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blueberry + almond buttered french toast with peaches


I spent last weekend in Boston + area for a wedding in Mark’s family (and some general exploring). We were driving into a completely charming small town for the ceremony and I caught myself settling into a familiar thought process. Whenever we travel, on day trips, weekends, whatever, I always slip into the “I could definitely live here” mode. Everywhere we go, it just happens. I get all the little ducks in a row in my mind and imagine the possible benefits and drawbacks. I could probably get a job, it’s near the coast-this is important for like, swimming and stuff, I would need to obtain citizenship somehow…eeenh I’m sure that’s super easy, they have a Trader Joe’s and a Whole Foods IN THE SAME PLAZA!?!! etc.

This tendency points to a few things. I’m generally comfortable wherever I go, slipping into adaptation mode. I don’t seem to get the itch to go back home ever. I do love my town and my family and everyone here, certainly. But I would be perfectly happy to set up a cozy nest and start something new just about anywhere, for however long. Call it unsettled, call it adventurous or irresponsible; doesn’t matter.  I used to think it was too late to entertain this sort of mindset, but lately I just want to drop everything and go everywhere all at the same time. And it feels possible. So possible.

I do love Niagara in the summer. The air is temperate, the local abundance is ripe, plenty of exciting goings-on, the frequency of cold wine and beers outdoors is envigorating, smiling faces everywhere… but I’ve been imagining even greater things. Travel, projects, adventures, getting it done! It feels good.

What feels equally good? A cozy, luxurious and healthy breakfast at home with all of my favourite things. Grainy, seedy sourdough bread soaked in a fresh blueberry and almond batter that’s spiked with orange juice and warm vanilla. Oh and maple syrup, juicy peaches and tart yogurt all on top. Whoa. It’s enough to make me want to stay at home forever (and ever).


blueberry + almond buttered french toast with peaches
serves: 4
special equipment: a blender/food processor
notes: Have everything ready before you make the batter to dip the bread in. If you let the blueberry mixture sit, it begins to separate a bit. Be ready to dip right after you blend!

batter:
1 cup almond milk (not sweetened)
1/4 cup almond butter
1 tsp flax seeds
juice from half an orange (or a couple tablespoons)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup fresh blueberries (or thawed frozen ones)

for toast:
12 thick slices of good, grainy bread (preferably a day old)
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
evaporated cane juice (natural sugar) for sprinkling

to serve:
maple syrup
3 ripe peaches, sliced
extra blueberries
chopped almonds
yogurt of your favourite persuasion (coconut milk, soy, goat milk, cow etc)

Start preheating a large nonstick skillet (or cast iron) to medium.

Combine all batter ingredients in a blender pitcher. Blend on medium-high speed until completely liquified, about 1 minute. Pour batter into a medium-sized, shallow dish.

Place coconut oil into the heated pan and swirl it around to melt. If the pan seems to hot, keep it off the heat for a minute or two while you soak the bread. Start to soak slices of bread in blueberry batter. Scrape off excess and place in the pan with the melted coconut oil. Sprinkle a little evaporated cane juice on top of the bread in the pan (the non-cooked side) to promote caramelization when you flip. Cook until slightly browned, about a 1.5 minutes, and flip over. Cook for another minute and remove from the pan.

Wipe the pan out with a bit of paper towel and repeat cooking process with remaining bread and batter.

Serve warm with maple syrup, peaches, blueberries, yogurt and nuts.

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Kathryn20/07/2012 - 2:55 pm

Ha, I’m completely the reverse! Whenever I go to places that aren’t where I live, I always wonder how anyone can live there and I’m so grateful to return home to my city! What we can definitely agree on though is this french toast. Love that wonderful blueberry and almond batter and all the deliciousness that you’ve topped it with.

Jeanine20/07/2012 - 2:55 pm

Now this is a non-egg french toast I can get behind! It would make me want to stay home too :).

