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June 2013

Strawberries, 5 ways

Berry Harvest Farm Strawberries

Berry Harvest Farm Strawberries

I love this fleeting moment of summer when strawberries abound with the promise of deliciousness enough to make our bellies ache. I love strawberries with The Girl’s Perfect Whipped Cream. Or with

bucketRowice cream. Or yogurt. Or on a salad. Or as-is by the handful, good grief, it’s all good to me.

 Confession: I’ve never picked strawberries before. So when on Sunday I woke feeling antsy I trekked out for berry-patches unknown, determined to find a U-Pick establishment friendly towards newbies.  I found the perfect spot: Berry Harvest Farm in Cato, owned and operated by Alvin and MarySue Stever and son. MarySue herself manned the check-in/check-out tent and good-naturedly inaugurated me to U-pick customs. I took her bucket and followed the long row, realizing too late that it was flat-out goofy to have lugged my gigantic purse out into the middle of a strawberry field. Newbie.
Picking strawberries is a surprisingly illuminating activity. I learned a lot out there in the Berry Harvest Farm berry patch:
Strawberries with strong personalities.

Strawberries with strong personalities.

  •        It is hot as blazes in the middle of a strawberry patch.
  • The best strawberries are shy and try to hide.
  • The thrill of hunting the next “perfect” strawberry appeals strongly to my OCD tendencies and goes a long way in making me forget the puking-hot sun.
  • I have an affinity for strawberries with strong personalities.
  • Strawberries I’ve picked taste perfect.
Here are the results of my Berry Harvest Farm strawberry-picking excursion (recipes below):
Strawberry, banana, and white chocolate muffins.

Strawberry, banana, and white chocolate muffins.

Strawberry Feta salad

Strawberry Feta salad 

Peasant strawberry tart

Peasant strawberry tart

Strawberry smoothie

Strawberry smoothie

Strawberry lemonade

Strawberry lemonade

RECIPES:

PEASANT STRAWBERRY TARTS
Strawberry Filling
2 cups of strawberries
after thinly sliced
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp flour
Directions: Put berries in a bowl and toss with the flour and sugar and set aside.
Pastry

1 + 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup cold butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp cold water
A pinch of salt
Directions:
1.     Put the flour, sugar, butter and salt in a mixer with the paddle attachment and mix at low speed until thoroughly incorporated.
2.     Add the egg yolk and drip in cold tap water. Continue to mix on low until a dough forms.
3.     Gather the dough together and form into a disc. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
4.     Preheat the oven to 360°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
5.     Take the dough out of the fridge and divide it into 4 – 6 portions depending on how big you want each tart.
6.     Roll out each portion of dough until thin. Pace the rounds of dough on the baking sheet.
7.     Put 3-4 large tablespoons of strawberry filling in the center of each round, leaving a half-inch border around the edges.
8.     Roughly pinch the edges of the dough together around the filling, leaving the center open.
9.     Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden.
STRAWBERRY, BANANA, & WHITE CHOCOLATE MUFFINS
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 very ripe banana
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup strawberries, diced small
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Directions:
1.     Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a mini muffin tin with mini muffin liners. Set aside.
2.     Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
3.     In a separate bowl, stir milk, sugar, butter, eggs, and banana.
4.     Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until just combined.
5.     Add strawberries and white chocolate chips and gently fold in.
6.     Fill the muffin liners 3/4 full with the batter.
7.     Place the muffin tin in the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes.
STRAWBERRY FETA SALAD
Garden Greens, crumbled feta, sliced strawberries, balsamic dressing
STRAWBERRY SMOOTHY
Strawberry smoothie: Combine Wake Robin Farm yogurt and fresh strawberries in food processer. Whisk Wake Robin vanilla yogurt in a bowl and pour into the bottom third of a glass; gently pour over strawberry smoothie, top with remaining vanilla yogurt.

Return of the Nerdy Locovors


Thursday trip to the market
We’re doing that thing again, the one where we spend the summer eating only fresh food produced within a 10-mile radius of our house and what we forage from our own garden [queue the laugh track for that last part, not even I can say it with a straight face].
I recently read an excellent piece of advice posted by my personal life coach Pinterestthat, aside from being a mash-up of stuff Michael Pollan has been saying for years, gets to the heart of it:
“Avoid eating anything with an advertising budget.” 
Yep, that.
Yesterday was the Skaneateles Farmer’s Market and here is the resulting simple meal:
Feta and Spinach Burgers


Feta & Spinach Burgers
           1 October Rose Farm egg (our girls have mysteriously suspended laying at the moment)
1 pound Byrne Black Angus beef
2 cups chopped Elderberry Pondspinach
2 cloves Good Karma Russian Red Garlic, diced (we’re down to our last bulb from the Fall harvest and eager for the new stuff to come in!)
                                                                                                       4 ounces crumbled feta (comment         below if you know a local source)
Buy these.
Directions: Mix ingredients; form into patties; throw on the grill. Top with slices of Horsford Farms onion and place on a SkaneatelesBakery roll; serve with a side of Navarino Orchard pickled tomatoes.
On the topic of Navarino Orchard Pickled Tomatoes which I impulse purchased and may or may not have subsequently eaten half the jar thereof using chopsticks: I am prepared to release a statement at this time informing the public that These. Are. Yum. That is all.
And, continuing in that spirit of preparedness, I rolled a few meatballs after dinner for today’s TGIF bento box:
http://onegirlsbento.blogspot.com
Happy Friday!

Mint Tea

By nature I expect things to be complicated. When it turns out a thing is simple it feels like magic.

teacup

Do you know what I mean when I say tea possesses a de-frazzling effect? Besides the flavor and aroma, and the pleasing tink of china on china, tea requires us to suspend all other activity and focus on the ceremony of preparing a perfectly brewed pot.

Not long ago The Husband invited me to raid his mint patch for my evening tea regiment. Instant confusion. What was he talking about, using his garden mint for tea? Surely tea-making entailed many complex and expensive steps? Dehydrating leaves? Grinding stuff? I searched the web. The answer was so simple. You’re probably savvy and already know this but for a food-growing newbie like me it was a lovely discovery: brewing homemade tea is easy. The plant simply seeps in the pot. Or, to be more precise:

  1. Cut 3 stalks of mint low on the stem.
  2. Rinse under water; dry with a clean kitchen towel.
  3. Roll stalks firmly and briskly between the palms of your hands.
  4. Form a nest with the stalks in the bottom of your teapot.
  5. Pour boiling water into the pot.
  6. Steep 4 minutes before enjoying (leave the mint in for stronger tea).
mint-tea
The flavor of natural mint tea is light and sweet and equal to any of the commercially-produced teas on which I confess to spending a small fortune. As a bonus, rolling  stalks between your palms releases mint oil that aromatizes the air. Sorta like a soothing Glad air freshener, except it’s free and won’t poison your kids or pets if they eat it. Magic, indeed.
brewing