The boys are sick and have been for a few days. Just colds, but annoying in so many ways. I don’t feel good about taking them anywhere – and contaminating any other children – so it means I can’t go to the gym or keep my playdates or send the four-year-old to his summer program while he’s hacking up a lung. Even though they don’t have fevers, they aren’t quite themselves: active, but crankier and whinier than usual. Not to mention the shocking amount of runny substance continuously flowing from my ten-month-old’s nose. I think I say “gross” about 37 times a day.
So here we are. In the house. Plying ourselves with Scooby-Doo and Batman cartoons. Trying to keep the baby from wiping his nose on our clothes.
Of course, I go to the kitchen any chance I can get. To escape. Not even to eat. (I’m trying this protein-shakes+working-out thing which, so far, has proven highly unsuccessful…but until I abandon it completely, I can’t even snack!)
So what am I doing in there?
I had a bag of green beans that came in my Greenling box and I didn’t think I would use them this week. So, I cleaned them and trimmed them and put them in the freezer. Not ideal as I prefer them fresh, but better than having to throw them away.
Also in the box were blackberries and plums – beautiful. But I already had a nice bag of plums from my in-laws’ tree. I knew we wouldn’t get through all of those before they started to get mushy. So I did this:
Made a mess?
Yes. A little bit.
That’s cooked down plums and blackberries (with just a little bit of sugar) being strained into a plastic bag. I try to do this on occasion with excess fruit I have before it goes bad. With this very simple base of plums and blackberries, I’ll have several options in the future. It will be good just like it is drizzled on oatmeal or yogurt or pancakes. Another good way to use a fruit sauce is to reduce it with butter and wine or balsamic vinegar and use it like a pan sauce with chicken or pork. You could also use it as a base for a relish – like with mangos and beets – to serve on fish. And with some herbs and oil and vinegar you’d have a lovely fruit-based salad dressing.
This really is as easy as it sounds. I literally wash the fruit and throw it into a saucepan. Skins and pits and all…since you are going to strain it, it doesn’t matter. I cut the plums in half so they are juicy quicker. If there isn’t a lot of natural juice I might squeeze a lemon or add a splash of wine…just something to get the moisture working. Once it’s all warmed through and a little bubbly, I mash it. Just like potatoes. Then I taste. Add some sugar or honey or not. Add some lemon or orange zest or not. Depends on how it tastes. That’s it. Just the essence of the fruit.
Strain it into something and save.
And then when you have some last-minute dinner guests you can really impress them with ice cream, sitting on a bed of crushed vanilla wafers, sprinkled with cinnamon and drizzled in a beautiful fruit sauce. It will look like a dessert you intended to make instead of one you just threw together in a semi-panic. Yes, I’ve been there. And a splash of Amaretto or Grand Marnier wouldn’t hurt either.
I’ve often thought about keeping a freezer inventory list. Since we have the regular freezer and a deep freeze, I worry sometimes that things get lost or forgotten. How neurotic would that make me? A spreadsheet with an inventory of freezer contents…I think I’ve been locked in this house too long.
After the fruit sauce, I froze a bunch of carrots. I love cooked carrots in a pot roast or stew. Add carrots to the inventory with green beans and blackberry-plum sauce and pancakes.
Then I finished up some black beans that had been getting happy in a pot overnight. These beans are so good they deserve their very own post. So you’ll have to wait to hear about them. I’ll just say YUM.
Then I made a chipotle-ranch-sour-cream sauce for the fish tacos I was going to make for dinner.
Then I fixed something for the four-year-old to eat. He eats about 17 times a day.
Then I wiped wet gooeyness off my knee.
Then I had a protein shake while longingly looking at a bottle of pinot noir.
Then we built a dinosaur puzzle. And I realized my four-year-old is better than I am at puzzles.
Then I wiped wet gooeyness off my forearm.
Then it was almost time to make fish tacos. Which we had with those black beans. Which I will tell you about another time.
Right now, I must go and start my list of freezer contents.