Ashlae20/07/2012 - 2:56 pm

Unsettled and adventurous? Yes. But irresponsible? I think not. In my opinion, living by the seat of your pants is the best way to experience life. We’re young – we have the right to be wild and spontaneous and sop up all the good this big, beautiful world has to offer. Just last week I tried convincing my boyfriend to drop everything and move to Iceland. Now THAT is irresponsible.. yet somewhat adventurous, I like to think ;)

And if I lived closer I’d beg you to invite me over for breakfast. This looks delicious, woman! Love your striped kicks, too.

Roberta @ Fish, chips & gelato20/07/2012 - 3:13 pm

I only had my first french toast experience less than a month ago. I can’t believe I’ve let 25 years of my life pass by without it! Making a batter with fruit seems like a brilliant idea. I have some blackcurrants that, I think, would make a good french toast… Must give it a go! Thanks for the recipe, really inspiring!

Shanna20/07/2012 - 3:16 pm

Yum. Can I just say that I used to be EXACTLY like that with new cities? Boston, Denver, Seattle, Nashville. Everywhere I went, I was like, I could live here. Only since moving to Nashville, like actually relocating away from my whole growing-up life, have I felt different and kind of wished I could be back in Chicago. Anyway, that’s just to say I so know what you mean, even though now I feel different, ha! Not sure what that means…

Also, this recipe looks so good, I really wish I could just eat it right now!

Nico20/07/2012 - 4:23 pm

I love this beautiful blue batter and how it stains the toast. Really gorgeous.

I used to have that wanderlust too … I feel at home in Portland, OR now, but maybe I will get that feeling again the next time I travel.

Rachel20/07/2012 - 11:42 pm

Now that is some purple toast! I never would have thought to blend berries into french toast dip but it makes so much sense. I am happy to have a new use for my berries and my blender!

Erica21/07/2012 - 9:58 am

Ohhh I have yet to try an eggless french toast! And I love the purple hue of this batter! I pinned this recipe!

Kira21/07/2012 - 12:28 pm

I love your creativity in the kitchen. Seriously, it’s killin’ me. And I’m making these tomorrow morning, can’t wait :)

Helene @ French Foodie Baby21/07/2012 - 9:39 pm

This looks absolutely scrumptious, gorgeous colors and summer fruits. Maybe I’ll have breakfast for dinner tonight :-)

Becs @ Lay the table22/07/2012 - 2:29 pm

I definitely do the same as you and think “oh wouldn’t it be lovely to live here…” and then I think of the reality of actually have to work rather than have all the time and realise it wouldn’t be as fun!

This french toast could be eaten anywhere though right?! It just looks so delicious :)

Hannah22/07/2012 - 3:38 pm

Just arrived back from an adventure, and found this perfect looking ‘home’ recipe. I think I could possibly eat the batter alone – such a glorious color! If it is eggless, is it still technically french toast? Not that it matters, just curious :)

Kathryne22/07/2012 - 10:45 pm

Purple bread, Laura! You made bread purple! Ahhh! This French toast would be a major treat no matter where I found it.

Kelsey23/07/2012 - 10:36 am

I find adventurous, care-free, moveable folk the most irresistible of all. :) pretty toast!

Kaleigh04/08/2012 - 6:35 pm

There’s a Trader Joe’s opening right across the street from Whole Foods in Plano too, weird! But no complaints :D

Beautiful pics by the way!

Y05/08/2012 - 8:05 am

The batter for this looks amazing. Yet another item bookmarked! :)

Filling my Time | Food Whims22/04/2013 - 7:42 pm

[...] Blueberry + Almond Buttered French Toast [...]

[...] Perfect for Sunday brunch. Recipe here. [...]

Sol10/08/2013 - 10:46 am

This tastes awesome! I love to make pancakes on my weekends but decided to give it a try to the blueberry french toast and I still can’t believe how good they are!
And vegan, thanks!

[…] french toast from Simple Bites, as well as the apple cinnamon variation! Also on the menu was this blueberry and almond buttered french toast from The First […]

peachy corn succotash tacos with lentils + basil slaw


These healthy tacos with fresh sweet corn, juicy peaches and basil are a culmination of many thoughts of dreamy summer meals simmering away over time. My love of juicy fruit in savory dishes is pretty obvious at this point and tacos are the perfect outdoor-dwelling-with-a-cool-drink-in-the-other-hand-kinda food (my heart is devoted to those foods). They also came about because of two pretty specific reasons: the first was a nugget of professional kitchen guidance and the second was spite (not joking).

