Baking with Leftovers

Who else has heard about this rude richsplaining of why avocado toast is the reason millennials can’t afford down payments on houses?

While that is patently ridiculous, at the core of this terribly, terribly expressed thought is at least one grain of truth: food can be expensive. Not necessarily avocados… or toast… (Seriously, why?) But once any food gains enough momentum to be considered “trending” there’s this unspoken expectation that begins to come with it. If you rushed to get a Unicorn Frap before Starbucks took it off the menu, that’s the kind of thing I mean — and that’s just at the novelty end of the spectrum.

This post by Nimue Brown goes more into the economics of affording (or not) all the organic, non-GMO foods on the market these days, or even just the wares at your local farmers market. Essentially, not everyone can afford it. Not even just the food itself, but the gas to go the extra miles to the nearest Whole Foods. Nimue also raises points about the relative greenness of driving to buy organic produce vs. biking to buy non-organic.

Side note, I feel like there’s at least one country out there where it’s actually illegal for a car commercial to imply that just because a car is a hybrid, it’s “good” for the environment, because it’s not. It’s better, but it’s not good. American commercials tend to gloss over the part where it still produces pollutants, just arguably fewer. If anyone reading this lives in a place where there are laws on the books about this, please comment on driving vs biking to get groceries and if there’s any difference in attitudes towards that.

So there’s all that.

And here’s what I actually wanted to write a post about, before I got carried away: food can be expensive, so don’t let it go to waste. Actual statistics on food waste can be found here, but to be honest I only skimmed it before linking. I’m talking about letting your leftovers, or even unopened products or unused ingredients quietly going bad in a corner somewhere in your kitchen.

My reasons for caring are, admittedly, kind of small and petty. I spend money and time on food, I was looking forward to it, and suddenly I (a) don’t get to eat it, (b) have to worry about how much of the trash has to wait until next week to go out, and (c) if it’s fruit then there are going to be fruit flies. These small and petty reasons are my motivations for doing something about food waste in my own home, or even think about the larger problems of food waste by association, so don’t knock ’em.

Because I enjoy baking, I’ve recently started experimenting with using my leftovers and miscellaneous extras to test out recipes I’ve found online. (Following, among other things, this inspiring example.) Usually I have to do some scaling down or substitutions based on the ingredients I have on hand. The rule, I believe, is that if you change at least three of the ingredients and/or proportions then it’s no longer copying.

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Faux-Plum (Actually Apple) Crumble

I had two apples, a partly empty container of blueberries, and a gluten free partner who really likes stone fruit. Unintentionally, I made a crumble that worked with all of those conditions.

Serves: 2-4, depending on how you feel about portions Continue reading “Baking with Leftovers”

Recipe: Nectarine & Blackberry Mini Pies

I love to bake, but it’s been a while since I truly experimented. On a whim I bought some blackberries at the store, and by the time I got home I’d decided I wanted to bake something. It didn’t happen that particular night, but there was a display of delicious looking nectarines at another grocery store a day or two later… And this was born.

2017-02-17-23-06-23Because there was always an apple tree in our back yard growing up, I started out by making apple pies. Then my parents planted sweet cherry trees in the front yard and I was faced with a new challenge. You need tart cherries for a pie, like the kind grown in states like Michigan, New York, and Utah where the air has a cold snap to it during the winter  — otherwise the pie will end up sickly sweet and weird. But tart cherries don’t grow so well in California, so we make due with cheats like adding pureed plum to the sweet cherry filling to give it that tartness.

Knowing that and adding orange juice for the tartness is what made this “cup-pie” experiment so successful, although I might do some tweaking in the future. If you try this recipe at home, let me know what you think! Continue reading “Recipe: Nectarine & Blackberry Mini Pies”