January 23,2019

Dear friends,
I need some fava beans, quick. Like a moth to a flame, I have been drawn to forbidden sweets lately in an unconscious quest to boost the feel-good chemicals in my brain. I hate this but on the other hand, how else would I have discovered Caribbean coconut roll last week?

Yes, it’s complicated. Short version: I am not depressed, but my brain is genetically low in the chemicals that keep me happy. For years I have solved the problem with medication but now want to do so naturally. That means listening to music, meditating, getting plenty of sunshine and eating fava beans, the only food known to contain dopamine, one of the substances my brain is craving. Sugar will give me a temporary feel-good jolt, but I’d like to avoid cleaning out every pastry shop in South Florida.

Luckily, one of my pastry stops last week was Jerk City, a Jamaican carry out in Port St. Lucie, Fla. I don’t know why I stopped; it wasn’t a bakery and I had just finished lunch. But I rushed in, bought
one of the pastries stacked on the counter, and fled.

The scent of vanilla and coconut washed over me when I opened the plastic clam shell in the car. Wow. I figured “coconut roll” would be a sweet bread, but no. It was a roll of flaky pastry wrapped around and around a thick coconut filling. The roll, cut in half for packing, was about 7 inches long and 2 inches in diameter. The interior was moist and bread-y from the dough spiraled around the filling.

The flavor was — well, imagine a mouthful of buttery, flaky, mellow coconut goodness. It was as gentle and cozy a delivery system for coconut as I’ve tasted.

Later I found a recipe for the coconut roll, which turned out to be a Trinidad version. Many islands in the Caribbean have coconut rolls, all with slight variations. Some tint the filling pink. Some slice before baking. Trinidad does neither.

The following recipe is from The Schizo Chef at www.theschizochef.com/2016/03/coconut-roll/. I have not tried it but the winter is young and I haven’t found fava beans yet. Lord help me.

TRINIDAD COCONUT ROLL

Pastry ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup (4 tbsp.) cold butter, chopped
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening
1/2 cup cold water

Filling Ingredients:
1 cup frozen grated unsweetened coconut, thawed
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

Topping Ingredients:
1 egg
1 tbsp. water
1 tsp. sugar

For pastry: In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.
Add shortening and butter. Using a pastry blender, cut fat into flour until it resembles small peas. Add water and mix just until dough comes together. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.

For the filling: Combine all filling ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Assembly: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and spray with non stick spray. Make egg wash by whisking together the egg and water for the topping.

On a lightly floured board, roll out dough into a rectangle. Spread filling on top. Starting on the long side, roll into a tight cylinder, sealing the ends. Transfer to cookie sheet. Brush the top with egg wash. Sprinkle sugar on top.
Bake for 1 hour, until golden brown.

GUT CHECK
What I cooked last week:
Slow cooker pork, bean and green chili stew; grilled kabobs of marinated top sirloin, baby bell pepper, onion chunks and chunks of corn on the cob; grilled meatloaf burgers, grilled mixed peppers drizzled with vinaigrette, grilled corn on the cob.

What I ate in/from restaurants:
Scrambled eggs, ham steak, grits, biscuit and coffee at Pogey’s in Okeechobee, Fla.; a rueben sandwich at Pogey’s; a chocolate glazed doughnut at Dunkin’ Donuts; Popeye’s 3-piece chicken and a biscuit; roast marinated pork, maduros (sweet plantains), black beans, yellow rice and a cafe con leche at El Cubanito Cuban Restaurant in Port St. Lucie, Fla.; a Trinidad coconut roll from Jerk City in Port St. Lucie; grilled shrimp and spicy grits with garlic bread at Good Spirits Lounge near Okeechobee; eggs over easy, grits, ham, biscuit and coffee at Pogey’s.

THE MAILBAG
From Marge S.:
(For Gail B.), I print your recipes by simply copying them and pasting into a Word document. Highlight the text you want, right click within the highlight and choose “copy.” Open a new Word document, right click on it and choose “paste.” Then you can make adjustments if you want, print it, and save it.

Dear Marge:
You and many others proposed that solution, which is how I print recipes from my newsletter, too. Those who get the newsletter via gmail, which does not support editing functions, will have to go to my blog site to copy and paste JaneSnowToday.wordpress.com

Thank you to those who offered suggestions: Debbie N., Dorothy T., Dorothy B., Christine S., Sura S., J.S., Pennie, Sue D., Judy A., Cindy W., Barbara S., Peggy K., Kay in Santa Fe, Ron C., Iris, Carol W., Ellen, Pat and Deb C.

From Carol B.:
I just printed your recipe for bean stew and can’t wait to fix it. Also, I’m curious about what Tony cooks on a 7-inch electric grill.

Dear Carol:
I measured Tony’s dinky grill and it is actually 10 inches in diameter. It looks smaller because the electric element sits inside a ceramic dish that resembles a soufflé dish, with a grid on top. It is a Japanese thing; they do a lot of grilling at the table.

I didn’t think the grill would be effective because we have a bunch of them taking up space in the basement, and the one I tried didn’t emit enough heat to cook a shrimp.
This one surprised me. Tony fired it up to grill corn on the cob, peppers and hamburgers, in shifts. It cooked everything slowly but surely.

The jury’s still out on the toaster oven.

From Susan R.:
What! No Instant Pot?

Dear Susan:
No. I hate it.

From Pat K.:
I’ve always wanted to know, what do you do with your leftovers? The bean stew recipe you ran last week serves 10. There are two of you. While I like leftovers, what’s a lot of leftovers. Do you freeze and then really reheat? I hate to waste food but I also hate eating the same thing all week long.

Dear Pat:
Sometimes I freeze leftovers, but typically I eat them. I love leftovers. Tony does not. Usually it’s just me and a big pot of whatever. We each had two bowls of the stew initially, then I ate stew the next morning for breakfast. It was the perfect breakfast — protein and vegetables in a warming broth. I had it again for lunch and dinner, and lunch the following day and then breakfast again. I was sad when it was gone. Meanwhile, Tony was happy eating peanut butter toast for breakfast and doctored-up instant ramen noodles for dinners. He eats a lot of ramen and spaghetti while I eat leftovers, fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurt, protein shakes and other healthful stuff.

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