Monday, September 13, 2010
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.