Now on the menu – Chocolate Ice Cream

The second recipe Boty and I made over the weekend was chocolate ice cream.  The kids have been begging for the return of chocolate ice cream so when Boty got out her “My Little Pony” coloring book to show me the recipes she wanted to make during our girl time and there was an easy chocolate ice cream recipe, we went for it.

We started with some special ingredients that made all the difference in our chocolate ice cream – homemade chocolate syrup.  You can use any chocolate syrup, but when you use Linda Cerutti’s recipe for chocolate syrup it gives the ice cream some serious chocolate depth.  So, if you have some Cerutti and Family shade grown organic chocolate that you haven’t made into anything yet, try the syrup recipe and then make this ice cream.

Chocolate Ice Cream

2/3 chocolate syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine ingredients and freeze in ice cream maker.  The ice cream is still soft when it comes out of the machine so it is best to let it freezer harder in your freezer for several hours or overnight.  Delicious and super easy.

This is the machine we use to make our ice cream. You can double this recipe for this machine.  Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker

Now on the menu – Coffee Ice Cream

Boty and I made several kinds of ice cream this weekend to test out to see if they were ready for the menu. Both the coffee and the chocolate are ready to add to the menu. Here is the recipe for the coffee ice cream:

2/3 cup strong brewed coffee
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the ingredients until fully blended. Put the mixture into the ice cream maker and freeze according to the directions for your particular ice cream maker. We doubled this recipe and it worked out just great.

We use a Cuisinart ICE-30B Ice Cream Maker. We purchased it an an extra freezer bowl that we keep in the freezer. The double recipe of the coffee ice cream fit into the freezer bowl no problem.  The link below will take you to the machine we use.

Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker

Go make this ice cream now.  It is delicious.  Add a little homemade chocolate syrup from Cerutti and Family and some nibs.  Yummy!

Banana Trivia

This information is from an email that is circulating the world about bananas. I don’t know if it is true or not, but it does make me stop and think a bit more about nature’s fast food.

Bananas contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fibre. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.

Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world’s leading athletes. But energy isn’t t he only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.

Forget the pills – eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure:
This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Brain Power:
200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex) school were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.

High in fibre, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness:
Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Mosquito bites:
Before reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Overweight and at work?
Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and salty snacks. Looking at 5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs. The report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness. It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control:
Many other cultures see bananas as a ‘cooling’ fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand , for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):
Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

Smoking &Tobacco Use:
Bananas can also help people trying to give up smoking. The B6, B 12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Potassium is a vital mineral, which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body’s water balance. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. These can be re balanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%!

Those keen on natural alternatives swear that if you want to kill off a wart, take a piece of banana skin and place it on the wart, with the yellow side out. Carefully hold the skin in place with a band aid or surgical tape!

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills. When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrate, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods around. So maybe its time to change that well-known phrase so that we say, ‘A banana a day keeps the doctor away!’

Origin of the word: Banana

We find ourselves reading and/or researching different things that affect us down here in the tropics so I decided that it might be a good idea to share some of the information we find as these little tidbits are interesting in their own right even if you don’t live close to the equator.

I am currently reading “Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World” by Dan Koeppel. It is a fairly recent book that I picked up when were in Houston this past summer. One of the interesting items he found in doing his research for this book is that to follow the journey of the banana it is much easier for archeologists, historians, biologists and authors to work with linguists. Why? Because it was easier to trace the words that each culture used to mean Banana that it is to trace the fruit itself.

The words used in the far east to mean banana are very different than the word we use today. The words used in Hebrew, Latin and many other languages are also quite different than we use today. The word that we use today, Banana, has its origin in the Arabic word banan. Banan translates into English as “finger.”

Bananas are harvested from the plant as a rack. This rack is then separated into hands. The bunch of bananas you buy in the grocery store are a hand of bananas. The individual fruits are the “finger” of the plant. Thus the Arabic word for finger has come to be our word for this delicious fruit.

