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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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Baked Polenta with White Beans + Spicy Greens

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You might notice it’s been a little quiet around Little Fig this month.  It’s not because I’ve forgotten you all, oh no!  Quite the contrary, in fact.  There’s been lots of recipe testing, culinary forays and inspiration.  There’s more on that later, I promise.  Until then, I leave you by sharing a few of my favorite things from April, including this (no stirring!!) fresh and oh-so-tasty polenta dish.

The vintage shoes at Sea of Shoes here (the ones covered in clouds are my favorites)

These pretty little plates I picked up from Montréal

The gorgeous Strawberry Fields pie from this shop in Dallas

The paper sculptures of Peter Gentenaar

… and this view from the Monterey Bay Aquarium

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…see you in May!

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Soup Days, Day One: Roasted Pumpkin Soup with Brown Butter Maple Pepitas

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As I sat a couple mornings ago in a rented kitchen-less cabin overlooking an area I’ll call “Blustery Valley”, I thought a little about what I would be making for our lunch, had I the facilities to do so.  The answer quite simply would be soup.  Lots of it.  But without a stove in sight (and for a while, no coffee cups either), I had no choice but to dream up hypothetical bubbling vats of steamy goodness.

J & I were up for the holiday weekend to visit The Sis (my sister-in-law) and her husband (Guitar Man) in their new home of Viroqua, a pretty little town in the Driftless region of Wisconsin.  Abundant in charm and amazing produce and people… and also down parkas and hunters caps and mittens.

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Crispy Kale Potatoes

I love it when things look effortless and actually are.  Like those days when you get out of bed and the bedhead actually looks like it does in movies (I get maybe one of those a year, the rest of the time it’s usually a bit like looking at installation art).

I love recipes like that, too.  Just like this one (and the last one).  Roast potatoes, toss in kale, roast a little more, and you’re ready.

In my particular case, this recipe also helps me use up some of the last of my chilly garden vegetables before too many more frosts, tempted though I may be to keep taking pictures of them like this one (of the kale).

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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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