When I was a first grader, the nuns called my house to say that I was coming late to school every day. My mom was a little stumped. I left on time with my 3 older siblings to walk the two blocks to school and she wasn’t hearing from their teachers. So she followed me—and found that I was collecting trash on my way to school. She gave me a bag so I could pick up my litter on the way home from school, emphasis on from. Smart woman.
I am a long litter loather and avid recycler. It’s an obsession that leaks into every area of my life. My closet and home are full of secondhand treasures.
I was the only young professional in Chicago I knew in the late 80s who used her walk-in closet as a recycling center while the shoes were relegated to a bedroom chair. It wasn’t easy in those days, without a car or curbside.
In that same spirit, I’m fanatic about foodstuffs and not wasting what is in my refrigerator. I’ve been known to start soup instead of packing before a family trip. (Don’t get my husband started. His rationale is the refrigerator will be there, the plane won’t wait.) Smart man.
Today, I’m taking soup to work, vegetable soup with bits of stock from the freezer (leftover spirits from past meals), carrots, onions, celery, spinach, leftover quinoa, canned tomatoes and the last drops of salsa from two neglected jars. Lunch will also feature homemade croutons from really good cheesy bread gone stale. Reuse, repurpose, and recycle.
Sometimes my passion for recycling leads to inspired baking.
Case in point: my latest fruit crisp. My high school sophomore is forever making smoothies and leaving the frozen fruit on the counter after his close—and oh so messy—encounters with the blender. (He insists the second hand blender should go back to Treasure Mart where it belongs.) I end up with stained counters–and large blocks of misshapen frozen and refrozen fruit. Last week, I decided my bag of maligned fruit was out of hand and I was in dire need of freezer space. So I recycled the fruit and made a Trish the Dish crisp.
I took a hammer to the fruit, frozen peaches and berries and a few stray mango slices, and added three fresh apples that had seen better days. I added an extra dose of love—more cinnamon and some cardamom–to the crisp topping and popped the dish in the oven. I left the warm crisp on the counter and went upstairs to read.
“Really good crisp,” my husband said as he kissed me good night.
Post script: My first work email of the day made me smile.
Subject: Compliments to the chef!
I now have a pantry full of it (crisp mix) and my kids BEG for it every single morning. Hard to say no because it is healthy enough! I’m a mom of 4 very active preschoolers and don’t have the time to makes treats from scratch anymore. Thank you for making wholesome, affordable baking mixes! Can’t wait for the next birthday to make some cake! – Lindsay