Camp Toast With Maple Syrup Poached Fruit

Mt Lassen reflection

Mt. Lassen reflected in Summit Lake

Recently friends asked me to join them at Lassen Volcanic NP for a few days of camping. How could I say no. Lassen is one of my favorite places to camp and this time we would be at Summit Lake.

toast & fruit on camp stoveWe shared cooking meals so on one of my turns I made one of my favorite summer breakfast recipes, french toast with fresh fruit poached in Maple syrup.

nectarines & blueberries in syrup

The fruit, this time, was white nectarines and blueberries sauteed in a little butter then poached for just a little while in maple syrup.

french toast

The french toast was made by soaking a piece of whole grain, seeded bread in a mixture of one egg beaten with one-half egg shell of milk until the mixture is absorbed into the toast, then cooking it in a little olive oil and butter until it browns on each side. To test for doneness touch it with your finger, if it springs back, its done.

fruit and french toast

To serve pour the fruit and syrup mixture over the toast. Another tasty addition is to add a dollop of Greek yogurt and light sprinkling of cinnamon to the top of the fruit.

Another idea I have tried when cooking french toast at home is to use a Belgian style waffle maker. The toast cooks quicker and the holes contain the syrup. Actually I have grown to prefer french toast cooked this way. But, when camping a cook stove and a frying pan works just fine. Throw in some gorgeous scenery and you have the perfect camp breakfast.

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Angelcots, The Sweet White Apricot

white apricots

Sometimes when I buy fruit at the Farmers Market the vendor will put a couple more pieces of small fruit in the bag after he weighs what I have selected. A nice gesture but sometimes its something that I don’t like (yes there are fruits I’m not crazy about.) or it might be something I may not have even tried before. That’s what recently happened. I carefully selected some white nectarinesDonut peaches and apricots placing them carefully in my market bag.  After weighing my purchase the vendor popped three small light colored fruits that were shaped like apricots into the bag, saying as he handed it to me, “they are very sweet, you would like them”. I was curious as to what they were but didn’t ask and didn’t think about them again until I was shopping at Trader Joe’s later that morning and saw a plastic container, in the fresh fruit section, with fruit that looked just like the ones I was given, that was labeled Angelcots. Humm, wonder if that could be the same thing he put in with the fruit I bought at the Farmers Market?

sliced white apricots

The difference in color between white apricots and Blenheim apricots.

Turns out it was. The fruit is truly angelic, tasting light, sweet and juicy.  After trying these sweet gifts, I wished I had a lot more than the three I was given.

Remembering the plastic container of Angelcots at Trader Joe’s I made a trip across town to get some and give them a try. Sure enough, they tasted the same and now I had more than three to enjoy. I ate them out of hand as snacks whenever I passed the kitchen counter where they lay seductively waiting for my visits and tried them cut into quarters topped with Greek yogurt and roasted sliced almonds for breakfast. They were gone all too soon but definitely not forgotten. You can bet I’ll be looking to buy more at the market this weekend if I can find them.

I hope you can find them at a market near you. If you do, give em a try. You just might discover why they were named Angelcots.

To learn more about the history of the Angelcot check out this Nov 2002 SF Gate article on Ross Sanborn the passionate pomologist, who after receiving the white apricot seeds from a cousin’s husband who was living and working in Iran in the late 70s, planted the seeds at his home in Lafayette, CA, and as they say “the rest is history”.

Angelcot article link

SWEET AS NECTAR, THAT’S WHY.

Although I said my next post would be about Anderson Ranch and what I saw on the marsh boat trip, I didn’t feel like writing about that today. Today my interest was focused on a question that came up when I was putting away my Farmers Market purchases from this morning. The question: Why do I always pick white nectarines and peaches over the yellow varieties? I know it’s not because I don’t have a choice. I do. They are almost always displayed side-by-side at the Farmers Market. They are both right there in front of me yet just about every time I come home with either white nectarines or peaches. Most often it’s white nectarines.

From what I have read the main difference between yellow and white nectarines is the amount of acid they contain. This holds true for peaches, the fuzzy-skinned version of the nectarine, too. Lower acid = sweeter fruit. The word nectarine means “sweet as nectar” and some say that is most likely the origin of the name. You can’t say that about the yellow fleshed versions, which tend to have a tangy taste.

