The past couple of days, I’ve spent my time at work in the kitchen instead of the office, making lunch for our residents. I’ll be doing the same next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday (my last day at the affordable elderly housing facility I’ve been with for the past year). It’s vacation time for one of our cooks.
There’s lots to do as I wrap up my time on this job, but given the choice, cooking and baking for two dozen or so people is exactly what I want to do as I make this transition.
I love to cook and bake. The Home Ec cooking classes I took in middle school were where I first kneaded bread dough, learned how to sauté, and – most importantly – discovered that preparing food for others is a profound expression of caring, joy, and love. That feeling has only grown over the years.
Today, I’m sharing three recipes with you that I used over the last couple days. Two are reliable methods I’ve used before, and one was brand new to me when I tried it out yesterday.
Some folks in town have an early crop of apples, and they donated a bucket to us. I jumped at the chance Tuesday to make apple crisp, one of my favorite autumnal go-to’s. The Classic Apple Crisp recipe from kingarthurbaking.com is a flavorful combination of textures and aromas. The additions of boiled cider and apple juice to the apples really make it special.
My freezer still has quite a few bags of shredded zucchini from last year’s garden. I thawed a bag and brought it to work yesterday for chocolate zucchini cake. Epicurious.com has a great Chocolate Zucchini Cake recipe that’s quick, moist, and delicious. I skipped the walnuts and chocolate chips, given the population I was baking for. This sort of recipe is a great way to make use of frozen zucchini. After freezing, it rarely holds up well for cooking, but it’s still good for cakes and quick breads.
To top the cake, I gave a new recipe a shot. Over at the spicetrekkers.com blog, there’s a recipe for Honey, Rhubarb, and Blueberry Compote. I picked some late-season rhubarb from the garden at work and put together the incredibly easy combination of rhubarb, blueberries, honey, and cardamom (I used cinnamon and allspice). The honey was a nice change from processed sugar, and the late rhubarb offset the sweet with an extra tang of bitterness. I was a little nervous about how our residents would respond to the flavor combination, but they loved it.
I’ve got three more meals to make during my time with an amazing group of people. You can bet that I’ll be spending time between now and then looking for more recipes to make as a way of saying, “Thank you for letting me spend time with you all.”