Peach + Pluot Tart with Lemon Coconut Cream

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Friday evening and William and I took each other to the county fair. He stood in line for a corndog, a really good one, he said, and then we headed away from all the noise to the barns, ambling through each aisle one by one, comparing the chickens to ours, wondering at whether the tagline saying aggressive! scrawled under the price for a $40 bunny was a comment about the price, the animal’s temperament, or some other reason I already forget. Then we went to the hog barn, the sheep, and then the cattle. I beelined us towards the champion animals, commenting about how when I was in high school a dozen or more years ago, the genetics were just leaning towards better in the sheep division, and now the champion lambs are packed, their muscles rippling with every move.

 

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After it all we headed a couple blocks over to Friendly’s, a neighborhood natural foods store. We bought small pots of expensive delicious ice cream, brought it back home, and sat in the near-dark on the couch, eating little spoonfuls slowly. When I scraped the last bit from my dish and nearly got up for more, William stopped me, saying no just wait a moment and you’ll realize you’re done. 

And I did.
And I did.

It was a fabulous and simple evening after a long week with more weekend work ahead. It was lovely to just set everything else down for a few hours and be present, enjoying summer, enjoying the magic, realizing the hunger we’re hungry for can be fed in small doses of treats and much larger heaps of time with a loved one and their caring hand and arm around the shoulders, their well-intended suggestions, and in taking the time to share snippets of a long-ago passion at the county fair.

 

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The Recipe Redux asked for stone fruit this month. Even though I’ve been eating the various fruits daily, working apricots or plums into morning oatmeal, having a handful of cherries with afternoon snack, or gliding thin slices into whatever savory is up for dinner, this time of year calls for a treat, with stone fruits at their best.

This raw, barely sweet lemon and coconut cream tart is a real favorite, but one I often forget about. It’s one to make for a dinner party or a sunday feast. Or maybe, just because it’s summer and our weary selves need a little wholesome decadent goodness.

 

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Peach + Pluot Tart with Lemon Coconut Cream, adapted from my blackberry version
There are a few options here. The fruit can of course be changed up depending on preference, but the choice of nuts and sweetener can too. I used a mix of hazel and walnuts, the almond meal, and then used lucuma powder to sweeten. Lucuma is a Peruvian fruit that has a slightly mapley caramel flavor and the powder can be used as a natural sweetener. I had a nearly expired packet in the back of the pantry and put it to good use here, but the alternative of using about half the amount of regular or powdered sugar works well too and honestly isn’t added in enough quantity to do much harm.

5 medjool dates / 45 g, pitted and briefly soaked
1/2 cup / 50 g nuts of choice, toasted
1/2 cup / 50 g almond meal
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 15 oz. / 400 mL can full-fat coconut milk, chilled
2-4 Tbs. lucuma or sugar
zest from 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-2 peaches and pluots
lemon juice

  • In a food processor, combine dates, nuts, cinnamon, and salt.  Puree until finely chopped and the mixture sticks together when pinched with your fingers.  Turn out into a 7-8 in tart pan.
  • Open the chilled coconut milk and without stirring, spoon out the cream layer into a medium bowl. Reserve the watery milk in the bottom of the can for another use.
  • Whip the coconut cream along with the lucuma, lemon zest, and vanilla.  Spoon and smooth atop the nut layer.
  • Thinly slice the peaches and pluots and layer around the top of the coconut filling, in circles, as desired. To preserve the color, brush a little lemon juice across the fruit layer, and then lightly cover and set the tart in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours.

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Coconut Grape Chia Pudding

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Most of my friends and aquaintances know me as the girl that knows a bit about agriculture and growing vegetables. Few of them remember or know that I started out in college as an English major, or that I actually did continue to take English classes all the way through, receiving a minor instead. All my favorite classes as an undergrad were in the English department, not the college of agriculture. I particularly enjoyed the upper division writing and research-intensive classes as I enjoyed reading others’ research even more than I enjoyed actually reading the classic literature itself.

 

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What I’ve been particularly excited about since deciding to go back to school is the opportunity to dive back into the academic literature—this time in a way that is a little more applicable and interesting to me now than the cohesion of magic and religious practices in medieval literature. Like grape juice. Is grape juice beneficial? Will the grape juice in my freezer enhance my athletic pursuits? Can it do other things?

 

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I’ve had a gallon of really tasty homemade/homegrown grape juice hanging out in the freezer for over a year now. My best friend’s parents gifted it to us for Christmas in 2014. Having already used half of it last year, I knew it was good. But I rarely ever crave a glass of juice, let alone a gallon of it. And William, though he’s quite keen on green juice, proclaimed grape juice is for summer, and turned up his nose when I asked if he’d drink it.

After defrosting the juice, I noticed the thick must from the home-pressing settling at the bottom. It looked, smelled, and tasted like there was a lot of nutrition there, in a good way. Since tart cherry, pomegranate, and beet juice have all been in the research and news these last few years for their benefits to athletes, I started wondering what the verdict has been on grape juice? I did a quick initial search and scan through peer-reviewed journals, and though there’s not an overwhelming amount of research on grape juice and exercise, there is enough to suggest grape juice might increase running time-to-exhaustion (1), improve recovery (2) and immune function (3). What I’m really excited about is to learn how to pick apart the good research from the bad since a study can be found to support just about every viewpoint on any given topic.

For now, I’m comfortable with the idea that eating this coconut-grape chia pudding might have helped me avoid coming down with a full-blown cold last week when I was experiencing a little sore throat and depleted energy. Or it might have been that I recognized the signs and took it easy for a few days. In any case, I’ve been wanting to turn that grape juice into chia pudding for a while now, and as it turns out, grape juice thickened up with chia seeds and some coconut makes an excellent dessert, or breakfast, if you’re of the mind.

 

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Coconut-Grape Chia Seed Pudding, makes 4 cups

The Recipe Redux challenged us to an easy, seven-ingredient-or-less recipe this month since it’s Income Tax Season. What I like about this recipe is that it makes a big batch, can last for several days or feed a crowd, and can be interchanged with another type of juice for a flavor mix-up. I prefer to serve it with tangy yogurt and crunchy granola, to create more of a parfait, but the chia pudding is also quite nice on its own. 

3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

3/4 cup chia seeds

4 cups 100% grape juice

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

granola of choice, optional

plain unsweetened coconut yogurt, optional

peanut butter, optional

  • In a medium bowl, whisk the chia seeds, coconut flakes, vanilla extract, and grape juice together. Let sit out for a few minutes and then whisk again to make sure the chia seeds are evenly distributed. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • Remove from the fridge, spoon into dishes, and serve as is or with the optional mix-ins.

 

 

References:

  1. Toscano, L.T., Tavares, R.L., Toscano, T.T., Oliveira da Silva, C.S., Monteiro de Almeida, A.E., Biasoto, A.C.T.,…and Silva, A.S. (2015). Potential ergogenic activity of grape juice in runners. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 40(9): 899-906.
  2. Dalla Corte, C.L, De Carvalho, N.R., Amaral, G.P., Puntel, G.O., Silva, L.F.A., Retamoso, L.T.,…and Soares, F.A.A. (2013). Antioxidant effect of organic purple grape juice on exhaustive exercise. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 38(5): 558-565.
  3. UPI NewsTrack. (2008). Quercetin, found in produce, fights flu. Business Insights: Global. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.