24 August 2012

Huckleberries, Heath, Cucumber

I've come back from a relaxing 5-day stay in Northern Idaho to visit E's family. The daily plan went something like this: lazily wake up. Eat some grub and decide where to go outside that day. After getting hot hiking/walking, jump in a lake/river. Eat some food, drink adult beverages, and go to bed. Also I didn't have cell phone service or easy internet access, so there was that. E delivered on one of her longstanding promises - to take me huckleberry picking in Idaho. We hiked up Schweitzer resort in 90 degree weather, eating huckleberries the whole way and emptying a Nalgene or two. We walked down, filling that empty Nalgene up with berries to use later. It was divine.
E put most those berries to use in a cobbler, though we couldn't find suitable sugar to use so it was more hot berries topped with something like a honey-oat streusel, served on ice cream. I put another chunk of the berries to use with pancakes topped with E's quick berry syrup, introducing yet more people to the wonder of Mikey's pancakes. And that was all the cooking we did. No bread, no experiments, nothing.
As an addendum to the previous post, it was brought to my attention that I mentioned, but did not picture, the bowls. So, below, you'll see one of the bowls filled with lightly-crusted indian-spiced tofu, blackened brussels, and grilled cucumbers. Peaking out of the corner is the fig/bacon dish. Oh, yes, right, grilled cucumbers. In the same way that pickling transforms a lukewarm, bland vegetable into a chilly, crunchy delight, cooking cucumbers in a cast iron elevates them to cuisine. An early dinner at Bar Tartine led to this discovery, quickly recreated at home. Cut cucumbers into quarters or so. Heat them, face down, over medium-ish in a cast iron with a brush of salt and cumin. Do this until they are soft and hot all the way through. Consume. Be enlightened.
Huckleberry Pancakes with Syrup
Recipe for 1, scales as necessary
for pancakes
1/4 cup spelt flour
1 thumb-length of banana (~1/4 banana)
2 tbsp huckleberries
~1/4 cup soy/almond/coconut/hemp/etc milk
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
pinch salt

for syrup
handful huckleberries
handful strawberries, chopped
sugar to taste
possibly water

To make the pancakes, mush the banana until it almost passes as a liquid. Add everything but the milk-like liquid, then slowly pour in milk until you end up with a batter-like consistency. This is usually a quarter cup and a dash more, but it varies on the kind of milk and the amount of banana. Experiment a bit. On a griddle or non-stick pan over medium, add some butter. Cook pancake amounts of batter until bubbles form on the surface. Wait 15-30 seconds after that point, then flip and cook for a minute or two longer.

To make the syrup, in a sauce pan over medium-high, add the berries. You'll want to lightly mush them with a spoon, but also make sure you stir them so they don't stick or burn. After a few minutes, they will start to liquify. Add a dash of water and sugar, and continue stirring while it kinda-boils. Continue until you have something that looks like jam. Let cool for a few minutes and check the sweetness, adding sugar if necessary. Once removed from pan, you can boil some water in the pan to both clean it and make some pretty tasty tea (all credits to E on that one).

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