My Love Affair with Strawberries

Ever since I was small I have loved strawberries. Seriously, I’m pretty freakin’ little in this picture.  So two weeks ago I went strawberry picking with a few friends and picked nearly 10 pounds of juicy goodness. Oh, I was in strawberry heaven! I ate way too many and came home and ate more. I made 5 jars of jam, strawberry gazpacho, strawberry salad and strawberry shortcake. Did you know that strawberry jam can be really easy? I’m sitting here thinking that I’ll need a huge canning pot, cans, fruit pectin and all of this other stuff. Nope. I bought jars and strawberries. The sugar I already had. All you have to do to make decent jam is boil fruit and sugar together until it cooks down. After boiling the jars and putting the hot jam in, the jars sealed themselves. I’m keeping the jam in the fridge though, since I know I didn’t follow all of the steps to for proper canning. Its great on dark Rye bread though. I’ll be enjoying it for breakfast for a few months at least.

The strawberry gazpacho came from 5 And Spice. Its a great recipe but I didn’t do a very good job with the execution. I was busy making jam at the same time and started trying to cook the gazpacho instead of marinating it cold. I also used a mixture of homemade bread and Russian Black bread (Whole Foods) for the croutons. It came out well, but I didn’t leave it enough time to marinade either so it could have been smoother. Lesson learned- actually marinate gazpacho for the 6 or so hours it should be marinated for (and actually follow the recipe).

Bisquick makes a pretty easy strawberry shortcake since all you have to do is stir the ingredients together and plop them onto the tray! The recipe is on the back of the box. If you don’t believe me, look for yourself. I don’t want to pretend like I’m making magic over here, but it seems pretty wondrous when something as awesome as strawberry shortcake takes 20 minutes from start to finish. Slicing strawberries and sprinkling sugar on them doesn’t take much effort. The sugar makes the strawberries into a nice sauce and soaks into the split cakes. Usually strawberry shortcake is served with whipped cream, but who has heavy cream on hand all the time? (Okay, sometimes I do.) So I made a sweet sauce by mixing sour cream, honey and vanilla. The sour cream and honey create a nice smooth-textured drizzly sauce. It was different, but really good.

As I’m sitting on my couch after all that cooking, I’m thinking to myself “phew, it is HOT in that kitchen!” and I realized that I was hungry. So of course, I want some more strawberries. A short while later I had fixed myself a salad of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, strawberries, ricotta salata and basil. Presto! Strawberry salad! It looked pretty but it probably could have used some more depth. Maybe a little citrus? I’d appreciate any input on how to make this salad more interesting. The ricotta was a bit dry and feta could be substituted for the cheese.

Needless to say, it was a strawberry bonanza and it was a good weekend. There are still a few lingering berries in the fridge, wishing they could be eaten today. But I never fear, the strawberries will be back next year.

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