Sunday, July 5, 2009

Strawberries and Vegetable Juice

Sometimes on a hot summer day, a vegetable juice and freshly picked strawberries are all you need for lunch. I just returned from our colorful vegetable garden, and harvested parsley, kale, and spinach that I added to store bought beets, ginger, celery, and local carrots, for a vitamin-filled vegetable juice.

This year, I have the biggest garden I have ever had, and the work and planning are paying off. I started 25% or more of the seeds inside during early spring, and spent cozy days mapping the garden. The garden is designed with a method called square-foot gardening. The list is long but here are a few of the foods growing: beets, cucumbers, lavender, oregano, basil, sage, parsley, rosemary, red oak lettuce, radishes, a variety of hot peppers, tomatoes, and kale.

Once again, we have been blessed with the bright red strawberry. I am very particular about only eating the sweet berry when it is in season and locally grown. I pick and pick, stocking the freezer, preparing for winter. Seems we spend a lot of time in the Vermont summers preparing for winter by chopping wood and preserving the harvest. Strawberries freeze very well, and on a cold wintery morning, I love warming them up with some Vermont maple syrup and serving the strawberry syrup with cinnamon pancakes. Frozen strawberries may also be chopped frozen and added to pancake batter. (Unlike some other berries, frozen strawberries most often, are not used in baking, because they release too much juice). Some of my other favorite uses for frozen strawberries are daiquiris, smoothies, and strawberry sauce.

Happy Summertime Eating!

Your Chef,

Strawberry Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup canola or grape seed oil
2 ¼ cups fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
1 ¼ cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 9 by 5-inch loaf pans. Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In an electric mixer, fitted with the whisk, add the eggs and sugar. Beat on medium high until eggs are fluffy. Add oil and mix well. Add flour mixture and blend until just combined. Using a spatula, fold in the fresh strawberries and nuts.

Scrape batter into prepared loaf pans and place in preheated oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaves comes out clean, 60-70 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely, at least 1 hour. Serve.
(The bread can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days).

For extra fun and flavor I like to serve the bread with Ice Cream drizzled with Grand Mariner.