Sunday, June 23, 2013

Buckling batter and puddles of jam, behold the Strawberry Summer Cake!

So Saturday morning I picked 'em, Saturday afternoon, I gave some away, and Saturday night we ate 'em.  Yum, so good, Summer sweet strawberries. 

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...and I still had a lot left over, a lot.   And now I was in a dilemma, what to do with them, I knew Monday after returning from work they would be well, not so fresh. 

I asked a few ladies picking what their plans were with them and they all replied jam.  And while I do love jam and will graciously take a jar or two if a fine jam maker is willing to part with their homemade gift, but I am not a jam maker.  And I will gladly enjoy a serving of strawberry shortcake, but it's not a dessert that would end up entirely being consumed in our house of two strawberry lovers and one four legged dog-child.  I thought about freezing these little ruby gems but they are so fragile and so perfect, sending them to the deep freeze along with the peas, corn and other cast offs buried in the freezer, forgotten about, did not seem worthy of their greatness.  No offense to pea and corn lovers but they are a little heartier than these delicate berries.

And then I remembered a recipe I saw a few years ago on Smitten Kitchen, calling only for the kind of strawberries found locally and picked at their absolute peak.  

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Deb, from Smitten Kitchen, described the recipe like this,

"When Monday rolls around and the strawberries are on their last legs, if you listen closely to them, they’ll tell you that this cake is how they’d like to go out."

And since I would be working Monday but was home today, I decide to give it a whirl!

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With over a pound of fruit and her comment describing "puddles of jam",  I was well, smitten.   And if you like the term "puddles of jam" as much as I do you'll be quite happy by the end of this post, because it's going to happen a lot. 

"The strawberries take over. Nobody complains. The cake is short on steps but long on baking time, and in that hour that it hangs out in your oven, those strawberries turn into puddles of jam. The batter buckles around the receding berries, which dimple like a country quilt and the edges of the cake become faintly crisp."

I can only say she had me at, "puddles of jam", buckling batter, a country quilt, and faintly crisp,
And of course I had to used my blueberry pie dish from LL Bean's, a gift from my Momma.  I think my favorite part was gently tucking each one into this billowy batter.

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 Just over an hour later, behold perfect "puddles of jam!"

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This cake is yummy!  Beautifully rustic, which I love.  Crisp, delicately sweet, and bursting with the flavor of summer. 

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And by the way, in my last post I ended requesting Summer to stay awhile and as always, in Seattle, just when you have a lovely, sunny, warm day, you can almost bet in less then 24 hours the rain will return.  I wonder if it's Mother Natures cruel joke or a just reminder to be grateful and savor each fleeting moment.  And speaking of fleeting moments, the remainder of my strawberries and this beautiful cake will be gone by the end of the week but we will savor each bite and hope the sun will return soon.  And it may be raining outside but we are thoroughly enjoying our little "puddles of jam" inside, because we are nothing if not grateful.

Have a lovely week!
Many thanks to the Biringer Farm for the sweet berries in this post!

Welcoming Summer.

Roll out the welcome mat, Summer is in da house!  And what better way to welcome Summer in than partaking in some farm fresh strawberries, Summers official fruit.

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Biringer Farm is beautiful, lush green and berry red decorate the landscape...even there tractor is red! 

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The fields were full of fruit spilling out into the path and I had to watch my step to avoid stepping on the little ruby gems. 

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Picking strawberries is addicting, just when you think you have enough you spot the perfect berry, just hanging there sparkling in the sunlight.   And where there is one sparkling berry, there are more, and then you say ok, enough is enough,  but  then you realize the lower left corner of the basket is a little sparse and you might as well even it out right?   Just one more will do it...

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In just shy of an hour I was finally content with my tray, alright maybe a few more went in while I was waiting for the tractor, just to even the corners a bit.  And in the end, my basket was a bit heavy but I thought it looked pretty good, if I do say myself.

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It was just before noon when the tractor came back around and with the sun straight up, a full basket of berries and not much shade I was completely ready to head back to the barn.

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Biringer has a beautiful spot, in the valley, with the Cascade Mountains in the background and I just had to snap a few more photo on the ride back.

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My fingers were stained and dusty, I had a bit of mud on my shoes and I left with over 11 pounds of beautiful sweet, perfectly ripe berries.

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As I was leaving the farm, I rang my sweet friend to tell her I would be stopping by in about an hour.  I told her I was not going to stay long, but I had something to give her.  She greeted me at the door and after the usual hug and welcome, she said she had just sent her hubby to the store for Champagne.  I must add here, my sweet friend is amazing and I just love her!  Soon we were all sitting under the umbrella, on this beautiful Summer day, sipping Champagne/St Germaine cocktails and enjoying these sweet "just picked" Summer berries. 

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Welcome Summer, I hope you plan to stay awhile.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice Sunset Picnic.

Today was a beautiful long day, literally, because today was the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and I love it!  Here in the Pacific Northwest we were blessed with 16+ hours of glorious daylight.   So tonight, after a long day at work, we ordered Thai food and had an impromptu picnic at the beach.

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It was a beautiful evening and all along Sunset Avenue cars were lined up to gaze at the colorful show about to unfold.

The ferry had just loaded and was about to begin it's journey across the Sound.

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And we sat with our picnic basket and Thai food at the water's edge.

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It was lovely, ferry on the water, train's whistling by in either direction, birds soaring above and the sun dipping behind the Olympic Mountains.

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And after the third train passed by and the sun had finally set, we packed up our little picnic and headed home.

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It was a wonderful Edmonds evening.

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I hope you all made the most of this magical day.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend.

I am looking forward to the Supermoon.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Las Vegas and a wonderful 43rd Birthday!

Jason Love once said about Las Vegas, "It has all the amenities of a modern society in a habitat unfit to grow a tomato."  I have often been quoted as saying, "Yes, it's fake, it is the ultimate Mirage in the desert, but it's also a lot of fun!

We decided this winter, during the dreary grey days of February, that we would celebrate my birthday with sunshine.  Las Vegas is beautiful in May high 80's-low 90's, dry desert heat, Mai Tai's a plenty and there is always something to do.  We love the sun, the sight's and the show's.

After a quick two and a half hour flight we left the overcast cool skies of Seattle and arrived to the warm breeze and bright blue sky of fabulous Las Vegas.

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Our good friends joined us and we all had a wonderful time.   We love, and always stay at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, it smells like the tropics, it's light and bright inside and the relaxing pools and lazy river are the perfect balance to the intense energy of the Las Vegas Strip.

Our days started early, as we were at the Mandalay Bay Beach before the doors opened, to secure our favorite spot under the palm trees.   We have stayed here before and we know that at about high noon those palm fronds will provide just enough shade to allow us a few more hours before the heat ushers us back inside.

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We also took in the Beatles Cirque Du Soliel show, played skee-ball, saw the Sax-Man at the bar at Times Square, shared an intimate evening with Santana, and even happened upon an Elvis concert in Old Vegas. 

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We enjoyed some wonderful food, met some interesting taxi cab drivers,  played a few hands of blackjack, pulled a few slots, enjoyed a Mai Tai or two by the pool, floated in the Lazy River, body surfed in the wave pool and enjoyed every moment of our mini vacation. 

And for those of you who could not make it here is the video.

2013 Las Vegas-web from Wendy on Vimeo.

Have a lovely day!

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