At last, we have local strawberries! J went out to Sakuma Brothers last week and bought our first Skagit Valley strawberries of the season. They were huge, juicy and sweet – a totally different animal from the California berries for sale in the grocery store. I know that there are great strawberries in California – we used to buy them at the Santa Barbara farmer’s market every week – but they never make it up here.

What did we do with our fresh berries? Apart from eating one every time I walked by the box, that is? Strawberry shortcake, naturally.

strawberry shortcake

soft foods & liquids

bittersweet chocolate ice cream

Things may be a little quiet around here for a couple days. I got a tooth pulled yesterday, and in between naps and trying to remember which pills I should be taking, I’m now casting around for ideas of things to eat with as little texture as possible, with the added fun of nothing hot, acidic or alcoholic.

As you might imagine, I’ve had a lot of yogurt. And cream of tomato soup. We had macaroni and cheese with steamed cauliflower last night, that went down pretty easy. So I’m not starving, but it all seems a little dull. And not very photogenic, either.

On the other hand, it was a perfect excuse for J to make me some ice cream! We dug out our copy of The Perfect Scoop, which hasn’t been seeing much use the last couple months, and I decided that plain old chocolate custard ice cream would do the trick. So J got hold of some good bittersweet chocolate and did it up, and oh my god it’s good. Like a fudgsicle, but a million times better. I can’t believe there’s a pint of it in my fridge right now and I’m not currently eating any. After the custard had chilled it was like a wonderful chocolate pudding, we almost didn’t want to put it in the ice cream maker – but it was even better afterwards.

You don’t need to wait until your next date with oral surgery to try this ice cream – go right out and make it now! Continue reading

a slight pie mishap

bosc pears

There’s a box of lovely bosc pears from the Wenatchee Valley that are just ripening in our basement. Pears are a real use-it-or-lose-it sort of fruit, so I thought I’d make one of my pear custard pies to take on a visit to a relative. A good idea, but a few problems in the execution.

The pie baked up beautifully, with a golden crust and pretty browned-sugar spots on the top, but of course it hadn’t set up completely (I could probably have left it in the oven a little longer). Generally custard pies will finish setting up on their own, so I didn’t worry about it. But instead of letting the pie cool on its rack in the kitchen, we impatiently packed it up in a cake carrier and took it off in the car.

Lesson learned: do not transport a hot, unset custard pie in an enclosed container. Between the jiggling of the moving car and the heat trap of the carrier lid, the pie completely liquified on the trip down, becoming instead a pie crust filled with sweet pear soup. I put it in the fridge when we arrived, but it only congealed slightly. Aargh.

However! Once we had polished off our lovely takeout dinner from Szechuan Bistro (if you’re anywhere near that neighborhood, and you haven’t had their dry-fried string beans with tofu, go get some now), we felt able to face the wreck of the pie. There was vanilla ice cream in the house, so I simply scooped the pie filling out of the shell and dumped it all over ice cream. It tasted wonderful.

But next time? I’ll make sure it stays pie.