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Sunday, December 14, 2008

French Toast & Fruit Compote

I don't know a lot about a lot, but what I do know about is how to make good food. Ben and I are working on our gourmet cookery over a camp stove because otherwise we would be eating those weird dehydrated foods that you find at your local camping store. They are gross and expensive! Don't do it! And when you instead turn to the cookbook selection, skip those, too. They tend to either require weird dehydrated unprepared food and Bisquick. Just say no and use common sense.

So on one camera happy morning while we were still in Lake Fausse Pointe State Park in Louisiana (outside of St. Martinville), we took a lot of photos of our meal and the set up. This is obviously not for the intrepid hiker climbing Mt. Everest, but we can go about three days without needing supplies, provided that we can carry enough water and go prepared, rather than willy-nilly, although the latter is usually the case.

This is me probably not preparing food, but probably preparing to eat it. I am only really competent enough in the morning to be a sous chef at best. But this is the best photo regarding layout. You can see here (from right to left):

-Our little Costa Rican coffee filter
-The top of our thermos
-The handle to the pot
-The French Toast cooking
-The honey behind it
-The butter
-The coffee thermos

You wouldn't think it, but contrary to what your mother told you, it is ok to eat dairy and eggs well after they've been sitting out overnight. We've been blessed/tormented with some cold weather lately, and that has been helping us keep our dairy and eggs, too. Ben actually likes his cheese to sit out a bit. It gets stinkier and he likes that. I live with it, but when it starts to sweat, I'd rather cook it up, just because the texture tends to have a weird mouthfeel. Don't knock it 'til you try it. Butter is especially long lasting--it will stay for just about forever. And unlike oil, it is more versatile, tastes better and tends to leak less, because unless it is a hot, hot summer, it will probably be solid or semi-solid in a sealed, water-tight container.

When we buy animal products to eat, we tend to eat them up fast. A half dozen eggs becomes part of a meal of French Toast, usually with a loaf of bread we've been carrying around too long and the milk leftover from coffee. The leftover eggs make for hard-boiled eggs (uck), egg salad (ok), fried egg sandwiches (good) or omelettes (my preferred method).

First we cut up a bunch of fruit into bite-sized pieces. This time it was plums and apples. Berries, stone fruit, bananas or whatever you've got on hand would be delicious. Cranberries are in season right now and they tend to cook a bit different from other fruits: you can stew them down into a delicious mess that is somewhere between a compote and a freshly made jam. Oranges or any other citrus fruit would be good, too. Or, consider zesting a bit of orange (nothing fancy, just scrape your pocket knife, serrated or straight, or use a metal fork and make do) into cranberries or any fruit that would benefit from a bit of citrus. We saute the fruit in a little butter until they're tender, but not overcooked. There is a spectrum of sauteing fruit: delicious apple pie-styled apples, gross apple mush and smooth applesauce. Aim for either end, and don't get stuck in the mushy baby food middle. We throw this when it's done into a little tinfoil because we don't have anywhere else to stick it.

From there, we mix together three eggs, a couple splashes of milk and our sweet spice mix of cinnamon, cloves and allspice into our big pot. This gets beat with a fork until it is well mixed and a bit frothy. Low on eggs or on milk? Sub in a bit more of the other to even it out. You could probably even thin it all out with a bit of water if you're trying to stretch what you've got.

This is made in the "saute" pan (i.e. the shallower pan). Slick it up with a bit of butter and get cooking. Make sure to cook it all the way through, you can turn down the heat or put on the lid to assure that you don't get a soggy middle. This is especially important when you've been carrying your dairy and eggs for several days because you don't want to mess with salmonella in the middle of the woods.

We then take the finished toast and put a few scoopfuls of fruit on top, and we pour on the honey. You can use maple syrup, agave nectar or throw in some brown or white sugar into the fruit right before taking it off the heat. Add water if it needs to be more syrupy. Fold up the sides and eat it taco style to avoid knives and forks and a much greater than necessary mess. This fills the both of us up pretty well, adjust accordingly for the number of your party.




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