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Sometimes simple is best


Having been MIA for far too long, I've been looking for a way to sneak back onstage without making a big deal out of an entrance. Something subtle, yet striking. Quiet, yet audible above the din. Notable, yet seeming like I've been here all along. You know, like whistling in a purple hat. I had pictures. I had recipe ideas. I had all sorts of funny-as-hell 4.30 am.

Several false starts later, I've discarded anything  cute and/or complicated — apparently my off the cuff wit has abandoned me, perhaps headed to a tryst with someone less absorbed and more amusing — and have come to a not-so-stunning conclusion: Simple is good.

This was brought home to me again last night when we got around to late-night dessert with the West Wing finale. See, the last complicated dessert I made was Brown Butter Almond Cakelets with Rhubarb, and it was okay, but not earth-shattering. Unfortunately, it was supposed to earth-shattering, seeing as how it was what Bill Gates served the President of China and it involved obscene amounts of butter and more than the usual amount of time standing in front of a hot stove. But, even though I used extra rhubarb and it was fresh from my first CSA bag, the flavor got totally lost; the almonds for the almond meal were fresh and lightly toasted before being ground, and you couldn't tell much beyond the ground almond texture; the butter was perfectly browned and nice and nutty and all, but...yeah whatever.

It probably says a lot that leftovers, which were left overnight in a cool car because we got back from the Pink Martini concert late, were tossed not eaten. I can't remember the last time that happened.

That experience makes my latest dessert "creation" all the sweeter. It's just about the simplest thing you could hope to make and it's wonderful. Ready?

Strawberry ShortDoodles

Snickerdoodles, 1 1/2 per serving (homemade is preferable, of course, but use what you have)
Strawberries, sliced (tossed with a spoon of sugar or liqueur if you wish)
Whipped cream

Place cookie on plate, top with strawberries and cream. Break second cookie in half and place decoratively on top.

The bottom cookie will soak up the moisture from the berries and start to disintegrate, leaving a bit of crunchy sweetness from the cinnamon-sugar on top. The half cookie is the designated 'pusher' that lets you gather all the smooshy goodness onto your spoon. I'm not sure I'd call it earth-shattering, but it's the sort of thing of which those lovely memories of childhood (and adult) foodThatCanStillTransportYouEvenThoughYou'veNotEatenItInYears are made.  So make some with a kid.

The idea is so simple that it can be morphed all summer, swapping out whatever fruit is in season and using the cookies we happen to have on hand. Simple. Sweet. Good.

Speaking of simple and sweet, the picture at the top of this post is a small slice of my herb/flower beds. If you've been telling yourself that you can't grow herbs because you don't  have space, check it out. There's rosemary with chive flowers behind it and creeping thyme in front, along with a tri-color sage and a green one. The pansies were here when we bought the house and have been overwintering/reseeding all by themselves. Repeat this sort of mix in a couple more beds and you have a full-blown herb garden. I was so enchanted with this bit of spring exuberance that I made a computer desktop sized version of it, which is available for download if you'd like spring on your computer screen. Makes it a little bit hard to see icons, but as someoneElse noted, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Enjoy.

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