Last night was a “use it or lose it” evening in the Red, Round, or Green kitchen. (Actually, it’s technically just a green kitchen, but maybe I’ll repaint.) With the Labor Day weekend coming up, plus the threat of a hurricane, plus busy schedules, J. and I decided that it was time to get the grocery shopping for next week done –and the remnants of all this week’s produce and odds and ends cleared out of the way. Besides, some ingredients were starting to teeter on the brink of their usefulness, and I didn’t want them to go to waste. So it was time to do a little creative clean-out and come up with some uses for the following odds and ends:
1/4 cup of mashed avocado (still perfectly good)
2 overripe bananas
A handful of sweet potato leaves from Pak Express
2 tomatoes, also from Pak
A handful of basil…from Pak, again
A handful of parsley, from Long Entry Farm
A pint container of baby squash and zucchini, from Zephyr Farm
Four little baby eggplant from Long Entry
2 small onions, from Zephyr again
A couple of slices of bacon
A few slices of nitrate-free turkey
Most of the ingredients could be easily dispatched for dinner; I had planned on making a roasted vegetable pasta anyway, but because it was ungodly hot here in RI last night (94 degrees in September? Surely you jest, O Gods of weather), I wasn’t up for the “roasting” part. So I cut the eggplant, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, and squash in half and popped them on a hot grill with the lid down. In ten minutes, I had lovely soft, juicy, smoky vegetables, which I dropped into the food processor with the sweet potato leaves, basil, parsley, and some olive oil and seasonings. The puree, tossed with whole-wheat pasta and Parmesan cheese, made a great dinner that put no heat into my kitchen. Even L. ate it, though I don’t think it was his favorite; but he put away enough of it for me to feel comfortable when he hopped down from the table to go explore the wonders of Ni-Hao Kai-Spuzzle. (For those who are wondering, Ni-Hao Kai-Spuzzle is what happens when two little boys take apart the Ni-Hao Kai-Lan board game, the I Spy board game, and a couple of large floor puzzles, then mix all the pieces together.)
Vegetables thus summarily dispatched, I had a harder task at hand to figure out how a bit of avocado, some bananas, some bacon, and some turkey were going to disappear in any manner other than the garbage can. I did consider making some banana-oatmeal cookies, but frankly, I didn’t want a large batch of cookies hanging around right before a weekend that’s bound to include ice cream and cheeseburgers; nor did I feel like doing all the washing up that would be involved in the endeavor. Pondering the small, sad pile of ingredients, I recalled a baby food recipe that involved avocados and bananas…together.
It would certainly be saner to put the avocado together with the turkey, the bacon, or both. That’s what a normal person would do, especially if that person happened to be a fan of Cobb salads. But, as my sister D. would happily tell you, no one has ever accused me of being normal. Plus, I have a blog to write — what fun would it be to write about something conventional? Nooo…the avocado was not destined for savory applications. It would be much better used in the base for a pudding.
Thus did the turkey and the bacon end up befriending one another, as the avocado and bananas were plucked from the pile and set aside for dessert. My kids are eating turkey club quesadillas today, which should delight them; P. enjoys almost anything in quesadilla form and has actually proven that, despite his meat aversion, he’ll eat this particular turkey if it’s shredded finely enough; L. likes turkey and likes quesadillas, but the big seller for him in this is obviously going to be my judicious application of PIG. It’s not a lot of pig; I think each kid will have maybe the equivalent of a single slice of bacon crumbled into their tortilla, but that’s enough to convince L. that he’s getting a special treat. And, let’s face it — if I’m not buying into Pizza Friday this week, whatever’s in his lunchbox today had better be pretty spectacular, from the 4-year-old perspective.
While the bacon for the quesadillas was cooking, I went into pudding mode. A couple of egg yolks and a small sprinkling of sugar went into a double boiler — this is dessert, after all. Once I’d whisked the yolks into pale, frothy, thick, and most importantly, COOKED submission, I pulled out the electric beaters and went to town. The avocado was already mashed with a sprinkling of lemon juice and salt, but it went into the pudding base anyway, making a Shrek-green concoction that actually gave me just a second of pause. Luckily I’m delusional enough to be able to set aside such misgivings pretty quickly, so I dumped the chunks of soft banana into the mix before I could lose my nerve.
When the swamp-green subsided, it actually started to look sort of edible, which encouraged me enough to head to the pantry for the ingredients to finish off the job. Unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, and vanilla joined the eye of newt in the cauldron. Cautiously, I dipped my finger into the bowl, half-expecting some sort of Warner Bros. cartoon reaction, like when the spoon melts upon making contact with a particularly vile drop of medicine.
Nothing happened. I licked my fingertip. It tasted like…chocolate. And bananas. And, well, pudding.
A chill-out period in the fridge continued to improve it, so the results were scooped into containers and placed alongside the Club Quesadillas, some peach applesauce, and some other fruits, veggies, and snacks in each kid’s lunchbox. I’m kind of proud of myself for being brave enough, or maybe just crazy enough, to give this particular experiment a shot. I am, however, curious about the kids’ reactions; I’m positive P.’s going to like it, because anything that contains bananas in any form tops his list of favorite foods, but L. may be a more discerning critic. Oh well. When I left him at preschool this morning, I told him “Mommy put bacon AND special homemade pudding in your lunch today,” and he lit up all over, wiggling with excitement. Take that, Pizza Friday!