I’ve been thinking a lot about much. Much and not so much, actually. As the calendar winds down, my mind, and I’m guessing some of yours too, begins to ponder the 12 months past. For me the last few years haven’t brought a whole lot of variety to ponder. My recent year-end musings were mostly wondering when the status quo would stop being static and things would finally improve, job-wise, relationship-wise, prosperity-wise, you get the picture. Ironic that when all you do for months (or years) is think on and hope for things to change, when they finally do it surprises you. There is no way in hell I would have believed 12 months ago I would be tapping out my weekly ruminations on a keyboard situated in Northwest Oregon. Seriously, if you had met me for cocktails last December 30th, and uttered the words “you know, next year I see you living in the pacific northwest, working as a part-time pastry baker, freelance recipe developer, and budding bread stick and chocolate truffle entrepreneur”…. a spit-take worthy of Danny Thomas or Nathan Lane would have been my response. Followed quickly by a perfectly delivered “get the F outta here!”
Who’d a thunk it? Me, the queen of cosmopolitan impractical footwear, a metro-card carrying, alternate-side-of-the-street-parking, jay-walking, E-train-riding life-long Empire-Stater, living all the way out on that other coast. Building a new world, changing everything, I mean EVERYTHING in my life, with no assurances it will work, nor wellspring of capital to fall back upon if it doesn’t, and quite literally living moment by moment, looking forward a few days or weeks ahead instead of months and years. Everything I’ve done in the past 9 months has been completely different from anything I thought I would do, and totally out of my comfort zone. It’s like I stepped into one of those “women’s movies” on Lifetime. Except instead of the happy ending after two hours, the next plot twist or eventual outcome is an utter mystery. For the first time in pretty much my entire existence, I’m making it all up as I go along. If you knew me at all, you’d know this is so NOT me!
And while I have moments of terror, episodes of “what the hell was I thinking”, and more than the occasional forays into the bottoms of pockets and the in-betweens of car cushions looking for morning coffee loose change, the feeling I come to increasingly is abundance. Abundance in new friendships and warm welcomes, abundance in love and support from those back east, abundance in potential and possibilities before me, and most of all abundance in hope that maybe, just maybe, this is exactly what my next thing is, and exactly where I’m supposed to do it. Who’d a thunk it, indeed….
I recently hosted my annual holiday dinner party, west-coast edition. On the menu that great night of new and old friends were some wonderful local pears, generously provided by a new friend from his orchard. When you live in pear country and someone who grows them offers to bring you some, ‘some’ translates to a lot. And so the quest for pear recipes began. Special thanks to Gordy for the inspiration!
Spiked Ginger Pear Sauce
Makes about 5 cups
- 3 – 3 ½ lbs ripe pears (since the box I was given had several varieties, I used a mix of pears)
- 1 large granny smith apple
- 2 TBSP lemon juice
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger (TIP: I keep fresh ginger in my freezer so I always have some on hand)
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp finely ground black pepper
- ¼ cup brandy or cognac
- 1/2 cup ( or more) sugar to taste, depending upon the ripeness/sweetness of your pears
- 2-3 TBSP water (less if your pears are very ripe and juicy)
- ¼ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
Peel and core the pears and apples, cut into chunks about the same size. Add into pot with the rest of the ingredients. Bring slowly to a boil; turn down to a slow simmer and cover. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until all the fruit is soft and you can mash it with the back of a spoon. Remove cover, mash the fruit using a potato masher or fork and simmer another 15 minutes or so to evaporate off any extra liquid and thicken. You are looking for the thickness of applesauce, not too soupy.
Keep in jars in the refrigerator for several weeks. Serve it alongside pork, chicken, atop oatmeal, or just as it is. I also like to substitute it in any recipe that calls for applesauce. Calories: about 120 per ½ cup.
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