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No Pain, No Grain: No Bake Strawberry Yogurt Tart

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I do love it when life presents you with a delicious conundrum.  In this case: What do I do when my mother-in-law presents me with a heaving gallon-sized bag of perfectly ripe and luscious strawberries from her garden?  Lots of answers to this question come to mind, such as:

1. Break out the melted chocolate and the Downton Abbey box set.  Every time the Dowager Countess is appalled by the modern world, dip a berry (this doubles as a drinking game).

2.  Create a legion of these adorable Strawberry Mice!!

3.  Make this incredibly easy, remarkably delicious and surprisingly good-for-you strawberry ta

The last one is the option I went with, which might surprise anyone who knows how much I love Downton Abbey.  But as it is, I happen to be pretty proud of this crust recipe and I don’t waste any opportunities to march it out in any number of configurations.

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The first time I put this recipe together, frankly, I wasn’t sure if it would work.  A good crust is is a lot like an awesome mom: able to handle all the sloppy, soggy, sticky things in life and do so with style…. and while staying light and crispy (that last part doesn’t really fit the mom analogy, but you get the idea).  With only 2 basic ingredients and virtually no prep time it was also one of the easiest crusts I’ve seen.  Oh, and it’s completely grain-free, did I mention that bit?  Even Mrs. Patmore would be proud.

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Cherry Rosemary Quinoa Granola

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Growing up, ‘granola’ was a bad word in my book.  It brought back memories of a health food store in Oak Park, IL that I would rather have forgotten.  It was a typical mid-1980’s health food store, with that universal musty carob powder and B vitamins smell.  My mother would drag me inside to peruse the rows of bulk dry goods, the canisters with wan-looking yogurt-covered pretzels pressed their waxy faces against the insides of their jars in a way that reminded me of abandoned puppies. And there was a frozen yogurt machine in the corner that dispensed pure disappointment in the form of a soul-crushingly tart and icy ‘alternative soft serve’.

To the eyes of an adult, there clearly was some kind of appeal here, but much like the Iran-Contra affair, this was something my six-year-old self was unable to fathom.

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Song Sweets: Ginger Browns {Velvet Underground: Oh! Sweet Nuthin}

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I realize to a lot of people, finding food inspiration from music might not be the first thing they think of. To me, it makes perfect sense, and really, I’m not alone in the general idea.  Megan of Feasting on Art does it with great paintings, Dinah Fried did a photo series of dishes from famous literature, and lots of people take inspiration from films.  Each time I see it, I always think “I thought of that, too!”… with the exasperation of a child sitting on the sidelines of the game because she forgot her uniform at home.  But I wasn’t doing anything about it, and they were, so I sat sideline and enjoyed reading others’ inspiration.  Until now… I’ve had this particular recipe in mind for a long time, and it’s great to finally see it on “paper”.

I’m in love with this song: Velvet Underground’s Oh! Sweet Nuthin.  It’s husky, unctuous, a touch of sweet sadness in a slow shuffling tempo.  So I tried to evoke that… in a cookie.  I hope you’ll hear me out on this.  It’s a really great song, and I think it’s a damn fine cookie, too, actually.  I hope you will try it, and play some Velvet Underground while you eat them…

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Simple crustless chocolate pear tart (gluten free)

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Last weekend we were sitting at an outdoor table at a breakfast place in St Louis enjoying a brief warm spell.  Ours were probably the last bottoms those cafe seats would see for several months, and we were in no hurry to relieve them of their duties.  Sitting next to each of our plates was the little tried-and-true fruit medley bowl. Sometimes you can judge an entire menu on the quality of a fruit medley.  In some breakfast spots, it seems put there just to annoy you and give you something to accidentally dump your maple syrup on.  A crunchy, tasteless cantaloupe chunk served in the depths of winter is enough to confirm why every diner around you has pushed the little bowl as far from the rest of their meal as they can, like an unwanted puppy begging for scraps.

This was no such medley, thankfully.  It was rather a good one, as was our meal.  At one point a friend took a bite of fruit and lit up a little.  “What is this?” he asked the rest of us.  I leaned in.  “Pear, looks like d’Anjou pear, maybe?”, I replied.  “Well, I’m putting ‘pears’ on my list of fruit I like.”  I don’t think that was a very long list for him, so it was proud day for pears.  And after I took a bite myself, I decided they really didn’t even belong in a ‘medley’.  This was more a solo artist kind of pear.

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