Rainclouds.

I’ve been thinking of dimensions.  Sizes and expansiveness.  How, if I shout at you, you hear me only so far away. How memories echo like voices and it gets muffled the longer it rings out. A king size bed is 80 by 76 inches, but it’s been the smallest island nation these last couple weeks.  Dimensions and space-time, moments that feel like static, hopping between eyelashes and rug burns and the small, prickled hairs that cover the nape of your neck.  All of it in the in-between, the almost-touching.  Like God and Adam’s fingertips.

It thunderstormed in San Diego, the world was a grayish colored that’s normally reserved for mothers who stress too much and the dawn fog at the marinas.  it made me lazy and hopeful, a little insane and I tried to convince myself that I was the same person three years ago.  But the country is expansive and it would take me thirty-odd hours to drive home in my rented, Japanese-made car.  Thirty miles to the gallon, they advertise.  How many gallons until I’m seeing the same rainy storm clouds, when I turn my head and look westward behind me?

I’m going home soon, the real home.  The one with five bedrooms, six cats, and two parents who don’t love each other, but love the comfort of one another. It’s a big house and it floods once a year.  I grew up in that house and they remodeled since I last saw it.  Two years ago was when I was in Pennsylvania last and even then I told my mother I wanted to move.  And when the opportunity presents itself, I’d get in my rented, Japanese-made car and drive fast, fast, fast on the turnpike.

I’m going home soon and I want to see rainclouds and if the world fell apart without me there.  I want to be as cold-to-the-bones as possible, where you’re almost burning because it’s so cold.  I want to keep my window open and freeze to death under flannel sheets.  I want to experience feelings again–good and bad, repressed and resented.  I will come home to one lonely dog and parents hopeful that I haven’t just fucked my life up.  And maybe there will be snow on the ground and maybe there will be patchy, grey-brown grass.  The mall is going to close soon.  Maybe it’s exactly how I left it, because Appalachian time moves in a slow-fast past in space-time.  You can drive twenty miles and the engine can echo off an apple orchard and you never have to apologize for nothing.

I made a pie this week and brought it to work.  The office flooded the next day. The pie was made from foods in that state of in-between.  Frozen cherries and almond paste made a month ago.  It was cold when I made it and there was steam coming from my fingertips when I got out of the shower that morning.  I wasn’t home, but I was frozen to my bones.

Balsamic Cherry Tart with Frangipane

Balsamic Cherry Tart with Frangipane

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/4 sugar
  • 3 egg yolks (depending on altitude and dryness of flour), separated
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • a large pinch salt
  • homemade almond paste from here (make ahead of time), room temperature
  • 2 TB heavy cream
  • 2 TB brown sugar
  • 3/4 lb frozen cherries
  • 2 tb balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tb honey
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • water to cover

Directions:

For the crust:

  1. Prepare a tart pan (with a removable bottom, preferred) with butter or a light cooking spray
  2. In a food processor, pulse butter and sugar together for about two minutes until incorporated and light
  3. Add 2 egg yolks and pulse to combine
  4. Add flour and salt and mix until ball forms
  5. Knead very gently onto a floured surface (should still be pretty crumby, but solid)
  6. Press into prepared tart pan and set in fridge.
  7. Preheat oven to 375 (do this step now, so it doesn’t seem like you’re waiting forever for the oven and to save energy)
  8. When oven is preheated, take tart pan out of fridge and bake 10-12 minutes, or until just golden brown
  9. Let cool while preparing other ingredients

Filling:

  1. In a mixing bowl, use a hand mixer and whip almond paste, one egg yolk, cream, and brown sugar together until light and full incorporated.
  2. Using a rubber spatula, fold onto tart crust and spread evenly.  Set aside
  3. In a small saucepan, combine remaining ingredients and simmer until juices begin to come from fruit and liquids reduce by half.  Stir occasionally.  Here, we are trying to steep the cherries with balsamic flavor while cutting some of that sweetness and replacing it with a brightness from the honey and lemon.
  4. When cherries are fragrant and just beginning to break down, take off heat and strain.  Making sure to be gentle on the cherries as to not break them completely
  5. Position on top of almond paste mixture and press gently
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes, until frangipane is puffed and cherries are bleeding their juices
  7. Allow to cool completely, serve for breakfast

Balsamic Cherry Tart with Frangipane

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