Aren’t time stamps just wonderful? Thank you, my first point-and-shoot digital camera, an early aught technology that still had a viewfinder. Remember those? (More shocking: my DSLR has one and I use it. Almost exclusively. La plus ça change, right?) I took this photo on graduation day almost five years ago. I was looking down the Oval, which no one is walking across because no one is allowed to walk across it, towards the new Student Center. If memory serves, my friends and I didn’t like the building because it “made us look too much like a prep school.” Ah, yes, it was the Student Center that gave us away! The horses had, um, nothing to do with it.
Incredibly — outrageously! surely you jest! — our five year reunion was this week. Between my work schedule and “you mean it’s not free if I’m going to a reunion?” airfare, I didn’t make it — lots of gals did, and I expect to see photos soon . . . just not me. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t celebrating.
High school made Founder’s Day into an annual guessing game. It generally fell on a Monday or Thursday (because those were the days of All School Assembly) in late April, but the date beyond that was anyone’s guess. As April dragged on and Virginia’s spring grew reliably warm and sunny, we’d start hedging our bets: not reading The Scarlet Letter or writing APUS IDs because, you know, it might be Founder’s Day! Today! In just a few hours! Someone would get A Feeling. Someone would see a moon bounce truck driving on the Pike.
Our Founder’s Day had a moon bounce. And an enormous cook out, a DJ, a blow-up obstacle course, the pool was open, people sunbathed on the lawn of the Science Building and, memorably, napped on the Oval. But we always woke up for the traditional dessert of strawberries and vanilla ice cream. Our founder’s favorite.
So yesterday, in honor of, etc., I made a strawberry clafoutis. A traditional French dessert, a real make-in-the-blender show-off similar to a baked custard and usually studded through with cherries, pit in. But cherries? So not high school. And while I missed seeing everyone — older, smarter, probably not wearing school sweat pants every day — this was lovely, too.
(Perfect as-is from Clotilde’s Chocolate & Zucchini blog)
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 pint (3 cups or 20 ounces) fresh strawberries
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup blanched almonds
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- pinch of salt
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 tablespoon light rum (optional)
- confectioner’s sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8-inch-square glass or ceramic baking dish (or 6 1-cup ramekins) with one tablespoon of the butter. Melt the remaining butter and set aside to cool slightly.
Rinse the strawberries under cool water — do not soak or they will loose some of their flavor. Drain in a colander, and gently pat dry with a clean dishtowel.
In a food processor or blender, mix together the flour and almonds until finely ground. Add the sugar, cornstarch and salt, and mix again. Crack in the eggs one by one, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Pour in the melted butter, milk and rum if using, and mix again until well blended. The mixture will be thin, like crepe batter.
Hull the strawberries, cut in halves or quarters depending on their size, and arrange in a single layer in the prepared dish or ramekins. Each ramekin should get about 1/2 cup of berries. Drizzle the batter over the strawberries, and bake in the oven for 40 minutes (30 minutes if you use ramekins), until puffy and set.
Transfer dish to a rack, and let cool to room temperature. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar, and serve directly from the baking dish or ramekins. Garnish with extra strawberries.