Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Finally – food!

I’m a big fan of fruit in the abstract – it looks beautiful, it’s nutritious, it comes in an almost infinite variety – but in the particular, not so much.
There was an unfortunate episode with a squished banana when I was five or six that made even the smell anathema, and not long after that I heard someone describe the white lace that covers an orange’s flesh as a membrane, which my young mind misheard as brain and, well, there was no way I wanted to eat that….
Unfortunately, these things wormed (and there’s another term you don’t want to associate with fruit) deeply into my subconscious and I’ve never recovered. However, I signed on to do this program so by gum I’m going to do it.
No matter how determined I am, though, I simply cannot eat vegetables for breakfast every morning. I had to resort to fruit and now I am, in my own limited way, a fan.

Rachel’s faux compote

I call this a compote just to have a name for it besides stewed fruit, which doesn’t sound very appealing. Real compote is fruit cooked in syrup (that is, sugar) and as you might expect, sugar, syrup, and all other sweetnesses of that ilk are forbidden in this program. Besides, I’ve discovered they’re not necessary. Really.

1 pear, peeled, cored and chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup of blueberries (frozen or fresh)

While I’m preparing the apple or pear (whichever is the crunchiest and will need the longest cooking time), I put an enameled cast-iron saucepan on the stove and turn the heat on low to warm it up. When the first piece of fruit is prepped I toss it into the pot, stir, and then prepare the other fruit. I toss that in, stir.
I turn the heat up a bit at that point but not too much, because the Saint gets annoyed if the fruit sticks to the bottom of the pot (it’s harder for him to clean). A slow, gentle cook is all it takes to soften the fruit and blend the juices a bit.

The fruit can vary – use whatever you enjoy that does not need added sugar. The pot also can be whatever you’ve got. I have a gas stove so I like the heaviness of cast iron, but if you use a lighter or thinner-bottomed saucepan, simply stir more often to keep the fruit from sticking.

A tiny bit of allspice is nice when I use a lot of blueberries. If the compote is more apple-y, cinnamon is delightful.

I eat about half of this compote with plain yogurt, cottage cheese, or alongside eggs. It would also be great served with some chunks of Brie or sharp cheddar. Perhaps pork sausages, if you like them. Or anything really. It’s delicious.


  1. Your recipe sounds delicious! Another easy idea I rely on often (even when I'm traveling and staying in hotel rooms) is to take any naturally dried fruit you like (fruit that obviously hasn't been treated with sugar or preservatives) and soak it in water overnight. At home, I boil the soaking water first; in hotels I use the hottest tap water I can conjure. The fruit, with its own naturally sweet 'syrup', is ready to eat in the morning, although better if warmed slightly in the microwave. My favorite combination always includes dried sour cherries. After that, it's whatever I have on hand.

  2. What a brilliant idea, Laura! And I love sour cherries, so I can totally see myself using them – with everything!

    This would make a great breakfast on a cycling or backpacking trip, too. The fruit would sure liven up brown Minute Rice!

  3. You're making me hungry. I hear an orange calling my name.

  4. An orange – along with vitamins and fibre, what a beautiful blast of sunshine on this grey day, Alice!

  5. I'm a big fan of fresh fruit salads, but winter means slim pickings. The one thing that I can't do without is a regular supply of fresh pineapple. When the weather turns cold, I crave it!

  6. I've been buying BC apples in 5-lb bags all winter. The fruit is perfect – no bruises, no blemishes – and it's smaller, which makes it ideal for packing and snacking, imho.
    But pineapple, now…I could happily eat a pineapple every week. Any hints for peeling the darn things?

  7. I'm always looking for ways to incorporate fruit (and vegetables) into my diet, so thanks for this! Luckily, I don't have any fruit or veggie issues, so I'll eat pretty much anything. My husband on the other hand... Still, it can be a real challenge at this time of the year to get a bit of variety. Often what's available in the stores has come long distances and looks rather sad. I'm trying to remember to freeze more fruits and veggies in the summertime to have on hand in the winter. I always have blueberries in the freezer and apples and pears are easy to come by this time of year, so your compote with be a snap!

  8. And luckily, Ros, this recipe is pretty darn flexible (that's a prerequisite for me) so if you run short of pears one week, double up on the apple or toss in some blackberries, which are always nice with apple – although I don't know how they mix with blueberries. Might be the Hatfields and McCoys all over again…