Food From The Jungle

There’s not much happening around here in the way of new adventures or excitement lately, even the animals seem to be laying low. The things that are keeping us busy around here is tending to the garden and making some good food. So here is a little update on the food situation at the Toucan Hideaway.

Up in the garden, it was time to get the old tomato plants pulled out and get something new in there. Since we already had some good trellis set up where the tomatoes were, we decided to plant cucumbers for pickling. Prior to the tomatoes that same area is where we previously had planted peanuts. Of course, when you pull up the peanuts there are always a few that are left in the ground, and of course, they grew. So as we pulled out the dead tomatoes we also had some peanuts that were ready to dig up and be roasted.

Not a lot of peanuts, but at least a good bowl full.

Besides the new pickle plants, we also just put in some bush beans, romaine lettuce, and yellow squash. The okra is still doing good and the sweet corn is starting to get a bunch of ears on them. Good sweet corn is sometimes hard to find here or it’s pretty expensive, so we are excited to hopefully have some good corn.

Soon to be ready sweet corn.

We also still have a variety of peppers growing and a few artichoke plants that we have big hopes for. And of course, there is a handful of pineapples that are just about ready to be picked. There are also a few cilantro plants that Kelley loves, me not so much.

Hopefully, we’ll have asparagus for years to come.

The one thing we are really excited about is our 12 or so asparagus plants, where some of the shoots are already starting to get as thick as a pencil. Hopefully, by next year we will have a constant crop of asparagus, especially since it’s very expensive here, about $1 a stalk at the market.

Homegrown chocolate candy!

Well, this was our first time making chocolate out of cacao that we actually grew. It was quite a process, we had to ferment all the seeds for a while, then dry them in the sun and then roast and peel them until we had cacao nibs. After that, we put them in a food processor and ground them until they turned into a powder and then eventually a creamy texture where some sugar was added. After that, it was into a double boiler to temper it so it will harden correctly. I really had doubts about this whole process, but considering it was our first time making chocolate from scratch it turned out amazing. We ended up pouring the chocolate over some of our homegrown peanuts and some of them even got topped with a fresh raspberry from the garden. Everything except the sugar was grown in our garden and who knows maybe we just need to grow some sugar cane. Anyway who would have thought you could grow chocolate candy, I thought you could only grow veggies in the garden.

Hopefully, all these cocao pods will mature and turn into delicious chocolate.

After making all the chocolate treats there were some peanuts leftover. Instead of just eating them, Kelley went out and picked a bunch of basil and made some pesto. Usually, Kelley uses pine nuts to make pesto, but they are hard to find down here. In the past she has made pesto using cashews, almonds, peanuts, pine nuts and they all have their own very unique flavor.

I see a pesto pizza with lobster in our future.

Currently, four of our banana plants have bunches on them. There are the local bananas which are just like regular bananas, the apple bananas that are small and sweet, then there are the plantains that are good for cooking or to make chips with. Our biggest bunch to date is the apple bananas and there are at least 120+ bananas on the stalk. It looks like more banana-everything is in our future.

Now that’s a big bunch of bananas!

This season our coffee plants are doing quite well and we know that as time goes on they will do even better. Only a couple of plants are loaded like the one in this picture, but most of them do have berries on them.

In a couple of years, all 37 plants should be loaded like this.

Good fresh deli-style meats pretty much do not exist down here. So for the past couple of weeks, we have been curing nine beef briskets that were finally ready to be processed. Three of the briskets will be saved for corned beef; one for corned beef and cabbage and the other two sliced up for some reuben sandwiches.

Sliced corned beef, ready for some reuben sandwiches.

The other six will be seasoned, smoked, and steamed for pastrami. As for the pastrami…well, it’s getting sliced, vacuum-sealed, and ready to be made into some of the best sandwiches in Belize.

Briskets in the smoker with a new 8 station temp prob.

Oh, and our little restaurant outback finally opened up again and this time it opened as a Jerked Chicken Shack. They served jerked chicken, fry jacks, and grilled sweet corn. Of course, a meal like that would not be complete without a couple cold Belikin’s and some Marie Sharp’s pepper sauce. The sweet corn actually came from the field next to us and was some of the best corn we have had down here. Our sweet corn that we planted a while back should be ready in about a month and we can’t wait to try it.

That was a great meal!

We have no shortage of good fresh food down here and hopefully someday when you come for a visit we can share it with you.

8 thoughts on “Food From The Jungle”

    1. Yes, we have some bananas! We picked a bunch the other day that had around 70 on it. The big bunch won’t be ready for a few weeks, which is a good thing.

  1. Guys, everything looks delicious!! So exciting to watch all your crops grow from the blog but would be even more amazing in person!! Miss you guys terribly and hope to see you soon!

  2. That is incredible!!!! I recently heard that after a banana tree grows bananas it will die like a century plant. You are supposed to hack it down and leave it to compost for the next trees that grow as sprouts like, yet again, a century plant.

    Can you confirm or deny this?

    Miss you both, hope all is well, hope to bring the boys down sometime soon, whatever that means.

    1. Yes, once the plant gets a stalk of bananas you cut it down. Usually there are at least four or five more plants already growing around the base and the will be anywhere from 1′ to 15′ tall when you cut the one down. It seems like we should always have bananas around here.

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