I walked barefoot out to the barn for the first time this year. The grass, dewy and cold, is shaggy. I like it this way. Too manicured and I feel it is all too tamed. We have five acres. I want them to breathe a little.
The dogs watched from the sidelines, held back by only a small sliver of chicken wire in the grand scheme of things. They whine for my return. They bark at my back as I turn away from their needy heads and their soft tongues and their lazy tails. And I walk alongside the fence line. Long grass brushes my shin. Three barn swallows circle. I close my eyes--the sun hits the truck a little too hard in the morning.
And when I look down, I see 13 tiny beaks opened up to greet me. To shriek at me. To stare curious and open-mouthed, waiting to see what I bring in my bucket. Twenty-six golden and black eyes are motionless and I meet their gaze as best I can. The hens follow me for 20, 30, 40 feet and then taper off back to the field, back to scratching the dirt, back to hiding in the shade and getting lost in the acreage.
I put on shoes I keep down at the barn. I fill their water and wipe my hands on my pant leg. I create a cotton well in my shirt and hold the 9 eggs laid that day. I hear the chirps of the barn swallow chicks. I turn the light off. It's like I was never there.
Summer is growing on me. I see the way the world is most itself now. It can breathe freely, it can sigh in the shade, it can sway its lazy tail. And, humbly, it goes on existing while I work. Once I am back at the house, putting the eggs in the fridge and the cut herbs on the counter, it is like I was never there.
- Wedge of a lemon
- 8 egg whites
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cup lemon curd (I used Ina's Recipe here)
- 1 cup whipped cream
- 8-10 strawberries, sliced
- Lemon balm for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 280*F and trace an 8 inch circle on parchment paper
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, beat eggs on high until soft peaks form
- Gradually and slowly, add your sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat until stiff and glossy
- Gently fold in cornstarch and salt
- Spoon or pipe meringue onto your circle, first with a base, and then piping (or swooping with a spoon) an edge with a well in the middle
- Bake for 1 hour 30 minutes, then lower temperature to 200*F
- Bake an additional 30 minutes. Turn oven off and let cool completely (ideally, overnight)
- When cooled, spoon in lemon curd into center well, add whipped cream and strawberries. Serve chilled.