Sunday, December 2, 2007

Why is it that when I want to participate in the consumer culture...

I fail so miserably.

These days I am looking for a couple of ingredients for holiday baking, and looking, and looking, and looking...

Over the years I developed a recipe for what I call a California fruitcake - because it has lots of dried fruit soaked in plenty of alcohol rather than the nasty bits of candied tropical fruit, faux cherries, etc., and plenty of California nuts. Just think - a pretty much local seasonal treat. The backbone of this cake is dried pears. But I can't find any anywhere around here. I now have checked five markets - a national chain, a regional chain, a local market, a health food co-op and whatever Trader Joe's is - a transnational specialty food emporium? I used to always get these at Trader Joe's when it was a California chain, but the choices in dried fruit have been greatly reduced, and many of them are imported. You can get dried pears in mixed dried fruit - but both the national brand, Sunmaid, and a small organic label I found are not California fruit, but from China or Argentina, if I recall correctly.

Some of the best pears in California come from the region north of here where I am working with the congregations. Today I drove by the Safeway in Lakeport, where they had a rather tattered banner flapping "We have Lake County Pears" - but the only dried ones were the imported jobs in the Sunmaid mixture, and the weekend produce manager said there were no dried pears on her order sheets.

I'm now wondering if the fruit and nut emporia between here and Sacramento might be the places to check - but I've just had a trip over that way, and don't expect another until next year.

So, I tried the internet, where the best prices on California dried pears are kosher markets in New York and New Jersey.

The other item I've been looking for is rolled rye, which I use in some yeast baking items. Heck, you can even get rolled quinoa in the bulk bins - but only rye flour (no pumpernickel) and rolled rye as one of the four in a rolled cereal flakes melange. This is now a several year quest. I may have to order a case of it from Bob's Red Mill in Oregon if I want to ever make those great rye rolls again.

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