The Dean of Students of my high school used to always say, "Waste Not, Want Not." This is a very Ignatian belief, and applies to not just material goods like food and money, but also to time. I often hear Brother Draper ringing in my head when I feel like I am doing something that is wasteful.
I don’t know if you have seen the video www.savethefood.com recently released, but it’s a seriously enchanting and sad story… about a strawberry. So much hope and optimism... Such a bright future for that little strawberry. A long and trying journey only to end up **SPOILER ALERT** in the trash bin. I am guilty of neglecting my strawberries, allowing them to get pushed farther back on the shelf and totally forgotten. Left to grow white mold and lose all luster. The story is meant to bring to light the serious problem of food waste, a problem most of us contribute to you in one way or another.
All those gorgeous fresh fruits and veggies I have purchased with grand visions of gourmet meals and creative desserts shrivel into unrecognizable gray blobs. Fail. Total fail. I probably throw out 35%, if not more, of the produce I buy. There is no excuse I could give that would justify such a huge amount of waste. Think about the damage done to our wallets, plus all the labor it took to harvest the produce, the natural resources used to transport the food, the dumps filling with all those plastic containers… the list of waste goes on and on! That’s a serious footprint I leave behind all because the blackberries were on sale 2 for 1.
At this point, you may be asking yourself why I am admitting to this shame and embarrasment. The simple answer is that strawberry’s abandonment really got to me. Heart strings were pulled. The more long-winded answer is that I had a lot of cherries and blueberries left from last week’s post, just sitting in my fridge, begging for a transformation before the mold took over.
There are plenty of well-known uses for rotting fruits and vegetables: black bananas are ripe for bread, a wrinkly cucumber is prime for a pickle, a slightly soft apple makes a sweet apple sauce, and so many more. This week I am giving you a tasty base for a ton of those deserted items (desert… dessert, get it? I crack myself up).
A dense and dark chocolate brownie pairs well with so many wonderful flavors and can hold up to all sorts of your forgotten items. I really was inspired by the beautiful chunk of unsweetened 99% chocolate which has been sitting in the pantry for almost a year. And the cherries and blueberries I would have forgotten about were perfect throw-ins for the fudgy brownie. For the cherry version, a handful of pitted and chopped cherries plus a swirl of cherry preserves left over from my Black Forest Macarons recipe made a tart and decadent brownie. I had a handful of toasted almonds that I was just not going to eat which I chopped up for a perfect complement to the blueberries. Raspberries are great with these bad boys, too!
What else besides fruit would you throw in there? How about a swirl of cream cheese left over after all the bagels have gone, sweetened some good old fashioned powdered sugar? Or the last couple of scrapes of almond butter from the jar? Fry up those last couple pieces of bacon and crumble on top of the brownies before you bake for a surprisingly delicious treat. Have too many jars of cinnamon in your cupboard? Stir up a couple of teaspoons along with a scant sprinkle of cayenne for a Mexican hot chocolate-style brownie.
I would’ve called these Compost Brownies, but that has a muddy-taste connotation to it. So instead I am just going to stick with Dark Chocolate Brownies. All of the above is purely suggestions so by all means, go crazy! I would love to see your own ideas left in the comments. The more creative we get, the more food (and money) we can save together!
Happy Eating [Left-Overs]!!
Recipe: Dark Chocolate Brownies
The Bits and Bobs:
5 oz. good quality, dark, unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Over a simmering water bath, melt the butter and chopped dark chocolate together, stirring every once and awhile until completely smooth. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder. Allow to cool slightly.
Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9x13-inch pan with a little butter.
Once the chocolate has cooled a bit, whisk in the sugar until some of the grit of the sugar has melted down. Whisk in the eggs one at a time and then the vanilla extract. Working in two batches, fold in the flour and salt. If you are adding any mix-ins, add those now. Fruit will have to be worked in with care to try and keep some of the fruit in tact (a little fruit puree is ok). Stir until just combined. The batter will be very thick.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.