Friday, July 30, 2010

Caretake this moment: Seasonal Berry Tart

"Caretake this moment. Immerse yourself in its particulars. Respond to this person, this challenge, this deed. Quit the evasions. Stop giving yourself needless trouble. It is time to really live; to fully inhabit the situation you happen to be in now."                     -Epictetus
My life has been anything but expected in the past several months, and I'm finally grateful (and not a teary mess) for being given this golden opportunity to rethink where I was and where I want to go. I also want to have much more fun, to let my hair down, to soak up the sun, to let go of being so self-critical and fearful, and try new things and have new experiences.

In many ways, I want to be more playful, more present in the moment, more true to who I want to be and not who I was becoming or even who I was. Roz Savage, the British ocean rower and environmental activist, says she knew she needed to change her life after writing two obituaries, the one that she knew would be written if she died today and the one she wished her life could more closely resemble. I understand where she's coming from, and I hope that it's not too late to live the life I've always dreamed: a creative, imaginative thinker and doer who serves and supports her community, her friends and family, and follows and practices her writerly, scholarly, and culinary fancies. I know I can get there, and I think 2010-2011 is going to be a fertile turning point in my life. I am so grateful to my parents, grandparents, siblings, my friends Jenna, the Nicoles, Shane, Stefani, Amy, Julia, my Monday night writing group, and new friends for helping me see the possibilities, and not the limitations, of life and living.

What better way to celebrate succulence (hello, Sark!) than the sweet, sweet bounty of summer: blueberries and blackberries? A week or two ago, my work colleague and super sweet friend Joni B. suggested I make something with berries for the blog, so I took her challenge and made a seasonal fruit tart with pastry cream twice last week: the first time was for my delightful friend Brandon and the second time was for an amazing lake house party in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The pics for this blog are from Brandon's tart (which, admittedly, I ate most of, to be honest) and the pics from Arkansas are lurking on Shane's gorgeous digital camera (he's holding them hostage until we meet-up for wine and conversation, which I hope is soon more for his awesome company than the photos). I'll post the other pics as soon as Shane and I powwow.

In the meantime, pastry cream is lovely, custardy goodness that was, at least for me anyway, a disaster the first time I made it at my part-time baking gig. The pastry cream recipe I use for this dessert is not from Sweet Art but rather Epicurious. The problem the first time I made pastry cream rested in how I combined egg yolks with corn starch and the temperature certain creamy, frothy mixtures need to reach in order to set. Chef Lou Jones of the Culinary Institute of America gives a surefire recipe that, so far, has produced two delectable tart innards.

To make the crust and glaze the berries, I Frankenstein-ed (it's a verb) a recipe from Bon App├ętit (June 2010). I still plan on making Lime Tart with Blackberries and Blueberries (I'm a sucker for all things citrus). Lime and lemon curd are two of my favorite things along with the already mentioned frozen lemon-lime meringue pie at Duff's in the Central West End. I'm hellbent to recreate that recipe so I can make it with my lovely buddy Nicole H. Together we're on a mission to find Nellie & Joe's Famous Lime Juice in Missouri or Illinois. I'll be in Chicago for business next week, and that's one thing I'm bringing back if I can find it. That pie is absolutely unbelievably amazing. I have yet to taste something so sublime. Seriously. It's that good.

So, on the promise of more yummy treats and personal adventures, I'm going to hit the hay and be back next week with a homey but goody recipe (also from Nicole H.): Amish Friendship Bread. Cinnamon deliciousness that also pairs well with old-fashioned chocolate ice cream from Serendipity.

Till then, from the land of Chuck Berry and Nelly, I give you hugs and high fives!



Jeannine said...

Hi Kella -- Congratulations on your part time baking gig! I too am a fan of lime/lemon and Nellie & Joe's is all I'll use in my key lime pie. No need to drag it from Chicago -- you can buy it at Dierberg's.

Kella said...

Thanks, Jeannine, for the tip about Nellie & Joe's. I will get myself to Dierberg's when I get home. Hip, hip, hooray!!