Just got back from almost a month in Costa Rica to what they are calling the “polar vortex” in New York City. I’m missing the sun, the surf, the fish, the energy and the people. Had some really beautiful experiences doing yoga in the pristine jungle that creeps to all the way to the water in the Osa peninsula, and then working in the super surfy town of Santa Teresa. I feel like I took a lot of experiences home with me and this story I’m going to tell is just one…
The house where I stayed in the Osa—which is off the grid—was completely open, with bats flying through, tarantulas hanging out on the walkway to the bathroom and other various insects I couldn’t name creeping around. There were so many they just became part of the background and we peacefully coexisted. I was feeling quite secure in my canopy bed under a thatched roof and a gauzy mosquito net, until one night I woke up to a dark furry creature with a tail at the end of my bed, snuggled safely inside the netting with me. I lurched left, hit the floor and clawed my way through the netting of my friend’s bed opposite mine, almost giving her a heart attack in the process. In stuttering breaths I told her about the wild animal and we decided the best thing to do was huddle in her bed and then with the flashlight we scanned the room for the animal. No sign of it, and, more confoundingly, no sounds. I somehow managed to fall asleep again, though I could still feel the place on my leg where the animal’s fur had brushed up against me.
In the morning, I tried to make sense of what had happened. How did the animal get in my bed, the mosquito netting was tucked in all around the mattress. I asked around trying to figure out what it could have been. It was the size of a cat, or a raccoon, but no one had ever heard of anything like that happening. Over the course of the morning, bit by bit I came to realize that I must have imagined the whole thing… maybe I was even still dreaming. When I thought about the feeling of the fur on my leg I felt it on my right leg, but when I went through what happened in my mind I saw it brush across my left leg. Stranger still, when I jumped out of bed, nothing hissed at me, the animal didn’t scamper away: it was like a silent movie. My friend Jess and I could not stop laughing later that day — I had pretty clearly hallucinated the whole thing. I’d been reading a book on women and animals in mythology and my imagination was running wild. I remembered how earlier in the week as I’d been walking alone on the beach in the darkness just before dawn, I saw the glow of wolves eyes a little ways down the beach and got freaked out and turned around. But as I walked back I knew it wasn’t possible. It had to be a German Shepherd I’d seen on the beach the prior day. My mind was on fire down there in the Osa, and it wasn’t just mine. Jess had been admiring the beauty of the stars from her bed one night, and realized the next night that there was no way to see stars through the thatched roof, she had been staring or was being stared at by something else altogether.
The furry animal was a good reminder that perception is everything. How we see a moment, a person, a relationship, our own value is all about where we are at the time. A lot of the time we’re probably half asleep, but through questioning and maybe taking a step forward or a step back we might get that clarity and finally wake up to what is true.
Since returning from Costa Rica I’ve been slathering coconut oil on my body and wanting to make things that remind of my trip. This weekend I played with making gluten-free chocolate coconut cookies with coconut oil and the result was excellent for both body and spirit.
GLUTEN-FREE CHOCOLATE COCONUT COOKIES
I used all coconut oil and no butter and used great chocolate. I had some left over Mast Brothers chocolate I chopped in and then used cocoa nibs instead of chocolate chips for some texture and because I usually like things not too sweet. The cookies came out really well, one thing to keep an eye on is that you don’t over bake them because of the gluten-free flour. They seem a bit soft when they come out of the oven, but as they cool the cookies firm up. You could definitely use regular flour instead of gluten-free, maybe bake them a couple minutes more.
Makes about 18-20 cookies
1 ½ cups all purpose gluten-free baking flour (I used a blend by Bob’s Red Mill, King Arthur Flour also makes a really good one)
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup shredded coconut, toasted
¾ cup organic extra virgin coconut oil
1 ¼ cups light brown sugar
1 large egg, plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¾ cup good quality chopped dark chocolate (I used a mix of chocolate and cocoa nibs for texture)
Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a bowl sift together flour, cocoa powder and salt, set aside.
In a skillet, over medium heat, toast shredded coconut until it just starts to take on some color.
In a standing mixer or with a handheld mixer whip together coconut oil (it should be in its liquid form, if it’s hard put the jar in a bath of hot water over the stove for a little bit) and brown sugar at medium speed until fluffy. Add the egg mixture and vanilla extract, beat until thoroughly combined.
By hand, stir in the flour mixture until just combined, do not overmix. Fold in the chocolate and coconut. The mixture will seem a bit dry at this point, but the coconut oil will make it easy to handle. Using a large spoon, scoop the dough onto two parchment lined baking sheets, or use a non-stick baking mat if you have it, I love those things. Flatten each cookie slightly with the back of a spoon. Bake 12-14 minutes. Twelve minutes will probably be enough, the cookies are ready when the dough puffs slightly and feels just set through, they will harden more as they cool. Let cookies cool directly on the baking sheet.