Actually, nectarines are a cultivar group of peaches belonging to the same species as peaches. Genetic studies have concluded nectarines are created due to a recessive gene, whereas fuzzy peach skin is dominant. Peach seeds may occasionally grow into trees that bear nectarines, and nectarine seeds may grow into trees that can bear either nectarines or peaches. Because it’s impossible to know which fruit will grow on trees grown from nectarine seeds, nectarine branches are grafted onto peach trees to guarantee the tree will only produce nectarines.

According to several articles I read, the history of the nectarine is unclear; the first recorded mention is from 1616 but they probably had been grown much earlier. Early records of the peach however, occur in central and eastern Asia as early 2000 BC. From there the peach was brought to India, then through Persia, until it reached Greece around 300 BC. It is said that Alexander the Great introduced it to Europe after he conquered the Persians. Romans began cultivating peaches in the first century AD and they were brought to the Americas by Spanish explorers in the 16th century, and eventually they made it to England and France in the 17th century. One publication mentions nectarines being raised on a farm in Jamaica, Long Island, New York as early as 1768. However and whenever by whoever, I’m grateful they arrived here. They are one of my summer favorites.

So now you, like me, know probably more that you wanted to know about nectarines and peaches and I know I always choose white nectarines because they are “sweet as nectar”.

For those of you wanting to try your nectarines in a baked treat, here’s a yummy little recipe from Donna Hay’s book, Entertaining. I found it while poking around looking for nectarine facts and it seemed like the perfect recipe to try. She describes these Little Nectarine Cakes as “being perfect partners for a morning cup of coffee or an afternoon latte”. Taking her advice I mixed up a batch and put them in the oven. As they baked their aroma filled my kitchen and then then the timer rang. They were ready. I carefully moved them from the oven to the cooling rack and let them sit for around ten minutes, then I  gently took them out of the pan and before I knew what was happening I broke off a nice piece and popped it in my mouth. It was still hot and moist and oh so tasty. I know, no  self discipline. Not only no self discipline, no remorse either.  I’ll try the next one with my morning coffee tomorrow.  I definitely recommend you try them warm from the oven or reheated. They would also be good served warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream or perhaps whipped cream with a little orange or lemon zest. The only changes I made were;  I substituted Greek yogurt for the sour cream and added sliced almonds to the topping. You could also substitute other fruits like apricots, plums or peaches if you don’t have nectarines.  They’re easy to make and delicious.

Now that the nectarine questions are answered maybe I can get motivated to finish the Road Trip post. That won’t be as much fun as this post was since there’s no warm cake to look forward to. That is unless, I make more.

OH, THE CORN!

Sunday morning bounty amongst my reusable produce bags.

The weather forecast for today is 100 so I was up early watering and getting a few chores done before my 7:30 bicycle getaway to the Farmers’ Market. Another beautiful ride and this time I had my trusty little camera with me. The market was packed when I got there; evidently everyone else had the same idea. I made the rounds and found another vendor with fresh corn. The corn I got last week, although touted to be excellent, wasn’t much better than field corn. To say I wasn’t impressed would be putting it mildly. Sweet corn is serious business. This looked to be, not only fresher, but also sweeter. Of course only tasting would answer that. My market bag filled quickly with white nectarines, Donut peaches (more on these later), apricots, several kinds of summer squash, green and yellow wax beans, a couple of tomatoes, two Walla Walla onions and two ears of that beautiful corn.

Tower Bridge and the Sacramento River

Delta King and the I Street Bridge

On the way back I stopped to snap a couple of pics so you could all see the nice views of the river that I have on my ride. The first picture was taken just south of Old Sacramento and the second shows the Old Sacramento riverfront area. Quiet this morning, but this afternoon it will be busy with lots of folks enjoying the river.

Once I was home I laid out my bounty for a couple of quick pics then stored it all away. Since it was now close to 10 and I hadn’t eaten yet, I thought it would be nice to have brunch. Actually I wanted to have the corn I bought so I rationalized that it was late enough for brunch. And, since I was dining alone I could pretty much do what ever I wanted. My version of brunch included some leftover BBQ chicken and grilled veggies from yesterday and the corn. OH, THE CORN! I wish now that I had bought at least six ears. I would have skipped the the chicken and veggies and just had corn, slathered in butter and sprinkled with just a tiny bit of sea salt. It doesn’t get any better than that.