Sunday Things: Late Strawberries


Image via danspapers.com

The strawberries finally look delicious here in Minnesota. They are late this year. Ripe and smelling of summer, I leave them out on the counter, unrefrigerated. I prefer them that way and how, in consequence of leaving them out, their aroma blossoms fuller. They wont spoil. They’ll be gone long before there is any chance of that.

When I was little and strawberry season came around in Florida, we would go to the you-pick-’em strawberry farm and the whole family (and family friends) would cruise the black-plastic-clad rows of dirt that boasted strawberry plants for as far as the eye could see. I think we ate way more strawberries while picking them than we actually brought home. And when we got home from the strawberry fields we knew my mom wouldn’t even make strawberry shortcake till the next day because we had all gorged ourselves to the point of aversion to anything berry for the rest of the day. When she did make it she made the kind you make with Bisquick. You split the mini cakes in the middle and fill them with strawberries that you have sliced and added sugar to and then put more strawberries on top and then put whipped cream on top of that and then a final decorative strawberry on the very top of the pinnacle of cream you have erected.

In my memory those strawberries loom large, some of them so big they looked like freckled turnips. Do you remember the first time you bit into a strawberry fresh off the vine and in doing so you discovered that the inside of a strawberry is shaped like a heart? ❤ The thrill of discovery along with the sweet taste of berry?

Here’s hoping your summer has that kind of sweetness, that kind of wonder and that like your berries, it’s just the way you like it.

Bisquick Strawberry Shortcake Recipe
6 shortcakes

4 cups sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/3 cups Original Bisquick mix
2/3 cups milk
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 container (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed
(Feel free to use whipped cream from a can if you want to. I always do.)

MIX strawberries and 1/2 cup sugar: set aside. Heat oven to 425º F.
STIR Bisquick mix, milk, 3 Tbsp sugar and the butter until soft dough forms. Drop by 6 spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet.
BAKE 10-12 min or until golden brown. Split shortcakes; fill and top with strawberries and whipped topping.

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And before the strawberry season is done, I’ll be making my annual strawberry jam — summer in a mason jar.


Photo Copyright Annette Marie Hyder

Chocolate chip pancakes

Jazzy’s been sick for the past couple of days with the flu. She just started feeling better this morning. With fat flurries swirling outside and the curtains of the sky drawn closed with the heavy draperies of snow, it was a cold and dark winter morning.

So I made chocolate chip pancakes for her for breakfast. Yes, they did add a warm glow to the morning. Or was that just my happiness that she is feeling better? They were so good we decided to have them again for dinner.

Candied Peels


(C) Annette Marie Hyder

I make tangerine petals and orange branches
while the moon is high in the sky,
sugared tongues sticking out on the waxed paper waiting
for their taste of chocolate, a dark that’s almost bitter
for the nectar sweetness of the former and the lightness of milk chocolate
for the strong bite of the latter. I am finding that spot between extremes
where the savor is, where the tightrope sings.

It is cold outside but the fragrance from the simmering peels
breathes hotly against the window.
I feel secretive and witchy stirring bubbling syrup
by the full bright light of the moon.
Memory serves as a broom
that I ride back to the time of the rustling groves by our house
and the neighbor’s cows that regularly escaped enclosure
to moo right outside my window.

Citrus peels are usually discarded
but they can be used to sweeten, to garnish, to put the final touch on,
to tuck sachets of summer into the pockets of winter.
Sometimes thoughts of home, of family, curl in just such a way —
bright and pithy with the essence condensed.
And I am glad for these sweet scraps, from the small things,
here in cold Minnesota.

dandy lions

By Annette Marie Hyder

with white windblown manes
roam urban and residential
serengetis
shake their heads and pounce
only
to float away on the breeze


Links of interest:

I Love this book: Stalking the Wild Asparagus, by Euell Gibbons

Things to do with dandelions
“One person’s weed is another person’s wild flower.” — Anonymous

“Turn dandelion whines into dandelion wines” — annarbor.com
“Make soup and salad” — wildlifegardeners.org

Blueberry Coffee Cake

I made this blueberry coffee cake on yesterday’s rainy Sunday afternoon. It got rave reviews. My daughter, Jasmine Rain, also suggested that I make a variation on it and call it  rain cake. She said rain cake can only be eaten when it’s raining outside and it must be garnished with jasmine flowers sprinkled with raindrops. The next time I am home on a rainy day I’ll give it a try!

