If you've talked to me in the last month you've probably heard me complain. I know, it may come as a surprise, but lately Little Miss All Good Things hasn't had anything nice to say. Normally, life is really extraordinary and it's pretty effortless for me to maintain a positive attitude. I love my jobs, my friends, my family, and my communities. There are zillions of people and things to be grateful for that bring me immense joy. So when something happens that's notsogreat, it's amplified, seemingly worse than usual.
A few weeks ago I wrote about my struggle with language barriers in my neighborhood and in my building. I'd love to say I've relearned Spanish and everything is right as rain. It turns out, language plays a very small part in my current problem. I love my new apartment, I love my new neighborhood, I HATE my building and definitely struggle to find good thoughts about many of the people who live in my building. They're horrible people with horrible habits and no respect for themselves or the people around them. The words hate and horrible have no place in my life or my vocabulary, and yet it seems like those two words have become part of a mantra almost. I've been reciting a litany of grievances to whomever would listen. What a drag, right? Sorry, my darling friends, that I've burdened you with the dreary details of my domestic rhubarb. (I'll reward you with the vegetal rhubarb at the end of this post. And if you happen to be paying me a social call this week...)
The other night I cooked and served a dinner party for a longtime client and she was inquiring about my move. I rattled off my "I love this, I love this, I hate these horrible people" mantra as usual. She listened to my tale and was as concerned as if I was one of her daughters. It was really sweet. Then she said two things: "You have to focus on the things you love. The bad stuff will seem smaller." And then she said, "You can't let these people outwardly see that you're bothered. They'll leave you alone and pick on somebody else." Right?! I know these things. This is textbook All Good Things advice I would give someone else. I just needed a reminder and for someone to help me snap out of it!
Ariana Huffington's mother, Elli Stassinopoulos, would say to her daughter when she was wallowing in sorrow, "Darling, just change the channel. You are in control of the clicker." How often I forget that. I've been giving precious airtime to the same 'bad' show since I moved. Whenever I would get complainful, my dear friend Byron would say, "You've got to change your tune, girl!" So I'm going to do just that. I'm throwing my negative litany out the window and I'm going to focus on the stuff I love about my new situation.
What do I love? I love all the visitors I've had bringing me lovely gifts to welcome me and warm my home. I love that my kitty is finally comfortable and doesn't seem to miss Long Island City one bit. I love my kitchen! It works so hard and supports me like a champion. I love my new routines in my new surroundings. I love that I am just a few blocks from Moris-Jumel Mansion and Highbridge Park.
I love the flowers in all the community gardens that perfume the streets.
I love this old theatre with gorgeous stone carvings and a cheery marquee!
My super market is the real goldmine of Washington Heights and one of my truest loves. Those gorgeous strawberries and rhubarb were parading down the aisles insisting I bring them home. I can't stop making these little puff pastry pop tarts! May the quarrelsome rhubarb of my building be gone! May the red stalk from springtime gardens, and best friend of strawberries, be the only rhubarb in town!
Strawberry-Rhubarb Puff Pastry Tarts
- 2 sheets puff pastry
- dusting of flour for rolling out pastry
- 1 cup chopped strawberries
- 1 cup chopped rhubarb
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons strawberry rhubarb jam
- generous pinch of cinnamon
- generous pinch of salt
- small pinch of ground black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg, beaten, mixed with a little water
- raw sugar to sprinkle on top of tarts
- powdered sugar
Start by defrosting the puff pastry. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine strawberries, rhubarb, cornstarch, jam, cinnamon, salt, and pepper in a medium sized bowl and set aside. Dust your counter and rolling pin with flour and roll out your pastry dough, trim off the jagged edges, and cut your desired pop tart size using a pizza cutter. Lay them on a cookie sheet covered in Silpat or parchment paper. Place a heaping spoonful of the fruit mixture in the middle of each piece, cover it with another rectangle, crimp the edges with a fork to seal and poke holes on the top. (I forgot to do this with the ones in the picture and they puffed up and the steam had nowhere to go. 'Dock' them with a fork creating micro air vents!) Brush the fruit filled tarts with the egg wash. sprinkle with the raw sugar. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Let cool slightly. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.