On the first one–that kitchen wisdom. It started with me completely over-thinking something and ended with the simplest, most calm and matter-of-fact answer (i.e. it mirrored my entire adult life). We had a daily feature at the restaurant that included succotash as a component of the plate. So I ask one of our chefs, perfect sentence structure intact obviously, “What like, definitively makes a succotash like… a succotash? You know?” I followed this with a flippy, fingers stretched, rotating hand gesture that, ahem, very clearly emphasized my query. The answer: “Just whatever vegetables we’re trying to use up. All together.” Sure, you can get technical, but that little shred of simplicity was all I needed to get the wheels turning.

The second inspiration for this truly came out of spite. I saw something bothersome on twitter (getting bothered by a taco-centric tweet; guh I know). A guy was talking about a “right” taco, that there was a proper route to follow in regard to this particular food. Any other way was laughable and misinformed. This implied one obvious, egotistical and riduculous thing to me: everyone was wrong about food except him. Sorry dude, a taco is never wrong. You can quote me on that. There is no right way with food. It is nourishing and individual and different and cultural and socio-economical. It is everything and it belongs to all of us in every way imaginable.

If you have the privilege to consume it regularly, food is completely right in any context. Whether made on a 6 burner Viking stove or stirred together with boiling water in a coffee pot because that’s what is available, it’s your context and it is right. We can decide to make it simple or complex. We make it because we love the process or we make it to get by and move on to the next thing. What’s important is that we do actually make it, that we ask questions of the food and its source, that we serve it to the people we love, that we sit around the communal table and talk and nourish ourselves in every way. That is truly everything.

So with that I give you a not-by-the-book taco with some improper succotash stuffed inside. Oh and some lentils, avocado and a tangle of lime and basil slaw on top.  It is different, it is improper in a sense, but they are so delicious it’s unbelievable and the sheer sight of them made me so happy. Whatever they say, that’s the final word.

One more exciting thing: Spirituality & Health magazine has launched a Good Food Blog on their website. I’m so thrilled to be contributing along with some other amazing bloggers. So in honor of all that, they’re letting me give away 2 subscriptions to their inspiring magazine! You can enter the giveaway on my facebook page. You have until Monday July 16th to get your entry in. Good luck lovelies :)

peachy sweet corn tacos with lentils + basil slaw
serves: makes about 10-12 tacos
notes: The succotash makes an awesome side dish all on its own. I would add some chopped basil to it to finish if you’re going to go that route.

slaw:
1/4 head of green cabbage, shredded
1 big sprig of basil, leaves removed and sliced
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
salt and pepper

succotash:
1/3 cup french lentils, rinsed
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 shallot, small dice
1 small red pepper, small dice
1/2 tsp chili powder (ancho or chipotle are amazing)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
4 ears of corn, kernels removed
2 ripe peaches, pitted and diced
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper

assembly:
10-12 corn tortillas, warmed
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
lime wedges

Cook the lentils: place the rinsed lentils in a small saucepan with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until lentils are tender but still have some bite. Set aside.

Make the slaw: combine the shredded cabbage, basil, lime juice, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Taste for seasoning and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside in the fridge.

Make the succotash: Heat the grapeseed oil in a medium-large skillet over medium heat. Add the diced shallot and red pepper. Saute mixture until soft and slightly translucent. Add the chili powder and cumin. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the corn kernels and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper at this point. Cook, stirring frequently until corn is crisp-tender and slightly more golden, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the diced peaches, cooked lentils and lime juice. Check for seasoning and keep warm.

To assemble: Place 1/4 cup or so of succotash in each tortilla, top with avocado slices and a good tongs-full of slaw. Eat immediately.

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la domestique11/07/2012 - 2:59 pm

I would happily chow down on one of your tacos! They look so fresh and nourishing. Beautiful photos!

