Since the election I’ve been searching for optimism. I’ve found some.
There is optimism in people gathering round. At the market yesterday, it was a flurry of friendship as people came to me to ask questions, express their feelings and opinions.
There is optimism in a woman standing for president, and knowing more people voted for her than for her male opponent, even if she missed the win. Girls, take heart.
There is optimism in knowing we have so much work to do. Our backs are against the wall; we have to change things for the better and everyone knows it. Read this piece to see one of the first concrete calls for change.
There is optimism knowing that a presidential term is just four years, and that our system has checks and balances.
There is optimism knowing that the pendulum swings.
There is optimism in being our best selves, and laughing even when the skies darken. Read this.
There is optimism in our beliefs. Which, inevitably, brings me to food.
I believe in food. I always have. To me, this means a lot of things including that I want more farmers to be able to make a living so they have good, comfortable lives like the rest of us. We need more small farms; we need more farmers.
So I came up with a few optimistic steps, to keep us moving forward, to help effect change:
Increase visits to the farmer’s market. Money in the hand of a producer is a vote for
optimism, positive change, balance. It’s easy, and it’s fun.
If you regret that you didn’t participate enough in the campaign, don’t worry. There is going to be so much to do to keep the country on an even keel that we are all likely to get very involved.
Spend time with friends, old and new. Laugh.
Think deeply, share your thoughts.
Consider cutting your social media time in half to talk with your neighbors or call your mom.
Add fifteen minutes to your mealtimes so you can enjoy what you eat.
Keep cooking delicious things for everyone you know.
It’s almost Thanksgiving; let’s all get going.
LEMON MERINGUE PIE
It is neither traditional, nor even that American. But it almost always finds its way into our Thanksgiving supper. And it’s good for every other meal too!
NOTE: that the lemon cream is made over a water bath, so it won’t curdle. You may make the cream the night before, cover it well and refrigerate overnight. Be sure to spread the lemon cream atop the pre-baked pastry at least 2 hours before you serve the tart, so that it softens the pastry slightly and makes for a harmonious ensemble.
For the pastry:
1-1/2 cups (200g) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
7 tablespoons (3.5oz;105g) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 7 pieces
1/3-1/2 cup (80-125ml) chilled water
For the lemon cream:
7 tablespoons (3.5oz;105g) unsalted butter
1 cup (200g) sugar
4 large eggs
3/4 cup (185ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice, from about 3 large lemons
The zest (just the yellow part of the peel) of one lemon, minced
For the meringue:
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup (65g) vanilla sugar
- To make the pastry, place the flour and the salt in the workbowl of a food processor and process to mix. Add the butter and process until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. With the food processor running, drizzle in the water and process just until the mixture comes together, but not until it forms a ball. The pastry should be quite damp. Turn it out onto a work surface, form it into a flat disk, cover and let sit for 1 hour. Roll it out to fit a 10-1/2 inch (26.5cm) tart pan, and refrigerate for 1 hour, or freeze for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).
- Prick the bottom of the pastry all over with the tines of a fork, then line it with aluminum foil and weight it with pastry weights. Bake in the center of the oven until the pastry is golden around the edges, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, remove the aluminum foil and the weights from the pastry and return to the oven to bake until the pastry is golden all over, about 10 additional minutes. Remove the pastry from the oven and let cool.
- To make the lemon cream, place the butter and the sugar in a water bath and stir until the butter is melted. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition so they are thoroughly blended into the butter and sugar. Add the lemon juice, whisk and cook, stirring gently, until the mixture is thickened, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove the bain marie from the heat, then remove the container holding the lemon cream from the bain marie, and let it cool to room temperature. Stir in the lemon zest. If you have made this the night before, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate..
- If you have made this the day that you’re planning to serve it, spread the pastry with the lemon mixture and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 hours before you plan to serve it.
- Right before serving, make the meringue – in a large bowl or the workbowl of a mixer fit with a whisk, whisk the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they are foamy. With the mixer running or whisking constantly slowly add the sugar to the egg whites and continue whisking until the egg whites are bright white and have formed stiff peaks.
- Preheat the broiler.
- Spread the meringue over the top of the lemon tart, and place under the broiler until the meringue is golden on top. Remove from the broiler, transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings