extraordinary, just like a strawberry

There is no way to talk about needing to distract yourself while two of your closest friends are out of the country for a significant amount of time to sound like a dork (at best), so all I’ll say is that Tim and I are moving house in two weeks and it is significantly distracting. I love our current flat of three and a half years in a way that I never thought a person could love the place they live – having had a succession of terrible, dark flats (crumbly, cold and damp like milk seeping into passionless wheaten breakfast cereal) overlorded by landlords ranging from the faintly bizarre to the terrifying. Here we have real sunshine, the kind that actually gets through the windows and blankets you in warmth rather than sodding off to hang out with your rich neighbours while your room is shrouded in darkness. We don’t have dampness, we don’t have mice, and so on and so forth. In the darkness and with mice my only friends was how I of course started this blog, and pretty much the best thing about living in horrible flats is that you get to spin ever-larger tales of their ill-repute later in life. If Tim and I, aged 19, had shacked up together in a mansion, well. Actually that would’ve been really awesome. I care not for the value of whatever lesson living in said horrible flat taught me: I’d take the mansion any day. 
Much as I hate things coming to an end, sometimes moving on feels right, and we’ve found a new place that we adore. It’ll be just us (nothing to do with us being engaged, we just like that notion) it’s enormous – plenty of dancing room – it has more storage room than we’ve ever known, and it has a dishwasher! I’m already pretty slovenly but I look forward to spiraling further downwards into a state of blissful sloth after welcoming this appliance into our lives. 
Packing has been strangely fun: I spent several hours doing it on Saturday while Tim was off playing the game of Game of Thrones. (I love the tv show, I devour the books, I can’t abide the endless and endlessly complicated game and was happy to be left alone, in case you’re thinking of getting righteous on my behalf.) On my travels through the dark corners of our wardrobe I discovered many a long-forgotten thing.
A faxed copy of my casually sexist birth certificate. My mum’s occupation and the question of their surnames being different were apparently not of interest in the mid eighties. (Faxed to me during high school so I could take part in a first year university philosophy paper, what an overachiever that baby turned out to be!) 

We have some fairly embarrassing DVDs in our collection, but also some really, really good books.

I wasn’t sure whether to admonish myself or be delighted at the sheer decadence of it all, either way I forgot that we had a bottle of champagne in the cupboard. Who even gets champagne at all, and then goes and forgets about it? Us sybaritic lotophagi, that’s who. (And who even says sybaritic lotophagi? This dick.)
I made this ice cream cake a couple of weeks ago now for a potluck dinner which was also something of a farewell for the two aforementioned now-traveling friends. The recipe comes from this glorious American book from the sixties that I own called “Favourite Recipes of America: Desserts (including party beverages)” (punctuation my own addition.) I love old-timey desserts, and American ones tend to have this particular heedless, uninhibited nature which I particularly adore, and have discussed at length when I made a plum meringue crumble pie from this same book earlier this year.

This recipe is as much about texture as it is flavour – crunchy biscuit crumbs puncturing and encasing the creamy, cold ice cream, itself studded with sorbet-like frozen slices of strawberry. It is pure summer, in spoonable form. In that you can serve it with a spoon, but I took that to a new level by lying on the couch and verily spooning the roasting dish that I made this recipe in, while feeding myself spoonfuls of what ice cream remained in said dish. Seriously though: this would be perfect for a southern hemisphere Christmas pudding – what with strawberries being in season and all – but if you’re up there in the northern hemisphere I recommend this insistently all the same, since you could easily use frozen berries and serve it alongside another pudding of a hotter nature. Just make it, okay? It’s brilliant.

Strawberry Ice Cream Cake 

From Favourite Recipes of America: Desserts – recipe submitted by Mrs Elaine Cruikshank, Montrose, Iowa. 

I know the method looks weird, since every recipe with separated egg whites goes on about how it needs to be whisked in a sterile environment and it WILL fail on you and so on and so forth. And here we are throwing a bunch of ingredients in a bowl and whisking them all devil-may-care. What can I say, it just works! So go with it. Also: the recipe called for 1/2 cup chopped nuts in the biscuit stage but I left them out for someone at the party who had an allergy, you can of course feel free to put them back in.