Nico11/07/2012 - 3:36 pm

Oh gosh, the tacos look fantastic but your story is even more inspiring. A succotash is whatever it can be and a taco is whatever you want it to be. I often get overwhelmed by the idea that sometimes there is a one, authentic, true version of a dish and I just need to let that go.

Michelle11/07/2012 - 4:03 pm

Dude. What a sweet addition to my “Summer of Tacos” (yeah, I’m making it a real thing).

Also, when will people stop this annoying “authenticity” bs about food? Some of the best tacos I’ve had were filled with Korean BBQ, just saying.

Sofia11/07/2012 - 4:05 pm

I think your lovely tacos can take his “right” tacos any day. I’m totally with you on there never being one way to do something. Our way is right the way, whatever we want it to be.

Carrie | acookgrowsinbrooklyn11/07/2012 - 4:15 pm

Totally on board with any food that isn’t ‘by the book.’ I’m newly obsessed with making corn tortillas at home and always looking for inspirational new fillings – just found the makings of my next taco night. Congrats on the writing gig!

sara11/07/2012 - 4:56 pm

lovely! I’m totally on your team with the sweets in the savory dishes. and congrats on being a contributor, excited to see your work. the more the better :)

Dana @ FoodieGoesHealthy11/07/2012 - 5:07 pm

Beautiful photos. I can’t get enough of summer peaches, so I’m excited to make your tacos.

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar11/07/2012 - 6:18 pm

These look so tasty!

Sophia12/07/2012 - 5:00 am

Laura,

Those tacos look heavenly (I just wish we already had nice and ripe peaches – I had one the other day and although it was pretty sweet it was rockhard, and ‘crunchy’ is a word that should never be used in the same sentence as ‘peach’!).

And I hear you on the right or wrong way of preparing certain dishes – my parents spent time living in Morocco before I was born, and out of that grew a deep love affair with Northern African cuisine, in particular cous cous and tagines. I once asked my mum how many different types of cous cous there were and her response was “There are as many different types of cous cous as there are housewives in Morocco”. I am sure the same applies to tacos!

In all honesty though, there is also a little piece inside of me that yearns for people to prepare things the way they ‘should’ be prepared. Sure, there is no right or wrong way to prepare many dishes but every time I order a panna cotta that is basically a vanilla cream-flavoured piece of jelly that would likely bounce of the floor if dropped, I wish more chefs took the time and skill to slowly heat the cream with a vanilla pod, sugar and some cornstarch until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon before leaving it to set – resulting in a heavenly concoction, thick enough to be inverted and have that gorgeous wobble yet far creamier than anything made with gelatine. Pedantic? Maybe (though in my defence I reserve this pedantry for when people start tempering with what I think is the essence of a dish while pretending to staying true to the original … ).

All the best

Sophia

Kathryn12/07/2012 - 8:04 am

I think tacos are the ultimate ‘make them up as you go along’ food – it’s almost impossible to make a not delicious taco but these really look like some of the best!

Kathryne12/07/2012 - 11:27 am

“A taco is never wrong.” Love that! I’m all on board for these tacos, they look incredible.

Rachel12/07/2012 - 12:59 pm

“A taco is never wrong” – here here!
I used to get funny looks from my husband when I served meatless tacos but he’s finally accustomed to my unusual taco fillings. I’d like to spring these on him to keep him on his toes : )

sarah12/07/2012 - 1:38 pm

This made me laugh out loud. I like you.
And basil slaw? Goodness, that sounds incredible.

Sonja12/07/2012 - 8:09 pm

I could have sworn I looked here when I was researching for our recent taco round up, but I just saw these! I think I may ad an addendum :) These look delicious!

Hannah13/07/2012 - 12:38 am

Yes! Savory fruit, an always-right taco, and a wee smidge of sticking it to the man. A perfect post! Love this one Laura, abd canr wait to try lime with basil with corn with peach – a perfect summer bite.

kelsey15/07/2012 - 5:44 pm

Hear hear, woman. There is no room for taco-police or culinary egos in my kitchen. I love your take. And glad to see you took the S&H gig.

