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Sunday
Apr282013

Lime Curd Tart with Coconut Whipped Cream

Lime Curd Tart with Coconut Whipped Cream

Some people have a green thumb. To put it quite frankly, I am not one of them. While many gardeners can sow, weed, and prune a plant into flourishing perfection, I struggle to complete some of the more basic tasks, such as burying the seeds at the correct depth or finding the motivation to weed (perhaps a bit of laziness is also to blame). Even so, my plants have a tendency to wither despite regular watering. They gather the nasty little bugs whenever I want to keep a flower indoors, and my vegetable plants grow the smallest of produce at the end of the season.

I am become Death, the destroyer of plants.

Lime Curd Tart with Coconut Whipped Cream Lime Curd Tart with Coconut Whipped Cream

Each spring the feeling of rebirth floats through the air, infecting me with a strong desire to kneel in the dirt and plant a garden. The eagerness to hold a handful of seeds makes me briefly forget my black thumb and the poor path my plants will soon travel down. When I lived at home with my parents, I would convince my mother to fill her garden with half a dozen varieties of vegetables. I convinced her that I would do the tending. I convinced her I would help them grow. Rarely, I am ashamed to admit, did I follow through on my deceitful promises. The plants would endure a hot sun, vagrant weeds, and abit of neglect. At the end of the season, we'd collect our micro-vegetables, telling ourselves that we would plant flowers next year instead.

Lime Curd Tart with Coconut Whipped Cream

As the temperature finally rose this weekend, I felt the familiar urge to dig around in the dirt and grow new life. The trees have not yet budded with leaves, but for the first time this year it felt like spring has arrived. Even though I know my planting ventures are destined to end poorly (just ask my basil plant from last summer), I cannot shake the optimism that this year might be different—that this year I could grow something beautiful.

Even if I will not be able to grow a flourishing plant, I can bake something beautiful. And really, that might be the most delicious in the end.

Lime Curd Tart with Coconut Whipped Cream

This Lime Curd Tart with Coconut Whipped Cream is an ode to spring, with bright green colors and bold new flavors. A lightly sweetened whole wheat tart crust is filled with a tart lime curd and swirled with spoonfuls of coconut whipped cream. Serve with a sprinkling of lime zest and another dollop of whipped cream to celebrate the arrival of sunshine and warmer weather.

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Thursday
Apr252013

Blackberry Fool

Blackberry Fool

The spring sun has struck me with an incurable fever. Even though snowflakes were falling from the sky just this morning, I long to shed my winter coat and find myself no longer craving the hearty soups and dishes of winter. My mind has begun spinning towards lighter fare and short sleeves. I have begun craving the sweetness of a ripe strawberry and the bold tartness of a stalk of rhubarb in vivid detail. If I shut my eyes tightly, with the sun streaking through the window late into the evening, I can almost pretend the world outside is green and ready to be planted with seeds of rebirth.

I shall never take for granted the arrival of spring again.

Blackberry Fool

Craving a feeling, person, or place brings out a yearning in our heads all the way down to our toes. When our heart's desire is out of reach, we find a way to bring it closer through hope and longing and daydreams. These wishes, both small and large, sustain us as we wait for our cravings to be sated. They sustain us until our cravings come to pass.

I am craving spring. I am craving green grass, the smell of new growth, the touch of a warm sidewalk, the sweetness of a beautiful, red ripe strawberry. The hunger grows daily. As the sun sets later each evening, my appetite becomes insufferable. Knowing warmer weather will be around the corner keeps my spirit up as I dream of the long walks I will take once this winter is done.

Soon, soon, soon.

Blackberry Fool

A "fool" is a traditional English fruit dish originating in the sixteenth century. The dessert was most commonly made with gooseberries, but a variety of fruits from raspberries to apples can be used its place. The three main ingredients to a fool are pureed fruit, whipped cream, and a sprinkling of sugar. For this Blackberry Fool, I used fresh blackberries with whipped cream and a seedless blackberry jam.

This may be a more modern take on a traditional dessert, but the result is the same—delight. Feel free to try out other berries with matching flavors of jam, such as blueberries or strawberries, to play around with flavors and preferences.

Blackberry Fool Blackberry Fool

Blackberry Fool is a light, sweet ending to a spring or summer meal. Seedless blackberry jam is folded into whipped cream and layered into a glass with fresh blackberries. The contrast between the sweet bite of the berries and the smooth quality of the whipped cream makes the dessert simple, yet elegant. This traditional English dessert can be served for a small dinner party or an evening that calls for something special.

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Sunday
Apr212013

Sunflower Seed Bread

Sunflower Seed Bread

I think of myself as a practical person, as someone with a realistic outlook towards life. I partake in the activities that society says I should be doing: finishing my degree, paying the bills, going to bed at a reasonable hour, and making frequent trips to the gym (even when I do not want to go). I do these things because they are practical and sensible. I structure my life around all of these sense-making activities to the point where I need the occasional reminder that it is okay to be impractical once in awhile. To be reminded that every one of my actions does not need useful purpose.

To be reminded that doing something wild can be freeing.

Sunflower Seed Bread Sunflower Seed Bread

As a result of my practical ways, I rarely spend money on things that I do not need. While I would call myself frugal, my mother would refer to me as cheap. Reluctantly, I agree that may be the proper title. I can count on one hand the items I bought myself in the last couple years that did not have a specific purpose (that were, in all honesty, just for fun). I save my money for a trip around the world, for a rainy day, for an adventure of the kind that appears when I close my eyes to daydream. I save it for a day that is not today.

And I wonder, will that day be tomorrow? Will that day ever come at all?

Sunflower Seed Bread

When I came across the old Chinese proverb—When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other—it was a gentle push, a voice to remind me that beauty may not clothe or feed me, but it nourishes another part of me that can easily be forgotten—my soul. Have I become so rooted in practical behavior that I have forgotten that it is okay to stray from that norm? I want to believe I have not; I have to believe that it cannot be true. At the same time, I worry my actions say otherwise. When was the last time I bought a handful of flowers to enjoy in a vase in the light of the setting sun? When was the last time I purchased a silly game to play to remind myself to relax? When was the last time I ran away for a weekend because it was finally right for me to open my eyes and turn my daydreams into a reality? It is time to start.

I have my loaf of bread. I have a hundred loaves of bread. Now all I need to find is a lily.

Sunflower Seed Bread

Sunflower Seed Bread is a hearty, whole grain loaf that makes a filling accompaniment to a meal. The bread is dotted with roasted sunflower seeds and flax seeds, which gives it a nutty taste and unique texture. As a quick bread, it does not deal with the fuss that can come with yeast, making it a quick loaf to bake before a meal. While I preferred the bread with a thick layer of strawberry jam, a spread of butter and honey or a side of gravy would do it justice.

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