Sunday, July 5, 2009
Sometimes a person needs warm baked goods, and sometimes a person doesn't have a recipe, or flour.
And sometimes that results in a totally spontaneous, haphazard fruit dessert. And sometimes, when that dessert has fresh Oregon raspberries and yogurt in the mix, it can be really, really tasty.
I was shuffling around in my cupboards yesterday, wanting to make a patriotic-ish dessert using the raspberries from the farm, but I've been out of all-purpose flour for a long time and haven't brought myself to buy more. I really wanted a cobbler or a crisp, so I was looking for some bit of forgotten pancake mix or muffin mix, which occasionally make their way to our cupboards. I found about half a box of vanilla cake mix from Trader Joes, the kind that is flavored with real vanilla bean scrapings. I had no idea how much was left in the bag, and the instructions on the box were for the whole container without measurements, so I decided to wing it and take my chances. I mixed an egg, 1/3 cup of canola oil, the juice and zest of one lemon, and a half cup of plain yogurt with the mix (there was maybe a cup and a half left) before mixing in a pint of raspberries. I sprinkled the top with brown sugar and popped it in the oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
I guess with cobblers and crisps, the range of possible textures and consistencies is pretty broad, so I didn't worry too much if the batter was thin or too thick, two sweet or not sweet enough. I just trusted my hands and my random non-measurements, and threw everything into a bowl. I love this kind of cooking because I'm not committed to an outcome - I don't need the finished product to be just like a picture in a magazine, or a flavor at a restaurant. It's just being familiar with ingredients and letting the star of the kitchen - the fresh produce - really shine.
Sometimes, recipes aren't necessary, baking mix can be a life saver, and fresh fruit makes up for any discrepancy such spontaneity can create. Here's to learning to trust my instincts. Small victories.