In a country where prevention of cruelty to animals gets Royal blessing (RSPCA) and the same for children only gets national blessing (NSPCC) I guess it’s not surprising that my articulately crafted, brilliantly witty poem against owning a dog never gets published. However, being a dog-less morning walker, I am free to fraternise with a host of canine characters – the one who usually whines when its owner talks too long, the sweet gentle beast whose jaws can crunch lamb bones like Pringles; the tiny furry ball of ecstasy that greets me like missing family (oh that human beings could have such freedom of expression!), the massive white beauty who cowers at my American accent, the meter-high 7 month old puppy who already needs an elbow replacement, the feisty bundle of fury who if unrestrained, would attack the 40 mph motorcycle whizzing down the road (yeah, their noise bugs me, too), the dog who is crazy about feathers and trembles with excitement, waiting for the next delicate wisp to attack, the one who when spying me, insists that his Person changes direction just so that we can be together. They are all friends. I delight in their greetings and am sad when they die. And their owners are a host of lovely people (mostly without names) who greet me as Friend, too. They are a wonderful, affectionate community that is part of my bigger community. And I know of a similar community elsewhere in England who was the primary source of love, loyalty and support for a grieving man watching his wife slowly die.
Around here, we don’t always talk Dog. One owner (whose pet refuses to go upstairs every Thursday fortnight) fills me in on her confusingly expanding family of children, husband, ex-husband, mother, step children, grand- and great grandchildren whom she seems to be feeding continually. Just today two or three of her exceedingly lucky family members are dropping in, so she has made: a lemon meringue pie, a “normal” sponge cake sandwiching strawberries and cream, a chocolate coated meringue filled with cream and fruit, a trifle, and something I’d never heard of before–strawberry slices. I served this as one of a few desserts at a supper party of avid learners. Best freshly made.
- Roll commercial puff pastry about ¼ inch thick. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Cut into shapes or squares.
- Bake in a hot oven until brown and puffed up. Cool.
- Split each piece horizontally. Spread jam on the bottom, then whipped cream on both inner sides.
- Lay sliced strawberries on the lower half, and top with the top half.
- Optional: sprinkle tops with powdered sugar.
Alternatives: use sliced bananas or cooked fruit. If using frozen fruit, use it still frozen for easier handling. Use a jam that is appropriate to the fruit (e.g. raspberry jam with raspberries, apricot jam with apricots, etc.)
This is easy enough and messy enough to invite the “help” of well-aproned little people.