Today, or perhaps I should say yesterday, since I have been up for almost 24 hours straight by now, I have been so lucky as to go pick up my children at the airport in Rome after two month in the USA with their Daddy. Seeing them pop out of the crowd and walk towards me with their big luggage and with their uncontainable beautiful smiles made my heart almost explode with joy. As I was looking at my children getting closer and closer to me, I have been once again reminded of the infinite blessing that children bring in a parent’s life, what an amazing opportunity for growth they offer every day, again and again. Years back, they have been my mentors and guides towards the rediscovery of a life full of joy. Observing children, they help you understand that everything around is a miracle, and a possible source that creates happiness. Being happy is truly a choice, a life style, an inner state.
Joy is really to be found deep within, to feel joy is a spontaneous and contagious gift of grace. It can be inspired by a blooming flower, the song of a bird, the purring of a cat, the laughter of your children. When we experience joy, we become messengers of it and infect those who we encounter in our daily life and along our path. It is in this state of mind, heart, and soul that life starts opening up: the doors we are meant to cross along our path start opening up like spring flowers in the sunshine, after a thunder-storm.
It is important to welcome joy: knowledge, truth, and life, they are all vehicles and expressions of it. This is an awareness that will start to transform our attitude towards everything that surrounds us: family, work, relationships. It will radically change the way we look at things, chores for instance usually viewed as hassles, as dradgery can be trasformed and become an act of love. Cleaning our homes, our sanctuaries, where we always return after a day of running around, or after a vacation, will become an act of joy, nurture, and love. This reminds me of Kahlil Gibran’s word’s in saying: “work is love made seen”. Work, speak, cook, from the heart and life will start to make sense, you will be on the path of light, which will take you to a place you will never want to leave.
Cooking, is there a more delightful activity?! Through the preparation of food we nurture our loved ones, we share a part of ourselves, we show how much we care. I love to receive my children home from school with the sweet smell of a freshly baked snack. Sometimes I daydream thinking that this smell will be the kind of smell that, once they grow up, will always make them think of their childhood.
Blackberry Peach Tart
This is a favorite of mine! I love the deliciously sweet and tart plus that mild kick of sour flavor of blackberries combined with the juicy sweet taste of Italian peaches. During the hot italian Summers I rarely buy fruit at supermarkets, I prefer either farmers markets or to go directly to the farm mylself and often pick the fruit straight from the trees or from the dirt. I always try to eat organic produce or at least make sure they do not spray their fruit and vegetables. Here below is my version of blackberry-peach tart. The dough recipe is a gift to me from my friend Rita in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
For the dough:
2 cups white all purpose flour
8 ounces (2 sticks) of butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup heavy cream (you may add more until you get the dough into a ball).
For the filling:
1 pound peaches
1/2 pound blackberries
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
Making the dough
Pour the flour into a bowl, cut the the butter into cubes and add it to the flour.
With a hand pie mixer break up the butter into the flour until it is of the consistency of
big crumbs. Add sugar, salt, mix and then add the cream and with your hands try to form a ball.
Once you have a ball, divide it in two, flatten the two pieces of dough to have to chunky disks, wrap them ion saran wrap and refrigerate for one hour, or for up to five days.
Making the filling
Combine the peaches, blackberries, and the lemon juice in a medium saucepan over high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the peaches and the blackberries release their juice, about 10 to 15 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve 1 1/2-2 cups of juice. Return juice to saucepan over high heat, stir in sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for five more minutes. Transfer jam to a bowl, and let cool, stirring occasionally.
Preheat oven at 375
On a lightly floured surface roll out one of disks that you kept refrigerated. (For this recipe we use only one disk, so you can save the other one for another dish for the next day or use up to five days. It also freezes very well!) Roll out the disk to 1/8 inch thickness. Transfer the round to a baking sheet lined with butter and flour (or parchment paper if you prefer). Poke holes in the bottom of the tart with a fork. Spread the jam on top and turn the hanging ends of the dough over so that they can irregularly rest on the jam. Lightly beat your egg and with kitchen brush, the top of the tart (this will give it a shiny look!). If you wish for a fancy look you can add coarse sanding sugar on the top.
For a successful tart the baking is key. When you put your tart in the oven at first set your grid on medium low level, insert the tart and bake for half an hour. After half an hour change your grid to the medium high level and bake for another half an hour. The top of the tart should turn chestnut brown and the jam should have jelly like somewhat bubbly consistency.
If you like this tart is delicious served fresh homemade whipped cream!
Voila’, things are back in place: the house is full. The kids’ voices fill up my heart with joy as the smell of a deliciuos sweet tart tickles my nose, I can tell it is about ready to come out of the oven! Life is good.