffee like flavor than chocolate.

6) The next step is to grind the beans.  Using a coffee grinder or other food processing machine makes quick and easy work of this step.

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Ground coco can be brewed in a variety of ways to make a tasty drink.

7) After your beans are sufficiently ground you can brew them in a variety of ways.  Adding them to boiling water, using a french press or simply putting the grounds in a cup and adding hot water.  Add sugar to taste and enjoy!

 

Your parents may have been hippies – but they made a difference

April 22nd is Earth day and you can thank your family for that the next time you sit down for dinner.  Why, well it wasn’t that long ago America was really sucking on an environmental basis. So a while back a bunch of hippies decided to get together and have a celebration of the place we live, this planet that well call home.  Whippie!!!

But no, really. This is a big deal and those hippies, well they were your parents or grandparents.  Why?  Well what you probably don’t realize is that in America the place was beginning to look like a landfill.  After WWII, the government went through a process to downsize.  One of the bureaucracies that were cut from the picture was a national recycling program.  Many of your grandparents probably still remember what it was like to take newspapers, soda bottles, aluminum and all kinds of items and turn them in, many times for money.  This is how they got to buy dollies and baseball gloves when they were children.  They worked for it because their parents taught them how important it was to tend to the things we had like beautiful land and clean water and healthy food that was grown so locally that much of the time you could walk outside in your bare feet and pick it.

These values are the kind that have (ideally) come down from generation to generation.  Unfortunately, in any society, this is only a representative of a portion of the population.  Corporations were still corporations and without regulatory oversight it doesn’t make sense to be responsible to the planet at the expense of the bottom line.  It’s the kind of attitude that says, if I’m not told something is wrong – it must not be wrong for me to do.  And devastation was laid out on the countryside.   Eventually,  major city beaches were being closed due to pollution, waterways caught fire due to chemical and oil spills and masses of animals were  mutating and dying from unnatural changes to their environment.

So our parents, and grandparents, they did something about it.  Earth day rallies, like those of civil rights and women’s suffrage actually did make an impact.  The disasters that were befalling our country were visible to the naked eye and people cared about it.  They thought about you and me and our children.  They didn’t want to leave a legacy that was shameful, deadly and horrific.  So they took action.  They made cities build waste water treatment facilities, (before it often went from toilet to river to tap in the next town).   They banned chemicals like DDT and They cleaned up most of the messes they made.  They set rules into place that said, what we did was not ok – and nobody should be allowed to do this in the future.

And here we are in 2013.  While human waste is cleaned before entering the waterways, mass quantities of factory farm waste is not regulated.  Instead of filling our waterways with oil and chemicals we are loading them with a different chemical that is producing the same results in killing off biospheres of natural wildlife – plastic.  While air pollution standards have made visible skies in major cities a reality, we are now burning Tar Sands Oil- which is producing double the amount of carbon-dioxide standard crude oil emits.  And instead of boldly declaring the atrocities of big industry, news agencies are now owned, operated and invested in the entities they are supposed to be holding accountable.  This month the FAA declared an American NoFly Zone because an oil company (and the government) doesn’t want bad press to negatively impact infrastructure plans that are bad for our country.

So does Earth Day mean anything to you?  Will the sacrifices and values of those that wanted you to have a clean planet encourage you to make changes in your life, to stand in unison with one another over real issues and to hold big polluters accountable not just with the click of a mouse button but with real action? Please I encourage you to take the time to consider – what kind of life are we leaving behind and begin making simple changes like bringing your own bags to the grocery store, riding public transportation and more importantly write your representatives and hold them accountable to standing strong on issues that matter to you.

Most importantly, if you have children – on April 20th (Saturday) show them what Earth Day is about by spending time outdoors, learning about or doing something special, they will only learn what you pass on.

Just say no – Plastic Warriors Unite

“Plastic, plastic, plastic – Is that all you ever talk about?” a friend recently asked me.  Well no I like to talk about other things, like my love of music, Jesus and volunteering.   However I have to ask, what’s the point of changing topics if you don’t ‘get it’ when it comes to plastics?

I thought I had made a good point, I mean how many crusades can one person take on at one single time?  If you and I went around solely participating in the process of evangelizing on the problems with life and the world around us, how quickly would we burn out.  I think the answer is obvious – it would take some days, others a few weeks, but eventually it would happen!

In today’s world plastic is everywhere.  Go out to eat, plastic.  Eat in, plastic.  Shopping, driving, worship, vacations, airline flights, school lunches, household chores the list goes on.  PLASTIC IS EVERYWHERE. Here’s a video on bottles…

Wow, that’s a bit overwhelming.  So what can you do?  The answer isn’t easy, and quite honestly sometimes it’s difficult and can offend others.  Yesterday, for example.  My brother-in-law stopped at McDonald’s for water.  Choice one – a plastic bottle and plastic lid filled with water, shipped and transported into Colorado.  Option two – paper cup with Plastic lid and plastic straw.  I was thirsty but opted out because option two wasn’t really provided to me, it was here’s a plastic bottle of water.  Not perfect, but there was a delicious cup of water from the tap waiting for me when out got home, only problem… I’m drinking out of a plastic cup.

Today, I will continue to take plastic out of the trash and put it in the recycling containers, speak awareness and live simple changes that will reduce my imprint on our planet.    What steps are you taking to ‘cut the plastic’ from your life?

