baking california fruit life sweets

Strawberry Hand Pies + Summer’s Waning Days

23 August 2013


[Sebastopol, August 2013.]

These are the golden days of summer — foggy some mornings, yes, but clear and warm for the rest of it. Miles of apple trees and vineyards snugly fit side-by-side along the back roads of my hometown and if I still mourn the slow and steady loss of those ancient, gnarled trunks I am trying to make my peace with the rolling green of the grape leaves (for they are beautiful, too). Today in the city it was warm, all the cool mist blown out for once by a strong sea breeze, and the air felt vibrant, energized.


[San Francisco, August 2013.]

When my brother and Emily were here earlier this month we all went for a walk along the trail out by Land’s End and the Sutro Baths. It was a day similar to today: clear, crisp, infinitely blue and with the Pacific rolling gently away to dip into the horizon line. A few tanker ships made their steady progress paralleling the rocky Marin County coastline and as we turned back toward the car this beautiful boat sailed serenely into view. Everyone along the trail stopped, too, to watch it.

I thought of Mark Twain’s words

Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

which I will hold close as I weather the transitions that await me during the rest of this year.

Also, a quick note about hand pies, which seem to me the perfect late summer/August treat. These messy little treats (messy as I make them anyway) — evidence of a “hand pie massacre!”, as one commenter on my NPR story about rhubarb frantically claimed this May — fit tidily into a picnic basket or a lunch bucket or simply into the palm of your hand to munch upon as you take one last pre-fall hike or trip to the beach. Gently put: the time to savor summer is upon us, and making hand pies is one way to fully embody this sweet, fleeting, sunny season.

A sweet (but not too) jammy filling is couched in a flaky, buttery, oh-so tempting crust with just a touch of whole wheat pastry flour to keep it the tiniest bit on the less delicate side. These beauties keep wonderfully, so you can eat what you like in the moment and then stash them, wrapped well in plastic, in the back of the freezer for days when the winter doldrums hit (re-heat gently in your oven or toaster oven). They’ll no doubt remind you of summer, when life was slow and lazy (at least on the weekends) and we tried to spend as much time out-of-doors as possible, preferably under a canopy of redwood trees or with toes dug deep into a sandy beach. Summer, so quick in passing and so coveted, is truly the beloved season, for produce and weather alike. Catch it now and hold it close, while you can.

And: I realize I just posted a recipe calling for strawberries just a week ago but as I truly love the scent of strawberries baking in the oven (or cooking down into jam) I just couldn’t help myself …

  • Art & Lemons 27 August 2013 at 7:04 am

    Love the Twain quote and I’m in full support of these oozing strawberry hand pies as well as the recent strawberry muffins. Keep the berries coming, I say.