14 June 2011

From the dead

I didn't mention it last week, but happiness is also being able to breathe and smell properly. Leave it to me to go all winter without so much as the sniffles, only to get a summer virus that wouldn't let go. A box of tissues and 873 cups of tea later, I actually feel human.

strawberry-balsamic sorbet

Not human enough to ever cook anything but frozen desserts, apparently. I've felt, to be completely honest, that I've been failing my blog (and the internet-food-writing-world at large) lately. Some huge life changes have shaken things up, leaving me exhausted more days than not, happy with a bowl of some sort of pasta or a salad for dinner—not the best blog fodder. I've been terrible about keeping up-to-date with other blogs, as well—I'm reading, and writing notes, and saying "I'm totally going to make that!" a dozen times a week—but somehow that hasn't translated into any success in the kitchen.

The unfortunate aspect of this is that for me, like for most of us who spend countless hours testing recipes and to let our meals get cold to get the perfect photos, cooking is my sanity. I may sometimes grouse about being the one to "do all the cooking," but I rely on my evenings in the kitchen not just for my next day's lunch, but for my downtime: I can peer around the corner to watch TV, and I can catch up on daily chatter with my husband or on the phone with family, but more often it's my time to meditate, to straighten everything out in this rat's nest I call my brain and make myself generally fit for human companionship.

Luckily for me (and for any readers willing to put up with the relatively sparse and boring fare), while there is no end in sight, I think I may be on my way to a more manageable level of stress. Several things have been dealt with, and a few more projects that I'm working on are reaching the point where they feel more like enjoyable ways to spend my time and less like black holes. I can only hope that this means I will be spending more time cooking—and I'd love for you to help me with that if you'll indulge me. Tell me your favorite summer dish/meal (with a recipe if you have one)—dessert or dinner, I want your ideas and I need your inspiration!

concentrated strawberry-ness

Case in point: I have yet another frozen dessert for you. Trust me, though, this one is good enough to be worth it. Strawberries and balsamic vinegar don't make the news anywhere, but they really should. This sorbet softens quickly and has the perfect combination of sweet, acid, and how-many-strawberries-are-in-this-thing flavor. With one batch making a generous pint, this recipe is small but mighty—feel free to double it. I used my remaining strawberries for ice cream, but I would be happy to eat my weight in this stuff every summer.

Strawberry-Balsamic Sorbet
Note that due to the vodka in this recipe, it softens much more quickly than many sorbets.

1 pound fresh strawberries, rinsed
½ - ⅔ cup sugar
1 tablespoon vodka
1½ tablespoons high-quality balsamic vinegar, divided

Hull and slice the strawberries and give them a taste; if they are very sweet and pink all the way through, use the smaller amount of sugar. Toss the berries with the strawberries and let sit at room temperature about one hour, stirring occasionally.

Add the vodka and one tablespoon of the vingar to the strawberries and blend with an immersion blender; alternatively, transfer the strawberry mixture to a blender. Taste the mixture and add the additional half tablespoon (1½ teaspoons) vinegar if desired.

If you're not partial to strawberry seeds, use a sieve to strain them out. Refrigerate until well chilled, then freeze using your preferred ice cream maker.

Makes one generous pint (about 2 ½ cups)

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