There are fewer pleasures in life more satisfying than picking your own fruits and vegetables and making incredible food with it. This amazing strawberry torte (cake) is simple to prepare and is the perfect summer treat. And there's a storied history behind the recipe too.
Community Supported Agriculture: A great way to support local farmers
But before I get into that, I would like to welcome you to my Community Supported Agriculture Series. I bought a summer farm share at Clark Farm in Carlisle, MA. This is very exciting. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is all about supporting local farms by buying a share of their harvest before the growing season and receiving farm fresh produce every week for a certain period of time.
Marian Burros' Plum Torte and That funny time before the internet existed
This torte recipe is an adaptation of the famous New York Times Plum Torte by Marian Burros. The recipe was printed every fall starting in the 1980s. Then surprisingly one year, the New York Times announced it may be the last year they printed it. They displayed the recipe with a dotted line around it encouraging people to cut out the recipe. It's hard to imagine the frenzy of a pre-internet recipe. The only opportunity to obtain a copy was to wait for the yearly printing.
Letters of disbelief poured in from torte fans begging the paper to continue printing the recipe. The angst became, it seems, more about losing the tradition of waiting for the recipe and preparing a fall treat. Saying good-bye to the summer and hello to the fall. The routine of it.
I'm not sure what year they stopped printing it, but there have been various updates over the years. At one point, it was emphasized how flexible the recipe is. Meaning, if it's not fall and there are no special Italian plums, use another fruit! Certainly, strawberries could work with this torte, I thought to myself. And they do work - beautifully!
The calm of the fields and taking time to pick the strawberries
When you have a CSA membership there is usually a Pick-Your-Own (PYO) component to it. You pick up your main share in the barn area where there are bins with garlic scapes, swiss chard, kale, zucchini, summer squash, a variety of amazing lettuce, spinach and more. On a chalk board there is a list of items that you can go out into the fields and pick yourself. The past two weeks we've been able to pick strawberries and it has been awesome!
I somehow had never picked strawberries before. Is that weird? I swear it was like a little miracle. They are low to the ground which I didn't know. You can see these little pops of color behind the greens. It feels like your playing hide-and-seek with the strawberries.
You bend down and push back branches and leaves, examining whether that one is ripe enough, knowing that other one is definitely ready and imagining what you will make with this sweet little treasure.
Maybe I would make strawberry muffins. No, a strawberry loaf. Wait, is that a thing? Strawberry shortcake? Too predictable. Hang on, there was that plum torte from last fall and I bet I could make it with strawberries! These are the things I was thinking as I picked my strawberries. Nothing existed in the world but them and me and the farm. I thought it would take forever to fill two pints, but I was finished relatively quickly. Then it was on to the sweet peas!
I hope you make this amazing strawberry torte - it's so easy and soooo yummy! I encourage you all to get to know your kitchen. Cook for yourselves and your loved ones. Share your meals with your loved ones. Tell your stories. Eat amazing food! And whenever possible, try to support local farmers.Print