Thursday, August 10, 2017


Always Sunday in Waterlemon Bay, St John

     It's hard to believe that Ricky and I have been married 28 years, but it's true. Coming back to St. Thomas and St. John again, where we spent our first week together as husband and wife, was nostalgic, to say the least. We sat on our boat, looking out at the beautiful, sandy beaches, clear blue water, and amazing sunsets, and tried to remember every detail possible of our honeymoon in these amazing islands. Of course, it's totally different staying on a boat vs a resort. We like to think of it as camping on the water.
     We revisited Caneel Bay and had lunch at the wonderful resort restaurant, once owned by Laurance Rockefeller, then walked around the grounds to see the ruins of the sugar mill that they built around, remembering the day we played Yahtzee with Danielle when she was about 8 years old in one of the open-air rooms. Then we sailed around to Waterlemon Bay, our first time there, and hiked the well-worn trail up to see the Annaberg Historical Sugar Plantation Ruins again. We love the history left behind, but find it hard to believe that sugarcane could be grown on the rocky, steep slopes there, even if the land was terraced.
     Every day it rains off and on, usually not enough to get anything wet, but look at this amazing rainbow...

Sugar Mill ruins at Caneel Bay, St John

Ricky takes a photo of the sunset almost every night. They are all beautiful to him.

Standing in front of the Annaberg Sugar Windmill that used revolving sails to turn the shaft, rotating rollers that crushed the cane stalks. 

The windmill and factory were built between 1797 and 1805 by Frederick Moth, the first Danish Governor of St. Croix, and later, the Governor General of the Danish West Indies. Annaberg was one of St. John's largest plantations, producing rum, sugar and molasses for export.

Enjoyed getting close to the deer on the island - several walked out on
the beach next to us one day! I guess they drink a little salt water for the minerals.

Bold blooms of the Flamboyant Tree

And now, for the results of my experiment in making chocolate from a fresh cacao pod I purchased in Dominican Republic...

Inside every Cacao fruit lies a cluster of cacao beans, coated with a very sweet white pulp that's good to pop in your mouth, but don't bite down on the bitter purple bean inside. We toured a chocolate factory in Grenada, and I thought it would be easy to make my own Chocolate, but I was mistaken. It's a lot of work! First, I had to let the white-coated beans ferment for about a week in a hot location, stirring them every day. Then, it took another seven days of drying in the hot sun before the beans were sufficiently dry. We spilled the whole container several times, but ended up with about 30 beans when we were done. I roasted them in the oven for about 20 minutes, and knew they were done when the whole boat smelled like brownies were baking. After they cooled, I removed the outer husk by hitting the beans hard enough to break them up. The husk was then easy to separate. I didn't have a blender or food processor on the boat, so my beans could not be ground as finely as needed, but it didn't stop me from making hot chocolate!

Husk had to be removed
Dried beans

After grinding the beans as best I could by hand, I boiled a little water to add to the beans first to make a paste. You can add any assortment of flavorings you want. I used Chili powder, Cinnamon, raw sugar, a pinch of salt, and vanilla. Then I added warmed milk. It was delicious, but time consuming for the 6 cups of hot chocolate it made.   

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