Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May's Frugal Luxuries (reposted)

Edit:  Blogger had some trouble last week and apparently "ate" this post with the recipe for pots de creme. Thanks to friend and blogger Jill, who had a copy of it on her reader and sent it to me when she realized what had happened. I know of at least one person who was planning to make it, so here it is again. My apologies to those of you who had left comments. There doesn't seem to be any way to get them back.

I have decided to do a monthly post about frugal luxuries. Frugal luxuries are the things we are surrounded with in our lives that cost very little but provide a great deal of simple pleasure. I have posted about this once before, but a single post just doesn't seem adequate. There are so many frugal luxuries that surround us if we just take the time to notice them.

Each season provides its own set of frugal luxuries, but perhaps none so much as spring. The fact that the spring of 2011 has been a late bloomer, quite literally, makes me appreciate those luxuries even more. I was talking to two master gardeners at the Kamloops Farmer's Market on Saturday and they said we have had our third coldest spring on record and everything is three to four weeks behind. This confirmed what I had already suspected, which is that so far this spring has been a bust. I strongly suspect reverse global warming.

This past week spring has, thankfully, finally arrived. The sun has warmth, the leaves are popping out on the trees and the lettuce seeds I planted in my garden are starting to grow. The warmer days have made my first frugal luxury possible. I love to hang clothes on the line to dry. I know, I'm weird. I especially love the feel and smell of sheets and towels that have dried on my clothesline. How could any artificial scent ever come close?

My second frugal luxury is found just behind this clothesline. It is my rhubarb patch. I think the stalks of rhubarb have doubled in size this past week!

Even better is having a daughter who is a chef. Alexandra used the rhubarb to make Vanilla Pots de Creme with Rhubarb Cherry Compote for dessert last night. Oh my. This was seriously good stuff.
Vanilla Pots de Creme with Rhubarb Cherry Compote
(recipe from The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book)
2 cups 10% cream
1 cup whipping cream 
8 egg yolks 
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped rhubarb
1 cup frozen or drained jar pitted sour cherries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. lemon juice
Arrange eight 6-oz. ramekins or custard cups in large roasting pan, such as roasting pan; set aside.
In small saucepan combine the rhubarb, cherries 1/4 cup sugar and lemon juice; bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer until rhubarb breaks down, about 3 minutes. Scrape into bowl; refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.
In saucepan, heat 10% and whipping creams over medium heat until bubbles form around edge. In bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar; gradually whisk in cream, then vanilla. Skim off foam. Pour into ramekins. Pour enough boiling water into roasting pans to come halfway up sides of ramekins.
Bake in centre of 325F oven until knife inserted in centres comes out clean, about 35 minutes (ours took 45 minutes). Transfer ramekins to rack; let cool. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Serve with compote.
Frugal, but very, very rich!

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