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Mother's Day Recipe: Coconut Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Emma Frisch, food writer and co-owner of Firelight camps, shares one of her favorite Mother's Day recipes of her new cookbook Feast by Firelight.  Feast by Firelight a cookbook full of simple recipes for camping, cabins, and the great outdoors.  A mother herself, she enjoys exploring the outdoors of Ithaca, NY with her little girl and cooking up delicious and easy meals around the fire.  Read about Emma's inspiration behind the book and how she connected her 3 loves of food, the outdoors and eating.  

In 2014, my husband, Bobby, and I opened Firelight Camps, our "glamping" destination in Ithaca, New York. We were so focused on the quality of our guests' experiences that our own meals often took a back seat. One night after a long day, I squeezed in around the campfire and lay an iron grate over the coals. I pulled lightly seasoned skirt steak from a ziplock bag and placed it on the grill, surrounding it with summer vegetables. I shifted the food with tongs until the meat caramelized and the peppers blistered. I then transferred the steak to a wooden cutting board, sliced it, and spooned pungent salsa verde over the top. Just then, Bobby joined me. We clinked our forks and tucked in to our simple meal. 

Firelight Camps

(Photo: Emma Frisch) 

I looked up from my plate because the crowd had gone silent. "What are you eating?" asked a young man. "It smells amazing." Maybe he wasn't looking for handouts but I felt compelled by his question to share our meal with the others gathered around the flames. I sliced our food into bite-size pieces and passed them around, listing the ingredients in my mamma's salsa verde. This is how Feast by Firelight was born, and what this book is all about: quick outdoor meals meant to be shared with family and friends, old and new.

If you're drawn to this book, you're probably a lot like me. I love to cook, I love to eat, and I love to be outside. I didn't go to culinary school, but I was trained by someone just as good, my Italian mother, who often started our lessons in the garden.

When I was growing up, my mother believed fresh food and fresh air were key to raising healthy children-all four of them! I was only two years old when I had my first foraging adventure with my twin sister, Dimity. Wearing our undies and red Wellington boots, we set off into our backyard vegetable patch to pluck tomatoes from the vines. When we outgrew the backyard, weekends and family holidays were spent exploring state parks, and, inevitably, Mamma brought a picnic basket.

Emma and Ayla

My mother was the Houdini of alfresco meals, putting out a whole spread in seconds, complete with cloth napkins and metal forks. Sometimes, to our complete embarrassment, she would pull off the road, whip out the pruning shears she kept in the glove box, and cut honeysuckle stems or other wild flowers to dress up the picnic table. My three siblings and I would duck down in our seats, praying our friends wouldn't drive by and see our mother's wild hair tangled with the blossoms. Eating together was the cornerstone of our childhood and not to be missed, even on the trail.

Emma, MiiR cup

(Photo: Christina Holmes) 

It wasn't until I trained as a backcountry guide in college that I realized my family was unique. My group was trekking through the Dolly Sods Wilderness of West Virginia when, absentmindedly, I dunked my hand into a bag of gorp (good ol' raisins and peanuts) that the leader had doled out. Ouch! I nearly cracked a tooth on a Jolly Rancher! I'm not a purist but I have a hard time swallowing the fact that processed food, prepackaged shortcuts, and expensive dehydrated meal packets have come to define camping food. Not only is this at odds with my upbringing but with the very notion of getting back to nature-the source of who we are and what we eat.

So during training, I took over meal planning for our group, packing snacks like dried fruit, cured salami, and blocks of aged cheddar. Over the next decade, I blazed my own trail as I stepped into the roles of trip leader, rock climber, and mountaineer, and built my career in camp cuisine as a chef and food blogger. Finally, I brought my love for food and the outdoors together under one tent at Firelight Camps.

Emma Cooking

(Photo: Allison Usavage) 

Feast by Firelight will take you back to the roots of camp cooking, though I don't expect you to hunt for your own dinner. In this dependable guide to cooking outdoors, you'll find a collection of stories, simple recipes, and tips that I've refined over countless outdoor adventures. It is my hope that this book will inspire your own cookouts, inviting you to fall more deeply in sync with the people around you, yourself, and the great outdoors.

Feast by Firelight

(Photo: Jamie Love)


COCONUT-QUINOA BREAKFAST BOWL WITH LEMON AND BLUEBERRIES 

prep: 10 minutes cook: 20 minutes yield: 4 servings

1⁄2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, or a mix
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
3⁄4 teaspoon coarse sea salt (preferably sel gris)
1 cup fresh blueberries or other seasonal fruit
1 cup quinoa (see Note)
11⁄4 cups water
1 cup coconut milk (Note: Use whole coconut milk, full of good fat and flavor. Light coconut milk has added water.)
2 tablespoons honey
1 lemon

Good-bye, oatmeal. Hello, quinoa breakfast bowl. Inspired by a recipe from cookbook author Heidi Swanson, this healthful, energizing, protein-rich breakfast masquerades as a decadent dish you'll want to eat all day! It's fun to set up a toppings buffet so each camper can make his or her own bowl. If traveling light, you can substitute dried fruit for fresh fruit. Bring a can of coconut milk, and save extra for adding to coffee or drizzling over Firelight Quinoa Granola Clusters (page 40).


PREP Preheat the oven to 325°F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together the nuts, coconut oil, and 1⁄4 teaspoon of the salt and spread in a single layer. Toast in the oven until the nuts turn caramel brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a second baking sheet and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container or ziplock bag in a cool, dark place for up to 2 weeks. Transfer the prepared nuts and the berries to small bowls with spoons for self-serving, or serve directly out of the containers.

In a medium pot, combine the quinoa, water, and 3⁄4 cup of the coconut milk. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, then cover the pot, turn the heat to low, and simmer for 12 minutes. Quickly uncover the pot and stir the quinoa to check if it's done; the liquid should be completely absorbed and the quinoa full and fluffy. If needed, continue to cook for 1 to 3 minutes more. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and cover the pot to keep warm.

Just before serving, drizzle the remaining 1⁄4 cup coconut milk and the honey into the quinoa and stir to combine. Using a Microplane, grate lemon zest over the top and sprinkle with the remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon salt. Spoon into campers' bowls and let each camper top their quinoa with blueberries and toasted nuts. Store leftovers in an airtight container, chilled, for up to 5 days.

Reprinted with permission from Feast by Firelight, text and illustrations copyright © 2018by Emma Frisch. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Photographs copyright © 2018 by Christina Holmes

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