May's Haiku Winner + a Strawberry Galette Recipe

Strawberry Galette from Eat This Poem

It's fitting for May's haiku contest winner to be announced on my birthday. Strawberries are one of my very favorite fruits, and I always make something festive for the occasion. (There have been balsamic roasted strawberries and cake with strawberry frosting in previous years.)

For 2016, it will be a strawberry galette paired with a haiku by Lindsay Adkins. Congratulations, Lindsay!! 

Birthdays are always a little bit wonderful and melancholy, or as Elizabeth Bishop likes to say, "awful but cheerful," so I'm happy to be extending some good cheer out into the world while I take time to reflect, too.

This time last year, I was about four months pregnant and struggling to regain my appetite after a nauseating first trimester. I was also still working on the cookbook manuscript. What a difference a year makes, my friends. 

The Eat This Poem community couldn't have picked a better haiku to win this month's contest. Although 17 syllables feels short (and it is), it's a welcome challenge to create a world, a story, and an emotional resonance in such a brief container of a poem. 

strawberry galette 1.jpg


Strawberry season is a wonderful, fleeting stretch of time I look forward to each spring. When I'm not eating them straight from the carton, strawberries find a home in desserts like this one, inspired by Smitten Kitchen's berry galette recipe from a few years back.

1 1/4 cups (160 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Zest of half a lemon
1 stick cold unsalted butter (8 tablespoons), cut into pieces
1/4 cup sour cream
3 to 4 tablespoons cold water

1 pound strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 to 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Juice of half a lemon
1/8 teaspoon salt

A bit of buttermilk
A few pinches of turbinado or cane sugar

Make dough: Pulse the flour, salt, sugar and zest together in the bowl of a food processor. Scatter the butter on top and process until incorporated, and the largest bits of butter are the size of small peas. Add the sour cream. With the motor running, pour in the water and process until the dough comes together. Turn dough out onto a cutting board and, with floured hands, press into a smooth ball. Wrap in plastic and flatten into a disc. Chill for at least 1 hour, or up to 48 hours; remove from the fridge 10 to 15 minutes before rolling. 

To assemble, heat the oven to 400 degrees. On a floured counter, roll the dough into a round about 14 inches across; transfer to a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet. 

Stir together all of the filling ingredients and spread them in the center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. If you’re making a round galette, fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit. Brush with the buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar. 

Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. 

"When I Rise Up" by Georgia Douglas Johnson + Strawberry Buckwheat Cake

Strawberry Buckwheat Cake | Eat This Poem #cake #strawberry #summer #baking

It's hot and I am alone, shoving arugula, eggplant, basil, cherry tomatoes, and romaine in my tote bag. I drop my wallet on the asphalt after reaching for a bunch of cilantro, and crunch down to pick it up before fumbling for a twenty dollar bill and offering my piles of produce to the vendor for weighing.

Anything else? she asks. I shake my head.

Does it look like I can carry anything else? I think.

I stuff the change in my back pocket and sling the bag over my shoulder. Next, a loaf of bread. I clutch it to my chest and want to stay, linger, and try the honey and granola and chai tea samples that beckon. But I'm still sweating, and my bag is heavy. I have to remind myself that I'm pregnant and should take it easy. 

Back to the car. On my way out I see a crate of strawberries, and decide I deserve a little something for my troubles. For the sweat running down my neck. I wish I had worn sandals instead of sneakers and tied my hair into a ponytail before leaving.

At home, fan running, no longer sweating, I weigh strawberries to pass the time, waiting for Andrew's flight to land. He's been in Stockholm for work, and I try not to think about how if I weren't pregnant, I would have met him there and we would have jetted off to Prague or Rome or somewhere else we've been wanting to go together. Another time. With our son in tow, most likely, which I do like the sound of, come to think of it.

Having a baby, or in my case so far, growing a baby, has made me want to travel more, actually. Just in a general sense. I have nothing booked, no research started, and don't plan to worry myself with the challenges of flying or driving with a little one.

