No matter how old you are, the start of school signals fall. I don’t care if you’re a kid, if you have kids, or if you just drive by a school on your way to work each day-the hustle and bustle of the back to school routine means summer is winding down. In San Francisco this means our warm weather will (hopefully) kick into high gear. In most other places, it means leaves changing and a coolness in the air. It also means nesting. That craving for order and organization, stocking the pantry, cleaning out the closets, sorting through the garage, and clearing off your desk.
I’ve just returned from a few very relaxing weeks out of town. Enjoying friends and family, nesting was no where in my thoughts. I’ve been home less than 24 hours and things have shifted. Even with the sun shining, I want to fill my fridge with tomato sauces, vegetable soups, and cookie dough. (Forget the freezer-my husband just returned from an Alaska fishing trip with 100 pounds of the stuff so the freezer is off limits until we get the new one hooked up in the garage!).
I went to the market this morning and found gorgeous rhubarb and ripe red strawberries, both from California but admittedly not hyper-local. My grandma made a killer rhubarb strawberry compote I used to eat by the bowl full. I came home and got to work, inspired by an alternative cooking method on David Lebovitz’s site. He bakes his compote instead of stirring it on the stove, which is so low maintenance how can you not like it? I altered the flavors a bit and the smell coming from the oven is just divine. I made a ton so, if I don’t eat it all myself, I may just sneak a little freezer space to save some for later.
When your nesting instincts kick in, give this a try. Of course, you can also come over to my place and clean out my closet!
Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
1 1/2 pounds fresh rhubarb, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and halved
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, broken into four pieces
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons water
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Combine all the ingredients in a 9 x 13 inch glass baking dish, stirring well. Cover the pan with foil and roast for 25 minutes, until the fruit begins to soften. Stir the fruit, cover it again and return it to the oven until the fruit is very tender, 15-20 minutes more (depending on the density of your rhubarb, this may take more or less time). Remove the foil and roast until the compote is nicely thickened, 10-15 minutes more.
Compote can be eaten warm or cooled and refrigerated. Try it as is, over ice cream, as a base for a crumble or fruit tart, or stuffed into homemade shortcakes.