Blackberry Crumble CurriedRiceTofuSalad

I opened the veggie bin and stared into the empty space. Until recently it was full of carrots, celery, Jalapeno peppers and onions. I’d checked the inventory earlier in the week, when I did my usual shopping trip. I had plenty of supplies to complete my planned meals for the week and the dishes I planned to take to my husband’s company picnic.

The software company my hubby is currently working for is delightfully social. The office manager schedules many well attended and very enjoyable events throughout the year for their employees and families. The Summer Company Picnic is a highlight on the annual calendar.

Running a bit behind on my agenda, it was 9:30pm and I was about half way through the two recipes when I discovered the ingredient deficiencies in the refrigerator’s storage drawers.

I was signed up to make my Curried Rice and Tofu salad. I needed lots of celery, onions and there was not a single stalk or bulb in sight. My rice was already steamed and in the bowl, dressing well under way.   My trusty Cuisinart, fitted with the proper slicing blade, stood on the counter ready for the stalks of celery to be fed down its chute. All that was missing was that celery!

In addition to my contribution for the shared dishes, there was another fun event, the Dessert Contest! I had entered my EVOO Cake last year in the Most Unusual Ingredient segment and lost out to the office’s baking Diva. Not only did she win the most creative category with an adorable Alligator cake but she beat me out with her “to die for” Guinness Stout Cake with Irish whiskey ganache and Irish Cream frosting.  Oh yeah. I went back for seconds on that one.

I was doubly determined this year.   However this year’s entry for Most Unusual Ingredients would be Just Plain Ordinary Blackberry Crumble without the tiny minced jalapeno peppers lurking amongst the dark juicy fruit under the crispy oatmeal laced crust. Yup, you guessed it. Not a single pepper in the crisper!

Glancing at the top shelf I saw several Quart jars of pickled veggies! My celery, onions and even the Jalapeno peppers, my “unusual ingredient” that I hoped would win the dessert category by the same name, were all floating in pickle brine!

My husband has been on a pickled beet kick. Several weeks prior, he’d filled every available canning jar with wonderful fresh tasting beets and onions. They were truly yummy too! Our deck holds several flats of baby lettuce and chard. A bumper crop of greens this season has supplied us with super fresh salads and smoothies that must brim with extra vitamins that are supplied by the freshly picked greens and mint. His savory beets piled on top of fresh lettuce, topped with walnuts, crumbled goat cheese and a drizzle of Dijon Vinaigrette are a perfect summer meal.

Apparently the enthusiasm and praise for the pickled beets spurred my husband on to greater culinary preservation feats!  He had requested on the “Shopping List”, a magnetized pad, attached to the front of the refrigerator, cauliflower and eggplant.

This is our system for communicating to whoever does the shopping.  Desires for future dish ingredients or the notice of a recently depleted item, like celery or pickling spices, for instance, can be written down on this pad, with the pencil also attached to the front of the refrigerator by a magnet.

Didn’t happen! Hey, no system is perfect.

No worries. Our local grocer is open until 11:00pm every night.  I stomped down the stairs and in my best “Princess Obvious” voice stated “There is no celery! I need celery and green onions for the Curried Rice salad.”

Husband looked up from his book. “Can’t you get them at the store tomorrow morning?”

“I am in the middle of the recipe, right now. The Cuisine art is out and ready to slice the celery. And … this is for YOUR work’s company picnic. You signed me up for this and I am doing my best here…”

His big sigh interrupted my tirade. “Can’t you just go?”

I subscribe to a philosophy similar to that of shopkeepers who display signs that say” You break it, you buy it!”

“You are the one that used up ALL of the celery and onions!”

“OK, OK… Is there anything ELSE, since I am going to the store in the middle of the night, I only want to make one trip!”

“Yes! All of the Jalapeno peppers have disappeared as well, so I will need at least two.”

He returned, almost 45 minutes later. The QFC is about 1 mile from the house.  I could have walked there and back.  On wheels, I could have done the week’s shopping and even had time to gas up my husband’s shiny black V6 Jetta on the return trip.

He plunked down two paper grocery bags. I decided this was not the moment for the Ecology lecture about recyclable grocery bags. I know there cloth bags are on the front seat of his car, I put them there, a subtle reminder. Colored bright lime green and yellow, maybe he is too manly to tote them into the store. I make a mental note to switch out his bags to a more discrete khaki shade.

“Beer was on sale. There was a new one from Elysian, called “Loser”… celebrating 25th anniversary of Sub Pop Records. This stuff is normally $14 for a 6 pack; it was on sale for $7.99!”

I bit my tongue, resisting the temptation of a cheap shot regarding the aptly named beer.

The picnic was wonderful. Held on a park just above a beach looking out to the Puget Sound, the blue skies and sun a perfect backdrop for all the sail boats, soothed any leftover animosity.

Our two Elkhounds took 1st and 2nd place in the Navigating the Dog Obstacle Course.  They were the only two entries, but I can’t fault them for that part! They won fair and square.

Best of all, I won the “Most Creative Dessert” category.

Here are the recipes. Bon Appetite!

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