Now. Fresh Raspberry and Lemony Cream Tart

I’m in the midst of chaos.

But in reality, I only perceive it as chaos. It’s a wonderfully blessed life I have, and I’m letting myself perceive said chaos and losing sight of what is ahead. I need to focus on simplicity; I need to slow down. I must quit worrying about the future and appreciate today.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:34

Fresh Raspberry Lemon Cream Cheese Tart from Arts and Tarts

I’m currently packing. The answer to the question I had a few weeks ago “how does one pack for five months?” still eludes me. And now I’m down to four nights left, with a mess of things surrounding a few suitcases. And I’m stressing out majorly.

But why? Why stress when the things that I pack do not matter. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, if I just go at it with a different perspective – that it will be okay if I miss something, if I have wrinkly clothes, or if I look completely disheveled in the airport.

Fresh Raspberry Lemon Cream Cheese Tart from Arts and Tarts

What really matters is taking time to appreciate how blessed I am, and being grateful to the One who has blessed me. I have this opportunity to travel to Hawaii and live with dear friends for five months while taking a few online classes and spending precious time with my friends and godson. I feel spoiled. And all I’ve been doing is stress about just how I’m going to pack for it.

Today as I was throwing clothes into a suitcase and worrying about running out of time, I realized that rather than hurrying to finish, I need to slow down. I need to live this moment too, instead of only looking ahead.

Fresh Raspberry Lemon Cream Cheese Tart from Arts and Tarts

So, I’m going to soak up these few days I have left in Illinois. I’m going to spend my time with those dear to me and I’m going to drink coffee and I’m going to read. I’m going to pack, yes, but I’m going to be more relaxed about it. Because why stress? Why, when it hides everything good in the days to come. While my countdown will continue because of the tremendous excitement I have for Hawaii, I won’t only see it as a countdown of days till I get out of here, but as how many days I have to enjoy here, in Illinois.

With this in mind, I DO have time to write here, and I DO have time to wander around town doing nothing, and I DO have time to sit in a coffee shop and read, and I DO still have time to spare. Because even if I end up throwing the remaining things I think I need in a bag at midnight the night before I leave, it will all be okay. And this trip will still be good. And a blessed life will go on.  I’m thankful for that, and everything else in my life – the things in the past and in the future and right now, this very second.

Fresh Raspberry Lemon Cream Cheese Tart from Arts and Tarts

Let’s all take time to appreciate and live in this very moment.

Fresh Raspberry Lemon Cream Cheese Tart from Arts and Tarts

To complement this reflection I offer a no fuss tart. Simple. Beautiful. Fresh.

Fresh Raspberry and Lemon Cream Cheese Tart

1 prebaked piecrust in tart pan (Recipe for pie crust that I used at bottom of this post)

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup sugar

Juice and Zest of 1 large lemon (or about 2 Tablespoons juice and 1 teaspoon zest)

½ cup heavy whipping cream, cold

2 cups fresh raspberries

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with an electric mixer until softened and a bit fluffy. Add vanilla, lemon juice and zest to mixture and stir until combined.

Add heavy cream to a separate bowl. The colder the cream, the easier it will whip. Using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer (or a regular whisk), whip the cream until peaks form.

Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until combined. Spread into chilled tart crust and top with fresh raspberries. Garnish with lemon zest. Best if served chilled and on the same day it’s prepared.

Pie Crust:

1 ½ sticks unsalted butter (3/4 cup), cold and cut into small pieces

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup ice water

Combine salt and flour in a medium size bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork, until mixture is crumbly. Gradually add ice water until mixture forms into a dough ball. Divide in two, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least an hour. Roll out 1 ball into a circle large enough to fit a standard size tart pan. Place in pan and cut around edges so there is no excess dough. Prick the bottom several times with a fork and bake at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes, or slightly browned. Remove from oven and allow it to cool completely before filling. This will make two tart shells.

Love, B

Daddy – Apple Tart

My dad, he’s not an ordinary man. He’s one of the friendliest people I know, and will approach absolutely anyone to start up a conversation. Yet, at the same time, he somehow seems to be a quiet and reserved man. It sounds impossible, for a man to be social, yet reserved, but that’s the best way I can put my dad into words.  There’s a gentleness that my father possesses, that I imagine he picked up somewhere from his love and respect for nature and having three daughters and no sons. I think it takes a special sort of man to raise only daughters, and my dad certainly figured it out. From teaching us the outdoor activities he loves so much, such as fishing, hiking, and hunting, to taking us to the father daughter dances at school when we were growing up, he always found a way to let us become the women that we truly were.

He travels for work now. It’s home two weeks, China two weeks, home two weeks, China, Indonesia, India, home, Singapore, home. But it always starts and ends with home. My dad’s heart is always at home. When he told me they offered him this job (a really good one that I can tell he loves) when I was just a toddler, but he turned it down, I teared up. I couldn’t imagine growing up with my dad’s time consumed by travel, missing all the moments I took for granted, and I was overcome with thankfulness that he found priority in family over work and money. I don’t think he knows how much that really means to me, but it was those small moments that he chose not to miss that really shaped me into the woman I am today: the encouragement he gave me in sports (even though I can’t kick a soccer ball to save my life!), the inspiration he gave me in my schooling, and the beauty he made me feel every single day.

Whenever I bake my dad’s the first in line to taste test. As in, he pokes around the kitchen when he notices a mixing bowl, stays near, and happens to be present when the oven door opens. I always have to remind him not to touch, but he does anyway. I think he always tastes a crumb before I give him an actual bite. But his persistence pays off, and he’s rewarded with his share. At this point he informs me with a grin, “this isn’t good at all,” followed by his sampling of another piece.  I love those simple moments.

He loves pie. Pie isn’t something we have often, but if I had to pick a dessert to describe my dad it would be hot apple pie with ice cream on top.  On the fourth of July this year, I remembered I had a tart shell in the freezer needing a filling soon. I was so happy that he was home for this holiday and we were having a nice meal as a family together, so I wanted to make it special for my dad. I used the apple pie inspiration to make an apple tart that we topped with homemade whipped cream. It was my dad, like a classic, inviting and ready to be your friend, yet with a bit quieter core than pie, gentle and handsome.

This tart had a flakey buttery tart shell from a recipe that made two when we needed only one. I used this piecrust recipe. Then I adapted this recipe slightly for the filling and apples, adding a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg under the filling and to the top to spice it up a bit.

saw: a spiral

heard: fireworks and laughter

tasted: warm and classic

felt: buttery and flakey

smelled: spice

French Apple Tart

Any Tart Shell – I used this recipe

Frangipane Filling

1 stick butter, softened

½ cup sugar

1 large egg

1 egg yolk

½ tsp almond extract

¾ cup almond flour

2 Tbsn all purpose flour

4 medium apples, sliced thin

1 Tbsn brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out tart shell and place inside a tart pan.

To make the filling, using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly mix in the egg and egg yolk. Add almond extract, then almond flour gradually while mixing, just until incorporated.

Spread the frangipane into the shell. Fan the apples over the tart, overlapping working from the outside in. Sprinkle the top with brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Bake at 400F for 15 minutes, reduce to 350F and bake an additional 20 minutes, until apples are tender and tart is slightly browned.