Instead of observing the summer solstice from my deck this year, I hied myself down to Morro Rock to celebrate with Salinan tribe members. Besides the blessings with sweetly burning sage, and Patty Dunton leading us all in the Serpent Dance after retelling the legend, we were graced with a visit by feathered Aztec dancers from Atascadero. They performed energetic sun dances, an acknowledgement of the four wind directions, and a re-enactment of a mano-a-mano fight to the death, all to the beat of the drum.
It was a spirited and spiritual evening, beginning with tribal members climbing an ancient trail to the summit of the Rock for private sunset rituals, and culminating with tribal members in traditional regalia meeting on the beach as the tide came in at dusk. Altogether it was energizing, even to those less energetic than the youths who kept up the pace throughout the evening.
I spent time with former Cambrian Sharon Anderson and her family, and ended the evening in fellowship and a seafood dinner with Liz and Dan Krieger. He has a special affinity for our local Native Americans, and recently completed a massive project on behalf of the Salinans. We are indeed blessed with the scope and sequence of his research and publications.
I recalled many other occasions to mark the season, once in Madrid on the roof of the convent where I stayed, and others at Tenaya Lake as our family began several forays camping and backpacking into the High Sierra. It calls to mind the wonders of Creation and the Creator, and His beneficence in providing the bountiful fruits and vegetables we enjoy in profusion.
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My all-time favorite is the Royal Blenheim apricot, almost as big as a peach, which is ripening colorfully in the heat of the Central Valley. Check the farmers market for your local favorites. I love them sliced with bananas at breakfast.
Fresh Apricot Bread
2-1/4 cups apricot puree
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 large eggs
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1-1/2 tsp, vanilla
1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
This so much better than recipes calling for dried apricots. Wash soft, very ripe fresh apricots. Leave the skins on and slice the apricots; whir in a blender until still a little chunky. Cream sugar and shortening together in a large bowl; add eggs, and mix thoroughly. Add puree, flour, baking powder and soda, and salt. Stir in vanilla and nuts, blending well. (Cook’s notes: I used to use white all-purpose flour.)
Pour into two well-greased or sprayed and floured 9-by 5-inch loaf pans. Bake in a preheated, 325-degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes (or use mini-pans and a shorter baking time). Allow to cool on a rack before removing from the pans. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, or serve slices with your favorite cream topping.
Deluxe Apricot Salsa
2 cups coarsely chopped fresh apricots (ripe but firm)
1 cup crushed pineapple (well drained if canned)
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet
Maui or Walla Walla onions
1 jalapeño chili, seeded and
Small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
Small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
1 tblsp. Herbes de Provence
1 pinch kosher or sea salt
Splash of low sodium soy sauce
Wash the cilantro and parsley well and pat dry between paper towels. Mix all ingredients together in a glass bowl and chill several hours. Use as a salsa with baked chips or serve as a garnish for your favorite barbecue. For a tropical touch, substitute mangoes.
We are in the Culinary Corner every second, fourth and any fifth Thursdays. Please send your summer ideas to Consuelo, at The Cambrian, 2442 Main St., Cambria CA 93428; or email to email@example.com.