Happy Mothers Day

This could be a lot of work but it should be fun at the same time. We now have about 30 vanilla vines. A guy we met is helping people grow vanilla to show them that it could be a profitable crop if taken seriously. I guess his family has always grown vanilla in Belize and now he wants to share his knowledge with others. He had three different types of vanilla, some are used for flavoring and some they use for perfumes. So we purchased three different types of vanilla vines from him and we will see what happens. They grow wild here in Belize and he said that we probably have some growing on the property we just didn’t know what to look for. Vanilla is a vine and a member of the orchid family. The vanilla only blooms once a year, and in the wild, there is only about a 1% chance that the flowers will get pollinated. So most of the pollination on farms and such has to be done by hand in order to produce a vanilla bean. The guy we got the vines from helped us plant a few, showed us everything he thought we should know and even said to call him when they start to bloom and he will come out and show us how to correctly pollinate them. I guess when you are paying $7-$12 per bean in the store then maybe this could turn out to be something. If not at least we will have some nice looking vines on the trees and maybe a few fresh vanilla beans to do some cooking with.

Vanilla vine

The guy we bought the vanilla from also grows cocoa on his farm and was selling the roasted cocoa nibs (what you make chocolate from). So we bought a bag of them from him because our trees have another year or so before they will start producing. We were not quite sure what we were going to do with them until it hit us, chocolate liqueur. So currently the cocoa nibs are soaking in a 750 ml of vodka for a few weeks until we can finish the process. Then we thought why not make some coconut vodka. So we talked to our man Ruben and the next day we had 5 fresh coconuts delivered and he even cleaned them for us too.

Ruben cleaning the coconut

Now we also have coconut soaking in a bottle of vodka for a couple of weeks. Can you say Mounds candy bar shots! Kelley even suggested grinding up some almonds to rim the glass with to make it an almond joy shot. I guess sometimes you feel like a nut and sometimes you don’t. They will be ready for Darren and Randy when they get here in a few weeks, that is if there is any left. Update…OMG is that chocolate one good. Mix the chocolate vodka with coconut and it tastes like a mounds candy bar or mix the chocolate with cream de mint and it’s an Andes mint. We will definitely have to make another batch.

This stuff is sinful

Since our basil plants are thriving we have been craving some of Kelley’s homemade pesto, but we can not find any pine nuts. Even though there is Mountain Pine Reserve not far from us that is loaded with pine trees. We have asked everyone and no one has never even heard of pine nuts around here. So we have considered making pesto with other locally grown nuts, such as peanuts or cashews.  Then a couple of weeks ago we were at a farmers market and there they were, four bags of real pine nuts. The gal even told us where we could go collect them if we wanted.

One of many basil plants

So now we had everything needed for Kelley to make here pesto. The food processor is out, the basil is washed, the nuts and all other ingredients are ready except there is one ingredient missing. Parsley, she forgot that she needed parsley. So trying to think of what we could substitute the parsley with and we came up with moringa. Our moringa trees are growing fast, are over ten feet tall and they needed to be topped anyway. So now it is Kelley’s new and improved pesto with moringa and that’s gotta be pretty good for you.  We have also started making tea with the leaves from the moringa and will start using it in our cooking. Everyone here we’ve talked to who are utilizing the moringa tree says they just feel better overall, after all, it is called “The Tree of Life”.

One of our Moringa trees.

For the last few weeks, the big project around here has been getting the bbq all up and going.  Antonio and Ruben spent only 8 days getting all the cement, block and tile work done.

And the bbq begins

Now it was our turn to put the finishing touches on it. Kelley got a coat of paint on it while I was busy making the doors. We are still in the process of running water, butane, and electricity, but that should be done this week. We also had 15 yards of gravel brought in to complete the look and tie it all together with the rest of the area. As for the pizza oven, we put that on hold until we can find someone who knows what they are doing. A lot of people are building brick ovens but they usually have only built one or two and we want to find someone with a little more experience so it is done correctly. The base and floor for the smokehouse are also done, now I just have to build the actual smokehouse.

Ready for a lot of good meals.

Now that the bbq area is done it’s time to start getting in a few more choice plants around the area. Yesterday we picked up ten more coffee trees to put around the perimeter of the bbq area. I think that brings the total coffee trees up to 25 and the ones we’ve had in the ground for a while are starting to bud out already. So hopefully there is a nice cup of homegrown coffee in my future.

This is the end of the dry season and it has been very hot the last couple of weeks. Everyone says that it gets very hot the first couple of weeks in May and then the rains come in the middle of May and it is nice for the rest of the year. So we are hoping for the rain soon, mostly because all the plants really need it. A week ago we had an inch of rain overnight and some of the plants around us have grown a foot or more in that short of time. In the dry season, a lot of the big trees lose all of their leaves leaving them to look very barren. But in exchange for the green leaves, the trees produce these spectacular flowers in just about any color you can imagine. It is very common this time of year to be driving down the road and see a purple, pink, red or yellow tree that will just make you stop and go WOW!

Big yellow tree

Since it has been so hot here, last Friday we decided to head up the mountain and go for a dip in the river. It’s only about 5 miles up the dirt road to this nice little swimming hole on the river. It is a great place to cool off and have a couple of ice cold beers. The vegetation along the river bank is everything from pine trees, big leaf philodendrons, ferns, and orchids. On the way back we did pull over and gather a few big philodendrons and an orchid to bring home.

We only saw one crocodile.. just kidding.
You never know what the flowers will look like on the orchid you find.

Summer is the rainy season here but that also means that the weather is cooler. There is a chance we could go for a week without any rain then there is also the chance it could rain for a couple of days non stop. Last summer was great, the heavy rains were usually at night and then opened up to blue skies during the day. If anyone is thinking about coming down over the summer, don’t hesitate. The air is crisp and clean and the plants are at their greenest. The guest house is ready and you know that new bbq will be going, so come on down.

I was just ready to send this blog out when there is a honk in the driveway. Our neighbor had just butchered a pig this morning and he knew that I was looking for some pork belly to make bacon. So now we have 15 lbs of pork belly for bacon, a shoulder that will be smoked for pulled pork and some killer looking ribs. Plus he gave us a watermelon from his farm. I love it when neighbors honk in your driveway. Looks like there will be bacon when Darren and Randy get here…maybe.

6 thoughts on “Happy Mothers Day”

  1. U betta save some of that bacon and vodka for me! Can’t wait to get there! Happy Belated Mom’s Day Kelley! See ya soon!

  2. Everything looks amazing! Love all the updates and info on the vines and plants. Makes me want to do that too!! Cant wait to come and enjoy all your new creations! Miss you guys~ Happy Moms day a bit late Kelly!! Love you guys and keep the updates coming!

  3. Yum, love the pork belly!!
    Happy Mother’s Day, Kelly ❤️
    Vicki and Scot

    1. Good to hear from you Kathy, last night we were just talking about how we would love some of your mashed potatoes.

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