Speaking of things Sally has changed, there's this: I am so, so much more careful about food waste. If we're going to spend money on good food, we're going to eat it. Every bite. As my friend Sarah puts it, "buy food that is so insanely delicious and nutritious you wouldn't dream of wasting even an ounce or a gram."
This is even easier with things we've grown. The other night, for instance, we ate a squash that grew out of the compost pile. It was long and kind of thin, like a cross between a butternut and a tromboncino. When I peeled it I explained to Sally that it didn't look quite orange enough, but that didn't matter. It was still firm and sweet and we would eat it. And so we tossed it with thyme and olive oil and salt and pepper and a drizzle of balsamic, and we ate it roasted, hot, tossed over arugula with a good salty feta cheese.
Recently I've been trying to meal-plan with an emphasis on cleaning out the freezers and eating up whatever root and storage vegetables we have still in the fridge. This means lots of strange meats (kidney ideas, anyone?), and a steady diet of homegrown butternut squash, potatoes, and all-things cranberry. I bought a huge bag of cranberries at the Orleans farmers' market just before it closed for the season in November, and we're still eating our way through it.
Last week I made Laurie Colwin's Nantucket Cranberry Pie. If you aren't familiar with Laurie, she was quite a writer and also quite a cook. In addition to several novels and books of short stories, she also wrote a food column for Gourmet. Out of this came Home Cooking, which I have and love, and later on More Home Cooking. They're both essay books with recipes at the ends of every chapter. If you ever see them at a library sale or used book store, nab them.
In the meantime, I highly recommend her cranberry pie. It's not so much a pie as a cake—in fact, it's quite a bit like Goodin-Pudding, except with an almond twist.
NANTUCKET CRANBERRY PIE
If you're looking for a very quick and easy cranberry dessert, this is it. Despite the name, this involves non of the fuss of a pie but delivers all of the flavor. It's good with vanilla ice cream, but it's just as good on its own as a late afternoon snack.
2 cups cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup melted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Get out a 9-inch pie plate and spread the cranberries, walnuts, and sugar evenly over the bottom.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, melted butter, sugar, flour and almond extract until they're smooth. Pour this batter over the cranberries and nuts, and bake for 40 minutes. The batter should be just set and starting to turn golden on top; don't overcook it, as you want the middle to be ever-so-slightly soft.