Saturday, April 11, 2009
I've been trying to get this post out but I've been at the mercy of my fickle internet service, which is back up again this morning (yay!). It's Saturday now but it's been feeling like one long Monday, and not because I couldn't get on line (though that probably didn't help). A long, long, looong Monday, that, now that I think of it, started somewhere last week, actually. It's one of those times when life just, well, sucks the life out of you. And Spring seems to have taken its own vacation around here and the clouds have rolled in again--perhaps somewhat appropriately. I really did have grand plans for this post, like cute little stories from my childhood and reflections on the joy of youth--you know, something terribly profound and thought-provoking, but I've lost the inspiration even before I've begun so maybe another time will do but not today.
The highlight in my long "Monday", though, was that I managed to do one of my favorite things on a Saturday morning this last weekend, and that was to go to the local farmers' market. Farmers' markets are really the place to be for a weekend morning, to leisurely stroll along the vendor stands and watch people with baby strollers and reusable shopping bags, as they mull around the organic produce laid out in crates and boxes. Gone is any affectation, replaced by a little more sincerity. I usually go not really with a shopping list in mind, but just to see what's in season and what looks enticing and to people watch or spend quality time with a friend, but this time, I had purpose: I was going to buy a plant for my new apartment. I have never bought a plant, never had any inclinations toward cultivating a green thumb, but decided I needed one just to brighten up my place and make it more homey and welcoming. But I didn't know what to get ("a wise bowl of sage"? maybe too clever...only at a farmers' market), so instead I saw a table of lovely, fresh strawberries beckoning, and I could not resist. Instead of a plant, I came home with the lovely strawberries, which then later turned into some not-nearly-as-lovely-but-they'll-do strawberry cupcakes (I found the recipe at pickycook.com; I didn't get enough air into the butter so they baked up a little heavy and my frosting didn't come out so smooth, but the taste, it was what you would think a fresh Spring day would taste like if you could put it into a cupcake...mmm).
And my mission to get a plant? I got daffodils from Trader Joe's that were so cute when I first picked them up it was enough to dispel any blues momentarily, but they have only since wilted considerably, in just a matter of days. What could I have done wrong? I watered it faithfully, put it by the window for light, and all I can think of that was that maybe, just maybe, I didn't talk to it enough--or at all. My very first plant ever and I have already almost killed it in record time. Another thing to chalk up to the blues. But tomorrow is Easter Sunday, and that is always a marker of hope.
Adapted from the recipe at pickycook.com (thank you Picky Cook!)
Makes about a dozen
For the cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 350F and line the cupcake tin.
1. Puree in a food processor or blender:
- 1 cup of fresh or frozen strawberries (hulled) (there will be extra for the frosting)
2. Whisk together with a wire whisk:
- 1-1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 t. baking powder
- 1/4 t. kosher salt
3. In a cup, combine:
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1-1/2 t. vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup strawberry puree from #1
4. Cream together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy:
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup of sugar
5. Add to the mixing bowl and mix to combine:
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 large egg whites, at room temperature
6. Mix into the butter and egg mixture from #5 on low: the flour mixture from #2 and the milk and strawberry puree from #3, alternating between each but beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
7. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for about 5 minutes, then cool on a rack completely.
For the frosting:
1. In a mixing bowl, using the paddle attachment, cream:
- 2 sticks (or 1 cup) of butter
2. Mix in, until smooth:
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1 t. vanilla
- 1/3 cup strawberry puree