May We Recommend: Making Easy Preserves
Here we are, stuck at home, quarantined or “socially distanced” for who knows how long. We can’t eat out, shopping is an ordeal, and when it comes to feeding our families, we are being more frugal with meals, using leftovers, and making the most of pantry items and refrigerator staples. No one is up to fussing with elaborate recipes, even if they have or could get the ingredients.
And yet, it’s precisely at a time like this that adding just a bit of flourish to a meal could make a huge difference to everyone’s emotional well being. One suggestion I have for you is to add a simple, unexpected item to the dinner plate – a condiment such as homemade chutney, relish, or applesauce, for example. These preserves are amazingly easy to make and the recipes are flexible.
I am not suggesting that you make the kind of preserves that call for sterilizing jars or canning equipment. I mean going to your pantry and crisper drawer, putting stuff in a pot, adding some liquid and seasonings and cooking it until it’s soft and preserve-like. When it’s cool, you can store it in a covered plastic container in the refrigerator, where it will be fine for a couple of weeks.
I do this often and serve with whatever else I cooked.
Yesterday I decided to make some cranberry chutney with one of the bags of fresh cranberries I have in my freezer since last November. I had to make some changes to my usual recipe (below). I only had one pear, so I added an apple. No fresh ginger or chili peppers at my house, so I substituted crystallized ginger and dried peppers. I also didn’t have apple cider, so I went with orange juice. I put it all in a saucepan, let it cook away and voila! A lovely complement to our dinner.
You can do it too. Make quarantine cuisine work for you.
Ronnie Fein is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher in Stamford. She is the author of The Modern Kosher Kitchen and Hip Kosher. Visit her food blog, Kitchen Vignettes, at www.ronniefein.com, friend on Facebook at RonnieVailFein, Twitter at @RonnieVFein, Instagram at RonnieVFein.