I think only about the fact that I want him to see the world, to be a global citizen, to taste spices in Morocco or drink tea in London, to see the dense streets of urban cities like Kathmandu, the dust, the traffic, the people who do not look like him but who want the same things in life. To stand in front of things that have survived, the monuments and castles and temples that tell us stories. To breathe it all in. 

For now, I inhale the sweet scent of strawberries, and eat as many as I can fit in my mouth before my stomach, my crushed, compressed stomach, says enough, enough for now.

Strawberry Buckwheat Cake | Eat This Poem #cake #strawberry #summer #baking

This is how I want the day to end: Eating pizza on our couch with dough I had lovingly made the day before so the yeasty flavor would be stronger, enjoying strawberry cake with whipped cream, and looking at photos from his trip.

But the day unfolds another way.

A few minutes before Andrew's plane lands, I take Emma outside for a quick walk. As we trudge back up the stairs, I reach for the keys in my back pocket and my keychain falls apart.

Two keys fall on the ledge below and I grab them before they spill over underneath the stairs. I put my keychain back together, grateful I found all the keys.

Except I don't find them all.

I don't notice until we're halfway down the hall, but the key to our condo is missing. 

I tug Emma's leash to scurry back outside. She sits sweetly on the top step while I crouch down as best I can (for the second time today), trying to spot the silver metal key among bark, dirt, old candy wrappers, and such. I can't fathom it has flung so far away to have been buried and become invisible. Yet it is. There is no glint, no shimmer, no hope in this dreadful moment.

Strawberry Buckwheat Cake | Eat This Poem #cake #strawberry #summer #baking

Andrew lands. I text him the bad news while he's in the line at customs. At least I have Emma, my car keys, the building key, and my sunglasses. I pick him up from the airport and we drive home, where he finds long sticks we use to push away old pine cone branches, searching again. Andrew even crawls halfway underneath the stairs to get a closer look. Nothing.

We call a locksmith. We are quoted $75 and end up paying $225. (This company, although timely, will be receiving a bad review on Yelp in the near future for poor communication about its pricing structure.) 

It could be worse. I tell myself this over and over.

I am reminded of a poem sent to me earlier in the week by It's a short, simple poem, about standing back and looking down at yourself from a vantage point that offers true perspective. It doesn't talk about what those things are. The reader may fill them in. As you read, you'll find the poem to be a reminder that in certain difficult moments, of which our lives are filled with many, we can choose how to respond to any situation. 

When I Rise Up

by Georgia Douglas Johnson, 1880 - 1966

When I rise up above the earth,
And look down on the things that fetter me,
I beat my wings upon the air,
Or tranquil lie,
Surge after surge of potent strength
Like incense comes to me
When I rise up above the earth
And look down upon the things that fetter me.

Strawberry Buckwheat Cake | Eat This Poem #cake #strawberry #summer #baking

This particular day, there is plenty to fetter me. Our evening turns into a long, expensive lesson learned, but it could be worse. Much, much worse. 

I try to be grateful for the following:

1) We have the money (not that we want to spend it on new locks, but still).

2) This crisis occurs the day Andrew comes home, instead of on Tuesday, when he is at a conference halfway around the world.

3) We have to change the locks and get new keys, and politely argue with a locksmith about the price we are quoted on the phone and the price he is insisting it costs for an emergency visit on a Saturday afternoon.

But then the locksmith leaves and we make pizza and eat strawberry cake as the sun goes down, and we resolve that Sunday will be a new day.


Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Martha Stewart

I used a 10-inch springform pan, and I liked how a thinner batter cradled the heavy, jammy berries on top. Deb suggested using barley flour, but since I love strawberries on top of my buckwheat pancakes, I decided it would be a good addition to cake, too, and loved the slightly nutty result.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus extra for pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350°F and butter a 10-inch springform pan. 

Whisk flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into the buttered pan. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. Cool on rack before serving with a dusting of powdered sugar, or freshly whipped cream.

On Finishing Books + Strawberry Oat Breakfast Crisp

Living With Poetry is an occasional series where we explore how poetry infuses our everyday lives. Catch up with past features here.