Beth {local milk}18/07/2012 - 3:22 pm

I’m so glad you discovered my blog because if you hadn’t I might not have discovered yours! I’m always looking eagerly for a new source of inspiration and even though there are a blue billion food blogs, it’s hard to find! So excited to find yours. The design & aesthetic are right up my alley. Totally a subscriber now!

Weekly Top 10s | 80twenty18/07/2012 - 4:04 pm

[...] Ooh man! You’re speaking my language, Laura.Peachy corn succotash tacos with lentils + basil slaw [...]

Courtney21/07/2012 - 5:47 pm

These tacos look amazing! I’ve been using peaches in a lot of savory dishes lately because they have been overflowing at the farmer’s market. And, to the person who thinks there’s a “right” taco: cooking is an art form where bending and breaking the rules are encouraged. It’s constantly evolving…

[...] Peachy Corn Succotash Tacos with Lentils + Basil Slaw from The First mess [...]

[...] Peachy Corn Succotash Tacos with Lentils and Basil Slaw from Laura @ The First Mess [...]

[...] 1. Peachy Corn Succotash Tacos with Lentils & Basil Slaw from The First Mess [...]

suzi21/08/2013 - 11:34 am

i wish to make these and make them well. how do you suggest warming the tortillas? mine are always tough and chewy. thanks!!

Laura Wright21/08/2013 - 12:01 pm

Hi Suzi! If you have a gas stove, it’s nice to just warm them over a low flame directly on the burner. Usually I just wrap a bunch up in foil and place them in a 350 oven for 15 minutes or so and cover them with a lightly damp towel once they’re out to keep them warm/avoid over-drying. Hope that helps!
-L

cold brewed coffee + the mornings now


My heart seems to belong to coffee. It hasn’t always been quite like this. My days used to start so early with a big, cozy mug of tea, some reading, a little industriousness, but mostly quiet puttering about before I made my day. Summer busyness is bringing some later nights, which means slightly later mornings (with plenty of puttering about still, thank goodness). As soon as I snap out of my mid-morning haze, I start craving the dark, roasty, slightly acidic tang of strong coffee. There’s a lot of power in that first sip.

I’ve noticed that a few recent posts have been rather long and wordy. Thanks for sticking with me, but this one’s going to cut to the chase. Less reading means more time to get the aromatic grinds steeping away. This is pretty important.  From my own experience, fussing about or hesitating are not particularly ideal reactions when dealing with the caffeine habit. Let it lure you in and go to work.

I tried this cold-brewing method straight out of Bon Appetit’s July issue and it’s fantastic. As long as you plan ahead and source some good coffee, you’re in for a treat. The beverage is a whole different animal when given this treatment. Still dark and powerful, but smoother,  more filled-out and chocolaty tasting. It’s also the easiest way to make iced coffee that I’ve encountered with perfect consistency every time. How refreshing, right?

cold brewed coffee concentrate
with guidance from Bon Appetit, July 2012 issue and The New York Times
you will need: coffee filters, a fine sieve, 2 medium-large pitchers
serves: Makes around 5 cups of concentrate
notes: Show a barista a bit of love. Buy your beans and have them ground at a local coffee shop. You won’t regret it.

2 1/3 cups coarsely ground coffee (like for a French press)
7 1/2 cups cold water

Place ground coffee into a large pitcher. Slowly pour the 7 1/2 cups of water on top. Lightly stir them together to ensure that all coffee is moistened. Cover the top of the pitcher with a cheesecloth or sheets of paper towel and secure with a rubber band. Let the coffee steep overnight (or up to 15 hours).

After you’ve steeped the coffee, strain the mixture into another large pitcher with a fine sieve. Discard the grinds and rinse out the sieve. Rinse the original steeping pitcher out. Place a coffee filter into the fine sieve. Strain the mixture one more time into the original pitcher with the coffee filter lined sieve. All done!

To serve: Place ice cubes into a glass. Fill halfway with the cold brew coffee concentrate. Top up the remaining half with cold water or milk of your choice (or a combination). I use almond milk with a swizzle of maple syrup to sweeten it up. Enjoy!

