Thursday, January 26, 2012

Baking and Baby Catchin' in the Caribbean

So a lot has happened in a year.

We moved.  To a tropical island in the Caribbean.  St Croix in the US Virgin Islands to be exact.  So I now bring into the world tiny Cruzans, who prefer reggae to nursery rhymes.

One lovely vista, from the easternmost point on the island.

It is definitely different.  I still work in a hospital, one that is working hard to get up to state side standards, but we do work with slightly less.  There are some things we just don't have because they are too expensive and some things we seem to run out of.  Another interesting thing is that patients are charged for each individual thing, down to gloves or gauze.  It sure does make you think about conserving items.

Babies still come out the same way down here and I have had some lovely births.  There are epidurals, but in the two months since I have been working here I have not yet had a patient who had one.  This is multifaceted.  The reason I like is that woman here come in knowing they can do it without and then just do.  It's amazing what your body can do when you eliminate something as an option.  Another reason is lack of availability and/or willingness of anesthesia to do it.  This is the reason I don't like.  Some of the anesthesiologists won't do epidurals and then some won't do it based on type of insurance.  Medicaid in the VI has some major financial issues and runs out of money early in the year, leaving the hospitals with the only choice of providing free care to Medicaid patients.  This leads to the hospital having less money, etc.  So some anesthesiologists will not do the service if they feel like they won't get paid.  It is an unfair reality here.

More on birthing differences in the VI later.

J and I also just got hitched!  It was lovely and perfect.  An intimate affair with immediate family and close friends, the beach, a farm, and good food.  The good food part was a must.  I was determined to eat and enjoy the food and beverages.

We did hire a caterer for the appetizers and dinner but I wanted part of it to be homemade by us.  So we made all the desserts!  J is not a fan of traditional wedding cake, so we made the decision early on that we would do a pie table and when St Croix became our new home and wedding location, my sister (also an avid baker) suggested we shoot for tropical style desserts.

So the day before the wedding, my mom, my sister, 3 close friends and I did some major baking. There is something so satisfying about the act of baking these desserts together and then watching people enjoy them the next day.  This is, of course, one of my favorite parts about cooking for others!  Also, communal cooking kind of rocks - it's easier and much more fun than cooking solo.

We made a Pumpkin Cheesecake (not really tropical but J's favorite), Lime and Ginger Cheesecake (no-bake and very refreshing), French Coconut Pie, Coconut Cream Pie with Chocolate Crust, and a Banana Cake with Dark Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger which my sister made into an amazing layer cake held together and topped with a Chocolate Ganache.

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Cooke

I love that word- ganache.  It just sounds delicious.  We actually saved the top layer of the banana cake - it's wrapped up and in the freezer for our 1 year anniversary.

The banana cake is actually from Molly Wizenberg's drool inducing Banana Bread with Chocolate Chunks and Crystallized Ginger Recipe.  She has a vegan version on her recipe index, but the one I always use is from her book - A Homemade Life.  I have never met another banana bread recipe like this.  In the past I have made it into muffins and it comes out incredibly moist, so it seemed ideal for a cake.  The bananas were local - some picked from a farm up the road from us and some from a Rasta run street side fruit stand when I realized we were a bit low.

The Pumpkin Cheesecake is a riff off of The Cheesecake Factory's recipe found here.  I adapted the Lime and Ginger Cheesecake from the Mango, Lime and Ginger Cheesecake found in Woman's Day.  The Coconut Cream Pie with Chocolate Crust was found by my sister on Martha's website (as in Stewart).

The one that I'm going to share with you today is an incredibly simple, yet rich French Coconut Pie.  This recipe was given to me by by mother.  She had been given the recipe by a friend years ago and raved about the resulting pie.

French Coconut Pie
1 1/2 cup sugar
6 oz canned coconut (be sure this is canned coconut and not coconut milk or cream of coconut)
1/4 lb (1 stick) butter
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

Pie Crust- I used half of this Pate Brisee recipe from Martha Stewart
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1/8 cup ice water, plus more if needed

Make pate brisee according to recipe and set aside in fridge for an hour prior to use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix filling ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.  Roll out pie crust and press into a pie or tart pan.  Cut off excess and crimp edges.  Place filling in unbaked pie shell and place in oven.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes to 1hour in the center of oven.   Baking time varies depending on how the oven runs so watch

French Coconut Pie can be enjoyed warm or cold.  It is very rich, so cut small pieces.  It is even better on the second day.


  1. Those all sound delicious! Glad to see you're blogging again. :)

  2. Thanks! I'm happy to have more time to cook and blog! In Massachusetts over the last year I was barely getting the cooking done :)

  3. Glad to see you're back! Wow - what exciting changes - congratulations, & so happy to be able to "go along for the ride" & read about your experiences & adventures. And cooking... hello, that French coconut pie recipe sounds incredibly delicious - I will certainly be trying it out in the near future. Cheers!