Can’t make rain cake today because it is SNOWING out on this April Monday. Yep. I do live in Minnesota.


Photo by Jasmine Rain Hyder


 

Blueberry Coffee Cake Recipe (Yields 1-9 inch Bundt cake)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup secret ingredient
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 5/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  •  2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Directions


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9 inch Bundt pan.

  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar
    until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in
    the secret ingredient and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt;
    stir into the batter just until blended. Fold in blueberries.

  3. Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan. In a
    small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans.
    Sprinkle half of this mixture over the batter in the pan. Spoon
    remaining batter over the top, and then sprinkle the remaining pecan
    mixture over. Use a knife or thin spatula to swirl the sugar layer into
    the cake.

  4. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, or
    until a knife inserted into the crown of the cake comes out clean. Cool
    in the pan over a wire rack. Invert onto a serving plate, and tap firmly
    to remove from the pan. Dust with confectioners sugar just before
    serving.


Coffee and (Carl Sagan) Apple Pie


Coffee, good for some, bad for others

I had a friend who was anti-coffee and would sneer at my ‘essence of death’, as he put it. Well, I have known all along that coffee is good for me. Scientists have waffled back and forth about the benefits and I do what most people do. I listen to the complimentary things researchers say about coffee as well as the negatives and then decide what to do based on how the research results apply to me. In my case (no high blood pressure, not pregnant, non-smoker), rejoice.

Here is an excerpt from the Wall Street Journal, Good News in the Daily Grind, that discusses the latest pros and the cons:

To judge by recent headlines, coffee could be the latest health-food craze, right up there with broccoli and whole-wheat bread.

This month alone, an analysis in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that people who drink three to four cups of java a day are 25% less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who drink fewer than two cups. And a study presented at an American Association for Cancer Research meeting found that men who drink at least six cups a day have a 60% lower risk of developing advanced prostate cancer than those who didn’t drink any.

But don’t think you’ll be healthier graduating from a tall to a venti just yet. While there has been a splash of positive news about coffee lately, there may still be grounds for concern.

Continue reading here for the rest of the article and to check out the nifty ‘cup o’ joe’ graph that illustrates the pros and cons.

With that in mind

Remember when butter was bad and margarine was touted as the healthy choice? Now, years after I ignored the advice that sullied my ears, to eat margarine instead of butter, I am rewarded for my prescient consumption of the real thing as opposed to the artificial substitute by the acknowledgment by scientists that, why yes, butter is better than margarine.

Harvard Health Publications reports, in Butter vs. Margarine:

Today the butter-versus-margarine issue is really a false one. From the standpoint of heart disease, butter is on the list of foods to use sparingly mostly because it is high in saturated fat, which aggressively increases levels of LDL. Margarines, though, aren’t so easy to classify. The older stick margarines that are still widely sold are high in trans fats, and are worse for you than butter. Some of the newer margarines that are low in saturated fat, high in unsaturated fat, and free of trans fats are fine as long as you don’t use too much (they are still rich in calories).

Read the entire article here.

Now if incontrovertible proof were presented that coffee was bad for one’s health, the way that smoking has been proven to undeniably be detrimental to health, well that would be a different story. Until that happens, coffee is my friend.

