I place my hand on the refrigerator door with a sense of dread. First, can I remember why I opened it, second, what will I discover? Have I stashed some long-forgotten zucchini or cucumber that upon handling turns to green goo? Has the cottage cheese sat long past the expiration date and yet I still insist on opening it to sniff? Is the cream cheese blue and the blue cheese a frightening shade of yellow? How could I have forgotten that glorious jam that I knew I had to have at the holidays, yet after one or two spoonfuls stuck back in the cold, dark tomb along with the pepperoncini and pickles?
My fridge plays no favorites. Some days the yogurt is just as tired as the strawberries, and when I reach for a bright green lime to slice for my gin and tonic I often have to settle for one that is beginning to turn brown. Out of sight, out of mind, so they say. I think I need a see-through glass door, that way I’d be tempted to keep things neat and tidy. When there are just the two of us, things don’t get eaten quite like they used to, yet I still insist on shopping as if I were feeding a family of four. Hence the waste.
So, I went on a tear the other day and cleaned out the fridge when the day was cold and rainy and feeling more like March than June. That’s when I came upon the oranges. The once lovely, plump, juicy oranges that I couldn’t resist (it seems I always have a recipe that calls for fresh orange juice or zest) were looking hard, sad and sorry but wait: There was one still salvageable. Oh, and there were those blueberries that I couldn’t find two days ago. Hello! And because I always have a variety of nuts on hand in the freezer (that’s a whole other story) I turned the chore into baking — something I find way more enjoyable.
And the joy didn’t stop there. I made a wonderful blueberry orange pecan loaf — or as I like to call it, fridge bread — and my efforts were rewarded. Oh, and I must mention that I love Saco’s cultured buttermilk blend to use for cooking and baking. The dry mix stores in the fridge and instead of buying a quart of buttermilk, most of which hits the drain, I can measure out what I need (and yes, it stores for a very long time). You can find it in the baking aisle.
Now I wonder what’s in that plastic container on the bottom shelf...
Blueberry Orange Pecan Bread
Recipe from Kate Lawson
2 cups all-purpose flour
/ cup white sugar
1/ teaspoons baking powder
/ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
/ cup buttermilk
/ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
/ cup oil (you can substitute it with unsalted butter or olive oil)
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/3 cup pecans (finely chopped)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease or spray with nonstick cooking spray a standard 9-by-5 loaf pan.
In a bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix the buttermilk, orange juice, orange zest, vanilla, egg and oil. (If you’re using butter, melt it before mixing it with the buttermilk and egg.)
Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients.
Gently stir and fold the ingredients until all the flour has been incorporated and a shaggy, wet batter is formed. Be careful not to over-mix. Stir in the blueberries.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and pat it into the corners. Top with pecans.
Bake in a preheated oven for 40 to 45 minutes. The loaf should be domed and golden, and a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.
Let the loaf cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing and slicing. Makes 1 loaf or 10 slices.
Per serving: 248 calories; 9 g fat (1 g saturated fat; 33 percent calories from fat); 33 g carbohydrates; 12 g sugar; 22 mg cholesterol; 382 mg sodium; 4 g protein; 1 g fiber.