What is normal anyway? “Conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected”. Uhrm well can’t say I have ever fit into those 8 words. In fact challenging norms has been the name of the game for decades. I always held the belief that lurking somewhere in the dark recesses of every town there lies some sort undiscovered perfection. Families that thrive in the world of light. You know the ones where the Mom and Dad speak softly with authority and the pristine children glow with inner warmth and understanding that there are lessons to be learned through the utterance of pearls of wisdom. The house sparkles, you can eat off the floors and of course guests are always welcome, treated to home cooked meals and lilting conversations that inevitably end in peals of laughter.
Well THIS is most definitely not my area of expertise. For many years I have tried to figure out how my own twisted path through the woods would dovetail into the Road to Normal. Hey don’t get me wrong, I love a challenging hike, but I kinda think I missed something along the way looking for that damned mythical road. The holy gosh darned grail. When you get there you will of course just know. Happily freaking ever after. Oh yeah, and then you actually live a real life full of love, hate, kindness, brutality, fidelity, infidelity, balance and imbalance, black, white, yin & yang. The summits we climb are death defying, literally and figuratively. The valleys we fall into can be full of thorny brush or fragrant flowers, but through it all we live an incredible life that has nothing to with fairy tales.
I am pissed at Walt Disney, the after school specials and Julia Roberts. Hey man, this is a hell of a lot harder than I was led to believe and I want my money back 😉 All joking aside, if I accomplish one thing in my life it will be to let my kids know that you don’t need fairy tales or the Road to Normal to be happy. Life is meant to be unreasonable and we are meant to grab it by the bollocks. It’s the only way to squeeze out every last drop of your all too short experience.
Peace, love and good food.
PS: Let’s get unreasonable with some seasonal Rhubarb and Strawberry Tarta
Rhubarb, Strawberry & Red Wine Marang Tarta
Compote Ingredients inspired by David Lebovitz
1 1/4 cups water
1 1/4 cups full bodied red wine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
2 lbs rhubarb
1 lb strawberries quartered
This will provide way too much compote for your purposes but I highly suggest making the whole batch and indulging in this wonderful treat throughout the week. Spread it on toast, swirl it into yogurt….it’s one of those things that is too good not to make too much. Prepare your rhubarb by trimming and cutting into 3 inch long pieces. The width should relatively uniform and is suggested at 1/2 inch.
Bring the water, wine, sugar and honey to a simmer in a large saucepan, then add the rhubarb and cook until just softened. Mine too about 12 minutes (this can vary – so eep an eye on it). I then add the strawberries – stir until all of the fruit is covered in syrup. Put the compote in the fridge overnight to chill. If you find the compote is too runny – which I did (but only just slightly) you can drain a bit of the fluid off.
Marang Tarta as inspired by the Swede and Sour Kitchen
Yellow Cake Ingredients:
1/2 cup of butter (just shy), softened
1/2 cup of sugar (just over)
5 egg yolks
1/4 scant cup milk
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
5 egg whites
1 cup (just shy) sugar
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 cups heavy organic cream
Rhubarb & Strawberry Red Wine Compote to taste
Prepare a cookie sheet by buttering and lining with parchment paper. Be sure to do this in advance as you don’t want this cake to stick. It will never come out. Preheat the oven to 350F.
Yellow Cake Instructions:
In a medium bowl cream the butter and sugar until light. Add yolks one at a time beating well after each addition and then add milk and almond extract. Sift flour baking powder and salt together. Fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture. Spread the batter even over the cookie sheet. I found this to be a little tough as the batter is super thin. Be sure to spread it as evenly as possible – going to the edges of the pan.
In a clean metal bowl (I like to wipe mine out with lemon juice to make sure there is no residual oil) whip eggs whites 1/2 of the sugar until soft peaks form. Gradually add the rest of the sugar as you beat on high speed until stiff glossy peaks form. Smooth the marang on the top of yellow cake batter and top with the flaked almonds. I love to make it swirly but don’t go too crazy because the layers will have to be stacked. Bake in oven for 25 minutes. Be careful where you place the rack. You don’t want to burn the bottom so I chose a higher placement. Cool the Marang on a wire rack and cut in half. Tae first layer and place it marang side down and spread with the whipped cream and strawberry, rhubarb & red wine compote. Cover with second layer marang side up. Serve immediately.