Strawberries (Short Stack 06/12)

It feels like a cop-out to start probably the third blog post in a row with “it’s been a tumultuous month”…but it has been! I’m a couple days late on this because Pride was this past weekend (I have odes to write to the Dyke March, my very first, but those may come later) and I was on the go basically non-stop. Plus, I’ve been unemployed for about a week and a half (fear not — barring any sudden developments I will be re-employed as of next week, thankfully) and the stress of the lead-up to that was…a lot. I’m not going to opine on it, but job hunting is hard, and demoralizing.

But then there’s always strawberries.

I have a confession to make here: before June 2019, I had never eaten a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. Really! I’m not a fan of peanut butter sandwiches in general (even though I love a good jar of JIF) and it took the peanut butter, bacon & jam sandwich from Susan Spungen’s Strawberries to change my mind. And changed it is — I made the same sandwich, minus the bacon, repeatedly over the week after I first tried it. I love a good new-to-me comfort food. I’m kicking my 8-year-old self for not getting into this way sooner.

In theory, I’ve got plenty more to say, but I’ve decided to get really into pies this summer and there’s a crust blind-baking in the oven that will need my attention in a few minutes. I hope you enjoy the sweetness of strawberries as much as I did.


Book: Strawberries, Susan Spungen (Short Stack Editions)

Recipes made: 5/21


Strawberry Compound Butter:  Delicious and simple and, most importantly, incredibly beautiful. I love that it looked like a sunrise as I spread it across slices of homemade challah (overtoasted, as you can see). I really want to try other compound butters because of this.

Strawberry Compound Butter: Delicious and simple and, most importantly, incredibly beautiful. I love that it looked like a sunrise as I spread it across slices of homemade challah (overtoasted, as you can see). I really want to try other compound butters because of this.

Bonus photo for Strawberry Freezer Jam, because I forgot to take a photo before I put it in the freezer.

Bonus photo for Strawberry Freezer Jam, because I forgot to take a photo before I put it in the freezer.

Strawberry Hand Pies:  I had leftover pie dough, which was a godsend; when my girlfriend and I decided we wanted to try this, we didn’t have to wade through the process of making the dough (aka putting myself in temptation’s way…I still ate some dough, though). These are like Pop-Tarts without the weird box art that suggests Pop-Tarts cannibalize themselves.

Strawberry Hand Pies: I had leftover pie dough, which was a godsend; when my girlfriend and I decided we wanted to try this, we didn’t have to wade through the process of making the dough (aka putting myself in temptation’s way…I still ate some dough, though). These are like Pop-Tarts without the weird box art that suggests Pop-Tarts cannibalize themselves.

Cold Soba Salad:  I liked the concept of this, but I wish I hadn’t followed it to the letter. I’m not a big fan of cucumber and didn’t love its texture here, but the flavors were all really good and I’ll definitely be making cold soba more this summer.

Cold Soba Salad: I liked the concept of this, but I wish I hadn’t followed it to the letter. I’m not a big fan of cucumber and didn’t love its texture here, but the flavors were all really good and I’ll definitely be making cold soba more this summer.

Peanut Butter, Strawberry & Bacon Sandwich:  Spungen advises that this be made with soft white bread, and I’d imagine it would be incredible on that rather than chewier peasant bread. Still delicious, still probably going to be a frequent breakfast throughout the rest of my life APBJ (After Peanut Butter & Jam).

Peanut Butter, Strawberry & Bacon Sandwich: Spungen advises that this be made with soft white bread, and I’d imagine it would be incredible on that rather than chewier peasant bread. Still delicious, still probably going to be a frequent breakfast throughout the rest of my life APBJ (After Peanut Butter & Jam).

'that thing you always stock up on in Oregon Trail' Rhubarb (Short Stack 05/12)

I was very excited to try rhubarb for the above reason. For so much of my life (26 years!) (technically more like 20, I guess) “rhubarb” was a mythical creation: my characters in “Oregon Trail” always bought a ton of it, because it was cheap and traveled well; and every spring, I saw food writers sing the praises of rhubarb [pie/jam/crumble/etc]. But until this month, I’d never gotten around to trying it.

