On Prairie Home Companion Garrison Keillor is always describing the character-building virtues of wintertime; the fact that people from cold climates are often faced with hardships that require "intestinal fortitude," as Mr. Keillor's high school English teacher no doubt said.
And it's true, that here in the frozen north winter taketh away. Taketh away heat, light, green, and soft. And leaves behind sere, blank, enamel gray.
Still, there's beauty in a season that's been stripped down to the bare squeak and snap of a glinty white world. And a coziness in being homebound, with many dim hours for reflection and scheming. And even when the I-can't-take-it-any-more despair arrives, you know slowly the days will pile up and tip toward that ecstatic, heart-soaring release.
Tension and release. It's why Frank Lloyd Wright made his doorways so narrow. For the psychological spaciousness of entering the room. Rightful satisfaction is only possible with an absence to compare it to. Consider - even a simple meal is the best you've ever tasted when you're coming home so hungry you could gnaw off your own arm.
A desperate and yet stoic desire for spring; this is what's character-building about winter. But what keeps us going is a little taste now and then of summer. Summer at my house is currently being stored in the freezer.
When I tasted summertime yesterday, it was raspberry-flavored and came in a bag with the beautiful Locavorious logo on it. Those raspberries were so good I thought I would crack into a hundred pieces. Yes, I'm dying for summer. But even in summer the raspberries from Rena's Locavorious frozen food CSA would have been fantastic. In fact, when I thawed them out they were so perfect I could have served them as fresh berries. And eaten every single one myself.
But since I had signed up to make a dessert for my book club, I wanted to make something that would be a showcase for the berries . Add to that the fact that I had just received two dozen Dragonwood eggs, and enter Clafouti. It's totally locavore-ious. This custard-y French dessert from the Limousin region is traditionally made with un-pitted sweet cherries. I just read that when it is made with other fruit, it is known as Flognarde. It's still Clafouti to me.
At this time of year, when each berry feels as precious as a gold doubloon, you'll be tempted to eat them all yourself. How you distribute your treasure will be a test of any fortitude you may have developed over the winter. This recipe is like Hamburger Helper for raspberries - it makes them go farther.
Raspberry Clafouti - Flognarde
1/2 C. sugar
3 T. flour
1/4 t. salt
1 C. milk
1 t. vanilla
2 t. rosewater (optional)
1 1/2 C. raspberries
1/2 T. butter (for greasing the pan)
1 rose geranium leaf (optional)
Whisk together flour, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla, rosewater just until well-blended. Try not to incorporate air (it shouldn't be foamy). Whisk dry ingredients in and blend until there are only a few small lumps.
Grease an 8x8" pyrex dish. Pour in batter. Gently distribute raspberries and the rose geranium leaf, if using. Bake at 400º about 25 minutes - until still jiggly but set.
Clafouti is good warm or cold. Very quick and easy to make. It's nice for dessert but also makes a great breakfast treat.