With spring in full bloom, I’ve been trying my hand at gardening and I must say, it’s been doing pretty well! I also changed out the dead plants in the house courtesy of my lovely, beastly cats (aka Plant Destroyers) and cashed in on the one year return policy at Lowe’s. Sometimes I wonder if they will eventually blacklist me for returning dead plants so often. The palm majesty I have in my living room is version three, its predecessors first killed with a case of zealous over-watering and the second killed by the aforementioned cat-beasts.
Spring is also the season for fresh foods, bright colors and overall happiness. People are hanging out on their porch more, sipping margaritas and beer while enjoying the lazy afternoon sun. Gardening is at an all time high with annuals selling like crazy and blooms popping up in people’s yards. And people are just generally more cheerful overall.
What I personally associate with nice, balmy weather are coconuts. Where I grew up, there used to be coconut stalls by the beach with fresh coconuts for sale. You’d pick your coconut and then sit down on a weathered picnic table while the stall owner grabbed a machete and hacked away at the top of the coconut to create a small opening to stick your straw in.
It was nice just sitting there, sipping on your coconut and passing the time enjoying the salty air and the scenery, which also included roadside stalls selling all manner of food; from steamed corn on the cob slathered in butter and salt, steamed peanuts, sugar cane drinks freshly pressed in front of you, dried squid strips seasoned with soy sauce, chili and crushed peanuts (this was yummy, despite how bad it sounds) and all manner of snacks you could dream up.
And the fun didn’t end there! Once you were done with your coconut, the machete would come out again and this time, split it into two, then shape some part of the coconut into a make-shift spoon to spoon up the succulent, white flesh. It really was a beachy experience, eating fresh coconut with a husky spoon. All this for a dollar! I’m not sure what the right thing to call it is, meat or flesh but that white stuff is delicious. Sometimes you’d get the really young ones and their thin flesh would practically slide off in one smooth movement and other times you’d get a slightly older one where you’d have to put in a little more effort but was rewarded with thicker hunks of meat.
Fresh coconuts were something I grew up with; brown, old coconuts were shredded in front of you upon request in the open air market and the fresh, desiccated coconut was packed up nicely for you to bring home. So coconut in whatever form, was always a staple in my kitchen, both growing up and now.
With that in mind, today I’ll be making a pretty simple recipe using coconut flakes, coconut milk and rice. You can use brown rice too if you prefer, just add a little more coconut milk. What I love about this recipe are the sweet toasted coconut flakes you sprinkle on top. Toasting them dries them out and makes them golden and crispy and with its natural sweetness, it’s just a great addition to the yummy coconut rice. Make more if you want! You can even snack on them (which I did).
Tips and tricks:
- Rinse the rice thoroughly before cooking it.
- Coconut milk is not the same as coconut cream. The former is thinner while the latter is thicker and usually used in baking.
- Think of investing in a rice cooker to set and forget. With a rice pot, you can set and forget and you don’t have to babysit rice over a stove.
- 1½ cups long grain white rice
- 1¾ cups coconut milk
- 4 tablespoons sweet coconut flakes, divided
- ¼ teaspoon ginger, minced
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Run the rice under cold water, rinsing it until the water runs clear
- Combine all the ingredients and 2 tablespoons of coconut flakes in a rice pot. Stir and set to cook
- Meanwhile, over medium heat, toast 2 tablespoons of coconut flakes in a pan, stirring continuously to prevent it from burning. Remove from heat and set aside
- Once the rice is cooked, remove the cover and allow the steam to slowly release and the rice to cool for about 5 minutes
- Fluff the rice with a fork, dish and serve warm, sprinkled with toasted coconut flakes