Camp Musings and Cream Biscuits

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I have returned from my mountain home away from home!

Not that I’m especially happy about this – camp is my favorite place, and reality is, um… less fun. I’m pining and going through wilderness withdrawals, that’s for sure.

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There is nothing that compares to 10 days off the grid with my camp family in the mountains – laughing till my stomach hurts, swimming in a lake so brisk it takes your breath away, listening to the wind sighing in the pines, and going to bed under a skyful of stars and a full moon, smelling like woodsmoke and campfire.

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It is such a joy to witness the camp experience of so many girls who come to love camp just as much as I do – I am beyond grateful to have Two Sentinels in my life, both the place and the people! Camp has truly shaped who I am, in more ways than I can count. I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite snaps from this year – doesn’t nearly do it justice, but it’s a start.

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The only thing missing up at camp is an abundance of summer fruit – so of course I pounced on the berries and stone fruits as soon as I got home.

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I’ve been eyeing peaches for weeks now, waiting for peak season, and I think we’re there!

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These are perfect; they really don’t need to be messed with, but I like to have my fruit be a little saucy when I’m serving shortcakes. These particular peaches are paired with a cream biscuit (because I’m obsessed, both with this form of biscuit and with Straus creamery heavy cream – I could literally drink the bottle. Someone take it away!) and with either ice cream or more of that amazing heavy cream… no need to even whip it, just pour it straight over your shortcakes and imbibe.

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It’s hot out and I just ran my oven and I don’t even care. Summer is for shortcakes and if that means I have to swelter a bit, so be it! I’ve been outside in nature’s A/C for the last week and a half anyway so who cares. The only thing missing is the lake! That would be so good right now.

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So! Not only do peaches make your kitchen smell like summer, but this dessert comes together in about five seconds flat. And the oven only has to be on for 15 minutes! No excuses – you’ll thank me later. Happy summer!

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Whole Grain Shortcakes with Peaches and Cream

Lightly sweet, perfectly fluffy biscuits with a craggy crust. Summer peaches don’t need much adornment – these were in varying degrees of ripeness so I threw them in a pot for a minute to somewhat homogenize – tossed with vanilla and served with cream and/or ice cream: the ultimate summer pairing. Refined sugar free and whole wheat. Cream biscuits lightly adapted from Alice Medrich of Food52, here. Yield: 6 shortcakes.

For the cream biscuits:

  • 3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 c whole spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • heaping 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 3/4 c + 6 tbsp cream
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar, to sprinkle

Preheat the oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with three pieces of parchment, to prevent excess browning. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together whole wheat, spelt, baking powder, and sea salt. Create a well in the center and pour in the cream. Using a rubber spatula, push the flour into the cream (not stirring), until everything is moistened. This really only takes a few seconds! The dough will look shaggy and porous. Drop large spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet, and sprinkle generously with coconut sugar. Bake for 14-15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet front to back once halfway through, until golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes, then move to a cooling rack to cool completely (or eat warm).

For the peaches:

  • 3-4 large peaches, cubed
  • vanilla to taste
  • zest & juice of one meyer lemon

Toss everything into a small pot, and heat over medium until the peaches start to release their juices and make your kitchen smell amazing. Remove from heat and let cool before serving.

To serve: you do you! Cream, ice cream – whatever floats your boat. I like a ton of peaches and a drizzle of cream (or a large blob of ice cream)… or maybe both. Store any leftovers (really?! who are you??) on the counter covered in foil. Or just eat immediately, which would be my recommendation. Although they are excellent for breakfast, so maybe save one or two ;)

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Messy, delicious pre-camp cobbler

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It’s that time of year again! I leave tomorrow for my home away from home: camp, under the tall pines and in the crisp Sierra air.

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I have this strange tradition of always making some kind of fruit dessert before I leave – something about the combination of mindful baking that takes my mind off the trillion things I have to do before I leave, plus the freshness of the fruit that I miss while I’m at camp. I have no idea when this started, but for the last 5 years or so, it seems that I always make something the day before I leave. So! Cobbler. Here ya go. At least it was a change from the shortcakes – I looked back into the archives & apparently I made shortcakes the last three years. I suppose there’s something to be said for consistency?!

