A Strawberry Tart

It’s too easy. It’s too easy to get stuck in a rut, sometimes even more so than it is to spend time actually living your life.

You’re probably thinking, what in the world is this girl talking about?  Well, here’s the deal.  

In the last few weeks, I was robbed in the street (good-bye, my cherished iPhone 4s), I decided to apply to graduate school, I took the GREs, I wrote my graduate schools essays, and I’ve been working on my path to freedom: freelance.  To some of you, that might sound like a self-inflicted personal hell.  In some ways, it is.  I feel like I haven’t gotten to spend time with any of my friends (until this weekend, I haven’t).

On top of that, I ran my third half marathon yesterday morning.  In just a few days, I’m flying back to California for a wedding, and the weekend after that, I’m running the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler.  For Pete’s sake, throw in a few freelance deadlines and a new website launch for my day job.  No big deal.

Go ahead.  Call me crazy.  I already know that I am.

So, back to the robbery.  I went home during my lunch break one day to pick up some forgotten items.  As I was walking down the street, I was holding my iPhone, and… some jerk snatched it out of my hands on street corner – at 12:30 in the afternoon, just one block from my house.

Let’s all just admit that we do crazy things when we’re in love, and we’ve invested too much in an unhealthy relationship – too much for us to let go.  Anyone who has or has owned an iPhone knows what I’m talking about.  That being said, I chased the seedy character that had just robbed me.  I know.  I’m crazy.

Not only did I run after him, but I was also shouting expletives at the top of my lungs, and I chased him around a free-standing liquor store… twice.  Looking back, I’m so lucky to still be alive.  After reviewing the liquor store’s surveillance tapes, I was able to confirm that the half marathon training was paying off – I made running in three-inch heeled boots look like a piece of cake.  That might be the only good thing that I took away from this situation (and it’s satisfying to find humor where all hope is lost).

After I realized that I’d never catch him, I heaved a sigh of frustration, and a very large woman in a luxury SUV stopped at the corner, rolled her car window down, and said “get in.”

Naturally, being crazy in love, I sprinted to her car and hopped in.  Long story short, she drove me around, we followed him, lost him, and then found a police officer to report the crime.  Good-bye, my beloved Siri.  Hello, POS iPhone 3GS, which-I-can-only-make-phone-calls -while-on-speakerphone-with.

Fast forward three weeks, to this morning. I woke up early feeling the need to brush my teeth at 7 AM on a Sunday.  Considering the fact that I left my house at 7 AM to run a 13 mile race, didn’t nap, and then spent my Saturday hosting a barbeque and my Saturday night at the bars, all the laws of physics and sanity pointed to being knocked out until noon.

Nope.  Woke up to brush my teeth.  As I got out of bed, I knocked my slowly-dying iPhone 3GS into a glass of water next to my bed (it was half-full).


So… there goes my phone.  Again.  Really?  Is this some sort of punishment for chasing the guy that robbed me around a liquor store?  The surveillance tape wasn’t enough?

It’s 9:30 on a Sunday morning, and I’m typing away because I had too much caffeine yesterday, and the birds are chirping.  Clearly, they were not violently stripped of their most serious long-term relationship, as I just was (twice).

I must say, I take more than enough satisfaction in the simple act of drawing a line through each completed item on my painstakingly long to-do list.  I can cross off the half marathon, another freelance project, and ordering a new phone.  In a couple of hours, I’m going to pray to God that AT&T lets me downgrade to a dumb phone.

This trip to California is a necessary escape.  I’m hoping 2012 will start being nicer to me.

Sweet tart crust, by Smitten Kitchen

1.5 cups AP flour, plus whatever you need to make the dough workable
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon (9 tablespoons; 4 1/2 ounces) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg

Whipped Cream Filling

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.5 cups fresh strawberries, sliced as shown in photos


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a food processor, combine 1.5 cups flour, 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Pulse grind until evenly mixed.  Then, add the cubes of butter and pulse grind, slowly adding in the egg.  Pulse grind (about ten seconds each) until it won’t mix any more.  At this point, the dough was too sticky for me to work with, so I gradually added flour – about another half cup – until it was more of a pie-dough consistency.

Deb recommends chilling the dough, but I’m horribly impatient these days, and frankly, since it wasn’t required, I didn’t do it.  I rolled the dough out to about 1/4 of an inch in width, and transferred to a buttered tart pan.  I like giving tarts a nice, thick crust – the dainty crusts always fall apart on me.  I’ve given up on them.

I tried two methods with this crust.  First, by poking the living daylights out of the crust’s bottom with a fork (to prevent bubbles) and baking by itself.  At the same time, I had an identical crust that I lined with aluminum foil and filled with pie weights, disguised as legumes.  The first method came out looking much nicer, and finished baking much more quickly, so I recommend going au natural.

Anyway, bake for 20-30 minutes, until the crust is golden to your liking.  Then, remove it from the oven, and let cool.

While that’s resting, beat your whipping cream in a stand mixer for a couple of minutes, until it looks like, well, whipped cream.  Look for stiff peaks.  As it begins to form, gradually add the sugar and vanilla extract.  Set aside in the refrigerator until your tart is ready to serve.

To prepare, use a spatula to fill the tart with whipped cream.  If you want it to be extra decadent, line the tart with a layer of fresh strawberry jam before filling with the whipped cream (that was my original intent, but I got distracted when I made this, and then forgot to do so).  Arrange your sliced strawberries on top of the whipped  cream to your liking, and consume on a pretty spring day.