I didn’t really expect to be away from here for so long. It wasn’t a planned absence. I went away on a little trip with K and then thing after thing got in the way of coming back here. These weren’t bad things. They were mostly good things. There was a surprise visit from a dear friend who moved away last year. There were many trips to the park, some hikes, and a bit of indulgent shopping here and there. It was mostly great although I wish I could tell you it was all relaxing. This is always a hard time for our family. It’s wedding season, which means K is gone a lot. He is off on airplanes and in rental cars memorializing people’s special days. He has such fun out there doing his dream job, but we miss him terribly. And, admittedly, I cook less and don’t photograph nearly anything in his absence. I also tend to go nearly insane, but that’s an entirely different story more appropriate for an intimate discussion to take place at a later date (at a bar).
But I’m back in action and feeling slightly less exhausted. K is home for now and we are eating normally again. It’s also sporadically sunny for which I am terribly grateful. A few meager days of sun here and there are far better than none at all. I know that might sound a bit strange. If you lived here, you would understand. If not, it might be a bit confusing. You likely think Seattle folk don’t care much for the sun. After all, we choose to live in an area of the country where we are almost always covered by a blanket of gray sky. But if you really want to know the truth I can tell you. People here are totally bananas for the sun. When the temperature hits 60 degrees and there’s faint sunlight apparent through the clouds, more than a few people don flipflops and hot pants. I kid you not. The amount of skin people willingly bare around here on a partially sunny day in June is ridiculous. On the other hand, it’s also sort of liberating. Most residents of the city are ghastly pale. The pasty legs all around really seem to level the playing field. It’s not L.A. and no one is pretending it is. What a relief! But don’t worry. You won’t find me wearing tiny shorts or a bikini top around town. That’s not really my thing. I celebrate with food. This is a distinctly bikini prohibitive manner of celebration, but I’m O.K. with that. We have a decent patio where you can find us on most summer evenings. While the little one digs into my newly potted plants with her tiny garden tools, K and I putter about making fun things to eat.
These days, there are berries at any hour of the day. It’s berry season. We are in the thick of it and I can see no good reason why I can’t include some type of berry in nearly every meal. I don’t hear many objections around here. Maeve, as I mentioned, is a berry addict. She will live on berries alone, but I am making some attempt to encourage moderation. Berries dot our meals throughout the day whether they are included in muffins, salads, or straight out of a bowl with a touch of sugar. We don’t generally discriminate, but I do tend to favor tarts and hand pies.
One of my favorite things to do in the summertime is to make simple fruit tarts. It’s such an easy way to enjoy the fruits of summer that I wonder if it’s even worth discussing. You can be the judge. I figure you might enjoy hearing about this particular tart recipe because it’s a bit different. The pastry might be the same sweet pastry to which you are all accustomed, but the real stars of the show are the berries soaked in a balsamic simple syrup.
Yes. You heard me right.
Balsamic simple syrup!
It’s a miracle. I swear by it now. You can soak your berries in the balsamic simple syrup and grill them on the barbecue. Or, follow this recipe today and soak your strawberries in balsamic simple syrup before popping them into tiny tart cups. It’s the easiest thing ever, but the reward it big because the flavors are so bold and bright.
This simple syrup is my new favorite condiment and these tarts are my new favorite summer dessert. I hope you like them too. We enjoyed them in the afternoon with coffee. Maeve didn’t have coffee, but she did just about flip her lid over these. She would probably eat them to the exclusion of all other foods, but I am trying to do my best to convince her broccoli is pretty cool too. I’ll keep you posted on that.
Strawberry Balsamic Tarts (makes about 16 small tarts)
For the Dough:
1 & 1/3 cups all-purpose flour