Lately, I’ve been loathe to leave the apartment without two things: my rain gear, and my tape measure.
I need the rain gear because Mother Nature continues to pay homage to Glasgow this spring with day after day of wet weather. Sometimes she spices things up with a little hail shower.
The tape measure is obligatory because I’m on the hunt. For furniture. Specifically, a buffet. I never knew how hard it was to find just the right one — not too long, not too short, not too expensive. I also never believed I would spend my days haunting furniture shops and flea markets. Once I stashed flasks of vodka in my purse; now I’ve got a tape measure, a notebook, and a clear plastic rain hood.
To fully complete my transformation into French granny, I’ve started making fruit compote, combining rhubarb and strawberries and letting them soften on the stove. I don’t know what’s more appealing — the sweet fragrance as the mixture bubbles up in the saucepan, or the soft magenta color of the finished compote. I’ve been spooning it over my morning yogurt and last night we ate it with an apple tart, but it would also be delicious with lemon cake, or just on its own, with a dollop of cream.
I rarely cooked fresh fruit before I moved to France. But it’s amazing how a bit of heat and sugar can work magic on a pint of strawberries heading south, or a bowl of mushy apples, transforming them from aging back into excellent. If only I could say the same for the skin on my neck.
Strawberry rhubarb compote
1 lb rhubarb, cut into a 1/2-inch dice
1 1/2 lbs strawberries, hulled, and sliced
1/2 cup sugar — or more to taste
In a medium saucepan, combine the rhubarb, strawberries, and sugar. Over medium heat, gently bring to a boil. The mixture will be rather dry at first, but grow more liquid as the heat softens the fruit and releases its juice. Cook over low heat until the rhubarb is meltingly soft — about 20 minutes. Taste, adding more sugar if necessary. I add a very small amount because of my granny impulses, but the mixture is tart and you may wish to add more.