To go with my coffee, in happy accompaniment, apple pie. Here is, via Neatorama, Carl Sagan’s Apple Pie Recipe:

Coffee:

A beverage as black as ink, useful against numerous illnesses,particularly those of the stomach. Its consumers take it in the morning, quite frankly, in a porcelain cup that is passed around and from which each one drinks a cupful. It is composed of water and the fruit from a bush called bunnu. — German physician and traveler,Leonhard Rauwolf, in 1583

No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee’s frothy goodness.  — Sheik Abd-al-Kadir

A morning without coffee is like sleep. — Author Unknown

The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce. — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.


Related Links:

We Are All Connected, featuring Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Bill Nye
Is Margarine one molecule away from being plastic? Read Snopes.com: The butter truth
Drinking Coffee, Decaf and Tea Regularly Associated With A Reduced Risk Of Diabetes
Coffee Consumption Associated With Reduced Risk of Prostate Cancer
Midlife Coffee And Tea Drinking May Protect Against Late-Life Dementia

Fresh milk

When my mom was growing up they had ‘milk of the gods’. It was delivered to their front door in a glass bottle and fresh from the cow with cream on the top and she and her brothers and sisters would argue over whose turn it was to ‘get the cream’. ‘Getting the cream’ meant scooping off the cream into a bowl and eating it in front of the jealous siblings.

Fast forward from her childhood to mine. At one point when I was growing up my widowed mom was having a hard time financially and had to get government food assistance from the US Department of Agriculture: cheese, milk, butter, rice, oats and peanut butter. The butter was really good. The peanut butter, rice and oats were OK. The cheese was a long yellow rectangle that came in a box (kind of the way that Velveeta is packaged). This cheese was not delicious. But it was the government milk that was particularly loathsome. It was made from powdered and dried milk solids with ‘just add water’ on the package directions.

My mom kept the plastic milk jug from her last store-bought milk when it was empty (she knew she would have to resort to the powdered milk) and she rinsed it out really well and prepared the noxious ‘govmilk’ in the recycled milk jug to try to trick us kids into thinking it was regular milk. We were not fooled. We refused to drink it. But in refusing it we were not turning our noses up at it because it was government milk. We turned our noses up, justifiably so, because it smelled horrible.

Since the sense of smell is so intricately entwined with the sense of taste, how could we be expected to drink that stuff?

What has me thinking about milk as a beverage in its highest (from my mom’s childhood) and lowest (from my childhood) embodiments is what I found at the grocery store the other day.

Yes, right at my local Super Target, the legendary glass-bottled milk is to be found:

“Simply the Best
Delivered direct to your door
Call today!”

At first, in my shock at seeing the ‘home delivery’ blazoned on these bottles of milk I didn’t notice exactly what they were. I was repulsed to see imperfections in the milk–right there proudly on display. And the milk was not the pure white I had imagined from my mother’s rhapsodizing. Maybe the milk was just so much better back then? The bottle shape wasn’t what I expected either.

Then I looked closer and saw that it was eggnog. Huge relief for the quality factor there! The imperfections were traces of nutmeg and were, in their proper context, lovely. There was no milk actually–just the eggnog. So now, intrigued, and wondering (based on the jaunty promise on the bottle) if I too might experience ‘milk of the gods’ delivered directly to my door, I looked up info about the Oberweis company.

Here’s what I found out:

  • The delivery charge is $2.99 regardless of how little or how much you order
  • However, they don’t deliver in my area
  • But, their brand is available at select stores in my area
  • I simply must taste this milk

It was important to me to see that the milk is antibiotic-free and free of artificial growth hormones–I require that in the milk I buy. So, I’ll be getting some Oberweis milk from one of the stores listed in my area and doing a taste test. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Links of interest:
Oberweis.com
Interactions in Flavor
Chocolate Milk better than Gatorade for Post-Exercise Recovery?
Milk bath benefits and recipe

And finally, I remembered that there were always sheets of recipes that came with the USDA food and sure enough, they still have them:
Index Of All Commodity Fact Sheets
And here is a special shout-out to the non-fat dry milk recipes:
USDA’s collection of non-fat dry milk recipes