Sunday, June 8, 2008

Lemon Curd and Travel Schemes

The weather in Seattle has been dismal. Grim. Bad enough that even the natives are starting to gripe, which, although admitting this does not reflect well on me, often gives me a frisson of sharp, malicious delight. The land of mild weather and weather optimists is great. I love living here. But sometimes the Pollyanna viewpoint of eternal March is a little maddening. Someone chirping that "at least it's not raining!" when one is at an ice cream social on a windy fifty degree evening causes deep marks on my tongue from biting it savagely. So when the natives start to grumble, I guess what I feel is... vindication.
I thought a dose of culinary sunshine was in order (again), if we’re not going to get it from the actual sun. We're getting strawberries from California, but not the bursting ruby fruits in half flats that can really only come from local growers. And if we don't get some sun soon to dry them out and ripen them up, it may be a pretty meager local harvest. I wanted to make strawberry shortcake, having recently eyed it on both Homesick Texan and Kitchenography, but... I want it with perfect strawberries. I don't know why. I'm finicky? Don't answer that. It's rhetorical.

A lemon tart with sliced strawberries, however, is delicious and can be made with berries that are just... okay. So last night I mixed up some pate sucree and this morning made a lemon curd (the recipes for the pate sucree and the lemon curd were both courtesy of The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters). I didn’t watch the lemon curd very attentively (no codeine to blame; just me and my knack for spacing out at the wrong moment), so it was more of a delicious lemon curd... studded with bits of scrambled egg. Blech. Fortunately, strainers were created for just such mistakes and we were able to have the tart without revolting little bits of scrambled eggs.

The rest of the day (which you’re dying to hear about, I know), I pretty much did what I’ve been doing for the last looong week: I sat at the computer or on the couch with a cup of tea, bored and (although much better) not well enough to do anything, until I felt crabby and unreasonable about just sitting around, at which point I would get up and force myself to do something I do normally. And then, that activity would wipe me out, so I would lie down and rest (or nap) until I felt up to sitting at the computer or couch with tea again. Until I got frustrated… well, you get the idea. You’d think I could learn that I need to be more zen about recovery, but life lessons (especially ones having to do with patience) are wasted on me.
Finally, I decided that since I have been left alone with the computer, a map and the credit cards a few too many times in the last week, I might as well make some plans. So yesterday, I hacked, had tea and schemed.
I had, in earlier attempts at scheming in the week, called Fairburn Farm, since I was hoping to go up there with the kids and the Incredible Eating Nephew. The good news is that they’re doing well and are busy. The bad news is that they were booked up for the length of the Incredible Eating Nephew's visit. I was bummed and glad at the same time; when we first went there in 2005 it was clear we’d stumbled onto an extraordinary place. Their profile has steadily and deservedly risen and I am glad for their success, really.
But... still a little bit selfishly petulant and bummed. I can only say, if you're hoping to go stay there, call. Now.
I set my (adjusted) sights on the Olympic Peninsula. We’ve never hauled the Incredible Eating Nephew or my kids out to the rain forest or up to Hurricane Ridge. And, yes, I do see the irony of complaining about the dismal weather and then making plans to go to a temperate rain forest.
We’ll spend a few days working our way around the peninsula, spending our nights on Lake Crescent and then renting a cottage in a planned community I’m curious about, Seabrook (the link is to a NY Times article, one of many press mentions Seabrook has recently gotten). Is it successful, interesting New Urbanism or retro in a creepy, homogenized way? I don't know why, but I have to know. I love the idea of pedestrian and bicycle-friendly communities, large green spaces but small lots for houses, etc., but I bridle against the restrictive nature of many planned communities, making rules about how sloppy a garden can be, what plants are permitted and what colors houses may be painted. Restrictions like that give me a sudden, deep fondness for all things lurid. Anyway, we’ll find out whether it’s creepy, cool or somewhere in between. Since we’re there with the kids, whether we love it or hate it, we’ll spend most of our time in the southern end of Olympic National Park or out on the beach flying kites and checking out tide pools. This is a beach vacation, Pacific Northwest-style. This style of beach vacation took me a little getting used to, since, unless one is wearing a thick wetsuit, it does not generally involve entering the frigid, hypothermia-inducing water. Still, once you get used to the notion that it's less about sun, sand, and swimming (the surfing is great, but... so cold, even with a wetsuit and a thermos of hot coffee on the beach) and more about activites that include words like "bracing" and "refreshing," it's pretty fantastic.
And here I go down the well-trod path of becoming a weather optimist. At least it's not raining. This second.


Julie said...

A lemon tart with strawberries sounds gorgeous!

Would you feel any better about Seattle if I told you that the weather in Maryland is suddenly sweltering and humidity hangs upon us like a big, damp, HOT blanket? I went to a wedding this past weekend and it was so hot that the frosting on the wedding cake melted and the top layer slid off.

OK, I understand. Fifty degrees in June would probably depress me too. (Although at the moment it sounds appealing.)

Meg said...

Julie- the tart is indeed good (we ravaged it too much for photos), and pretty straightforward.

Oy. You'd think the weather could average out for both of us.

Oppresive heat and humidity is no more fun than being stuck in the rainy fifties. Even from the doldrums of gray, that kind of heat doesn't sound fun (although I could see how a few days of our weather would feel like a relief for you).

homebody at heart said...

I learned as a kid not to complain about things over which I had no control like the weather. Because, it's not like bitching about your burger and fries or a homework grade you feel you didn't deserve. BUT, this year, the weather has been so irritating that I complain about it almost on a daily basis as does almost everyone else at work, too. The wind makes me have a restless irritability, bad hair and my garden sort of sucks this year. I could go on, and on...(heavy sigh and head on table). BTW, your chokes look wonderful.

homebody at heart said...

Oh and, I love the sea anenomes!

Meg said...

Homebody- I wish, often, that I could let go of my frustrations with what is out of my control- like the weather. But mostly... I kvetch and grumble, and remain pretty happy. Weirdly (for me), I've finally hit a point of shrugging unconcernedly about the weather, and simply decided that June should be treated as if it's March, with hot cocoa, simmered stews and other cozy foods. The anemones are an old picture from Tofino I took, but I figured that it was the same coast (ish), so it sort of counted.