Friday, October 29, 2010

Chunky Pear Sauce

I've been feeling a bit frantic lately. There's a lot of little things to do, a few big things to do (book proofs, anyone?) and a few things that I want to do, but don't know if I can do. The combination keeps me scurrying from desk to couch to coffee shop, and the coffee keeps me up at night. It's a dreadful combination, really.

Thank goodness, again, and again, for the forced slowness of cooking. Because much like the summer plums, this last week of October, I've had pears staring me in the face.

These pears were from a friend, a friend who had to go dashing off to Paris (the nerve!) and leave bushels -- and I don't think bushels are an exaggeration here -- of pears behind. She suggested making compote, which seemed like a fine idea, except for I never got around to finding the perfect compote recipe.

This is ironic, because not only is a good pear compote recipe not that hard to find, I was also house sitting for the pear giving friend, who has an amazing, covetable cookbook collection. But as I mentioned before, I was lost in manuscript proofs.

So instead this is what I did: Washed the pears, some green, some ripe to the point of rotting, and cored them and cut them into chunks, nearly slicing off my finger as my brain pondered sentences to rework, and book ideas, and love.

Next I put all the pear chunks into a huge pot. I added a little water, a little cinnamon, a little nutmeg, and some vanilla. Then I turned up the heat and walked away, back to desk and computer and to-do list. Soon the spicy smells started to penetrate the house. I tasted, added a bit more nutmeg, and a small amount of sugar.

Under heat, the pears were starting to soften and turn a lovely golden brown. Their flavor intensified, and they became buttery and caramel like. I cooked them some more, and then even a little longer, till I had a chunky sauce.

This chunky sauce was stirred into oatmeal, put on top of milk and cold cereal, served alongside after dinner cheeses, and warm gingerbread cake. This morning I fried a couple of sliced of seed bread, spread them with peanut butter, and topped them with pears.  An unbeatable start to the day.

I've never been a fan of applesauce, but man, this stuff was good, inspiring twice a day servings, and the occasional swiped spoonfuls from the jar. I pureed one batch, but I wouldn't do that again.

There's something about the imperfection of the chunks I love. It's rustic, fallish, perfect in its imperfection. Kind of like life right now. 

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