So today I went to the Farmer’s Market. It’s something I strive to do at least once a week, but usually don’t get around to it somehow and end up running to the grocery store for those items I run out of every few days. While I aspire to include it into my weekly routine, it still feels like a novelty to get up in the morning having placed the farmer’s market into the first priority slot of my day. It makes me so excited and anxious that I will literally jump out of bed upon the first sight of daylight, completely skipping the obligatory daily puppy cuddle sesh we’ve grown accustomed to in this household in order to make it before the best selection is gone. This morning was the first that I had planned to bike to the market, all the way across the river, not realizing that it was warming up to be a sweltering afternoon here in Portland. Not yet having installed a basket on the back of my bike for exactly this sort of activity, I was soon to pay for my oversight.
Ideally, before my trips to the market I’d have prepared a list of items that I will buy in order to have these ingredients for meals I would make in the days following. I’d walk down the rows of vendors, scouting out these items for purchase and place them neatly into the brown wicker basket on the back of my bike and then ride home, bright eyed and smiling and waving to people along the way. In reality, today went a little something like this: compose a mental list of ingredients that I may way to buy, jump on my bike with a giant backpack on to compensate for my lack of bike storage, get to the farmer’s market completely sweaty from said backpack, walk around in awe of the vast selection, become overwhelmed by the feeling of wanting to buy everything but having to hold back due to a lack of money in my bank account and storage space, losing my focus in the selection and crowds and scurry around buying a few random items, realizing upon attempt that the backpack is a terrible form of produce storage but no longer having a choice in the matter, and then hopping back on my bike to attempt the sweaty ride home, giant backpack in tow.
The items I purchased today consisted of local strawberries, cherries, garlic, kale, agrietti (what the?), house-cured bacon, and rhubarb. While I don’t regret these purchases per se, I’m now stuck with a bunch of random items that don’t necessarily go together but are worth a few attempts. It’s fun, I guess. Like a puzzle, figuring out which pieces go together and how to do so. For instance, it’s pretty much common knowledge that strawberry and rhubarb go well together, and I would imagine that the kale, garlic, and bacon do as well (you might also add agrietti, a Mediterranean succulent I learned today). But I was in the mood for some a little different. Not too different though, because last time I tried something like that it didn’t work out so well for me. So instead, I went with the cherry/rhubarb combo and created something that I think you might enjoy. I made a cherry rhubarb compote, and it was pretty dang easy. I like it that way, simple, because adding too many ingredients I’ve found to conceal the flavor of the produce. And it just makes thing easier for me, but for the sake of my cooking reputation I’ll keep with the latter.
- About a pound of fresh cherries, pitted
- About a pound of fresh rhubarb, chopped
- About 4 Tbsp sugar
- zest and juice of one lemon
- A nice grate of fresh ginger
I put the chopped rhubarb in a saucepan with zest and lemon juice, ginger grating and 3 Tbsp sugar (reserve one for later) and put on medium heat. While the rhubarb was cooking, I removed the pits from the cherries (this can be a tedious task or an enjoyable one, depending on how you look at it) and diced roughly while periodically returning to stir the rhubarb. Once the rhubarb was 3/4 of the way cooked, I removed the pulp from the saucepan in order to prevent overcooking of rhubarb, then added the cherries to the rhubarb juice and allowed to simmer, about 10 minutes. When the cherries looked about half way broken down, I reincorporated the rhubarb pulp and allowed to simmer on low heat for about ten more minutes. Using my wooden spoon I mashed the fruits in the saucepan to assist in the breakdown. Lastly, I removed it from heat and allowed it to cool for a few minutes and then placed in a glass mason jar.
Since I didn’t do the whole hot water seal thing, I imagine that this compote will be good for a week or two. In addition to simply spreading it on bread with butter, there are other ways I hope to use it. The compote came out with really nice flavor but a little tart, so I suggest pairing it with something sweet, such as vanilla ice cream. Or, yummm, with pancakes (or french toast) and maple syrup. Or with a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Or even in a smoothie. It’s all about versatility, people!
Horray for my first attempt at preserving fruits. Hopefully at some point soon here I can learn how to legitimately get going with all of this canning business. But for now, amateur attempts like this one are juuuuuust fine.