'Bad news,' Tony said. 'The little freezer broke down while we were away. Everything is mush and mold.'
Yep, that just about described the four drawers in varying degrees of decomposition: sludge, spores and the striking blue and white of Penicillium. The only thing to escape the annihilation was a bag of plain white burger rolls, the only processed food item in there, which were surprisingly, and worryingly, fresh looking and, when I poked them, as bouncy as the day they were born. Makes you think, doesn't it?
I wasn't upset exactly. And bereft is far too strong a word too. But when I started to bag up all the ruin (including those rolls) I realised that all my late summer fruit was there. Bramleys, chopped and pureed, for pies and desserts and sauce. Victoria plums stoned and halved for puddings and jam. I swear I could hear the buzz of drunken wasps and feel the heat from the stove from the days spent picking and preparing it all. I felt the waste of it. The loss of those summer tastes from fruit grown on our land. The year turns though.
(N.B. The blog is so far devoid of accompanying photos for a good reason.)
So the 'everything' in the title of this post isn't quite the everything I imagined. But I have decided to try my best to eat everything I buy and put in my fridge and cupboards. Not that I throw out much food, but after reading Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal (see last week's post) and being so impressed with her inventive and graceful ways with what could easily be thrown away - stale bread, broccoli stalks and cheese rinds to name a few - I feel inspired to emulate her, as far as I can.
And it makes good sense too: economic sense, environmental sense. And it's a challenge to be creative with sad cases in the salad drawer or sulks at the back of the fridge.
Not that Savoy cabbage can ever be accused of being sad or sulky; those tightly pleated leaves seem eternally confident. But it was only a quarter of a cabbage on the cusp of its commercial death (not that I pay too much attention to use by/sell by dates) so it qualified as a user-upper.
So, some chopped sad carrots (with a lonely knob of chopped red onion and a chopped 'respectable' garlic clove) sauteed in olive oil later, I added a splash of white wine to make it sizzle and some chicken stock and simmered it until the carrots were soft. Then I added the shredded Savoy and let it cook for another 8 minutes until that began to surrender to the heat too.
|My 'far from sad' soup
sprinkled with chopped chives.
I could have been less heavy handed with the spicy blend of dried garlic and parsley, salt and chilli flakes I brought back from Italy in September as well as adding them at the beginning of the cooking time not towards the end. But hey, baby, it's cold outside. The last scrapings from a tub of creme fraiche and blending half of the mixture before stirring it all together again gave me this lovely dish of far from sad soup.
So that's my first 'waste not, want not' recipe of the year. This afternoon I was skulking around Tesco's reduced shelf and grabbed some fine stewing beef at less than half price. I'm thinking of experimenting with black olives in a stew - there's half a can of them open in the fridge - and maybe some dried fruit too. We'll see.
Hungry Writing Prompt
Write about all the things that shouldn't be wasted in life.