To dwellers in a wood, almost every species of tree has its own voice as well as its feature.
~Thomas Hardy

On July 29, 2016, it is National Gnarly Day, a term which seems to have accrued several meanings:  (1) of course, the natural knotty protuberance on a tree; (2) something that goes beyond radical, distasteful or extreme; and/or (3) something that meets perfection, skill or the ideal. Perhaps, “gnarly” is an admix of three nuances, who knows?  I certainly do not, but adore, am provoked and intrigued, how the word and day can transmute depending upon usages, verbal and otherwise.  As a neophyte language aficionado, “gnarly is sort of down my alley…and sometimes even gives pause.  No, no, not down the condiments aisle where Johnny first uttered “ketchup” in order to be posted on social media — not a true experience shared quietly, almost in a whisper with knowing smiles, between parents after hours.

So you know, National Gnarly Day happens to fall on the last Friday of each July. Here is something that fits the bill, but also has the green hues and sapidity that avocados bestow. Happy National Gnarly Day Eve !

SCRAMBLED EGGS + SLICED AVOCADOS

2 T extra virgin olive oil
2-3 T unsalted butter
3 T cream cheese
6 fresh, free range or pastured eggs
1 T heavy whipping cream or crème fraîche
1/8 T sea salt
1/4 T freshly ground pepper

Pinch of white pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Larger pinch of herbes de provence

1-2 avocados, sliced lengthwise & then halved

Melt the oil, butter and cream cheese in a heavy nonstick skillet.

Combine the eggs, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, white pepper, herbes de provence and a dollop of cream and crème fraîche in a glass bowl and whisk briskly.

Pour into the skillet, with the heat on low. With a wooden spatula, gently stir the egg mixture, lifting it up and over from the bottom as it thickens. Stir away from the sides and bottom of the pan toward the middle. Continue to stir until the desired texture, a mass of soft curds, will be achieved.  In a quiet, gnarly fashion.

Slice and add the avocado slices and again cook slowly.

The eggs thicken, dry out and toughen very quickly toward the end, so if you like them soft, fluffy and moist, remove them from the heat a little before they reach the desired texture — please do not forget that the eggs will continue to cook after being removed from both the stove top and the pan (like many foodstuffs, including green beans, asparagus, broccoli, and most meats, etc).

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The fear of death follows from the fear of life.  A man who lives fully is prepared to die at anytime.
~Mark Twain

Just seems there should be little demand to visit venues in Santa Barbara or even Southern Cal, as a whole, where the in crowds frequent. You know, where people say “like” repetitively and thoughtlessly as if the word is a linguistic filler.

So many glorious campsites with scenery that is flat breathtaking, serenely overlooking the Big Blue where the plethora of marine mammals exist — pastoral stuff. There is a campus of radiantly hued tents, and above that are the parked RV’s usually hooked to electricity inlets/outlets (none of which can be seen from the cloth huts).

Almost each foggy or overcast morning, before she departed to the “glamping” joint across the way, we crawled out of our tent and after morning ablutions, promptly began the fire and heating the tortillas so the meal completo could be packed inside. Donned in aprons (I likely looked absurd) we grilled each tortilla feast on state-provided, round, grated, dug-in, barbeque pits after just barely scrambling the eggs and cooking the meat aside ever so assiduously on a pan. Rosemary sprigs from nearby plants were plucked and dropped into the fire when ready. Then, there were exquisite avocados plucked by friends from close sprawling ranches and, of course, tomatillo sauce, salsa verde, salsa rojo, queso fresco, crema, cilantro, radishes and rekindling the goods...with several cups of joe. Our grub for the day.

The skies cleared, it warmed as the sun shone through in mid-morning just slightly toasting the eucalypti leaves so their scents diffused, then she disappeared for work, and I tried to heal thyself (often by watching dolphins graze).

This post may prove trivial to some, but it was the boon of our existence every morning.

EGGS, BACON & AVOCADO TORTILLAS

3-4 T unsalted butter
3 T cream cheese
6 fresh, local, free range eggs
1 T whipping cream or creme fraiche
1/8 T sea salt
1/4 T freshly ground pepper

Small pinch of cayenne pepper
Small amount of herbes de provence and/or thyme

Melt the butter and cream cheese in a heavy nonstick skillet or a iron cast pan. Combine the eggs, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, white pepper, herbes de provence and/or thyme and a dollop of cream or creme fraiche in a glass bowl and whisk briskly.

Pour egg mixture into the skillet, with the heat on medium low. With a flat, wooden spatula, gently stir the eggs, lifting it up and over from the bottom as they thicken. Stir away from the sides and bottom of the pan toward the middle. Continue to stir until the desired texture (a mass of soft curds) is achieved. They thicken, dry out and toughen very quickly toward the end, so if you like them soft, fluffy and moist, remove them from the heat a little before they reach the desired texture — the eggs will continue to cook after being removed from the heat.

(As an alternative, try fried eggs covered in the skillet top cooked in a smearing of olive oil with salt and pepper only).

Gently cooked guanciale, pancetta, bacon, serrano or proscuitto

Avocado slices, alluringly fresh

Salsa verde and/or salsa rojo
Queso fresco and/or fine goat cheese
Crema

Radishes, sliced
Cilantro leaves, chopped

Pound Cake

July 13, 2012

Qu’ils mangent de la brioche! (Let them eat cake!)
~Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Les Confessions (Confessions)

Dense and moist, rich and buttery, pound cake was traditionally made with a pound each of flour, butter, eggs and sugar. No leaveners were used other than the air whipped into the batter. While the history of cakes dates back to ancient times, this was likely an early 18th century English or northern European creation. These days, recipes deviate slightly from the original formula to concoct lighter fare. But the nomenclature, in part from the Old Norse kaka, has persisted.

Whether eaten alone, or with coffee or tea, chilled, room temp, broiled or grilled, with a side or topping of sweetened fresh fruit or fine ice cream, glazed with sugars or merely dusted with powered sugar, as French toast, with savory friends, pound cake is for all times — breakfast, lunch, snacks or desserts.

Dad’s eyes always danced, and sometimes he damn near swooned, over this heavenly staple.

MEYER LEMON POUND CAKE

Unsalted butter
Sifted cake flour

1 1/2 C (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 C sifted cake flour
1 t sea salt
4 t baking powder
2 3/4 C sugar
8 large eggs, room temperature
1 C whole milk, room temperature
2 t pure vanilla extract
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon

Glaze
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon
2 3/4 C confectioners’ sugar, plus more if needed
1/4 C fresh Meyer lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 325 F

Butter and flour two loaf pans and set aside.

Sift the flour with the salt and baking powder and set aside. With a stand up mixer, cream the butter, and then add the sugar gradually, beating until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the milk and vanilla. Stir only until thoroughly blended. Gently fold in the zest.

Pour batter into the prepared pans, making sure to divide the batter evenly between the two pans. Level tops with a spatula. Bake until lightly brown on top and a toothpick comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours. Let the cake cool in the pan about 10 minutes, and then carefully remove to a wire rack to cool thoroughly.

In a medium bowl, whisk all glaze ingredients to combine. If necessary, add additional confectioners’ sugar to desired consistency.

Pour glaze over pound cakes and serve sliced.

Pourboire:  to enrich further, use cream cheese (40%) and butter (60%) in lieu of unsalted butter only.