Sunday, June 29, 2008

Seeing Red

I keep making red food. I’m not actually seeing red. It is very difficult to remain cross when one pretends on a daily basis to be a blind French pirate* tickling a wiggling, squeaking squid and a rambunctious, squealing rat (look, I just play the tickle-fight part allotted to me; the tickle-fight rules are a case in which I let the inmates run the zoo). If a day includes making lemonade, it becomes even harder to cling to crabbiness, because, as the kids squeeze the lemons, my part is to provide voice to the poor, doomed lemons (“hey, kid! Kid! You look nice! C’mon, just wait! I’m sure we can come to an arrangement. Please. No, no, no! Kid, don’t do it! No! Aaaaaaaaah! Ow, that hurt, ya little creep, that… aaaaaaagghhh! Ahhh! Gerk.”). The kids won’t squeeze a lemon until it starts to talk. I kid you not. It’s awesome. Now that the kids have gotten so into this blind French pirate who attacks young children with tickling, all I have to do is, in my ridiculously put-on accent, say “Ah teeenk Ah smehll some-sing steeeenkeeee,” and the children shriek with delight and run to the bedroom to be tickled. The lesson here? Behavioral conditioning is hysterical. I think summer is a great time for a little extra credit in that department. In fact, it may be time to reintroduce Snapdragon (I use the flower as a puppet) as a completely whacko cult leader to sweetly gullible children.

Anyway. That was more of a tickle-fight/behavioral conditioning digression instead of talking about red food. I like Campari. I love blood orange juice. Beets… it kind of depends how they’re prepared. But the big push in red food for us right now is in strawberries. They’ve finally come into season, and we are on a strawberry bender. We’ve made strawberry gelato, strawberry granita, strawberry syrup (for strawberry lemonade), and, of course, strawberry shortcake. Our recent outing with it (and we're having another verysoon) used the cream biscuit recipe from The Art of Simple Cooking; the biscuits had absolutely amazing texture and flavor. As they should have, since they were essentially baked cream and butter held together with a little flour.
However, for both strawberry shortcke and strawberry gelato, although I make them often when strawberries are in season, once the season is over (we continue to eat strawberries) the recipes get shelved until the next season. I love cooking this way (usually. Sometimes I am struck by a perverse impulse to cook with exactly what isn’t in season). I love using the same ingredient, at its very best, as many ways as I can. It’s like a gift to people who compulsively go on ingredient benders, except you can sound quite proper and say that you “try to eat seasonally.” Heh.
*Blind Pew, from Muppet Treasure Island.


homebody at heart said...

Just as your strawberries are starting, ours are ending. I think the 100 temperature doesn't set well with the fragole. But now the blackberries and the first of the garden pluots have started! Blackberries are eaten with whipped cream, too!

Poppy said...

What a cozy blogspot! I just stopped here for the first time! I am going to get over to the market and get the pizza pans out and try the pizza/pasta recipes you posted! YUMMO!!!!

Meg said...

Homebody- They're pretty tempermental; I don't think we'll have them for much longer, but we waited so long for them this year that we're going to town on them while we can. Le more are not anything to turn your nose up at, though. And on your Italian vocab front, it took me a while to catch onto the fact that a blackberry is also slang.

Poppy- Thanks. I... well, I would use your common sense on the recipes; I'm not one for, erm... precise calibration.

homebody at heart said...

Okay, I give on the blackberry slang. Brunette? Something else? You don't mean moro?

Meg said...

Homebody- sorry, I meant to type it and forgot; I wasn't trying to be coy. You're right; a mora is a brunette woman. I found out after a train ride with a man who would NOT stop talking, in a comically porny way, about how much he loooooved ripe, lovely blackberries. I was all, "dude, they're good, but... WTF?" One of my room-mates explained it to me later, which made all his eyebrow waggling make much more sense (although still deeply ridiculous), since I am brunette.

Bee said...

I "tried" to make strawberry shortcake for July 4th -- with Homesick Texan's biscuit recipe; have you tried it? if so, how does it compare? -- but we ate all of the biscuits before we got to the dessert course. Nevermind. I also had brownies, watermelon, strawberries and whipped cream and peach cobbler. No one left hungry . . . but I still crave shortcake!

Do raspberries enter your red world? I've just eaten some lovely ones. The weather in England is not very summery, but at least we have "summer fruits" to indulge in.

Meg said...

Bee- I use a cream biscuit (or perhaps I should say "biscuit") recipe w/about 1.5 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 6 tablespoons butter and then 3/4 cup heavy cream (with some of that cream brushed over the top before baking instead of mixed in). The biscuits would be a nuisance as bicuits passed in a basket; they barely hold together. But in a bowl, under strawberries and cream, they are divine. Homesick Texan's biscuit recipe looks great; it also looks like they make good straight-eating biscuits.

We get great soft fruits in the Pacific NW (moderately warm days, cool nights in the summer; locals start wilting when the heat climbs past 75 degrees F), and raspberries are starting to come in (the kids are already clamoring for raspberry ice cream), but we had a cold spring and are a bit behind in local harvests.