Today was my eldest daughter’s last day at school. This morning she sat her English Literature exam, over lunch the ice cream van came to school, this afternoon they had a leaving assembly during which her tutor apparently cried and that’s it, school over. A massive moment in her and our lives.
She came through the door beaming, shirt signed all over. I quickly took a ‘last day’ photo of her on the doorstep to go alongside the ‘first day’ one then she dumped her bag, ran to get changed and now she’s out with friends – a free agent, ready to begin her life. Or that’s how it feels today. She’s not really that free. She has more exams to take after half term, then sixth form, university, work… (we all know how it goes), but let’s not spoil the moment. She’s left school – she’s made it.
So now I’m feeling a strange combination of melancholy for what has been (it only feels like two minutes since I was picking her up from play group) and excitement for her future. And I’m sitting here alone feeling it, because she’s out with her friends. As she should be.
I felt I deserved a treat, so I grabbed a blanket, some cushions and my book, quickly put these balsamic strawberries together and headed outside.
The combination of the balsamic vinegar with the strawberries may sound unusual but it really does work, the acidity bringing out the flavour of the fruit. The pepper adds an undertone of warmth that really works. If you want just a hint of spice then go for the lesser amount but I love the kick that the full amount gives.
The dish is indulgent enough to serve to friends alongside some really good vanilla ice cream, preferably whilst sitting in the garden, dusk approaching, with no work pressures in the morning. It is also simple and healthy enough to eat just as it is, whenever you fancy it.
- 400 g strawberries
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Hull the strawberries then half or quarter them depending on size.
- Add the remaining ingredients then leave to macerate, at room temperature, for 30 minutes to 1½ hours.
- Serve with cream, ice cream, yoghurt or simply on their own.