Sunday, July 19, 2009

Fraise Fatigue

I have had this title in my head for a week now. Our two strawberry pots on our deck have been flourishing, rewarding us with ripe strawberries not once but twice a day. My daughter likes to go out in the morning, basket in hand, and pick the best ones. Later, before dinner, she heads out, usually with Chad, and finds more that have ripened in the heat. Yes, we are actually having a summer now, after a cold and foggy June. What a great feeling to wear summer clothes around the house and be too warm. Evenings, when we walk, I still wear a sweatshirt but I don't have to wear my winter parka anymore. It was getting embarrassing in June, the sun shining but there I was, freezing in my parka during our after-dinner walks. Anyway, I digress ...

The strawberries, yes (fraise, in French). Having strawberries means you have to prepare them because you do, after all, have to eat them. Every day, I have been preparing strawberries. At first, we bought those sponge cake cups at the store to eat them on. But they have changed the sponge cakes - they are now Twinkies without the cream (Hostess is the only brand that makes these cakes, at least here in our stores.) Ugh. We are not a Hostess family. So I made our favorite pound cake, a recipe from my first Better Homes & Gardens cookbook that a kind boss of mine gave me back when I turned 21. He liked to cook and was always telling me recipes that I would scribble down on scratch paper. I still have some of those scraps in my recipe box. Anyway, the pound cake lasted 3 days, slicing it thin and only having it after dinner (it's pretty rich). No whipped cream, just cake, strawberries and, for some of our family, milk poured in around the cake in a bowl. Delicious. But now the cake is gone. And there are still strawberries ripening daily. The boys and I like to eat them plain, on their own. But my husband will only eat them cut up, smashed with sugar and on top of something cake-like. So now, I have to make something else. Shortcake seems the likely suspect but I've not had very good luck with shortcake. Decisions, decisions.

Don't get me wrong. I am thankful we have been blessed with strawberries. Growing up in California, it wasn't summer if there weren't strawberries bought at one of the many local farms around our town. As I got older, I saw a lot of those farms get plowed under and turned into buildings and parking lots. But there was always a place to buy strawberries. When we moved here to Oregon, we discovered Oregon berries, available for a very short time. They are smaller but really good. I like them better than the huge berries you buy shipped up here from CA. It's just that I have never, ever prepared so many strawberries in one summer in my life.

I think it was the way our summer of berries began that led to my early fatigue. The day before the 4th of July, Todd spotted big, beautiful strawberries at the grocery store and couldn't resist. We here on the coast don't often get terrific berries at the stores, I don't know what happens to them between their place of origin and here but this was a rare find. He bought 6 quarts (I think that was the size) and announced we were going to make jam. He filled the sink with water and berries and I stood there for 2 hours, rinsing, hulling and slicing strawberries. He and the kids did the jam part. I was exhausted. I never wanted to see another berry again after that. And then our plants on the deck began to ripen. And ripen. And ripen.

So, that's my story. I love how much fun Carmen is having, being the official strawberry picker. I took her photo with her basket. Funny thing is, she won't eat them. She tried one and it was too "stingy". Go figure. She likes the cake, but without strawberries. I guess you could say she has fear of fraise.


jugglingpaynes said...

Sierra is our berry picker. Alas, we lost most of our strawberries to a soggy June this year. Blueberries are ripening now, and eventually our elderberries.

Two suggestions for you: Freeze some of the berries for winter, or make some strawberry smoothies. For smoothies, I usually just pluck out the stem, rinse and throw them in the blender with orange juice and sugar (to taste). It comes out really nice. I tend to buy large amounts of whatever berry goes on sale and make smoothies out of them. It's a good way to use up large quantities of berries before they spoil. ;o)

Peace and Laughter,

Vicki said...

=) Strawberries!! Yum!

I can't even imagine being cold in June and July unless it's because the AC is pushed too low.

Note to self: Don't visit Washington till August! j/k!
And stay WARM!

Cate said...

Well down here in NZ, we are freeeeeezing and would love some of your warmth!

We always associate berries with Christmas, with that being our summer, so it is odd to hear of you eating them now!

Anyhow, my suggestions would be a) back to the jam making, or b) there are some recipes around for strawberry syrup that you can bottle to serve over icecream (or on your cake?) or c) for an adult treat, marinate a mix of berries with castor sugar and vodka or gin and again, serve with icecream or cake.

Then there is always our downunder staple dish to be topped with strawberries - pavlova!

Cate :-)

Brenda Jean said...

When I was growing up we always smashed up our strawberries with sugar and let them sit, then spooned them on top of shortcake or angel food cake. I like that still, but eating strawberries plain is my daughter's favorite way to eat them. She can eat almost a quart to herself if I don't watch her!