Strawberry mousse and rosy memories of summer

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By: Rachel Shenk

The month of the rose moon or strawberry moon is in full swing. Summer is on its way. And, yes, roses are blooming and strawberries are ready for the picking.

I love that first bite of fresh-from-the-field strawberry. It reminds me that this is what strawberries are all about. The colour, the smell and the flavour put ideas in my head. Though they stand well on their own, strawberries work well in many combinations.

During my teen years, when I lived in Belgium, I often spent time with my best friend’s family. Pierre and Anny and their four children lived in a house on the next hill from mine. I often walked or biked the whole way down my street to the bottom of the hill, then up past the Catholic church and the train station, then left onto a broader street that slowly rose toward their house.

I spent many days there, sometimes staying nights when my parents had to be gone. My friend Christine and I spent hours laughing our way through work and play. We strummed our guitars together and sang through many songbooks.

Sometimes, her parents would take us to the movies or concerts. I still remember going into Brussels to see Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring as interpreted by the Twentieth Century Ballet of Maurice Béjart.

I enjoyed seeing how a family other than mine went through their daily life. And, when I stayed at their house, I brought some of my family culture with me. I introduced them to fudge and made them pizza. I liked working in their bright, open kitchen and cooking for them when Christine’s mom let me.

One of my family’s first encounters with Christine’s family happened on their backyard flagstone patio. Anny prepared a simple meal that she served us at their outdoor dinning table. I remember good food and conversation. As Pierre and Anny talked with my parents, we kids ran around the lush backyard. But we were called back to the table for dessert.

Since it was strawberry season, Anny had made a strawberry mousse. As she brought a big glass bowl out, I saw a light, fluffy, pink and heavenly looking dessert. I took my first bite and tasted the pure pleasure of summer.

These days, here I am across the ocean, far from these friends. And after many years, I have reconnected with their family. It is a friendship that has survived distance and circumstance.

When I make the strawberry mousse, I find myself back in their yard. I hear Anny’s ringing laughter and Pierre’s clear voice. And I enjoy every bite. Thanks for the memories!

Strawberry Mousse
(Mousse aux fraises)

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 quart washed and hulled strawberries
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

  1. Combine egg whites and confectioner’s sugar in double boiler and beat with electric beater on medium for several minutes until the mixture is a brilliant white and takes shape (but not stiff). Cool.
  2. Mash strawberries and add juice of one lemon.
  3. Beat heavy whipping cream.
  4. Fold strawberries and whipped cream into the cooled egg white mixture. Keep cool in refrigerator until time to serve. Serves six.

 

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