Shucking a Coconut

Here is a short clip of a guy Jim saw on one of the islands shucking coconuts. It is so funny as Jim and Jay have been here in Panama for almost 9 years and up until a few months ago they thought you could only open a coconut with a machete. All of our employees and any other local we know use a machete to open a coconut. It takes lots of machete strikes to the coconut and then bending the machete across the coconut husk to get the nut out of the husk. And here is this guy with an ingenious little tool that lets him shuck multiples of coconuts in the time that it takes for anyone else to shuck one. This is all part of the fun of learning something new everyday!

Fresh Baked Goods

I used to underestimate the importance of freshly baked breads, cookies, and desserts. I have always enjoyed them, but I never realized the difference in eating these items within a day or so after they leave the oven.

We make all the baked goods we serve here on site. So that includes fresh breads, daily cookies, cakes, pies and so much more. Our guests are surprised each time they learn that we bake everything on site. To us it has become second nature to make sure that we have plenty of yummy stuff on site.

One set of guests informed me that they didn’t eat much bread but that they did prefer whole wheat bread over any other type. So the next day when we were baking our daily bread, we added a few loaves of whole wheat. Our guests were delighted to have this fresh whole wheat bread for their sandwiches and toast.

Each day we bake a different kind of cookie. These cookies are served with lunch whether you are eating on site or off site on one of our excursions. We very rarely see any cookies return from an excursion or for that matter remain on the plate following lunch onsite.

Our desserts each day are all made here. We have some tasty pies and cakes which highlight all the local ingredients such as pineapple, coconut and chocolate. It is a good thing that our property is so large and includes so many sets of stairs as it helps all of us to have an excuse to eat dessert!

Who is cooking now?

One of the challenges associated with living on an island is that you have limited access to an extended workforce. For most positions it isn’t a problem as you can rotate the schedule of your staff to take care of the time off for each employee. However, there are certain positions for which you do not hire multiples and for those vacation time is a bit more challenging.

We have a cook and a helper in the kitchen. We are fortunate in that they can turn out some incredible food. Our cook is kind enough to teach many of the different things she makes to her helper so that the helper can take on additional responsibility and fill in for the cook at certain meals. The helper lacks the experience of the cook which is why he is currently the helper and not the cook. He is hoping to return to school someday so cooking is not what he wants to be doing for a living. The cook on the other hand loves to cook and you can tell. Her food is amazing.

Well, it is her turn to go on vacation. She doesn’t take vacation on a regular basis like all of our other employees and she is absolutely entitled to it. I on the other hand cannot find anyone to work with the helper in the kitchen for the time she will be away. So it appears that the food the kitchen turns out for a few weeks will be a bit different than the food prepared in our kitchen most of the time. It will still be delicious, but it will be more like going to a party at a friend’s house rather than dinner at a restaurant. Why is that you ask? I will be back in the kitchen for a period of time. I can design menus for our cook to prepare, but I do not have the same skills that she has to turn out the same meals she cooks. I will miss her immensely, but I would prefer to miss her for a brief period of time rather than let her burn out and miss her all of the time.

Dining options

When you eat dinner on your vacation do you want to eat by yourself with just your party or do you want to dine with other people staying at the same lodge? We can set it up either way. If you are on a family adventure vacation, you may want to share stories of your adventures with others at dinner each night. Or you might want to share a meal with just your family.

We can arrange it either way. We frequently sit at communal tables and invite our guests to decide where they want to sit. The resulting conversation is interesting. To hear about an adventure from a variety of viewpoints broadens the experience. One person may notice fine details that others didn’t expressly remember but once they details are brought to the forefront then they become a part of the experience for the whole group. A different person may have noticed an unusual landmark and point it out to the group. The photographs that each person takes during the excursion also provide input into the discussion.

Then there are those who are celebrating their family time. They may enjoy the group dynamic during the cocktail hour and then prefer a private table for dinner itself.

We try to read our guests so that we can give them what they want. After all it is your vacation – make it what you want it to be.