1 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
125g melted butter
2 egg whites
1 cup sugar
2c sliced fresh strawberries (or use defrosted frozen, as I suggested)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup cream
More sliced strawberries for decoration

Set your oven to 180 C/350 F. Stir together the flour, sugar and butter till it forms a soft, stiff dough. Press it evenly onto a paper-lined baking tray, so that it looks like a giant cookie and bake for 20 minutes. You could in fact stop right here and enjoy your giant cookie. I might well do this myself one day. But what you want to do is let it cool, then crumble with your fingers, and sprinkle 2/3 of the crumbs evenly into the base of a medium sized brownie tin/medium sized roasting tin – or you could use a cake tin, even, it really doesn’t matter. 

In a bowl, combine the egg whites, sugar, sliced strawberries and lemon juice. Whisk the heck out of this for as long as you can, but around 5-10 minutes. Despite the doubtfulness of it all, it will thicken and aerate and the whisking action will break down the strawberry slices, tinting the mixture a rather glorious pale pink. 

Whip the cream and fold it into the strawberry mixture, then scrape the lot over the top of the biscuit crumbs. Decorate with slices of strawberries if you like, and sprinkle over the remaining 1/3 of the crumbs. Freeze till solid. 

I already adore ice cream with inordinate fervency, but here with early strawberries, delicious with their early-season optimism, it’s more glorious than ever. And this is so, so easy and straightforward. 
Speaking of optimism, how goes my job-prowl? Not bad. I mean, I’m still unemployed, and feeling its pinch pretty keenly (moving house is SO EXPENSIVE) but my interview on Friday earned me a follow-up coffee this morning! Which is very exciting. Especially since I was quite, quite convinced I’d blown the interview itself. I have another interview on Wednesday, and I still am yet to hear back from another interview that I felt went well, so we’ll see. We’ll see. Even if my perception of how Friday’s interview went was way off, I promise you I’m perceiving this ice cream correctly: it’s damn incredible. I love it. Make it. Spoon with it, even – you’re not alone. 

Title via: Ini Kamoze, Here Comes The Hotstepper. This song has aged so well. In my opinion. And my opinion is correct.
Music lately: 

Rekindled my long-ago interest in Lisa Loeb. By way of playing Do You Sleep around 2938102938 times in a row one afternoon. You know how music can swiftly take you back to a particular time and place? Listening to this song now just reminds me of the time that I last listened to this song, because I have listened to it so much lately. Try it!

Tegan and Sara, Closer. It’s like, here are your feelings, neatly packaged in jaunty song form!

Barton Hollow, by the Civil Wars. I’d heard of this band before but really got into them when they were recently covered on this TV show I’m obsessed with, called Nashville. (Especially fun since Tim and I were just IN Nashville and so it’s all, “I recognise that landmark in this establishing shot!”) This country-ish, harmony-rich song is delicious.
Next time: Lack of incoming funds + moving house has meant I’ve been making meals strictly based on what’s in our cupboards, fridge and freezer. So: hopefully something even bordering on coherent for you. 

9 thoughts on “extraordinary, just like a strawberry

  1. Olivia M says:

    That sounds so divine! Yum. And we need to have a catch up sooner rather than later! It seems as though I haven't seen you in aggggggges. Maybe after you've moved (I know what that's like!). xxx


  2. Emma says:

    I need to find this cookbook. Man, each recipe is better than the last!

    Good luck on all those interviews. I've had to apply to jobs for months just to snag one (on Thursday, eeeek), so I know you'll come out of this on the shiny rosy positive side of employment.

    My vote for the next dish is something made with the champagne;)


  3. Hila says:

    Good luck with both the job hunting and the moving! Sounds pretty darn stressful to me.

    Oh dear, that birth certificate: “My mum's occupation and the question of their surnames being different were apparently not of interest in the mid eighties.” Damn, and this was only recently, not in the 50s! Kind of reminds you how much more work we still have to do for equality.


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