Friday, July 6, 2012

Notes from the field: On summer.

 "Summer is late, my heart.
Words plucked out of the air
some forty years ago
when I was wild with love
and torn almost in two
scatter like leaves this night
of whistling wind and rain.
It is my heart that's late,
it is my song that's flown.

Outdoors all afternoon
under a gunmetal sky
staking my garden down,
I kneeled to the crickets trilling
underfoot as if about
to burst from their crusty shells;
and like a child again
marveled to hear so clear
and brave a music pour
from such a small machine.

What makes the engine go?
Desire, desire, desire.
The longing for the dance
stirs in the buried life.
One season only,
and it's done.
So let the battered old willow
thrash against the windowpanes
and the house timbers creak.
Darling, do you remember
the man you married? Touch me,
remind me who I am." 
- Stanley Kunitz


Desire, desire, desire. So lucky for me, my summer has finally arrived, and just in time. The sun is hot and the grass is green. The ocean is a baptism for tired winter bodies and the weekends provide endless opportunity for adventure and awe. 

Summer also gets sweet with these ripe strawberry cupcakes with balsamic spiked vanilla buttercream and local strawberries on top.

So relish in it. Drink it up, enjoy the magic, and remember that manifesto of a summer child is to let the season perpetually astonish you. 

Strawberry Cupcakes
½ cup whole milk

¼  cup unsweetened applesauce
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh strawberries, diced

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line one muffin tray.
2. Mix together dry ingredients (except sugar) in a separate bowl.
3. Cream the butter and the sugar, add in the eggs and beat until just combined, and then the vanilla.
4. Add the dry ingredients and the milk in 3 parts, alternating. Do not overbeat.
4. Gently fold in strawberries, and fill muffin cups until 3/4 full.
5.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Remove from tray and let cool completely before frosting.

Balsamic Vanilla Buttercream
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
4-6 cups confectioner's (icing) sugar

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the vanilla and balsamic.
2. Add 1 cup confectioner’s sugar and mix until combined, it will be very sticky.
3. Mix in remaining cups of confectioner’s sugar, depending on consistency and preference.
4. Frost cupcakes, and enjoy, summer child

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