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Erin06/07/2012 - 12:51 pm

I am going to have to try this! I always take a long walk in the morning, usually with coffee in hand but with it being 90˚, hot coffee doesn’t quite fit.

(Ps- I always enjoy your wordiness, it’s one of the many reasons I love your blog :)

sam06/07/2012 - 1:33 pm

As a budding photographer and avid coffee drinker, the most beautiful sight is cream going into iced coffee. I love the way it looks! I will have to try this coffee. I typically french press mine, so coarse ground is always on hand.

Shanna06/07/2012 - 2:32 pm

I swear, with every post, your photos amaze me more.

Kathryn06/07/2012 - 5:16 pm

I’ve never been much of a coffee drinker but you make me wish that I was with this post. Lovely pictures and words, as ever.

sarah07/07/2012 - 11:28 pm

I must agree with all your above comments – I love your wordiness, your photos are more incredible with each post, and I am smitten at the sight of white cold cream being poured into dreamy dark coffee. I received a toddy maker years ago as a gift, and I drink cold press all year long – it’s just so good!!

Carrie | acookgrowsinbrooklyn09/07/2012 - 9:11 am

I couldn’t be more excited that you shared this, errr, recipe? Maybe it’s a technique…anyway, I have been LONGING to make iced coffee at home – because I am zombie-like until I have my first 12 ouncer and this heat is unbearable. I’m talking like, good iced coffee – not watered down hot coffee. I thought all was lost because I don’t own a French Press. THANK YOU – you have made my summer mornings!

Courtney09/07/2012 - 11:29 am

I’ve always been more of a tea person so my days start with a nice mug of tea, but lately the summer heat has had me craving iced coffee. I read about this technique in BA as well and have been wanting to try it so it’s good to know it works! Oh, and I enjoy reading your posts, wordy or not :)

Jeanine10/07/2012 - 4:39 pm

I love cold brewed coffee – I totally buy it from the store though, never thought of making it myself but I should try :)

Kasey11/07/2012 - 11:35 am

Having just returned from a trip to Sicily where it was hot hot hot, I can’t think of a more refreshing drink. Love the idea of adding almond milk and maple syrup to a beautiful cold brew. Hope all is well in your land, lady!

adrienne11/07/2012 - 1:39 pm

I live on this stuff. I make batches in my mason jar all week long. I love the way it cuts out the acidity, and brings out more of the coffee profile… hints of chocolate and blueberries.

Emily11/07/2012 - 2:58 pm

Laura, I’ve been loving this cold brewed coffee all week long now. Thanks for an awesome post and such fantastic photos!

Sophia13/07/2012 - 5:39 am

Laura,

I hear you on the iced coffee – I even convinced my espresso-chugging dad to keep a mason jar of the cold-brewed stuff in the fridge during the summer (we use this 5 year old recipe from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/27/dining/276drex.html – works perfectly every time) … in fact, I am just slurping the remainder of this moring’s iced coffee (lots of ice, decent amount of the cold brew, a good sized splash of milk and some home-made vanilla sugar).

All the best

Sophia

Julia08/08/2012 - 11:23 am

I’ve been using the NY Times-published recipe for a few summers now (similar to yours, but less concentrated, so you don’t add water after brewing). I’ve been straining out the grounds by pouring the mixture over a (prerinsed) paper coffee filter. This is easier than multiple rounds with a sieve or cheescloth, and gets even the very fine coffee bits out, which I think helps keeps the brew tasting good after days of storage in the fridge.

Stephanie15/08/2012 - 3:12 pm

I just stumbled across this recipe on mint, and it sounds just right! I’m a tea girl at heart, but have recently switched to coffee for that caffeine kick in the morning.

As soon as I saw that you add maple syrup to your coffee, I knew you must be Canadian. Love it! The first time I heard that suggestion was at Ottawa Bluesfest from one of the vendors and I haven’t looked back! Except for the occasional days where I use honey.. but sugar sounds so blah to me now!

Summer Breeze! | Sun Bound12/07/2013 - 9:11 pm

[...] Drinking all of the cold brewed coffee! [...]