Wild Strawberries

comments: 63


This beautiful photo is from the June 1995 issue of Martha Stewart Living. I was thumbing through my back issues the other night and my breath caught when I saw this. So simple, so beautiful. They call this a vacherin — two discs of meringue layered with whipped cream and an assortment of tiny berries. They used red currants, red and golden raspberries, and fraises des bois, or wild strawberries. I have no idea what the difference is between a pavlova and a vacherin; amazingly, thirteen years on, they still have the recipe for this here. If my birthday were in June you can believe that I'd be asking for this, maybe with just one of those really tall, skinny candles to make a wish on. . . .

There is something so lovely about tiny strawberries with their stems still attached. At the farmer's market I bought some yesterday, intending to make this today. I spread them out on a paper towel and put them in the fridge, but when I checked on them this morning I saw that they were already ruined, blotchy and runny. Should've just eaten them out of hand yesterday, when they were delicious and perfect. Sigh. Live and learn.

I have been obsessed with watching Jamie Oliver's newest television show, Jamie at Home. It's frowsy, earnest Jamie, planting peas, picking onions (the one where he was crying while cutting the onions just cracked me up), cooking outside on his awesome wood-fired oven, puttering about in his cool little Anthropologie-looking kitchen. I wish I could show you how cool the production on this show is if you can't watch it yourself. The titles all look like a hand-drawn, taped-together scrapbook. I keep rewinding it (TiVo) just to get a closer look at the details. On his rustic estate he seems really happy, as if he has finally settled into his best cooking self, the emphasis (as always) on both quality and simplicity, where the food is as close as possible to its source, and then prepared with sincerity and passion. It's hard not to feel inspired watching Jamie. I think he is an amazing person. It's kind of incredible how many things he's done already, and only 33. It might be easier in the U.K., but in the U.S. it's a bit hard to keep track of him; over the years, I've always tried to watch his shows whenever I can find them on cable here in the states, but he seems to come and go, showing up on different channels or out of the blue. I found the shows about Fifteen and his Italy trip (which I just stumbled upon one day) pretty poignant, actually. I only have two of his cookbooks (the companion cookbook for Jamie at Home comes out in the U.S. in September; it's already out in the U.K). So though, through the years, I have always really rooted for him, I must say that this new show has utterly won me over. The beauty of it, along with his energy and enthusiasm, is really inspiring me this summer. I hope he does an episode on berries.

This weekend has been wonderful. On Thursday I took the day off. But I did not answer emails, I did not sit in the yard, I did not make iced tea; I sewed. I had the urge. For seven hours. I got a pattern, shopped for fabric, pinned, cut, ironed, and then stitched an entire dress in one fell swoop. Of course, the result was the ugliest dress in the whole wide world, but still. It was all fun until I tried it on (it had a circular yoke which you attach at the very end, so there was no trying-on until it was finished, at which point I screamed at the top of my lungs and stomped outside, and gave my Adirondack chair, in which I was supposed to be sitting and sunning and drinking iced tea, a very dirty look). On Friday I made a cotton lining for my straw bag (that went fine), sewed two wrap skirts (that went fine), and bought some new clogs (fine), and all of it made up for the dress disaster (I'll try and take a picture of it tomorrow because you will laugh, and I'll show you my wrap skirts, too). We made it out to Blue Lake at the end of the day where Andy fell asleep on the grass and I finished Nine Coaches Waiting, which was good (though I can't for the life of me figure out why it is called Nine Coaches Waiting or what that means?). Yesterday we had a really fun traveling potluck with two groups of neighbors (I had the entree, and made Tyler's chicken enchiladas again = good party food). And today is more organizing of cabinets (not fun, but so nice when finished) and kickball league later this afternoon. Good, relaxing (four-day) weekend. Just what I needed. Hope yours is going great!


What dress pattern was it?

You sure do accomplish a lot when you are relaxing! I wish I relaxed the same way you do :) I can't wait to see pictures of all the stuff you put together.

I'm in the UK and think Jamie Oliver is totally fantastic. He uses his fame and money to help many, many people - especially through his trainee chef schemes in his 'Fifteen' restaurants. Also, pretty much single-handedly, he challenged the total cr*p children were being fed in school dinners. Turkey Twizzlers (a particularly disgusting pile of rubbish that was very popular on school meal plates) have become a by-word here for absolutely disgusting food. He seems to have been an academic under-achiever when he was at school and he has mentioned the fact that he was put in a 'remedial' class. His well-deserved success in life just goes to show that his school teachers obviously didn't have a clue what they were talking about. The man is a legend at only 33, and I hope he soon receives his richly-deserved knighthood.

HeidiAnn says: June 22, 2008 at 12:23 PM

I wish I could see "Jamie At Home"; we don't get the station- sounds like something I would enjoy. That's too bad about the strawberries - I hate when that happens! It sounds as though you have jumped right into an enjoyable summer! Hoping for more to come....

You must see the episode when he makes a blackberry pie. It looks to die for. I,too, am completely enraptured by his new show. At 9:30 on Saturday morning I am glued to the TV. Don't talk to me during that time, I will not answer you! lol
Geez, I can't wait to see the ungliest dress ever. It cannot be that bad!

I love this series of Jamie. We've had it here for a while now but I am still watching the repeats. There is something about the simplicity of the food this series that seems even more pared down than the previous ones. Great stuff!

Bread and Ink makes some thing similar. Meringue discs with brushed chocolate, whipped cream and strawberries layered. Heaven.

