Yesterday I burned the blueberry compote.
I’d harvested all I could reach of our high-bush blueberries, which amounted to a meager half-cup. I didn’t have enough for compote, so I thought about going after the ones I couldn’t reach, but I decided that another handful of mediocre blueberries wasn’t worth risking life and limb. Instead, I combined what I had with a half-pint of their store-bought relations, which had been languishing in my refrigerator far too long. I put them all in my littlest pot, added a couple tablespoons of maple syrup, and set the heat on low.
Kevin smelled it first, and went to investigate. “Honey,” he called to me from the kitchen, “What are you burning here?”
Damn. There are many ways to waste food, but burning it because you forget about it is one of the stupidest.
The burned compote, though, did highlight one of the advantages of keeping chickens. Back in Manhattan, food ended up in one of only two places: the dinner table or the garbage. Here in the sticks, our food-use hierarchy is bookended by those two choices, but in between are the compost (one step up from the garbage) and the chickens (one step up from the compost).
Call me speciesist, but I firmly believe that the best use of food is human consumption. I made the compote for us, and I kicked myself for letting it burn. But it gave me more consolation than I expected to watch the chickens, who ate it with gusto, prevent it from being a total loss.