Hello My Foodie Friends!
There is something delicious and nostalgic about strawberries.
When I see them, my mom flashes into my memory. Growing up, I lived by a farm that grew strawberries. The last weeks of the month of May would bring the start to some beautifully ripe and delicious strawberries. My mom used to love taking all of us strawberry picking. Maybe it was her grand plan to tire out her three rambunctious boys or she just loved how happy it made us to accompany her on the strawberry picking adventure. We would race to fill our baskets and run them back to mom. My two sisters were diligent in looking for the biggest, reddest strawberries. However, my brothers and I preferred to create a “bug competition” looking for the most bugs and different bugs we could find. The other issue was when we did pick the strawberries, it was difficult not to take a bite out them. My mom would often find our buckets filled with little bites taken from several of the strawberries. I have to admit the best part of the day was eating the strawberries.
During our strawberry excursions, my brothers and I, John, Danny and Billy, always competed in everything we did so we would split up to find our own patch. On one of our strawberry picking adventures my brother Danny who was usually the one who got into mischief, was kneeling on the ground talking to a very cute animal. Since we were about the ages of five or six, we had no fear of animals yet. I said “Danny, is that a cat? He then responded “yes, I think so and he’s wearing a mask!” He was saying “here kitty would you like a strawberry?” You know what happened next, the “kitty” took the strawberry and bit Danny’s finger. We were then off on another adventure to the emergency room where Danny saw a very big needle. That is also when the doctor told all three boys what a raccoon was and how much they enjoyed strawberries as well. We still talk about that day whenever we get together.
Being involved with creating a garden or visiting one is a wonderful way to encourage eating fresh garden harvests. Although my mother and grandmother did not have strawberry fields, they did have beautiful vegetable gardens.
One of my favorite memories is when my mother would ask us to gather rocks for her garden. Picking out the largest and coolest rock kept us three, highly energized boys busy for hours. Another favorite memory was plucking the fruits of my mother and grandmother’s gardens. Snacking on the garden vegetables was another challenge for us to avoid. We would play hide and seek in the garden while nibbling on some of the garden treasures. My brothers and I would try to hide and flatten our bodies close to the ground as soon as we heard either my mother or grandmother asking us what we were up to.
Getting children involved with gardening and harvesting fruits is a great way to create memories. Being involved with creating a garden or visiting one is a wonderful way to encourage eating fresh garden harvests. With picking strawberries, we get to celebrate having fresh strawberries and whipped cream. This is one of my favorite desserts and snacks. There are so many ways to use strawberries; you can eat them for breakfast and add granola for some texture, drizzle chocolate on them, or make strawberry cream pie or shortcake.
Strawberry Pretzel Pie
• 4 cups miniature pretzels
• 6 tablespoons butter, melted
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 3/4 cup boiling water
• 1 package (6 ounces) strawberry gelatin
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled, divided
• 2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
• 1 jar (7 ounces) marshmallow creme
• 2/3 cup whipped cream cheese
• 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1. Place pretzels in a food processor; pulse or use a manual chopper until chopped. Add butter and sugar; pulse or mix until combined. Reserve 1/3 cup pretzel mixture for topping. Press remaining mixture onto bottom of a greased 9-in. springform pan. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, add boiling water to gelatin; stir 2 minutes or until completely dissolved. Stir in lemon juice. Refrigerate 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Chop half the strawberries; slice remaining berries and reserve for top-ping. In a large bowl, beat 1 cup heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Beat marshmallow creme, cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk in-to cooled gelatin mixture until blended. Gently fold in chopped strawberries and whipped cream. Pour into crust.
4. Refrigerate, covered, until firm, 4-6 hours. Beat remaining 1 cup heavy cream until stiff peaks form; spread over pie. Top with reserved strawberries and pretzel mixture.
Recipe by Taste of Home at tasteofhome.com
At Compliments to the Chef, your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at 33 Railroad Place, we carry tools to help you with your strawberry creations. One item is the strawberry huller. A strawberry huller is a small kitchen tool used to remove leaves and the hull from the top of a strawberry. Lots of dishes call for it. The huller, which resembles a mini set of tongs with tips or you can get the one with teeth-like edges, allowing you to push the tips into the top of a strawberry (around the stem), grip, twist, pull, and you're done. The ad-vantage to using a huller is that you lose much less fruit than if you just cut the ends off of your berries. Yes, you could use a knife. However, the huller is much safer. Another item to have is a paring knife to help you slice up your strawberries.
This spring, step into the strawberry fields with friends and family or stop by the Farmers' Market to pick up some strawberries. While you are creating your favorite strawberry dish, maybe even put on the Beatles and listen to “Strawberry Fields Forever” (oh! I am showing my age).
Remember my Foodie Friends: “Life Happens in the Kitchen.”
Take Care - John & Paula