The reality of how little time we have left is starting to hit us now that Month 7 is upon us.
I have not been making much food at home because suddenly there is urgency to experiencing every patio and new restaurant, or to savouring the experience of doing absolutely nothing which mostly involves take-out or huge containers of fresh berries and ice cream and marathon sessions of 30 Rock. The laundry piles up and the bathtub stays grubby. But that seems to be the case regardless of the distraction.
There have been bursts of productivity in spite of us both, and everything seems to be coming up Emily. We were despairing the lack of reasonably priced but not disgusting two-bedroom apartments in the city while the walls in our current apartment began to close in on us when a spacious, many-windowed two-bedroom opened up in our own building, just across the hall. We move in October 1, so for the first time we don’t have to rush to pack, and we even have time to paint the new place to our liking.
At long last, we’re having ourselves a summer, but not a painfully hot one – outside the temperature has seldom exceeded 27 degrees (Celsius). Which has meant long afternoons in the sun, eating cherries and watching the barges in Burrard Inlet or feeding the birds tasty bites of fresh doughnut on the boardwalk at Granville Island, or cool evenings picnicking on Jericho Beach or walking to Cambie Street for the good tacos (and some lecherous staring at the beautiful blue-eyed taco man).
The sun is bright but the breeze is comfortable, and this does not feel like the same city I dream about running away from in the winter after 40 consecutive days of rain.
And, most importantly, still no stretch marks. I am so slick with lotion and cocoa butter that I’d be lethal on a Slip ‘n Slide. You keep your fingers crossed good and tight for me.
All this going and doing and lotion application has kept me out of the kitchen most of the time, and I can’t say that I mind. We eat a lot of 10-minutes-or-less dinners, a lot of berries in cream, and a refreshing number of salads. I like to think that summer’s slacking is an excuse to go out and make the stories we tell all winter, that somewhere in the season’s casual outdoor feasts there is something important, or, at the very least, something to dream on.
Like pink wine and sunshine in Grace’s wine glasses: important.
The aroma of a trout Paul that caught as it cooks with lemon and dill on the barbecue: important.
The chewy texture of oatmeal sourdough made by Grace from a starter with natural yeast: important.
A simple meal shared on a blanket on the beach: important.
People you are fond of in good moods and summer clothes: important.
Eating dessert outside at sunset: important.
Cake and peaches and raspberries and brown sugar topping: important.
You can make this now, and eat it on the beach as the sweet finale to a picnic, or you can use whatever fruit you’ve frozen and make in the winter when you’re cold and missing the smell of the ocean and that flattering summer evening light. I made this with peaches and raspberries, but it’s based on a recipe that calls for blueberries. It would be beautiful with blackberries.
Peach and raspberry streusel cake
(Adapted from the Fannie Farmer Baking Book)
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 lemon, zest and juice (this is wonderful with Meyer lemon if you can get one)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/3 cup milk
- 1 cup diced peaches
- 1 cup raspberries
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1/4 cup butter, cold
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 1 1/2-quart baking dish.
Beat butter and sugar until thoroughly combined, then add egg, vanilla, lemon zest and juice. Mix.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture with milk, and beat until smooth. Spread evenly in baking dish.
Top batter with fruit.
In another bowl (so many dishes! Fun!), mix sugar and flour. Add butter and vanilla, and squish between your fingers until a dry, crumbly crumb has formed. Sprinkle over fruit.
Bake for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Serve warm.