Friday, September 11, 2015

September Harvest Honey Custard

By Cal Orey

On Sept. 12, during the honey harvest, it inspired me to bake honey custard. Actually I was going to cook up a pre-Autumn Stir Fry or Apple-Walnut Bundt Cake. But then, I listened to Neil Young's classic song "Harvest Moon" - and a custard seemed more appropriate. The lyrics paired with a creamy custard topped with autumn fresh fruit seemed like the perfect dish to put together and eat for breakfast or dessert. Not to ignore the film Eat, Pray, Love (I watched it several times this summer while writing and editing my latest Healing Powers book).
Today, making custard made me think of its European roots (Julia Roberts' character feasted on gooey pizza to pasta in the movie). Milk or cream, eggs, sugar, and vanilla are the foods I craved paired with nutmeg - a warming spice. Topping this simple but delightful custard with autumn fruits, such as purple plums and green apples is a perfect way to say goodbye to the summer and hello to fall. A small dish of yellow custard is symbolic - looking like both the harvest full moon and sun. 
Rewind several years ago. I went to a book signing/lecture at Barnes and Noble bookstore in San Mateo. It was one of those days when less than more people were in the audience and my ego was squashed. I stood in front of the podium and stared at empty chairs. I missed my fur children and wanted to go home - on the South Shore, not the Bay Area. The next day driving back to Lake Tahoe was the best part. The colors of golden aspens were awesomeness for a tree-hugger. Once back home, I continued to enjoy my favorite season of the year with blue jays and squirrels, cooler nights and the seasonal food changes.

Spicy Autumn Honey Custard
1 1/2 cups half and half
1⁄2 cup organic 2 percent low-fat milk
3 or 4 medium organic brown egg yolks 
1⁄4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon honey
8-10 caramels, melted
nutmeg and cinnamon to taste
Combine milk in a saucepan and heat until scalded, but do not boil. Mix eggs, sugar, vanilla, honey, caramels and add to milk, stir till smooth. Pour into small round custard cups or one large glass heat resistant bowl. Sprinkle nutmeg on top. Place dish(es) in a pan of water and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to one hour till firm (In higher altitude it may take a few minutes longer to bake). Cool for about an hour (to keep custard firm). Top with sweet autumn fruit, plums and apple. Top with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon. Serves six.
The bottom line: My mantra "fall" is coming to fruition, and this spicy autumn fruit dish is a treat - for me.
Motto: This is the season for enjoying Mother Nature at her best. Warm colors, including gold, orange, and brown are welcoming us to off-season, a time to enjoy Tahoe's beauty and quietude.

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