Monday, September 13, 2010

She's Baaaaack

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

As a student, I always felt that the compulsory first day back at school writing assignment was a time filler for teachers who had procrastinated on their lesson planning. As a teacher now, I see some value in it. It's helpful to look back at the blur that summer becomes in the rear view mirror of fall, to look back and sort through the days, giving weight to accomplishments and reliving the delight of the perfect days.

I have leapt full into the school year, as usual putting off ordering school books and materials until the last possible moment, as if the procrastination will postpone the inevitable return to structure, scheduling, and the straight-jacket of school. I look regretfully at the dark clouds lowering in the sky, echoing my mood.

Where did summer go? It went so quickly that it seems little more than an ephemeral mist lingering in the memory. Did I really have a summer?

Looking back at the calendar I recall that there were indeed things happening. I didn't go to Paris or Hawaii, but life happened.

My daughter had a baby. That's been a big part of the summer, helping her adjust to being a mom. Frequent visits to help, to visit, and to hold the baby. Lots of holding. We want her to know that she is loved.

We painted the deck. Again. Replacing the wood with something that doesn't need painting went up a notch on the priority list.

We had birthdays, but no parties. My son's pirate party got pre-empted by his niece's birth. I made him a cake to console him. My husband had a birthday with a zero at the end. I made him a cake to console him.

My son learned to ride his bike. We thought it would never happen, but this year he got the hang of it and is giddy with the freedom of riding all the way around the block by himself.

My daughter went to camp. Her dad almost called it off when we were signing her in - there were boys in line who shaved! Camp and a week of sickness meant she missed 2 out of the 5 swim meets for the season. It was a really lame year for swim team.

And me? I just did what I normally do. I worked out, ate blueberries from my bushes, watched some junk TV, went to the farmer's market, and baked. Since I was on vacation, I gave myself a lot of freedom in baking. If I'd made it before and had already blogged it, I could make it anyway. If it was ugly, I didn't have to take pictures. And it was too hot to turn on the oven, I didn't. It was really nice.

Now I'm back from vacation and I'm trying to carve out my new schedule and routine. I'll try to be faithful in posting. But if I miss a day or two, please understand. It's not that I don't want to share, it's just that life is going on. Not necessarily memorable, but day after day it goes on. And when baking is a part of that, I'll let you know.

Last Gasp of Summer Fruit Tarts
- adapted from Taste of Home

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter
1 egg, beaten
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 tbsp lemon juice
Assorted fresh berries
2 Tbsp apricot preserves

1- In the bowl of a food processor combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse to cut in the the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg and pulse briefly to blend. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover and refrigerate it for an hour to help the dough relax.

2- Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F. Grease six 4-1/2-inch tart pans.

3- Divide the dough into six portions. Press each portion into a prepared tart pan. Place the tart pans on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

4- In a small bowl beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in sweetened condensed milk and lemon juice.

5- Spoon 2 rounded tablespoonfuls of the cream cheese mixture into each cooled tart, smoothing the top. Arrange the berries over the filling.

6- In a small saucepan, melt preserves over medium heat. Stir until smooth. Using a pastry brush, brush the preserves over the berries.

The tarts can be served immediately or refrigerated until serving time.


Jennifurla said...

welcome back! These are lovely.

leslie said...

i feel the same way about summer! i'm a teacher too, and am just getting back into the swing of things. those tarts would definitely help, though! they look so delicious!

Elle said...

Glad you are back Lynn. Sounds like the perfect vacation to me. Since I love the fall I'm a happy camper, but it might be because I no longer have to deal with school at all. Your kids are SOOOO lucky that you are willing and able to give them the advantages of home schooling. YAY Lynn! Just remember, it gets easier (mostly) as the routine kicks in. Love these tarts! Can I have one?

Jennifer Jo said...

So glad to have you back! The tarts are lovely...and YOU are lovely, too.

Natalie said...

Welcome back! It sounds like you had a wonderful summer and I can't wait to see what recipes you'll be sharing this fall!

Abby said...

Nice too see you back! Hope you're refreshed. Such pretty tarts!

Melinda said...

I like the newly decorated blog. Very nice, but I really loved seeing those crescent cookies appear when I logged on to your blog. They felt like a dear friend's handwriting on a postcard. But I am sure I will fall in love with the new cookie design, too.
Your tarts look snazzy good. x

Anh said...

yay! you are back! the tartlets look fabulous!

scrambledhenfruit said...

Lovely tarts! It has also been hard for me to get used to my new schedule- it's tough getting back into the swing of things after a summer break. It's good to see you again. :)

Kitchen Corner said...

Pretty fruit tarts! Nice presentation!

bellini valli said...

The days are cooler and we are in the last gasps of summer just as you mentioned Lynn. Life is back into routine for many and I am glad that baking continues to be such a big part of your life!!

Aimée said...

Welcome back, Lynn. You were missed!

Anonymous said...

This was the perfect post to read this morning with the mist blanketing the garden. Thanks.

I like your new blog header - the other one was good and this one is good too!

Lovely looking tarts - I have some peaches that are teetering on the edge of almost-too-ripe, and this might be the solution!

Debbie said...

Congrats to your daughter! My oldest son and daughter in law had a baby girl last summer. Babies are so much fun when they can go home with their parents at night! My youngest is 11 and I feel like I've had kids forever!!! Your tart looks terrific. I used to post almost every day when I started blogging but sometimes it is just too much. I try to post now at least 3 times a week.

Rose&Thorn said...

Summer is coming home, I've missed it while we lent it to you. I promise to enjoy your lovely summer treats!

The Blonde Duck said...

Those tarts look wonderful. I'm so glad you're back!

Barbara said...

Glad you're back and your last gasp of summer tarts are lovely! Anything with sweetened condensed milk has just GOT to be divine.

grace said...

'My husband had a birthday with a zero at the end. I made him a cake to console him.'--oh, how i laughed at this. :)
last gasp, indeed--so sad.

CaSaundraLeigh said...

I am always sad that summer fruit has to come to an end, but I look forward to all the fall flavors like pumpkin now! :-)

Brilynn said...

Lovely fruit tarts! They definitely scream summer!

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

Welcome back. Those tarts look wonderful!

mommalilone said...

I made fruit tarts for my daughter's first birthday this weekend. I thought I did a decent enough job with my first try. But, then I come here and see your truly gorgeous fruit tarts. I stole your image (with your credits and link to your blog). Maybe I will keep trying and my fruit tarts will grow up to look like yours.

eatme_delicious said...

Sounds like you had an amazing summer. :) I can totally imagine how freeing it felt to re-bake recipes and to not stress out over ugly dishes. Welcome back!

eatme_delicious said...

Oops how could I forget to mention how gorgeous these tarts are? I love how you arranged the fruit on top.