Strawberries Make a Scene

[Photo by  Erwan Hesry  on  Unsplash

[Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash

It goes like this in our family:

Scene: Winter. A mom and her teenage daughter are pushing a cart through the grocery store.

Teenager: Yum! Can we get some strawberries?

Mom: [repressing a shudder as she eyes the clamshell containers of giant strawberries from California] Those things? They don't even taste good. They breed them for size and color, not for flavor.

Teenager: But they're good anyhow! I've had them.

Mom: You're the same person who likes cake mix cakes that don't even use real vanilla.

Teenager: Fake vanilla tastes good! I love fake vanilla. It's because you never let us have any. (Teenager seethes and thinks rebellious thoughts.)

Scene shifts to summer at the Bellevue Farmers Market.

Teenager: Strawberries! Can we get some?

Mom: Of course.

Teenager: And not just two pints this time. That doesn't even last one day.

Mom: Okay. A half-flat.

Teenager: Of really big strawberries.

Mom: I like the little ones better. They have more flavor. They're like sugar bombs.

Teenager: But I like the big ones!

Mom tyrannically buys a half-flat of small strawberries, and teenager seethes and thinks rebellious thoughts.

(It occurs to me now, as I write this transcription inspired by real events, that this week the obvious solution is to buy several different pints, each a different variety of strawberry, and to do a family taste test. A flight of strawberries.)

Maybe you've chosen your favorite variety already, from the many offered by our farmers. We not only ate our tiny ones raw, but we also turned them into strawberry shortcake. Kind of a poignant thing because my husband took a bite and talked about how his mom (now in memory care for dementia) loved strawberry shortcake and used to make it often. Waaah! Clearly we are going to have to bring her some. She may not remember what we remember about her love for strawberries, but she can discover them anew.


Strawberry Shortcake

8 biscuits, baked from your favorite recipe, with a tad of sugar added


3 12-ozs baskets of strawberries, hulled

3 Tbsp sugar

2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Slice two baskets of the strawberries and transfer to a large bowl. Puree the remaining basket in a food processor until smooth. Add to sliced strawberries. Stir in sugar and lemon juice. Garnish with mint, if you like (I don't like). 

Halve biscuits and spoon topping generously over. Makes 8 servings.

Graduate to Fresh Food

Supposing you have one of these in the family...

pic: Fausten Tuyambaze on Unsplash

pic: Fausten Tuyambaze on Unsplash

And you've been called upon to host an open house. What to serve?

Finding ourselves in exactly this situation,

...her sister and I have come up with the following menu:

  • Crudite platter with green goddess dressing and hummus;
  • Fresh fruit salad;
  • Ye olde crackers, salami, and cheese tray;
  • Homemade ham-and-cheese croissants and pain au chocolat;
  • Lemon cheesecake bars.

We're expecting at least two vegans (hence the hummus and fruits and vegetables), and the last time I served Market sugar snap peas and the dip combo, everyone was quite happy. Why wheel out the supermarket carrots and celery, when you can offer sugar snap peas, snow peas, local carrots and cucumbers, and even hothouse cherry tomatoes from the Bellevue Farmers Market? And why serve those giant, tasteless strawberries in their clamshell container, when the Market is overrun with these:

We've been eating the strawberries plain, sliced in salads and morning cereal. I haven't gotten around to freezing any yet, but it has made me crave fresh strawberry pie. I don't know about you, but I still remember when Marie Callendar's was a tasty little restaurant chain of a few shops, and one of my favorite offerings there was the seasonal fresh strawberry pie. (I don't recommend you order it now because the crust is horrible and the strawberries are the awful clamshell kind, but back in the day...)

Anyhow, if, for your own graduation open house, you opt for fresh strawberry pie instead of lemon cheesecake bars, here's a recipe from a Texas church cookbook that I thought sounded like the pie I remember:

Fresh Strawberry Pie

1-1/4 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp strawberry Jell-O (probably for food coloring and consistency and sugar boost)
1 qt fresh strawberries
1 baked 9" pie shell (I recommend making your own)
Bring the first three ingredients to a boil until liquid is clear. While hot, add strawberry Jell-O. Add fresh strawberries to cooked mixture and pour into pie shell. When serving, topped with generous dollops of whipped cream.

The Market, of course, has all kinds of baked goods, if you don't want to make your own. It's just that my youngest and I happened to take a croissant-making class for her birthday at Whisk in Bellevue. I highly recommend it, and you come home with lots of your handiwork!

Needless to say, the picture doesn't do them justice

Needless to say, the picture doesn't do them justice

So skip the run to Costco this year, and treat friends and family to food worthy of the occasion!


pic: Baim Hanif on Unsplash

pic: Baim Hanif on Unsplash