Posts tagged ‘strawberries’

First fruits

Perennial plants provide a type of spring joy that will likely never be achieved by annuals, at least not in northern climes. Sure, annuals offer some of the tastiest harvest, but perennials often get the first (asparagus, anyone?) and last (apple pie, yes please) say of the growing season. While annuals often require certain temperatures and warmer soils to be planted, perennials begin their new growth as soon as Mother Nature hits the “Go” button. Their emergence may depend on the particular spring and your location, but by April or May, around the country we are all generally treated to some sort of perennial beauty.

I love early spring flowers – while in college in Tacoma, Washington, my favorite were the daffodils that bloomed in February – but the real treat to me are the early fruits. This last weekend, we were gifted with our first: vibrant red strawberries. We have patiently watched for these berries, having planted the initial starter plants in 2010. The first summer was just to establish the patch, and last year, the few berries that were produced were stolen by ants, so this year has been awaited with much anticipation.

Unlike anything you could ever get shipped from California, a fresh, tender Minnesota Grown strawberry delivers a burst of tanginess and sweetness that will leave you craving more. They almost melt in your mouth like a fine chocolate.

If you don’t have space in your own garden to grow berries, or you can’t grow enough to meet your needs for pies, jams or just plain eating, there are many ways to get your hands on these delicious treats. Check out your grocery and ask them if they carry local produce; if they don’t, as them to consider it. Find your nearest farmers market and get to know the vendors. Or, you can do what I find most satisfying, and that is Pick Your Own or PYO. One of my favorite places to pick strawberries is Sam Kedem Nursery & Garden in Hasting, Minnesota. Sam and Rachel have been growing wonderful produce for over 15 years, and for the past several years have been certified Organic. In addition to strawberries, they also have PYO raspberries, blueberries, cherries and currants, not to mention many vegetables. If you’re looking for some quality produce and friendly farmers, head on down!

Not near Hastings, but want to PYO elsewhere in Minnesota, check out this handy guide, organized by county.  Other states also have listings. Happy picking!

May 31, 2012 at 12:06 am Leave a comment

Happy as pie

I love baking pies. I find them to be the most satisfying creations to pull out of the oven. Cookies are fun, but easily overdone. Sweet bread is comforting, but substitutions have often led to gooey middles and disappointment. But pies, well, pies are pies, and as of yet, I’ve yet to bake one I didn’t like.

I think part of the reason I like pies so much is, at least for me, they offer opportunities for a lot more creativity than other baking. I’ve found a crust recipe (kind of a mix of several) which I really like and usually use for both sweet and savory. Beyond that, it’s all up to my imagination as to how the pie will end up. Generally speaking, I’m talking fruit pies, but I’ve got a few other fun ones I like to pull out especially around the winter holidays (Frozen Pumpkin Mousse Pie, anyone? Note: I make my own pumpkin puree, much tastier than canned.)

Tonight the fruits were peaches and strawberries. The peaches are from the order I made from a chemical-free grower in Washington, and the strawberries were picked by my mom, my husband and myself on Saturday at my favorite organic PYO (pick you own) farm called Sam Kedem Nursery and Garden, in Hastings, Minnesota.

The recipe I used was pretty basic: 

1 cup sugar (I used about half this)
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 cups sliced strawberries
3 cups sliced peaches

MY NOTES: Per the idea of another baker, I opted to not mix the fruit, but put the strawberries in the middle, surrounded by the peaches. For the crust, I had a homemade one frozen, so that made things pretty easy. I decided not to do a complete top crust, but instead some crust art, inspired by searching for top crust alternatives. This gave the pie a bright and beautiful look that almost makes me not want to cut it. But seriously, who am I kidding? Because if I didn’t cut it, I couldn’t do the thing I love best about pies – eating them!

September 6, 2011 at 12:47 am Leave a comment


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