Strawberry Oat Breakfast Crisp | Eat This Poem

I started reading The Lowland last October, when Andrew and I went to Santa Barbara for a long weekend. There on our terrace, and on a cushioned chair at the pool, I read the book I had pre-ordered months prior, that I told my friends about, that I couldn't wait to for. I was planning to use the book to usher in fall, start fresh, get back to reading for the sake of it. 

Fifty four pages was as far as I had time to get that weekend, but reasoned there would be more reading to do when we returned home and lovingly placed the hardback by my bed, where it stayed unopened for months. (It has now been so long that the book is available in paperback.) I'm almost embarrassed to admit that it's taken me approximately 10 months to finish one novel. Oh, I've been reading plenty (this one I just finished, food magazines, cookbooks, all of Pablo Neruda's odes) but fiction has been illusive.

Strawberry Oat #Breakfast Crisp | Eat This Poem
Strawberry Oat #Breakfast Crisp | Eat This Poem

The difference in my life when I first began the book to now is profound. New job, new home, new neighborhood, new perspective, new challenges, new kitchen. Now that I'm starting to feel more relaxed, there is both space and time to enjoy simple pleasures again, like reading for no reason on a Saturday afternoon, then again Sunday morning while waiting for breakfast to bake.

I've told you about Whole-Grain Mornings before, but it bears repeating. I find myself cooking from it often, especially on the weekends, when breakfasts are for lingering and pancake making and such. I'd marked this breakfast crisp months ago but felt an urge for it when I pulled the book from its perch on the shelf. In between prepping dinner Saturday night, I sliced the strawberries, coated them with lemon juice, and gently mounded them with damp crumbs of oats, almonds, and butter. Into the fridge. 

Strawberry Oat #Breakfast Crisp | Eat This Poem

Sunday morning I woke up promptly at 7 am, still wanting to read The Lowland. I tiptoed to the kitchen and turned on the oven, slid the crisp inside even before it had finished preheating, then propped up two pillows and read in the blue morning light for 35 minutes, until the crisp was golden and bubbly. Five minutes before my timer went off, the strawberries came. Lost in a passage, a mother drinking tea on a terrace in Calcutta, wrestling with the memory of her sons, one killed and the other far away in America, my breath was steady, in and out. The next inhale brought sweetness, the perfume of roasted strawberries collapsed in the heat, telling me it was time to close the book. To live poetry instead of read it.

I wiped sleep out of my eyes, pulled the crisp from the oven, waited impatiently for it to cool, saw down to write a blog post, sipped water from a small glass, smaller than my husband's sitting just beside it, lost myself in a story, watched light filter through the blinds as I finished my  bowl, got up to scrape a spoon through the pan for one last bite of summer. 

Strawberry Oat #Breakfast Crisp | Eat This Poem


Very lightly adapted from Whole-Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon

I already had almond meal from Almond Milk LA stored in the refrigerator, so I made the topping in a stand mixer instead of a food processor.Preparation will take little time, but waiting for the crisp to cool will likely be a struggle. 

Serves 4 to 6, because I'm hungry and adore strawberries. 

1 1/2 cups almond meal1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons muscovado sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed
1/4 cup whole milk

1 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved
1/3 cup natural cane sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and butter an 11 by 7-inch baking dish. (Or, you can prep the crisp the night before and keep it in the fridge overnight before baking.)

To make the topping: Add the almond meal, flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt and nutmeg to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are whisked. Add the butter and mix on medium speed until the butter breaks down and it begins to resemble coarse cornmeal. Slowly add the milk and continue mixing until the liquid has been  evenly distributed. The dough should have some together and look clumpy, but not be too wet. 

To prepare the filling: Toss the strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Scrape into the prepared baking dish.

To assemble and bake: Place the topping over the strawberries in an even layer and place in the oven. Bake until the top is golden brown and the juices begin to thicken and bubble, 30-35 minutes (in my oven). Remove and cool for at least an hour before serving (although I got away with about 25-30 minutes) before serving.