Alas, it was not May 01 that I tried it, and that’s why once again it feels like I’ve made very little from this particular Short Stack. I hit the Union Square farmers’ market on May 1, ready to stock up, only to find that spring had not yet sprung quite enough for rhubarb to start being harvested and sold. It was closer to the middle of the month that I finally managed to get my hands on some, and that delay in tandem with my unusually busy social calendar (ha) meant that I didn’t come close to using as much rhubarb as my Oregon Trail pixel settlers did.

It can be hard for me to try new foods (thank god no one took me on the Oregon Trail, I guess); there’s a lot of sensory anxiety and social anxiety wrapped up in it. One of the things that I’ve loved about this Short Stack project (and that I love, in general, about home cooking) is that I can try things by myself, in the comfort of my own kitchen, where no one has any expectations of me. If I don’t like rhubarb after all, I can give the pie to a friend. If it turns out that I absolutely love whole-grain honey mustard, I can hoard it, buy it, or make it again myself. The stakes are low, and the anxiety is minimal. But I liked rhubarb a lot. I’ll be stocking up and freezing a ton before the season ends, so that I can drink rhubarb lemonade in November and think of spring.


Book: Rhubarb, Sheri Castle (Short Stack Editions)

Recipes made: 4/23


Rhubarb Pancakes:  These were supposed to involve rhubarb syrup, but the pancakes themselves were a last-minute breakfast-for-dinner decision, and they were still fantastic with maple syrup and butter. Sweet, buttery, and exactly how I like my pancakes.

Rhubarb Pancakes: These were supposed to involve rhubarb syrup, but the pancakes themselves were a last-minute breakfast-for-dinner decision, and they were still fantastic with maple syrup and butter. Sweet, buttery, and exactly how I like my pancakes.

Herbed Rhubarb Lemonade:  My girlfriend has insisted I save her a glass, which means I can’t do what I want desperately to do and down the pitcher. It’s really good, and simpler than I thought making lemonade at home would be…aside from my constant struggle to remember to open seltzer over the sink. I’m 0 for 2 on that one.

Herbed Rhubarb Lemonade: My girlfriend has insisted I save her a glass, which means I can’t do what I want desperately to do and down the pitcher. It’s really good, and simpler than I thought making lemonade at home would be…aside from my constant struggle to remember to open seltzer over the sink. I’m 0 for 2 on that one.

Sour Cream Rhubarb Pie with Ginger-Pecan Streusel:  The note in the book says “new fave fruit pie”. It’s true. I am not a huge fan of fruit pies, even though I enjoy baking them, but I loved this. I was a bit nervous about the streusel, being that I am also not a huge fan of nuts, but it’s so good and goes perfectly with the pie. The pie itself, my god! I had quite the adventure attempting to partially blind-bake the pie crust, and then burned the top of the crust in an oven mishap. It’s fine! The pie was still so good! I love the custardy filling that goes over the rhubarb. I’m gonna go get a slice right now, actually.

Sour Cream Rhubarb Pie with Ginger-Pecan Streusel: The note in the book says “new fave fruit pie”. It’s true. I am not a huge fan of fruit pies, even though I enjoy baking them, but I loved this. I was a bit nervous about the streusel, being that I am also not a huge fan of nuts, but it’s so good and goes perfectly with the pie. The pie itself, my god! I had quite the adventure attempting to partially blind-bake the pie crust, and then burned the top of the crust in an oven mishap. It’s fine! The pie was still so good! I love the custardy filling that goes over the rhubarb. I’m gonna go get a slice right now, actually.

Tart Rhubarb Vinegar:  I made it but haven’t used it, and didn’t take a picture of it because it’s…just a jar of ruby-red liquid. Which is really pretty, actually, but here, take this #aesthetic photo from the lemonade-making process instead.

Tart Rhubarb Vinegar: I made it but haven’t used it, and didn’t take a picture of it because it’s…just a jar of ruby-red liquid. Which is really pretty, actually, but here, take this #aesthetic photo from the lemonade-making process instead.