I love LOVE "Jamie at home". Food Network runs it on Saturday mornings, and every week it's how I start mine, (morning) with coffee of course.

Could you share where you found the pattern for the wrap skirts? I have a wonderful sewing machine my lovely husband bought me for a birthday a few years ago but I have not sewed one item of clothing, only household things. I am a skirt/dress/vintage linen pant-wearing kind of gal and am looking for a fairly simple pattern to get started. Love, love, love your site soooo much! Thanks for all the inspiration.

Hi Alicia,
I am just listening to your interview on craft sanity (I have just finally managed how to put podcasts on my ipod and have downloaded all the archives!!!) and have so enjoyed learning more about you. You have been through SO much and now bring so much joy to others through your creativity.
Just reading your latest post I have to say I love Jamie at Home too (I'm in the UK) and had a gift token I used to buy the book. It is such a 'tossed together' and simple series and the food certainly does taste good.
Thanks for all you share and for all the inspiration you communicate.


I agree..his new show really is fun to watch; I've been waiting for that cookbook to come out for ages already it seems. I can't wait to laugh at your new dress tomorrow:)

Just reading this post has made me all sigh-y and daydreamy. Thank you for your gift of being able to do that for your readers.

I can't wait to see the dress. I'd also like to see how you organize your cabinets. I could use some help in that department, having a kitchen-challenged home. Honestly, it just needs a whole revamping since I have such a lack of cabinet, but I keep thinking I could still do better with what I have now.

Oh, Alicia, I understand all about your "ugly dress" situation. I had a very similar experience last spring. I had simply lovely material, spent tons of time trying to make sure everything fit right as I went along, but when I got to the sleeves...I tried it on and cried. It was horrendous, simply horrendous. Now it is crumpled up in a storage container waiting for me to either muster up the courage to redesign it or simply throw it all out. So, I understand. I'm sorry...

Jamie at Home is fab. The book will be worth the wait. Lots of pretty illustrations and photos and the recipes are simple and yummy. Mmm!

oh my goodness, thanks for posting this. i remember this issue and thinking, "if only i could cook." well now i can - AND - i know how to make meringues! such a great idea.

So glad to see that you love Jamie as well! His show is so great- the latest episode on pizza has been one of my favorites- and when he cried and went on about the onions, I was crying from laughing so hard (and did you see the episode where he trips and falls over in his garden? So great.)....cheers!

So glad to see that you love Jamie as well! His show is so great- the latest episode on pizza has been one of my favorites- and when he cried and went on about the onions, I was crying from laughing so hard (and did you see the episode where he trips and falls over in his garden? So great.)....cheers!

I just watched that same episode of Jamie at home, and found myself rewinding on the DVR, too. The VW bus in the background made me have an even bigger crush on him! I loved the episode where his dessert (blackerry pie?) bubbles over in the oven, and when they come back from commercial, the kitchen is all smoky and you can hear a fan going! That show is so perfectly imperfect.

I became a big fan of Jamie's when I saw his school lunch (dinner) special. Really shocking, highly educational (and I'm sure US schools are in the exact same state) and so inspirational. It should have gotten more press and attention. Someone here should have taken up the work he started there. It actually gave me a lot of insight into my own eating.

Hi Alicia :o) You sure have had a busy weekend! I have to write a paper for school... so I'm trying to plug away at that and of course, visiting blogs and such at the same time... it's the only way I can get through! I hope you enjoy the blue sky today, and I hope you can make that strawberry cloud next week.

Oooh! MSL had a similar dessert just a few years ago around Christmas time, only it was meringue sandwiched with pistachio infused custard, raspberry coulis, more raspberries on top sprinkled with pistachio powder. I made it. It was delicious. I call it the "24 hour dessert incident." I will not make it again, hahaha, it wasn't *that* delicious!

I can't wait to see the ugly dress, that sounds just like something I would do!

Believe it or not, it took me a little while to warm up to Jamie's new show. I really liked the one(s?) where he was in his nifty little flat, cooking for his friends.

BUT warm up to it I have, and now I love it and am thrilled to learn there's a companion cookbook coming out -- thank you for the heads-up on that! I already have like four or five of his cookbooks (embarrassing, really) but what's one more?

Oops, I think I may be unlurking with this comment. Hi there! I love your writing, crafting, cooking, photography -- well, everything you post here, really! You are a daily must-read for me and such a fun source of inspiration!

I love Nine Coaches Waiting too. I no longer have a copy - I used to read my mother's and that was over 15 years ago. But I think the key to the title is the quotes at the beginning of each chapter - an also the Cindarella-ish tone to the story (you know, poor servant girl discovered by handsome prince at a ball).


That's so weird; I just finished Nine Coaches Waiting too! The title hearkens back to the poem, which is about walking straight into evil while you're searching for ease and wealth. I think. :-)
I love Jamie's new show too. I wish there were a Jamie At Home channel. It's like being there in his kitchen and garden with him. Only without the fabulous food to devour after.

We've had Jamie at Home here in Australia for a while now (I think they might be up to the third repeat!). I love it. I love how he has embraced the concept of where food comes from, much more than when he was living in the middle of London. Definitely get the book - it's a real beauty. Any recipe that uses fresh, fresh, fresh ingredients gets the double thumbs-up from me!

Also, thanks for sharing your "day off". I've just resigned from my day job of 18 years to live a more simple and crafty life for a few months, at least, and I've been totally beating myself up for not being able to do my crafty business all the time. I'll have to start being kinder to myself as well, and go and sit on the (albeit cold) grass for a time.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com