In The Distracted Cook's kitchen all kinds of strange things happen around this time of year. Memories of great cakes, cookies, pies and other food groups slide silently out of the memory banks. Recipe folders and boxes are turned upside down in the wild frenzy to find "that recipe" that we need right now. Yes, where DID I put that recipe?
The Distracted Cook came upon a method to save her sanity many holidays ago and I have been using it ever since. It is really very simple, especially for cooks like us. Just take a simple (or extravagant, depending on your personal tastes and folder supply) manila folder and write "Christmas" across it. Then gather up all those clippings, note cards, pages from magazines and other pieces that have holiday recipes on them and put them in the folder. No, it doesn't matter if they're for Halloween or Easter. Just getting them all into one place is the object of this project.
For The Distracted Cook having a folder with Christmas across the front tells me that everything holiday is hidden between those covers. Christmas has become synonymous for "holidays" in my pantry and that is good enough for me. In fact, it is even better because I don't have to sort through sixteen different folders. I just have this one fat one with the stuff sticking out. And it is green so that is a visual reminder for The Distracted Cook. for me, green = Christmas = holidays. See - just like this!
It works, I promise. You can certainly make more folders if you are into those kinds of things. I find that I quickly forget that I have done that and I look through the Christmas folder and panic when I don't find the Valentine Cake that I make every year. I obviously have forgotten that one day in a fit of perfection I made separate folders for all the holidays - like Guy Fawkes Day, Ground Hog Day, Thank Your Teacher Day. You see what I mean? Just too much information for the Distracted Cook to process. After looking through all those folders I am ready to go have a nap. It is the KISS principle at work here and that is really the Golden Rule for The Distracted Cook. And really, who did eat those sweet potatoes?
If your refrigerator is bare and the marshmallow bag is empty you can rightly conclude that someone has eaten that last bite you were hiding behind The Stuff on the shelf. Ordinarily this would be grounds for a real witch hunt, but since it is the holiday season it must mean it is time to make some more of The Stuff and maybe even give some as a gift.
The Stuff is a magical concoction that The Distracted Cook came across one morning at breakfast. Smack dab in the middle of the Cloud Forest in Costa Rica, The Distracted Cook discovered the most magical "stuff" that captured her attention and quickly became a favorite condiment to plop on top of everything at the breakfast buffet. Shortly after arriving home I decided I would try to replicate this delightful fruit dish. First things first, I tried to remember just exactly what was in it. That didn't work out too well, so I decided to email the resort to see if they would part with the recipe. But of course! The answer came back within ten minutes. It is a snap! The email read: "it is quite simple, just these simple ingredients. Good Luck!" I was delirious with joy and immediately set off for the produce market to lay in my supply of ingredients. This is such a simple and wonderful thing to have on your breakfast table, I am sure that you will rush out to make it also. And -- it is equally as good on ice cream, pound cake, Angel Food cake, and probably a lot of other things as well.
So, take up your wooden spoon and join in the admiration society for The Stuff!
1 fresh papaya peeled, seeded, and cut into very small cubes
1 fresh pineapple peeled, cored, and cut into very small cubes
1 cup of granulated sugar (or more if you like really sweet things)
1 stick cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook at a moderate heat for about half an hour.
Do you see all those seeds in that papaya? The Distracted Cook took the seeds from the last papaya that she used and threw them into the flower bed outside the kitchen door. Guess what? There is now a small papaya forest growing there. Right! So, you can do the same thing and have a papaya grove of your very own. I don't know if either of us will ever see a papaya growing on our trees, but stranger things have happened.
The Distracted Cook knows that these directions are anything but specific and you are probably wondering how you will know when it is done. I have made this many times and each time it is a little different. You can make it more "preservey" and cook it longer or keep it more "fresh fruity" and cook it not so much. You can figure it out! And as for the cinnamon, if you don't like cinnamon leave it out. If you do, just taste it as it cooks and pull out the cinnamon stick when it gets to the point that you like it. Let it cool and then put it in glass jars or any other refrigerator container that you have on hand. The Stuff will keep in the refrigerator for about two or three weeks.
The Stuff is easy to prepare and is one of those kinds of things that make you feel really smart for having made. And it is really pretty in a cut crystal jam jar sitting on the table ready to adorn toast, English muffins, grits, pancakes and just about anything you would want to use as a vehicle for eating it. I am even thinking that I will dump some into the Christmas Cranberries and see how that works out. Let me know what ways you can discover to use The Stuff.