I waste everything. I waste the breath it takes to say, "Thank you" on small talk, inconsistent storylines about how my day was, how my weekend was. I waste the moments between sleep and reality to think about my day ahead, never looking back to be grateful of the day I just finished. I work in a linear fashion, one foot marches in front of the other and everything that is not the current vogue of my tastes and ambitions gets thrown out.
I looked in my fridge the other day and saw cheese spotted with mold. I saw a small, plastic jug with a sliver of milk swirling at the bottom. I looked at the side door and saw the quart-sized mason jar of murky balsamic-pickled strawberries sitting untouched from last week. Sometimes for me, in my linear mentality, the baking is done for the creation, not the ingestion. I find more beauty in the in-between than any kind of final product. Between the cooling and the icing periods. Between the hulling and the pickling. Between the rising and the falling of the yeasted dough and the Roman Empire. It's all the same pleasure of the ephemeral and the sickening feeling of realizing you're stuck with things you never wanted, creations you let decay while your brain is thinking about tomorrow.
I wish I could be like my mother when it comes to waste. I remember the summer before I moved to California, I quit my job to spend those last three months with her. Yogurts were on sale at a discount grocery called "The Food Barn" and so we had a yogurt every morning, with coffee and an episode of "I Love Lucy". I think about that now and how simple it all was, so simple to share those moments with my mother and how I wasted them on talking about the future, the big dreams of being a lawyer and the palm trees that would line my drive-way. I should have taken that time to say, "I love you" more. Instead, we would sit in silence and tan by the pool, yogurt cups blown by the wind and tipped underneath the patio furniture.
I thought about this when I opened a bag of matcha that I hadn't touched in two months. I know my history with waste and this product was good, so pure and farm-grown in Japan. When I received it from Lauren over at Mizuba Tea Co., I tucked it in my little pantry in Texas, then tucked it in a box on its trip to San Diego with me, and now I finally used it to make a dish I wasted going to waste. I repurposed the pickled strawberries into a jam and made my own version of those yogurt cups with a matcha panna cotta with "fruit at the bottom". And it was wholesome, and it was light, and it was good. And it was one of many lessons this week to not trudge ahead and collect the detritus of what we want, holding on until we feel suffocated by our surroundings, but to buy consciously, live in those simple moments, and to not waste if you can help it.
Matcha "Fruit at the Bottom" Panna Cotta
- In a small bowl, pour milk and sprinkle over 1/2 sachet of unflavored gelatin. Let sit 4-6 minutes until gelatin has bloomed
- While waiting, whisk cream, matcha powder, honey, 2 TB sugar, and vanilla.
- In a small saucepan, turn on medium heat and pour both milk and cream mixture into pan. Stir occasionally until sugar dissolves (about 5-6 minutes). While this is cooling, go to step 5 to prepare the jam.
- Take off heat. Let sit to cool while finishing jam.
- In a small bowl, sprinkle remaining gelatin over pickling liquor and allow to blossom.
- In a small saucepan, break up strawberries and macerate with two tablespoons sugar. When beginning to simmer, add gelatin mixture and stir until combined. Allow to sit 3-5 minutes and cool before adding to jars/ramekins.
- To assemble: Pour jam in bottom of container, then refrigerate for 6 minutes to cool and thicken slightly. Then, carefully pour cooled panna cotta mixture on top. Put in fridge and allow to congeal and cool completely, about 5 hours.
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 sachet unflavored gelatin, divided
- 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 TB Mizuba matcha
- 2 TB clover honey
- 4 TB sugar, divided
- 1/2 TB vanilla
- 10 pickled strawberries + 2 TB pickling liquor, strained