Cheese fondue with broccoli, carrot, bread, potato and apple
Chocolate fondue with banana, strawberry, fig, marshmallow and pawpaw
Mixed berry smoothie with Asian pear
The girls had requested a fondue meal several weeks back, and Jan fortuitously found a $4 fondue pot at the thrift store only days after they made their request. Once Jan strategized a way for us to prepare a COVID-safe version of fondue, we were ready to roll. Most cheese fondue recipes call for wine or beer, so our challenge was to devise an equally gooey and delicious version without alcohol. We replaced the wine with chicken stock, and added ample amounts of Gruyere and cheddar cheese. P. was in charge of making the cheese fondue, and it came together in a snap. While she prepped that one, A. took charge of making the chocolate fondue. The girls had the option of bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, and they voted for a combination of the two. While they diligently stirred their mixtures, Jan and I prepped the vegetables and fruits.
Before I left work on Friday, I noticed that the pawpaws were just getting ripe at the orchard, so I grabbed a couple to bring with me to CCYC. Even though pawpaws are native to this region, most people have never heard of them, let alone tasted one. I shared with the girls how they are the largest edible fruit native to North America, and that they are closely related to tropical fruits such as custard-apple and soursop, so they taste surprisingly exotic. I was excited to see how interested they were to learn about the fruit and try it. They are really adventurous eaters, and their enthusiasm draws in the staff, who frequently stop by to see what we are cooking up and join in the meal.
This was certainly one of the quickest meals we prepared, which thankfully left us plenty of time to eat. There wasn’t much talking at first because everyone was savoring the cheese fondue. I would have guessed that the girls would have eaten more of the chocolate fondue, but everyone kept coming back to the cheese and vegetables. By the end, A. and P. were picking off the last bits of cheese from the pot until it was clean.
We chatted, laughed and ate until no one could eat another bite. At the very end of the meal, A. suddenly grew sullen. She stopped engaging in the conversation. Jan was able to coax out of her that she was most likely going to be leaving the shelter soon and moving to a different placement. We have developed such a wonderful weekly routine through our shared meals, that I allowed myself to forget that it would come to an end at some point.