Roasting/sauteeing produce just past its prime


The pitbull's idea of sharing a chair

Nothing like a nice relaxing 20 minutes of yoga on the floor with a 70-pound pitbull who thinks I’m down there to play and a brain-damaged, chatty cat who thinks I’m down there to play pillow.

The yoga and 15 minutes of weight work, plus a 30-minute bike ride in the freezing rain let me tuck into salmon-soy-ginger patties and whole wheat Israeli couscous with currants and toasted pine nuts for supper. Exercise is the surest way I know to avoid snacking in the late afternoon, and the earlier in the day I do it, the more likely I am not to squander that work on some refined carbs.

While I was “relaxing” in savasana (corpse pose), I was remembering being a gleaning coordinator for the Society of St. Andrew, a hunger ministry, and how the gleaners and I used to talk about we knew “how to use a paring knife.” Bruises and blemishes, in other words, didn’t deter us from using the produce we picked from farmers’ fields and orchards.

But without playing fast and loose with food safety, there’s another trick to using produce that’s just past its glory, and that is roasting or sauteeing. Baby carrots, for instance, which so often taste like chair legs

Carrots are charred in spots, tender and sweet.

or fire wood. Heat the oven to 425°, toss in a bit of olive oil, a little salt and pepper, on a rimmed baking sheet, roast, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, and then add a couple tablespoons balsamic vinegar, along with 1 packed tablespoon brown sugar. Toss again, and you’ll forget you thought those carrots didn’t taste like a thing.

Or apples.  I had 4 boring Granny Smiths that were beginning to soften and shrivel. I put 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a saute pan and peeled and sliced the apples. When the pan was warm and the butter melted, I added the apple slices, along with 1 packed tablespoon brown sugar and a generous half teaspoon of apple pie spice. Had the apples been even more boring than they were, I’d have added the juice of half a lemon. Stir fry over medium-high until the apples soften. Technically, these are fried apples, but I choose to ignore that. They are wonderful. Apple pie without the crust and ice cream.

Now all I have to do is clean off the cat hair and dog spit so I can go to choir without smelling like a pet shop.

Cat in search of padding

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