Monday, July 2, 2012

Solar Cherry Crisp....Bear-ly

Ahhh...July is upon us. Did I already mention that summer is my favorite season here at the 40th parallel north? Well, it so is. Fifteen hours of light a day, warm temps, and the fruits of summer all contribute to my exuberance this time of year. I've been busy, busy but in an indulgent, uni-tasking kind of a way. 

I've been creating a lot of stuff in the kitchen but not writing anything down. I've realized that I'm not the best food blogger. I occasionally use a recipe but far more often I am adding a little of this and a little of that and in the end I am hard-pressed to come up with a complete ingredient list, much less accurate quantities. Most things simply come out a little differently every time I make them which keeps things interesting. I expect that is the way most cooks cook but it can make it difficult to share an actual recipe here on the blog. 

I mentioned our neighbor's amazing Bing cherry tree in one of my earlier posts over the winter. This is because I was still surfing the wave of utter summer bliss that the tree (and our neighbors) bestowed upon us. In the past there has been competition for the cherries between birds, and bears, and people. Last year the tree was laden with cherries but for some reason the bear did not come to the tree and the birds left it almost alone. So last year the lucky people were swimming in cherries. Each one was like a jewel and cherished as such. The photos below will give you an idea of what the tree looked like last summer:

Me on ladder with grin
This year was a different story. The tree was again laden with cherries but before they could fully ripen a bear began to visit the tree. She or he would come at night, climb up into the tree, and gorge on the cherries. Then I imagine her back up in the woods during the day sleeping and dreaming about the juicy sweetness of her nighttime exploits. She returned night after night until every last cherry was gone and the tree stood pathetically mangled and broken. I was too sad when I saw it to think of photographing it. Rude bear. No manners whatsoever. The neighbors tried banging pots and pans and telling it in no uncertain terms to skedaddle but the cherries proved too big of an allure. One day my neighbor called to say if I wanted any cherries I better come and get some, so I did. At that point there were still thousands of cherries. I filled a large colander with almost ripe cherries. A few days later the tree was devastated. 

I made a gluten-free nectarine cherry solar crisp with a cardamom cashew custard. Mostly though, we just eat one each time we walk by them. We have a little bit more restraint than the ill-mannered bear. 

I love my Sun Oven! More about it later.
Cherry/Nectarine Almond Crisp
A gross approximation of a recipe:
Cut up about 4 cups of white nectarines and cherries and place them in a baking pan or dish. Melt about a quarter cup of butter or butter alternative (I've been using Earth Balance) in a bowl. Add 3/4 cup of almond flour and 2 T. each of white rice and tapioca flour. Add 1/4 cup of muscavado or other brown sugar. Stir well to combine. Lastly add 1 t. vanilla, 1/4 t. almond extract, and a pinch of salt. Sprinkle over fruit and bake at 350° for 30 minutes. The topping crisps up nicely and tastes like marzipan. Great on its own or topped with vanilla ice cream or you can try the dairy-free custard below.
Cashew Cardamom Custard
From Whole Living Magazine, July 2012 issue
1/2 cup raw cashews
2 cups, plus 1 Tbsp plain rice milk
Pinch coarse salt
1 Tbsp maple syrup
5 cardamom pods, crushed
1 1/2 tsp arrowroot or cornstarch
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
In a blender, process cashews, 2 cups milk, salt, and syrup for 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a saucepan, add cardamom, and bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk remaining Tbsp milk and the arrowroot until smooth. Add to saucepan and thicken mixture over medium heat, whisking, 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Strain custard into a bowl and let cool slightly, then transfer to refrigerator. Serve chilled.

Enjoy the summer!


  1. I love the concept of indulgently uni-tasking!!