Yesterday I went somewhere I do not like to go, physically and metaphorically speaking. I went, physically, to a shopping mall. I loathe and detest shopping malls, with their crushing quantities of crap and recycled, doughnut-flavored air. My daughters, who have grown up wearing mostly creatively-sourced clothing, are intrigued by them. Facing down this classic parental dilemma--outright ban or informed avoidance?--with both girls in the last couple of weeks, I went with informed avoidance. As in, let's go and see it then, if you want to. It's a complicated dynamic, a mall. Stuff upon stuff upon stuff, laid out in its flirtiest and most enticing manner, crooning its message of buy me, buy me, buy me and be happier and more beautiful than you have ever to this point even imagined being, with the very appalling abundance of it all only serving to make it all seem so unappealing even as it tries its hardest to woo you.
After an hour or two of that, we exited to find our car window smashed in and my GPS and iPod stolen, and wasted over another hour of a beautiful day dealing with mall security, the local police and the quarter-starved vacuum at the gas station up the road.(One smashed window produces a prodigious amount of glass bits, and those little buggers FLY--it was in every crevice.)
I don't like to go to the mall. Its morally confounding sensory overload leaves me feeling cheap all over. I also don't like to go to the place in my head that is totally disgusted with humanity. If the mall's excesses hadn't hammered that home for me and my girls, the vandalism and thievery certainly did.
So for today, here is a little of the best of people, because I need to meditate upon it. Here is the cordial I made from the strawberries, picked by my children, that were arrayed on the counter in the kitchen when my husband and I rolled in after a long day on the road this weekend. They were end-of-season berries, so they were runty and small and not beautiful, but the flavor was off the charts, concentrated and sweet. They taste like the love I have for my children, who picked them, and for the nice friends who took them picking while we were away, and for the organic farmers who lovingly tend the fields we pick in. I also have love for my kumquat connection, whose largesse we are still enjoying. It all amounts to a powerful antidote to incident reports and insurance claims, one whose brilliant ruby color is not done justice by the photo here. Cheers!
strawberry kumquat cordial
about a quart of strawberries, halved if large (mine were tiny, and I did nothing to them, not even take the leaves off)
a handful of kumquats, chopped
the fresh juice of 2-4 lemons
1 c sugar
Combine everything in a bowl and stir well. Leave to macerate, stirring occasionally and kind of abusively, until the berries begin to look exhausted and a good amount of liquid has accumulated--as long as overnight (in the fridge), or anyway for at least several hours.
Place a fine-mesh strainer over a clean bowl, and dump this mixture in. Place a smaller bowl, partially filled with water, on top of the fruit mixture to weight it and aid in the extraction of every drop of the elixir you have created.
We are drinking it over ice with some sparkling water, and I imagine it would make a fearsomely delicious cocktail, too, if that's the way you roll. If kumquat eating is a sport you enjoy, you can bet that the strawberry-infused chunks o' kumquat left behind in the strainer will be a treat. If you lack ready access to kumquats, adding a chopped lemon or lime, I reckon, would end up working just as well.