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strawberry freezer jam-boree

mm, jamalicious

I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve never had to learn how to make strawberry freezer jam. I’ve been even more fortunate in that I never even tasted store-bought jam until I was practically an adult.

As a result, I’m spoiled. Spoiled rotten. I turn up my nose at Smucker’s, and even those fancy top-shelf brand jams can’t satisfy.

I never had to learn how to make strawberry freezer jam because every year I saw my mom make it right in front of me. Sis and I got drafted to help pick strawberries in our grandparents’ strawberry patch. I recall crouching low, pushing through the leaves, and searching for the elusive strawberries Grandma insisted were still there even though we were sure we’d gotten them all. Read more on strawberry freezer jam-boree…

July 4, 2009 in salad8 comments

strawberry and feta salad

strawberry feta salad

Update: strawberry and feta salad is now entered in this week’s ZOE Secret Ingredient Challenge. Psst: the secret ingredient is feta.

With strawberry vinaigrette!

You know. I’ve really got to begin paying attention to presentation when I snap these photos. I’ve been just putting something on a plate or bowl the way I’d eat it and sometimes it’s not quite so…attractive.

Like this strawberry and feta salad. I shouldn’t have mixed it up first. I should have put the lettuce in the bowl, artfully arranged the strawberry slices on top, rakishly sprinkled the toasted slivered almonds atop that, and strategically placed feta crumbles throughout. Then I should have drizzled the strawberry vinaigrette on the lettuce only, magically avoiding the strawberries, almonds, and feta.

But noooooo.

It’s all mixed together, feta tinted pink by rogue strawberry juices, lettuce with messy-looking bits of cheese and strawberry clinging to it, almonds haphazardly fallen to the bottom of the bowl.

It’s a pictorial Hindenberg.

/end rant

This is the last of the strawberries. Everybody heave a big sad sigh here. Don’t tell sis; these are the ones I got from her last week. They’ve been languishing in the fridge covered in plastic wrap, crying out in their tiny high little voices. Needless to say, some of them had to go. But they were in decent shape; a few soft spots here and there; a few too soft to use.

bibb, curly, and oak leaf lettuce from the garden

The lettuce in the garden is still going strong, which is really weird for July. It made it through last week’s hot spell without bolting, and these cooler days are making it happy face.

If you have rabbit food and some strawberries in the fridge, try out this salad. The tang of the feta is a neat counterpoint to the strawberries, and who can resist crunchy almonds?

Try the strawberry vinaigrette on a spinach salad, too. What do you like to do with fruity vinaigrettes? Read more on strawberry and feta salad…

June 20, 2009 in how to6 comments

how to prepare strawberries for shortcake

strawberries

Otherwise known as: kind of mashed, kind of sweet strawberry yumminess.

This how-to might seem pretty basic, and it is. It’s not hard, but there are a few things that are still nice to know. For instance, you might as well hull the berries before washing them. Inevitably you run into a mushy spot here or there, plus then you don’t have to worry about getting all the sand that may be lurking under the green leaves on the blossom end — without the hulls it will rinse right off.

I do not recommend using a blender or food processor for macerating strawberries. No matter how careful you are, the berries will get chopped too finely, ending up close to a strawberry purée. With shortcake, you aren’t pouring on a purée, you’re ladling on sweet bits of strawberry in their own juice. Read more on how to prepare strawberries for shortcake…

June 18, 2009 in cake, desserts, vegetarian2 comments

strawberry buttermilk shortcake

strawberry buttermilk shortcake

Strawberry season is full-bore, yay! We don’t grow them in our garden, though my grandma used to. Sis has a patch in her garden, though. The only thing fun about picking strawberries is popping them in your mouth while you do it. Otherwise it’s hunched-over, hunt-and-peck labor.

So we order them from a local grower. How do we know when they’re ready? When the ad appears in the local weekly announcing they are taking orders. Then I wind up with 4, 8, 16 quarts or more and knowing what I’ll be doing with some but not all.

And the first thing that gets done with them is to make strawberry shortcake. The recipe is from my dad’s mom, though I can’t guarantee old-world charm: It wasn’t until I was grown up that I discovered their special chocolate chip cookie recipe was the same as the one on the Toll House chocolate chip bag.

It’s a biscuit-like cake, not a sweet, spongy one. Those discs you see in the grocery store? Pure heresy. If you’ve never had a biscuit-like shortcake, you have to try this one. The combination of the barely-sweet buttermilk-scented crumbly cake with sweetened strawberries and whipped cream is to die for. Read more on strawberry buttermilk shortcake…