Did you blink? I hope not. You might have missed strawberry season. That’s the way it goes. A few perfect summer days squashed between rainy spells provide a very skimpy opportunity for strawberry picking.
One really shouldn’t complain about the weather. There’s no future in it. You can’t do anything about it anyway. And as I often say, there’s always an upside to a downside. You just have to look around a little to find it. My garden, for instance, was gloriously happy with a few weeks of rain in the middle of June.
A few years ago, I tore out some unfortunate run-of-the-mill hostas that lined our patio. I swear there were at least five hundred of them, giving me yet another insight into the minds of the former custodians of my back yard. What a bargain! Let’s buy a thousand of them! Put five hundred in the back and another five hundred in the front! Now don’t get me wrong, I have gained an appreciation for this often-maligned plant, but enough is enough. I have narrowed them down to two. I replaced them with herbs a few years ago and lo! They are coming into their own. The sage is winning the power struggle with the thyme, the lady’s mantle is showing off like a strumpet, and the lavender has painted the view from my kitchen purple. Thank you cool June rain.
As for the strawberry fields, well, maybe not so much thank you in the cool June rain department. Finally, a nice day, so I found myself driving to Verrrill Farm to pick some strawberries. It was past 11:00 when I got there. Note to self: when picking strawberries on a Saturday morning, arrive early. Though the rows were picked over, they were not picked out and there were still plenty of small berries, perfect for preserves. I got the jam underway as soon as I came home.
Sunday was another glorious day, so off I went again, greedy strawberry picker that I am. This time the allotted rows were bursting with berries of all sizes and I picked a quart in five minutes flat. Home again, home again to make strawberry rhubarb jam (I must make a lot, there is jam thief in my house.)
Then I made sorbet for dessert from Alice Medrich’s cookbook Pure Dessert. I’m just going to tease you with that. I can’t tell you everything! It takes the adventure out. If you love desserts, you should at least get the book out of the library and look up the recipe. You will probably want to buy it since Alice Medrich’s sensibilities are very refined and you can learn a lot from her books. While you’re at it, take a look at David Liebovitz’s
. You’ll want that, too so you can try out lots of ice cream recipes this summer.
What’s left after strawberry jam, strawberry sorbet and strawberry ice cream? Strawberry tarts, of course. Here is my recipe from the Boston Globe.
And another thing: here’s a recipe for Strawberries Romanoff. See, I’m not that stingy. It’s a rather fancified way of eating strawberries and cream. It is pretty, and simple, and with the sweetest berries of the season. Life is unpredictable. Things change. Carpe diem. Those berries, like everything else, will not be around forever, as it turns out.
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar (granulated or natural cane)
1/4 cup Grand Marnier (orange flavored brandy)
1 quart strawberries
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon orange flower water (if you have it), or vanilla extract
Candied violets or lavender flowers, for garnish
1. Combine 1/2 cup of the sugar and 1/2 cup of water in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. (Alternatively, combine in a Pyrex measuring cup and heat in the microwave for 1 minute) Stir in the Grand Marnier. Cool in the refrigerator until chilled.
2. Wash, hull and quarter or halve the strawberries. Combine them in a bowl with the Grand Marnier syrup refrigerate for up to one hour, until ready to serve. Spoon the berries and their syrup into pretty stem glasses.
3. Whip the cream with 1tablespoon sugar and the orange flower water or vanilla until it forms soft peaks. Spoon some whipped cream on top of each dessert glass. Garnish with candied violets or lavender flowers.
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