May 13, 2011

Strawberry season is here!

I have always had an affinity towards strawberries. They seemed like a hands-off, once a year sort of treat. Still to this day, when I visit my grandparents home, the treasured dessert is vanilla bean ice cream topped with strawberries from their garden. In its simplicity, it speaks of freshness, family, and the coming of summer. In one of my favorite books as a child, The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear, the little mouse tries to hide his ripe strawberry from the big hungry bear. (It is another that I think my father had memorized due to reading it over and over and over again.) I love this!

While the berries are best enjoyed when ripe, simply on their own, there are also many great ways to bake and cook with them. My sister and I transformed the lovely berries into a simple galette to complete a fresh spring dinner. The strawberries baked down with butter and sugar, nestled into a classic tart dough making a warm treat reminiscent of strawberry shortcake. I like making galettes instead of pies, because the dough to fruit ratio is more equalized, and I also love how rustic it looks. The recipe for the galette is below, and here are a few other strawberry recipes I hope to try in the coming weeks:

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Strawberry Basil Salad with White Balsamic by Just Pinch Me 

Strawberry + Leek Quesadillas from Sprouted Kitchen 

Heidi’s Roasted Strawberries from 101 Cookbooks

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake by Fork Spoon Knife 

Strawberry Basil Pesto by Chocolate and Zucchini 

Strawberry Galette 

adapted from Martha Stewart
For The Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
1 1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 ounces (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons ice water
For The Galette
1 pound strawberries, hulled
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces


  1. Make the dough: Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor to combine. Add butter, and pulse until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add ice water, and pulse until just combined (dough will still be crumbly). Shape dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a floured surface, roll dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut out a 10-inch round, and transfer to a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Make the galette: Cut strawberries lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Reserve end pieces for another use. Toss slices with 1/4 cup sugar and the cornstarch, and immediately arrange them in concentric circles on dough. Start 1 inch from edge, overlapping slices slightly. Fold edge of dough over berries. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  4. Whisk together yolk and water. Brush dough with the egg wash, and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Dot berries with butter. Bake until crust is golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes.

[LENT]: empty space

March 18, 2011


Lent is much about the empty space, the simplicity of time, heart, body. It is about shedding the layers of winter and stretching again, extending my hands to the furthest reach, to see just how much there is around me. It is about breathing. The fast is the ability to say no, to experiment in restraint, and to exercise the muscles of discipline. All of this points to our humanity, our limitations, our need for something else, something greater.

The created emptiness leaves room to profoundly question. There are so many worldwide groanings to pay attention to. There is future and past to grapple with. There is body to move and spirit to breathe. What is prayer? I am quite not sure. But this heart of mine is open.


I have spent the last week moving over many ideas and materials, sketching and being inspired by many. This much I know – watercolor and graphite on paper. The delicacy of materials matches the fragility of life that I am thinking of, and my own mortality and humanity. Drawing with these materials is sure to show the artist’s hand, and to show the immediacy of the season. Watercolor paper offers a beautiful rough texture to be left empty. And now it is with hope I can stumble upon what it is that needs to fill the space…


We Take the Sky

We take the sky, as if red is something we could own,
something we might find in the stillest moments,
as if the earth is humane and wouldn’t break
our bones. (None of His were broken. Not one.)

Red is in the land too, is in the way we look at each other, the hardness
of our sleep, the need to fall down, to tell of the pox that swept Aunt Jess,
the drink that ushers Father, the path that never leads to wealth or rest
or health—but the one we always take. Shalom, we say. Buena Suerte.

We always take the sky, fold it over ourselves,
the soil, run it across our skin and cling to it,
savoring the tart of a lemon, palming a bar of soap
even when our hands are clean, naming the insects

that fly across the white bulb of moon late at night,
rakishly loving the one who knows our smell,
saying (as if they are not questions), Isn’t this how
we stay alive
and Why shouldn’t I burrow here.

This is how we drum on, cold and ungrowing—
what more to be than alive? It all hums: so we die in small bits,
so the egg-shaped hollow that sits behind our stomachs,
so He died and rose again on the third day, so (what).

We take the sky, we scatter on the land. We fall down,
grab the everythings, the tiniest cures, fall down again,
wash ourselves in red and know, unwittingly, it is not enough.
More certain than anything: it will never be,

and then here, in the stillest moments, the story rushes again
(veil splitting, stone rolling, Mary, Peter, John, running,
linen and spices like a limp cocoon, the blur of angels, the one red
splash of a second—like a rose breaking open—when we know),

and somewhere inside us a small green seed pricks the dirt,
coiling for air. He soothes and stirs, fingertip-sized holes in His
hands, roaming the soil and the sky for our broken bones.
And the shaking on earth is our brand new lives:

Alleluia, we say, feeling even the empty oval of our stomachs rise.

Copyright ©2005 by Susanna Childress

April 1, 2010

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;

And give us not to think so far away

As the uncertain harvest; keep us here

All simply in the springing of the year.

-Robert Frost

on going to the zoo

March 25, 2010

these days, things have been moving by at a quickening pace with less and less certainty. spring is trying to make its comeback in these parts; sun and snow. there are plenty of question marks about the future, seasons of life and comfortability coming to an and. love is difficult and optimism seem to cost. when just finishing what i started (namely school) seems a tall order, and paris feels like the only redemption. when i am running circles around myself in my head of what to do and not do, how to act, not act, what to love, who and how to love. engaging the little world of me and my to do list. how do i become better?

and on a wednesday afternoon, the white wine from the night before still lingering, grey clouds and single, fat drops of rain. with a gracious, unexpected chunk of time, my dear friend said, how about we go to the zoo?


i had no idea that $7 would provide me with one of the most delightful afternoons in recent history. it was not on the list. it was not part of the plan. it didn’t even feel like the guilty pleasures of formulated self care that i try to implement for balance.

it was a surprise. lots of surprises. the grace of the sealions as they come up for air. with britsh accents and old man whiskers they shared their wisdom. the meerkats stood guard. with a look so fierce on a creature so little all i could do was laugh. bison, birds, and a sincere wonder if the cougar would maul the man with the strange hat.

then there were the three gorillas. a species so close to our own. a cognitive connection. and there we were: the mama, papa, and son. the restlessness in the little one captivated me, as i felt that if it were socially acceptable, i might put a leaf on my head and beat my chest from time to time.

dear animals, though i only experienced you from a distance, you helped bring a bit of wonder and goodness to my life – if only for a moment. and for that i am thankful.