Food Friday: Farewell to Summer

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Quick! This is it. It’s the last weekend of summer, and you have a lot to accomplish before you put your white shorts away for the season, and start looking through closets for your sweaters. (Frankly, I am excited to think about sweaters and tights and scarves – but I did live in Florida for an awfully long time and I still get a little giddy thinking about putting on layers of clothes.) I have even started to flip through the Bean catalogue, looking for the perfect black wool sweater, which has become my raison d’etre the last couple of falls. I want to be toasty warm (and stylish) when I am planting daffodil bulbs in November.

But as I anticipate the delights of the upcoming change of season, I am also thinking about the tasks I did not accomplish this summer: the books I didn’t read, the sunsets I missed, the European travel that we started to plan (but postponed until next year), the domestic travel we didn’t manage to shoehorn into our busy-with-work lives, the popcorn movies I didn’t see. It is going to be a busy weekend.

Labor Day Weekend To Do List:

1. Read Elana Ferrante quartet of books: starting with My Brilliant Friend, http://elenaferrante.com
I have only just started the first book. I will spend a couple of hours in the hammock with it before we pack the hammock off to the garage for the fall.

2. Have a crab feast. Whatever was I thinking all summer? You bring the beer.

3. Eat a soft serve ice cream cone. Outside. And let it melt and ooze down my arm, until it drips off my elbow.

4. Cook marshmallows over a campfire while counting fireflies. Is it too late for sparklers?

5. See at least one of the movies I missed this summer: “Eighth Grade”, “Bookclub”, “On Chesil Beach”, “Ocean’s 8”, “Won’t you be My Neighbor”, “The Spy Who Dumped Me”, “Crazy Rich Asians”. Better yet – find a drive-in movie theatre!

6. Run to New York City to see: “My Fair Lady”, “Aladdin”, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” and then buzz up to Tanglewood to see the Wynton Marsalis Quintet. Sadly we have missed Shakespeare in the Park. We can pop over to D.C. to the Folger Library and sneak a peek at a first Folio: https://www.folger.edu/exhibitions/form-function-genius-of-the-book And the Scottish Play starts on September 4: https://www.folger.edu/events/shakespeares-macbeth

7. Have a lobster feast. You bring the beer.

8. Get the kayak out of the garage and put it in the water.

9. Get the hiking app AllTrails and go for a hike!

10. Go to an independent bookstore. Browse around. Chat up the bookstore cat. Buy a book.

11. Weed the tomato garden. For once this season.

12. Make a fresh strawberry pie. It is worth it for the crust alone!

FOR THE CRUST
10 ⅔ ounces/300 grams shortbread cookies (2 5.3-ounce packages)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup/55 grams unsalted butter, melted

FOR THE FILLING
2 ½ pounds/about 1 kilogram strawberries (about 8 to 10 cups), hulled
⅓ cup/67 grams granulated sugar
3 tablespoons strawberry preserves
¼ cup/30 grams cornstarch
Pinch of kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

FOR THE TOPPING
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)

Prepare crust: Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, combine shortbread cookies, sugar, flour and salt and blend until you have fine crumbs. Transfer crumbs to a medium mixing bowl. Add butter and mix with a fork until crumbs are evenly moistened. Tip crumbs into a standard 9-inch pie plate and press them in an even layer on the bottom and up the sides of the plate. Bake until golden brown and set, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Prepare filling: Cut each of the strawberries in quarters or eighths, if they are large. Transfer 2 cups berries to a small saucepan and crush completely with a potato masher. Set aside the remaining berries in a large bowl. Add the sugar, preserves, cornstarch, 1 tablespoon water and salt to the saucepan.

Bring strawberry mixture to a boil over medium heat and then cook it an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add strawberry mixture and lemon juice to the strawberries in the bowl and stir to combine. Transfer to the prepared crust and gently tap it down into an even layer. Transfer to the fridge to set for at least 4 hours.

Just before serving, whip cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, if using, to soft peaks. Top pie with whipped cream.

There is no going back to strawberry shortcake.

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1019379-fresh-strawberry-pie

13. Make some quick pickles.
https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/quick-pickled-vegetables

14. Cook hot dogs on the grill. You know you haven’t done it all summer, and you really want to.

15. Play croquet.

16. Go to a baseball game.

17. You-pick-it: apples, blueberries, blackberries. Get in some training for pumpkin picking and corn mazes and zucchini dodging.

18. Turn on the sprinkler, and walk through it. Repeat. Delicious.

19. Stay up late. Sleep late. Take a nap.

“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv’d but three summer days – three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.”
― John Keats

About Jean Sanders

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