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Wilder Recipes: How to Crack and Roast a Coconut (or) When the Cat's Away...

By Thewilderthings @TheWilderThings
Wilder Recipes: How to Crack and Roast a Coconut (or) When the Cat's Away...
My mom went to Maine this past weekend, leaving my father and me (and Rosie The Dog and Snug The Kitty) to our own devices. Even though he's a man of a certain age and I like to think I'm a fairly mature 23 year old, we nevertheless revert back to survival mode when the woman of the house vacates the premises. Friday night we went out to dinner and then stopped at Dairy Joy, or "the place where dreams come true," if your dreams consist of eating soft-serve ice cream encased in a hard chocolate shell. But the real adventures started Saturday, when we set off, Rosie in the backseat, to tackle some errands (more after the jump).
When I was a little girl and my mom would have to go away, the first thing my dad and I always did was go to the supermarket. We'd go up and down every aisle; cereal, cookies, fruit roll-ups, ice cream, potato chips...all of the foods that my health-conscious mother so rightly avoided, we would buy. I guess old habits die hard, because the first place we directed the car on Saturday was Whole Foods. While it's harder to find junk food there than it was at our old local supermarket, we did manage to buy hot dogs, burgers, gelato, and some kind of gross-looking (but really yummy) kale chips.
We then set off to the hardware store to fill up the propane tanks. This, too, was one of my favorite childhood errands; something about going each month--driving to the neighboring town, eating the lollipops at the counter, and chatting with the friendly men who work there--always felt like a treat. This time, the man behind the register asked my father if he was the one who started the kazoo band in our town's Fourth of July parade (he was). I grinned; there's nothing better than knowing your dad's legacy is firmly cemented in local lore.
We then returned home, where I set to work cracking the day's puzzle: a coconut. I'd thrown it into the cart at Whole Foods on a whim, and I wasn't about to let it sit on the counter for days only to be thrown out on garbage day. No, my friends, this fuzzy little mid-size nut required immediate action.
Here was my plan of attack: head out to the porch with a meat cleaver, a glass, and the nut itself. I then proceeded to whack at it as hard as I could for far longer than I anticipated. The coconut eventually yielded to my blows, however, and I quickly held the glass underneath it to catch the sweet coconut water.
Wilder Recipes: How to Crack and Roast a Coconut (or) When the Cat's Away...
Cracking the coconut was half the battle, but the war wasn't over. To roast it, I had to get the meat out of its shell. I used an oyster knife to do this, but you can use any utensil that you can wedge between the fruit and the fuzzy casing. Once I got it all out and rinsed off, I cut the coconut into pieces about a quarter of an inch thick, pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees, and toasted it for ten minutes, stirring about three times. Depending on your oven you might need to give it a bit more or less time, but you'll know it's done when the edges turn a kind of caramel-y brown (and look like the picture below). If you like your toasted foods to be super toasty then go for it, leave them in a while longer. Just be careful that you don't totally scorch them, because then they taste less like coconut and more like a burnt piece of cardboard. Trust me on that.
The result, if you toast them correctly, is divine; the fat from the fruit (nut?) roasts it beautifully. The warm and crunchy snacks are great on their own, but we ate them sprinkled on top of vanilla gelato with strawberries. And I even saved some for my dear mother when she got home from Maine; I wouldn't want the cat to miss out on all the fun the mice had.
Wilder Recipes: How to Crack and Roast a Coconut (or) When the Cat's Away...

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