Here I am humming with pleasure at one of my favorite things: cooking outside! We went for an overnight trip to Tahoe to feed our souls before embarking on a huge hunk of busy-ness. Always well worth it. And the food? Always well worth it. Food does taste better outside.
The aspects that a photo can't convey are the heavenly fresh scent of the redwoods and Douglas firs, the rushing of the alpine creek that was directly past this little campsite, the crackling of the fire with its occasional stinging smoke in my eyes as I shuffled the pans. The feeling of cool powdery dirt between my toes. The fact that it's perfectly acceptable to use the lid of a camping pot as a cutting board. The added smells and sounds... the breaking of usual rules. ;-)
We've been quite pleased with the previous Homey Grain-Free Banana Bread recipe. I happened to have most of a loaf to take with us on our camping trip. And then it dawned on me: French toast! Oh, man. We fried (pasture-raised, artificial nitrate- nitrite-free) bacon beforehand, and then fried the French toast in the leftover grease. You know it! I made the batter the usual way; I beat an egg for each person with a pinch of sea salt, and about a teaspoon of organic maple syrup. Then I let the pieces of banana bread ~ about the width of my thumb, 3/4 inch thick? ~ soak in there on both sides. The pan and grease were hot enough that when I put the first piece in, it sizzled on contact ~ how you want the pan when you fry pancakes. Most of the pieces browned and crisped nicely on both sides, one piece got a little more ... charred.. as the fire licked up a bit. All a part of the camping experience, right?! Then we added pats of yellow butter, a drizzle more of the maple syrup, and a generous handful of ripe local blueberries. With the foil of a perfectly crisp piece of bacon, this French toast was divine.
That piece in the middle is mighty dark, but I love the way the blueberries look with this plate. I can smell the campfire from here. :-)
You might be grimacing at such a full-on presentation of fat. There is a lot in this meal. But the beauty of eating nutrient-dense foods is that a little goes a long way. Unlike the fluffy, empty, saturatedly-sweet piles of French toast that most (I think I could actually say all) restaurants offer, after a couple small pieces of this French toast, even a hearty eater like my husband is satisfied and fueled for a long hike in the mountains ~ instead of for a several-hour belly-rub on the couch.
I need to add that a meal that I eat that includes good meat and good fat is never complete without a heaping spoonful of fermented veggie, and hopefully something else fresh ripe and raw. This is where my summer salsa comes in. One of my favorites of the summer season is cherry tomatoes. With ripe cherry tomatoes that burst with sweet sunshine flavor when I bite into them, I can easily pass by the price-inflated slicers (till the end of the season when they're priced to move). And cherry tomatoes are so easy to grow. Whereas slicers take some skill, cherry tomatoes overproduce with abandon. This season my favorite has been Sun Gold. I buy a pint every time I go to the co-op. My other favorite this year is cucumber. I am not finding the Armenian cucumber I loved from the Berkeley farmers' markets, but any that I've tried this season have been good! So I've been halving Sun Golds at every meal, tossing them with another fresh veggie, such as chunks of cucumber, and then I add a few scoops of fresh sauerkraut to the mix. A splash of olive oil sometimes, a sprinkle of sea salt. This is the ideal summer accompaniment to a hearty breakfast. I dare say, a must.
Salsa of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and cabbage-n-cauliflower sauerkraut smiles in the redwood-filtered morning sunlight.