Originally uploaded by allisongryski
I'm not sure what it is, but lately, my creative energies have been brewing in the kitchen. Every fall at the market, I'm drawn to the bright red little beads that are fresh cranberries. The shiny rich crimson promises a delicious, tart flavour and I have visions of traditional garlands. However, I always buy more than I really need and end up with many extra portions in the freezer. I usually use them for making Cranberry Cottage Pudding, but I felt like trying something a bit different on Thursday.
A friend came over for tea and conversation about changing one's direction in life. I've been focusing on things that don't directly relate to my background in math and computer science and she is contemplating a move away from science as well. It's not an easy thing to choose and I'm still figuring things out as I go, but so far, it's certainly made me happy. While she did some knitting, I did some pastry-making. Kitchen-witchery at its best: tea, friendship, and creation.
I had in mind a cranberry tart, so after a bit of searching, I found this recipe for a cranberry orange tart. I made my own crust and made little tarts instead (and skipped the walnuts because I didn't have any), but the filling is yummy and super simple. I was lucky enough to have some of my Grandma's delicious orange marmalade, which adds a depth of background orange flavour. I didn't really measure that part or the orange zest. I just used a wobbly, heaping spoonful of marmalade and all the zest of one orange. People often complain of baking that you must be precise and can't improvise. My experience is that as long as you take care in altering the ratio of wet to dry, the flour, fat, salt, sugar, and leavener, you can do what you please. Which basically means that I never worry about changing flavours or adding a pinch of this or that. And I frequently just use ordinary spoons rather than "measuring" spoons since there's a reason that they're called a table and tea spoon.
The tarts come out of the oven quite molten, and I recommend cooking them over another pan since mine certainly bubbled over. Once they'd cooled a bit, I sent my friend home with some tarts (since the real purpose of baking, in my belief, is the sharing of the eating). Even if we neither of us had any more answers about how to lead an artistic life, at least we didn't feel quite so alone in stumbling to find a path.