Apricots…with recipe

2016-02-16 18.53.39 smAs I wandered through the pond garden yesterday evening, watching the fish and the damselflies, I noticed that the apricots had blushed. I tested one. It was soft and ripe—so ripe, the juice dripped down my arm when I bit into it.

This was the first year the apricot tree has given us anything, and the wind stripped many of the fruits a month ago, but there were still about two dozen on the tree, and they were all ready to pick.

So this afternoon, I made apricot upside down cake—for the second time in a month. This time, I’ll give you the recipe…

This is adapted from a recipe in the 1997 edition of Joy of Cooking.

Melt 3 Tbsp butter in a 9-inch (20cm) cast iron skillet or round cake pan. Tilt the pan to coat all sides with butter.

When the butter is melted, sprinkle ½ cup brown sugar evenly over the bottom.

Arrange apricot halves, cut side down in the bottom of the skillet, completely covering the bottom.

Whisk together in a medium bowl:

2 large eggs

2 Tbsp buttermilk

½ tsp vanilla

Combine in a large bowl:

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

½ cup brown sugar

¾ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

Add to the flour mixture:

6 Tbsp softened butter

6 Tbsp buttermilk

Beat on low speed just until the flour is moistened, then increase the speed to high and beat for 1 ½ minutes. Add one-third of the egg mixture at a time and beat 20 seconds after each addition. Pour batter over fruit.

Bake at 180C (350F) for 35-40 minutes. Cool in the pan for 2-3 minutes before unmolding. To turn the cake out, run a knife around the edge to ensure the cake has separated from the pan. Place a plate on top of the pan and quickly flip pan and plate together. Carefully lift off the pan.

Fire!

2016-02-17 08.58.04 smPreying mantises were leaping out of the flames, scaling the fence and jumping on my face in panic.

And rightfully so. The neighbour (the one who harvested yesterday) burned off the stubble today to prepare the field for replanting.

I have to say, that though I hate the practice of burning off stubble—it mostly ends up sending nutrients into the air as pollution, rather than back into the soil—I still love to watch a good burn-off. Something about fire…

I had extra incentive to watch this one, as the fire was lit five metres from our fence line, and the wind was blowing towards our property.

It was while I watched that the preying mantises began landing on me. I’m sure there were other insects (and probably a whole lot of mice) fleeing the fire, but I only noticed the mantids.

It won’t be long, though, before they’re back in the neighbour’s field. By this afternoon, it will be planted in grass, to provide winter grazing for his sheep. In a week, you’ll hardly be able to tell it was burnt.