Friday, June 22, 2007

100 mile solstice toast (almost)

The longest day of the year gives me fits. All that sun makes me want to get it ALL done that day. I managed an early morning walk, gardened and watered things, brought the elder monkey to go rent a cake pan (H was baking two wedding cakes, with two layers each so this alone would take most of the day) and brought her to see what my chiropractor does to my "skelekin." All before noon.
Then we came home and did some laundry, picked berries for making ice cream, had some family drop by, had a little rest, rode my bike to the farmers' market (with a 37 pound monkey, small cooler and panier, a set up I refer to as my "truck") and then came home and cooked a nice dinner. A busy day indeed, but I just had to squeeze in the time to make some bread. It seemed that if I'm going to keep a starter (or three, but who's counting?) then the longest day of the year should have ample time for a big loaf.

I started early in the morning (ok, like 9) and set the dough out to rise a few times. We poked around our garden, rubbing up against tomatoes and getting all resiny and stained optic green on our tips. With our garden looking pretty happy, our smiles and the sun beaming, spunky-monkey and myself went on down to Spun Sugar for treats: ma's cake pan and a bit of fudge, pa's new english muffin rings, monkey's fat iced cookie.

On the way home we stopped by my chiropractor. She has a terrific set of hands and much knowledge of how the skeleton should be, which is where mine is currently not at. My assistant escorted me into the room and proceeded to squash my ankles with her little hands, saying "uhhhhh, oohhhhhh, yeeaaahhhh right there daddy. Doesn't that feel good?"
When the doc walked in and saw my daughter she asked if she was here to help.
"Oh yeah, and I ALREADY put his skelekin back where it belongs!"
"Well why don't I check on that too!"
The adjustments started and doc saw a book the monkey brought from home.
"Is that Madeline I see?" she asks while my squeal machine fire up.
From under the table, as I am belly down with my face in the head slot, I manage: "In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines....."
"Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines," doc picks up "In two straight lines they broke their bread......"
"And brushed their teeth and went to bed!" (giggle, squeal, giggle-snort) the monkey is pure glee.
Feeling two inches taller, I brought us home.

Before munching lunch, the monkey and I paid visit to our neighbor S, who happens to have a black raspberry bush in her yard, just LOADED with fruit this time of year. We had already picked a small basket the week before, so when we went over this time I certainly didn't want to get too greedy. The S/Monkey team picked darn near a pint! I remarked on how I should do something special with them, like make ice cream or something. S's eyebrow shot up - "Really? well, if you want to, I'd eat that!"
Sounds like a handshake to me.

We brought the loot home, rinsing these and combining them with sugar and a splash of balsamic, a pinch of salt. I whipped up a custard base with some extra egg yolks from H's cake recipe. With thickened yolky sweet cream and tart sweet berry base, I put it in the freezer to chill while we rode to the market.

The market was filled with tons of ripe ripe ripe fruit. Including the most amazing white nectarine I've had this year. After wandering for an hour or so, running around to find someone to pinch or tell about how "our butts have bumps on them from the bumpy road!" said with a warbled emphasis on the butt and bumpies part, searching for permission from me with a cautious glance the whole while. Shadows creeping in, overtaking the middle grassy strip; fish, fettucine, fruit and monkey aboard, we rode on home. Me, rejoicing that it is primarily a long coast down hill. The monkey adding "I sure wish we were home already."
"Yeah, me too honey."
"Because I could rest and relax. It's hard work riding this bike all weighed down."
"Well, because right now it weighs about 70 pounds more than it usually does."
"I, uh.....because."
"Why, why, why daddy?"
Maybe the longest day of the year does have its downside.

When we got home and unpacked, I added some uncooked heavy cream to our custard base and berry syrup. Tossed it into the electric jobber still on loan, then set to work on dinner. Fish needed slicing and powdering. Pepper and onions to slice. Lemon to halve. Olio californio to splash and heat. Wine to pour down oneself on the way to the pan. Salt for rubbing out some flavor.

The fresh egg fettucine cooked during the last minute of the fish cooking in a wine reduction. Doused with a last splash of lemon juice, wine and fresh cilantro, finished on the plate with some dry jack shavings......damn, it was good. It was a fairly quick and easy fancy little meal. Local too. I figured it was worth writing down.

We were quite full, and the day was done. The solstice bread baked late (10 pm) and it had to wait for the next to longest day of the year to be enjoyed. Solstice toast almost, so be it. Monkey had meltdown that didn't warrant much treats for the lateness of hour. So, no ice cream either. Sometimes it's really hard being three. I mean, three and a half.

This morning we awoke to the loaf. I made a piece of toast and took a little stroll for coffee. After returning, three pieces of toast for myself later, it was coming on lunch. So I sliced some more and made grilled cheese. Now that is comfort. All I needed now was some of that ice cream to drag me down into the land of food coma. Luckily, that was only as far as the freezer.

The black raspberry bombs find their peak for me as a flavoring. Out of hand (off the bush really) they have a great flavor, but slightly mushy and seedy for me. Now, sugared, cooked and pressed through a sieve, made into syrup. Yeooooww! I like that! Add it to a custard base, quick! For the ultimate in creamy, add more heavy cream while churning. Mmmmm....can you say MOOOOO!

"Beacuse it tastes like cream sweetie."
"Oh because its from a cow?"
"Uh huh."
"Like I just said, the milk is from a cow."
"'s time to get ready for a nap honey. And its real important we all get some rest, ok?"


So, the solstice bread incorporated some local whole wheat flour, hence the 100 mile tag, although 3/4 of the flour used is not local. All but the sugar and dry spices seen above are from the farmers' market. Toast and grilled cheese don't need a recipe, do they? So although the title deals with the bread, I'll give you the recipes for the fish dish and the ice cream, if you ask nicely. Sorry, but I'm tired and have to stop typing and go to bed.


K & S said...

boy, you sure did a lot on the longest day of the year :) good job!

Chilebrown said...

Man, You are a wordsmith,

I made sourdough corn fritters from you stuff. Thanks.

Rev. Biggles said...

Holy snork, man. That's insane! And yet, if you're going to that much, do it right, eh?

My left foot and leg sploded in pain for 2 days. So, I watched tv and napped. Only awoke to wince and flip channels. Had lentil stew & pork tamales. My body is craving fruit, must find.

xo, Biggles

Celia Fae said...

How do you do all of those things with two little ones? Can you come live at my house? I got some larnin' to do.

Monkey Wrangler said...

K&S: Hello. Yep, I'm busy busy busy.

Chile: Sourdough corn fritters? I must try, please do tell!

Irreverend: Sploded? Damn! Don't worry, it'll grow back. Maybe.

Celia: Well, having two monkeys and not four helps, also with H on maternity leave, our days are as structured as we want them to be so we can pack it all in, then do nothing for a few days. Average it all out and we're not really getting anything done.

Callipygia said...

Thanks for the solstice snapshot, makes the rest of us look like we're standing still or going backwards even! Some good good eats happening over there.

Stacie said...

great story, and i loved the pondering on the food... ahhh... delicious!

HipWriterMama said...

The ice cream looks amazing!

Rachel said...

ah the why stage of monkeys, and the helpfulness that wanders away. Now if only I could find a safe way for mine to wash dishes she would be in heaven.

Monkey Wrangler said...

Rachel: Oh man, no kidding! She could focus on standing there on her chair, ever-rinsing and using bubbles, for at least 45 minutes. The last time we came home from the beach we had many plastic dishes and cups so I let her have at it while I put away other things. And hey, nothing was broken. (But a lot of soap!)

Thanks for popping by the ranch,