Yes. I have been gone for a long time. You probably thought I stopped making food altogether and my boyfriend and all my other friends have starved!
Fear not, loyal reader! (Don’t worry, I know there’s only one of you.) I am still here. I have not turned into a Philistine. I have not given up the winning fork-and-bowl combination. I had a brief editing stint which made me loathe to look at a computer after spending six hours in a row cruising single-spaced pages of an interminable (1500 pages—seriously) novel for grammatical and stylistic errors. Hence, a failure to post any paths to deliciousness. Mea culpa.
Moving on, then, to the crucial questions in life, such as: What can one do with eight pounds of strawberries? Yes, you read that right. Eight pounds. During my recent stint of “funemployment” I have engaged in so many enjoyable activities that I wish the world weren’t full of greedy bastards who have somehow convinced us that a 40-hour workweek is required to make our country successful. (In case you suspect that such a time requirement actually be necessary, consider the following questions: How many people do you know who work fulltime and are ACTUALLY WORKING for forty hours each week; AND If Wallstreet bankers are busting their tails for up to eighty hours a week and THIS is the result, then maybe we need to realign our expectations with reality. Just saying.)
My most recent adventure involving “fun” and not “work” was an excursion a few weeks ago to Rowe’s Strawberry Farm outside of Ypsilanti, Michigan. Having spent nearly all of my weekdays since graduating high school at work, I was not aware that one could simply go pick strawberries on a Tuesday for wonderful baking experiments. More importantly, I was not aware that, although I was having fun, the other people picking strawberries that day (and I use the term “picking” somewhat loosely here) were having WAY more fun than I was—about two dozen kids were alternating between two activities: picking strawberries and eating them directly, and picking up half-rotted strawberries off the ground and yelling, “Bombs awayyyyy!” before launching them across several rows at the other kids. How did this fail to be a part of my public-school education?! I demand answers.
My friend Toby and I picked for about forty minutes, maybe, and the tray we brought was maybe half-full, giving us exactly zero idea how many we had, short of a mutual agreement that it was probably enough for our intended purposes.
And then we baked… a lot. Toby’s kitchen was a veritable tourbillion of mixing, pouring, kneading, chopping, and baking for about four hours. The first three indicated little, if any, success. One item had been fully and properly prepared: the tart crust. But by the end of the fourth hour, we had made the above picture happen…
These are the recipes we (closely, for once) followed, and I can promise you that eight pounds of strawberries will suffice to recreate our entire afternoon:
1 strawberry tart (using a regular tart crust and custard-filling recipe and adding fresh, round-sliced strawberries in a spiral pattern on top)
8 strawberry handpies using this crust (for filling I just used a couple cups of chopped strawberries, sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon—super easy)
A double recipe of strawberry brown-butter betties
Two pints of whipped cream to top everything
Sadly, one part of the afternoon didn’t work out perfectly (as it turns out, the pavlova recipe we used wasn’t exactly clear on the meringue recipe)—meringue discs to be assembled with chocolate pudding and diced, sugared strawberries. Which ended up being tasty anyway.
So there you have it, folks. If you’re looking for a good way to spend about six hours, I would recommend making all of the above. Followed immediately by making some friends, because it took about thirty people to eat all the different desserts we’d made.
Coming soon: more Chani originals, so keep an eye out!