Below I’ll be posting recipes from dishes mentioned in TRY TO REMEMBER – starting with one that I cut out of an earlier version of the book because of length considerations. 
 Literary Recipe #1: Colombian arroz con coco (coconut rice)
-for Stéphanie
[scroll down to the end for the short-cut cooking version]
Coconut Palm by Toby Sonneman
Coconut Palm – by Toby Sonneman*

1. Find a coconut tree, maybe one tilting slightly skyward. (Or buy a coconut from the store and skip to Step 4 below.)

2. Search among the fallen coconuts on the ground for a good one. To be sure, shake the fallen coconut to your ear until you hear the swishing sounds of the juice inside.

3. Now tear the husk apart with a machete or some other tool, and/or crack it against the ground until you can pry the hard, round coconut loose from the thick husk that encloses it.

4.Grab a screwdriver & hammer and go stand over the sink with your coconut. Wack it in the soft eye to create an opening from which to pour out the juice.

5.Turn the coconut over onto a jar to collect the cloudy juice and set that aside.

6.Lay a cloth in the sink. Hammer the coconut into pieces and pry the flesh from the shell. The larger the pieces you can pry off (carefully slipping a thin, flexible, knife between the shell and flesh), the better. Discard the shell pieces.

7. Grate the cut-up pieces of coconut flesh into a bowl. The grated mass will be white with brown specks from the skin. When the grated pieces become so small that you can’t grate any further without grating your fingers too, pop the pieces into your mouth for a sweet treat or give them to any children hanging around.

8. Pour the reserved coconut juice plus a cup of warm tap water into the grated coconut mass. Place a handful or more of the wet grated mass into a strainer and squeeze the mass with your fingers over another bowl until it yields a cup of milky liquid. This is the zumo. Pour it into your rice pot and set the pot on a burner on the stove for later use.

9. Continue to squeeze liquid from the grated mass into the bowl, adding warm water if needed, until you have enough liquid for the amount of rice you will need to cook. Repeat this process over and over until the grated coconut mass is lifeless as dust. Throw it away.

10. Cook the zumo already in the rice pot over low heat while stirring constantly until the liquid reduces to a dark paste. In the meantime, separately sauté about a half cup of raisins in a teaspoon of butter, along with a teaspoon of sugar, until the raisins are soft, and add the raisins, a tablespoon of vegetable oil, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of sugar, and all the squeezed-out liquid to the dark paste in the rice pot. Bring to a boil.

11. Pour the rice into the middle of the pot. If the proportions of liquid and rice are correct, the poured rice should just barely pop out of the water in a mound. A large coconut should generally be sufficient to flavor a full pot of rice.

12. Lower the heat to medium and let the rice mixture simmer uncovered until the liquid is nearly gone but the rice has softened. Then cover the pot and lower the flame. Cook until the rice is done.

13. The coconut rice will turn out fragrant but not really sweet. The sweetness comes from the raisins – and your memory of the cloudy juice and the little grated stubs. 

For a short cut version use canned coconut milk & a recipe like this one.

*Check out Toby Sonneman’s food blog & her lemons blog (with even more great drawings!)