Finding truth in the paradoxes in life can be an awakening experience for the spirit, just as experiencing both the sweet and the sour in these strawberry lemon cream tartlets can be invigorating for the tastebuds.
We, human beings, seem to be most comfortable mingling with those things that are clearly defined and fit neatly into a very specific category or a beautifully wrapped box.
We tend to be that way when it comes to our politics, our religion, and our social beliefs, and feel most confident when we choose one perspective or view point over another because then we suddenly become a part of an already existing group which we can now take comfort in knowing shares our view.
We have “back up”, so to speak, and strength in numbers.
And naturally, when we choose one side as being the “correct” one, the other side is then, by default, discredited, or deemed “wrong”.
But as life unfolds more and more before my very eyes, I'm realizing that it's in the grey areas, those preciously fuzzy or blurry places that seem to combine a little of the “both” of something, where much more truth and authenticity lies.
When I look around and observe the physical world that surrounds me, I notice that it consists so much of paradox, and that we have so very many illustrations of things that are quite opposite co-existing in brilliant and divine harmony.
And I notice that we have an incredible need for those paradoxes, as well.
Think about the light and the dark, the day and the night—we need both.
Consider masculine and feminine, the opposites in the sexes and in their mentalities—we need both.
Consider the cold and the warm, the good and the bad, the dry and the wet, the sweet and the sour.
All of these (and more) are needed for an amazingly rich and experiential physical existence, as we cannot have true freedom without these opposites.
We truly need both in order to understand the other.
Life wouldn't be life unless two distinctly different or seemingly opposite forces come together and become one to create a fullness.
Perhaps there is at least a little bit of truth to be found in all places, and in all viewpoints—in all of the various flavors of life.
The more experiences I have, the more I'm realizing that the amazing tension that exists between two opposing or contrasting ideas is what creates a friction that is the very force behind life itself.
And if we didn't have that friction, we would surely cease to exist.
It's in the area between two opposites, or in the combination of two opposites, that we find the whole, or the fullness of life, and its perfect flavor.
The sweetness of tiny little fresh strawberry tartlets is made that much more complete when balanced with the tangy attributes of lemon cream.
It becomes something that bursts in the mouth, awakens the palette, and enlivens the senses.
It is in-between the sweet and the sour where the delicate nuance is found, the fullest and most colorful flavor, because it is not one thing alone, but also the addition of another.
It is complete.
And it is in that glorious tension where things really happen to us.
It is in the tension that we're really moved; really piqued; really alive.
I truly wonder if so very many of the disagreements that we have would simply cease to exist if we each could see the kernel of truth found in something that we deem opposite to us.
I wonder if we could find that ever-elusive and ever-sought-after harmony that we say we desire if we could understand that birth—existence—does not happen out of singularity, or out of “either/or”, but only out of the duality, or out of both.
I wonder if the borders that we put up between ourselves could slowly be dissolved if we could learn to be comfortable in the grey areas a bit more, and enjoy the flavor that can only be found in the tension between the sweet and the sour.
Taste what's good and pass it on.
Strawberry Lemon Cream Tartlets
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Makes 24 tartlets
• 1 sheet puff pastry (thawed)
• 1 egg, whisked
• Lemon Cream Filling (recipe below)
• 6 medium strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
• 1 tablespoons apricot preserves, melted (*see note below)
(*Add the preserves, plus about ½ teaspoon of water, to a glass ramekin or small dish, and microwave for 30-45 seconds, until melted.)
-Preheat the oven to 400°, and lightly mist two mini-muffin tins with cooking spray.
-On a lightly floured work surface, place your thawed sheet of puff pastry; roll it out, gently, just until it's slightly larger and thinner.
-Cut 12 squares out of the puff pastry (3 strips across, and 4 up and down), and then cut those squares in half creating a total of 24 small squares/rectangles.
-Gently press each into a mini muffin tin, allowing the edges to lay over, and lightly egg wash each, and using a fork, prick the bottoms a couple of times to help prevent the pastry from rising/puffing too much; bake for about 10-12 minutes, just until golden-brown. (They will be shaped a little like butterflies when baked.)
-Allow the puff pastry “cups” to completely cool on a wire rack; then, pipe some of the lemon filling into the center of each “cup”, and top with a slice of strawberry; brush the slice carefully with a little of the apricot preserves to create a glossy finish; refrigerate to chill, and serve cold.
Lemon Filling Ingredients:
• 6 fluid ounces heavy whipping cream
• 6 ounces cream cheese, room temp
• 1 cup powdered sugar
• 1 ½ tablespoons lemon zest
-Add the whipping cream to a bowl, and using a hand mixer, whip the cream until it becomes stiff peaks, and thickened; set aside in fridge to hold.
-To another bowl, add the cream cheese, and using a spatula, smooth and mix the cream cheese to make it pliable; add the powdered sugar in, and blend that in until smooth; add in the zest, and blend that in to incorporate.
-Fold in the whipped cream, in several batches, taking care to keep the mixture light and fluffy; once completely combined, cover and refrigerate until chilled; spoon into a piping bag for greater ease in filling the tartlets, or spoon into the prepared puff pastry shells.