The Future is Now!

People ask, what do I do or, more realistically what I want to do. My answer is simple. I want to help us all be better stewards of our planet. Actually I want to physically clean our oceans, and you should want me to be successful. As a race, a species of animals if you will, we humans have done some horrible things to the planet and to one another. However, our growth is at a point where it’s harder to behave in ways that are harmless. Every part of our societies from first to third world countries, there is an impact of our technology and advancement that is known as plastic.

Many people think, well I recycle – isn’t that enough? I know this is: the stories about our planet and how much is prevalent in the food steam of wild animals is quite disturbing. Over the weekend, news reports flooded the views of a sperm whale that ate plastic sheeting and many other items. Regularly, animals are found deceased from malnutrition because they have been eating plastic.

As parents and guardian’s of the next generation of humans, we are protective of what our children eat. We advocate for the quality of life our food has, preferring to not support inhumane treatment of our livestock. Factory farms, lead, chromium – these are all common place danger words for most.

When it comes to the future of our world, and life upon it, action by each human is necessary. Reducing the quantity of harmful pollutants means buying less plastic, strengthening our recycling laws and continuing to develop ways to effectively divert all plastics away from the waste and single use streams. Additionally, taking daily action by using public transportation, planning purchases in ‘one run trips’ and in home conservation efforts like turning down the heat (or air conditioning), using water efficient toilets and shower-heads all make significant differences.

If you’ve been reading along from the beginning, you know I advocate a 2 garbage can system. What ways to you ensure you Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle efficiently?

Sperm Whale Dead in Spain http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/08/spain-sperm-whale-death-swallowed-plastic
Pollution in our Deep Seas http://www.theplasticfreetimes.com/news/13/02/28/litter-found-deep-sea-survey
The Great Garbage Patch http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/03/20133911393486789.html
5 Gyres Institute http://5gyres.org/what_is_the_issue/the_problem/

What’s for dinner tonight?

I was riding the train yesterday, thinking about the ideas in, “The Impact Equation” by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.  What strikes me today is that I haven’t been a prolific writer over the last 20 years.  According to Brogan, it’s necessary to write regularly, because well – Practice makes perfect.  This is great for the organized non ADHD brain that is quite comfortable with scheduled activities, the kind of person that knew what was for dinner tonight, last weekend when the shopping was being done.

So I am making a commitment to more frequent writing, in order to effectively stretch my writing muscles.  That’s great, but really what does dinner have to do with any of this?  I’m glad you asked.  When I first made a decision that I wanted to promote the responsibilities of tending to our planet and avoiding fossil fuel based plastics it wasn’t because I got tired of looking at trash in my neighborhood.  I became aware that for the last 50 years, humans have been inserting deadly products into the food stream of natural wildlife, causing mass genocides of entire species, all without intention or knowledge of our actions.

In a conversation later that day, someone asked me, don’t we do enough through current recycling programs?  The answer is not at all.  In fact, I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately about this.  In the Berkley, California –  Ecology Center’s website – you can read about how plastic recycling education isn’t all true, and the pretenses you and I have about recycling may be false   http://www.ecologycenter.org/ptf/misconceptions.html

Spend some time with the 5gyres institute ( Facebook, Twitter and http://www.5gyres.org) and you will learn about how bad the problem of single use plastics really is, and why it’s a problem we will never get away from.  Yes I said never, as in permanent damage that may very well out live the human race.  (More about this in future posts I promise).

Why am I ranting?  Because today, something you eat will come in a single use plastic.  And because I too am guilty of this in the last 24 hours, that plastic went to a garbage pile, placing more fossil fuels back into the waste stream.  If I’m lucky, that piece I’m guilty of will end up in a landfill where it will be buried and take hundreds of years to break down, if it ever does.  The other potential is that it will  landing on a beach or floating in the ocean for some animal to confuse with natural foods.  This will not digest well, and will probably contribute to the death of some living creature or if it does break down, the joy of additional toxins being released into the environment will be something for future generations to deal with…. (http://science.howstuffworks.com/science-vs-myth/everyday-myths/how-long-does-it-take-for-plastics-to-biodegrade.htm )

Makes me want to go on a hunger strike just thinking about it all.

Welcome to my blog – Day 2,

As this journey begins, I am sure that there will be many learning experiences along the way.
Today I want to answer some simple questions.

The first is – why blog?

Blogging offers a wide variety of flexibility and an active way to communicate with people without seeing each other face to face.  Blogging about topics that can be searched by others, you who are reading this now allows us to connect to one another in ways we might not imagine previously.   I am starting this process to not only share my passion for protecting the environment through enhancing the way we make daily decisions, but also to connect to those in the community that share similar passions so that I may continue to learn along the way.

My goal is to change the mindset of Earth’s inhabitants and the way we produce, consume and dispose of all the materials in our lives so that we individually and as a collective, consciously enhance our environmentally conscious behaviors.

I hope you will change your habits because of the things you see here.   From spending habits, active recycling and conservation efforts I intend to provide a platform where a slew of earth friendly practices and products will be make known as well as participated in.

In the last thought today, I want to know what you my reader would like to know more about?   Do you know about the different types of plastics and how they are reused?  Do you want to know how your practices can save you money?  Are there issues near and dear that you would like to know more about?  Please ask away, comment often, and help build this community together.