Cambrian: Opinion

As summer solstice draws near, try apricot nut bread

Nothing quite beats a luscious sun-ripened apricot, ready to eat out of hand.
Nothing quite beats a luscious sun-ripened apricot, ready to eat out of hand. Special to The Cambrian

In the wake of tragedy, it has always been difficult for me to carry on as if nothing has happened. I don’t want to trivialize, yet feel the need to continue. May you rest in peace, Orlando.

We anticipate the summer solstice on June 21, and now since being at Brú na Bóinne in Ireland, it is especially poignant, to hearken back to the ancients all over the world who were observing and marking the perceived movement of the sun, unbeknownst to one another.

The Irish Neolithic site at New Grange (3000-2500 BC) predates Giza by centuries, and Stonehenge by 1,000 years. Daughter Kathy and I experienced a simulation of the seven minutes inside the huge mound when it is illuminated by a shaft of light during sunrise on the Winter Solstice.

I will be at my usual spot, either at Moonstone Beach or Morro Bay, for the Summer Solstice. Meanwhile, I have been photographing the setting sun from my deck, as it inches farther north toward a lonely pine snag, and enjoying the fresh apricots shared with me by Malika Singh. They ripened early in the warm Fresno sunshine on her ranch, and still are my favorite fruit.

I was delighted several years ago to find this recipe, which uses the fresh fruit instead of dried; the latter tastes odd to me. My all-time favorite is the Royal Blenheim — “firm of flesh, succulent with juice and almost as large as a peach.” Malika’s were just as delicious!

Fresh Apricot Nut Bread

2  1/4 cups apricot puree

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup shortening

2 large eggs

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup finely chopped pecans (or other nuts)

Quickly wash fresh apricots, slice leaving the skin on, and process in a blender to obtain the right texture. Cream the sugar and shortening together; add beaten eggs, and mix thoroughly. Add puree, vanilla and sifted dry ingredients. Stir in the nuts and blend well.

Pour into two well-greased and floured loaf pans. Bake at 325 degrees 55-60 minutes (or use minipans and bake a shorter time; ovens will vary.) Allow to cool a few minutes before removing, and cool completely before slicing. May be tightly wrapped and frozen, if you wish.

Irish Leek and Potato Soup

10 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

1 bunch leeks, white part trimmed and thinly sliced

4-6 tablespoons milk or cream

2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives, or parsley

7 cups water

Salt and white pepper

By special request, I present this authentic recipe direct from Ireland. In a large pot, simmer potatoes and leeks in salted water for 15-20 minutes, or until fork tender. Remove from the heat, and either mash right in the liquid with a fork, or cool further and process in a blender for creamier texture. Return to the heat, and adjust the seasoning. Just before serving, stir in the cream gradually (I used cashew milk), and garnish with the chopped herbs. Serves eight.

Consuelo Macedo’s column is special to The Cambrian. Submit recipes to The Cambrian, 2068 Main St., Cambria, CA 93428.