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And after I finish the trillion things it feels like I need to do today…. CAMP! YAY! It really is my home away from home – an awesome family who I only see about twice a year, beautiful surroundings and a soul-soothing break from technology.

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But in the meantime, before I go… I’ll eat cobbler. One of the more homely desserts out there – a blobby, delicious mess – but sometimes, dessert needs to be less than perfectly aesthetic and perfectly delicious.

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Cobbler is obviously dessert alongside a generous scoop of ice cream, but no doubt also will be breakfast, because everyone knows that cobbler is one of the most perfect breakfast foods (right up there with pie) – especially since this one is whole grain and full of fruit! That’s breakfast, right there.

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I really wanted to use leaves from my ginger mint plant – it’s actually a thing! It’s mint, that tastes gingery! Literally amazing. But sadly, a resident caterpillar thought it was amazing too, and ate all the leaves yesterday, RUDE. Which meant I had to punt and use regular spearmint, but it’s still delicious, I promise. And the caterpillar has been kicked out of his comfy digs on my plant, so hopefully the ginger mint (whose name is Watson, by the way) will make a speedy recovery.

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In other news… let’s see. More progress on the SF series, and a few different days of fun on the Bay!

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Happy July! See ya on the flip side of my wilderness sojourn.

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Rhubarb Raspberry Ginger-Mint Cobbler

Heavy on the fruit, lightly sweet with a kick from the ginger and a hint of mint  – perfect for summer since (unlike pie dough) there’s no fussing with cold butter or unwieldy dough in a hot kitchen. Cobbler is one of the easiest summer desserts – start to finish, it really only takes about an hour. This one is supremely easy, whole grain, and refined sugar free. Yield: 1 9″ pie dish; serves…. 2? Hahahaha I kid. Sort of. You could feed anywhere from 2-6 people, but I argue for two with breakfast leftovers ;) A Wait are those Cookies original; topping lightly adapted from the Kitchn, here.

For the fruit filling:

  • 4-5 c rhubarb, chopped*
  • 1 c raspberries*
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 1/4 c arrowroot starch
  • juice of 1 meyer lemon (or regular)
  • 1/4 c candied ginger, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh spearmint
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the cobbler topping:

  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 c whole grain spelt flour
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar + a little extra for brushing the biscuit tops
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.5 c heavy cream (I prefer Straus because… it’s the best!), divided + a little extra for brushing the biscuit tops

*I bake straight from frozen; fresh would also be fine. I also don’t measure fruit for this – I just use enough so that my pie plate is heapingly full

Preheat the oven to 375, and grab a 9″ pie dish (or an 8 by 8 pan would be fine too I’m sure; so would a cast iron skillet if you’d rather). Stick some foil on the rack below the rack you’ll bake the cobbler on, just in case of drips.

In a large bowl, toss together rhubarb, raspberries, maple syrup, arrowroot, lemon juice, candied ginger, chopped mint, and vanilla. Let sit for at least 5 minutes — easiest to do this while you put together the cream biscuit for the cobbler topping.

For the cream biscuits: in a large bowl, stir together whole wheat and spelt flours, coconut sugar, baking powder and sea salt. Stir in the heavy cream, until the combined – the dough will be sticky & rather wet (but DELICIOUS). Spoon large dollops of dough onto the top of the cobbler – I used a large spoon and got about 5 biscuits; you can make them smaller if you like! Brush with a bit of extra cream and sprinkle with coconut sugar.

Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the cobbler is beginning to go golden around the edges, and the fruit is bubbling. A thermometer (if you have one) is useful here – the internal temp of the centermost biscuit should be 200F. Let cool before serving – awesome either warm out of the oven, or room temp later – with ice cream either way, obviously. AND it’s even better for breakfast the next day; leftovers keep well, covered in the fridge.

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