More life in the jungle

Once again here’s a little more of our garden, foods, and jungle creatures.

Our Easter ham

Every year for the past few years we have been curing a ham for Easter weekend, and this year was no exception. So a couple of weeks ago we picked up a nice big pork leg from our butcher. After having him trim it to the size we wanted, we ended up with a beautiful 20lb leg that we would turn into a delicious smoked ham. After injecting a lot of cure and seasoning, it went into the cure bath for ten days or so, till it was ready to go into the smoker. I usually like to use apple wood chips when I smoke ham for a delicate smoky flavor. When we re-heated it on the grill to serve, Kelley made up a Jim Beam Peach whiskey glaze that was brushed all over it.  We have been curing and smoking our own hams for a while now and they always turn out great. We’ve had a lot of requests from people asking if we would make one for them. Hams just take up too much space in the fridge while they are curing, so this is just our special little treat.

Wild oyster mushrooms from the driveway.

We’ve got a log in our driveway that has been producing oyster mushrooms for a few weeks now. It only takes a couple of days from when we first see them until they dry up, so we have to check this log daily. These mushrooms are absolutely delicious and we are so excited when we find some. I think if we spent more time and actually looked for them around the property we would probably find a lot more.

If that isn’t the biggest chocolate covered expresso bean ball you’ve ever seen.

Not everything always goes according to plan. Recently we purchased a candy coater attachment for our stand mixer. We were going to use it to coat our coffee beans with dark chocolate. It is supposed to tumble the beans around as you add chocolate and you end up with nice round individual candies. Well, the first attempt failed miserably. All the coffee was starting to coat fairly well until we added a little more chocolate. That’s when they all started to stick together and would not break apart. At that point we started laughing because there was nothing we could do, so we just let it run. We ended up with a giant ball of chocolate covered expresso beans. There has to be at least 150 or more dark roasted coffee beans in that ball of chocolate. We will try it again, but in the meantime, we went back to using our molds to make them.

Nice big custard apple cut in half.

Our custard apple tree has gotten a lot of fruit this year. The birds love them, so the ones we can reach we had to put mesh bags on to help protect them. I’m sure some of you have never heard of, or ever tried, a custard apple. In the States, they are not very common, but you can sometimes find them at specialty markets. Ours are about the size of grapefruits this year and they are delicious.

Frozen custard apple with fresh raspberries. 100% fruit. No sugar, no dairy.

The flesh of the custard apple is creamy white with a similar consistency to custard (hence the name custard apple). It tastes like a sweet tropical ice cream, especially when chilled.  We eat them plain, usually for breakfast, but we thought we would try something a little different this time. We picked out all the seeds, put in some fresh raspberries, and then hit it with the immersion blender. After that, it went into the freezer. It did freeze a little too hard to eat as ice cream, but it would make a great popsicle on a hot day.

The next step is to dry them and then roast them.

When we find time, we’ve been sitting out back with some cold beers and peeling coffee. We can only do this for about an hour at a time, as that’s all our fingers can handle. This is just the first process to turning these little things into that delicious coffee that most of us love. We’ll be doing this for the next few weeks until the trees are picked clean. I just hope we have enough beer around to get us through all this coffee peeling.

Peach tree blossoms.

For the first time, our peach tree is really blossoming out. In the past, we have gotten only a handful of blossoms of which only 3-4 fruit had actually formed. And when they did get about the size of a marble the birds ate them. So far this year, I’ve estimated that at least a couple hundred flowers are blooming with more opening every day. Hopefully this year we will get some peaches. Peaches don’t seem to grow down here, I think because of the climate. Although, there is a variety of peach trees that will grow in tropical environments, and hopefully this is one of them.

This one is on a split-leaf philodendron and is approximately 4″ long.

We have a lot of different types of philodendrons growing around here. We have relocated most from elsewhere on our property, friends give us cuttings or sometimes we will even take some cuttings from our favorite restaurant. Either way, they always grow great when we give them a tree to climb up on. Did you know that most, if not all, philodendrons bloom a beautiful flower that looks sorta like a lily? Depending on the type of philodendron, they vary in color, but they all seem to have the same basic shape to them.

Freshly plowed and ready to plant.

A small portion of our farm lot has gotten plowed and will be ready for planting later this month. Ruben has thousands of seedlings getting ready to go in on the next full moon. In just a few months we should have an abundance of tomatoes, peppers, beans, and whatever else he plants. We will usually just take what we can personally use and then he will sell the rest to the market in town.

This beautiful guy’s picture was taken right from our front porch.

This guy was in the tree directly above the casita. He sat up there for a good half hour, just calling and grooming himself. I assume he was calling for a possible mate. We watched him for a long time hoping another one would show up, but he finally flew off to look elsewhere.

A very interesting looking creature.

Recently we were sitting out back with some friends and this bug that we’d never seen before crawled by. It was close to four inches long and really didn’t care if we were touching it. Kelley took some pictures of it and posted them on the Creatures of Belize Facebook page. It didn’t take long before it was identified. Turns out that it is a Prisopus and is a member of the stick bug family. I hoped he was harmless, as I picked him up and let him climb all over my arms.

Couple of beach bums in Mexico.

Sometimes I think it was much easier being a “beach bum” in Mexico than being a “farmer” in Belize. But we would not change this experience for anything. The things that we have seen and learned, plus all of the adventures are priceless.

 

3 thoughts on “More life in the jungle”

  1. We have a 3yr peach tree. Last year after thinning the peaches out, We picked 640 peaches. I ordered 3 10×30 net pieces, stapled them together to make a huge net. We used pool poles to stretch the net completely over the tree. This way we were able to protect the peaches from the birds. It worked splendidly. After the peaches were all picked, we moved the netting over to our apricot tree which was 2 weeks behind the peaches. Then after we picked the Apricots, we moved the netting to the grapevines. I’m telling you, it was the best $60 spent to protect our ripening fruit. You might want to try it. I would post a picture if I could. Good luck from the states!

    1. Thanks, if peaches actually set I’ll look into it. We have mesh bags that we put over our custard apples and an electric fence around the pineapples and dragon fruit. There are just so many critters around here we are lucky to get what we do.

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