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Archive for the ‘strawberries’


The June List 2

Posted on June 21, 2011 by crankycheryl

We picked strawberries today at the Charlotte Berry Farm, a.k.a. “berry picking heaven.”  The boys love it because they have excellent toys and creemees, and I love that the farm is owned and staffed by lovely people who don’t spray their strawberries with all manner of toxic badness.

Though the little guys did primarily focus on Legos, I got E. in the field with me to pick berries for the first time ever.  He was racing up and down the rows with his flat, screeching when he found big berries and plucking and plucking away.  Who knew that all I had to do was casually tell him to come with me and he would?

And if we’re picking strawberries, it must be June, a realization that leaves me in the blessed and happy-anxious state of preparing for the Vermont harvest ahead.  It’s true that it’s off to a slow start because of our sodden fields (beautifully written about by Melissa Pasanen in our local paper).  But it’s still time to think about preparing for easy meals in the hot months ahead – not to mention the long winter that’s not too far behind.

So today’s Tuesday Tip is my Food To-Do List for June.  I’m about halfway through, and I will or won’t get there but at least we’ll have berries.

  • Try to use up any lingering 2010 food that’s still in the freezer.
  • Then defrost the freezer.  But do remember to put down something to catch the water.  Yep.
  • If buying ahead, choose items that will combine well with salad ingredients or grilled meals.
  • Pick strawberries for freezing or canning (this year I’m not making strawberry jam and am only freezing).
  • Pick first greens for braising/cooking and blanch and freeze them.
  • Put aside one or two cool nights for baking muffins, cookies and biscuits so I’ve got some baked goods in the freezer for when it’s too hot to crank the oven.
  • Pick rhubarb and freeze it.
  • Pick thyme before it’s in flower and dry it (oops – nearly before it’s in flower).

Or you could just go have a creemee.

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Behind the Scenes of the Great Strawberry Ice Cream Taste Test 0

Posted on June 11, 2010 by crankycheryl

Trying sample #2 for this article that appeared in the Living section of the Sunday, June 13 Burlington Free Press.

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Strawberries + Marzipan + Inspired = Fraisier for Mother’s Day 3

Posted on May 11, 2010 by crankycheryl

I’ve long wanted to make this cake,  which I first had years ago at a celebration dinner with friends.  But  though it combines two of my very favorite flavors (strawberries and almonds), I was intimidated by making genoise, the classic European sponge cake that provides its layers.

My mother inspired me recently though, telling me that even though she didn’t think of herself as much of a cook, she could do fairly complex things because she knows how to follow the steps of a recipe.

I thought, I want to do that too.  And before I knew it it was Mother’s Day, and since these are tastes my mother also loves, Z. & I got in the kitchen.  We followed the recipe, making it just a bit healthier, and it was very, very good.

Fraisier Cake
(adapted from Joy of Cooking)
12 servings

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease and flour the bottoms of two 9 x 2″ round pans.

Sift together 3 times and return to the sifter:

  • 1 1/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour or cake flour
  • 1/4 c. sugar

Melt in a small saucepan:

  • 1/3 c. clarified butter (I used 2 T. butter, and the rest olive oil)

Whisk together in a large heatproof bowl:

  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 c. sugar


Set the bowl over a skillet of very lightly simmering water, and whisk constantly until the mixture is warm to the touch (110 on a thermometer).  Remove bowl from the heat and and beat on high speed until very lightly colored and tripled in volume.  This will take about 5 minutes with the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, or 15 minutes with a hand-held beater.

In 3 additions, sift the flour mixture over the top and fold in with a rubber spatula.  (Unless your children relentlessly steal your rubber spatulas, no matter how many times you replace them, in which case you can use a wooden spoon like I did.)

Reheat butter until warm, and fold into

  • 1 1/2 c. of batter, with
  • 1 t. vanilla

until completely incorporated.

Fold into remaining egg mixture, then scrape into pans and spread evenly.  Bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pans and top springs back when lightly pressed.  The JoC recipe says this should take about 15 minutes, but in my oven it took about 22.

Let cool on rack in pans for 10 minutes, then run knife carefully around edges to detach from pan, then let cool on rack completely.

While cakes are cooling, clean and slice in half:

  • 3 c. strawberries

Set aside and whip until fairly stiff:

  • 1 c. whipping cream
  • 1 t. sugar

Get a rolling pin, and roll out until nice and flat (alternately, if you can’ t find your rolling pin no matter how you try, you can get a nice big cutting board and use your hands to create a nice flat circle that’s the same size as your cake):

  • 1 tube of marzipan

Once cakes are cooled, place the marzipan disc (use a spatula to lift it from the board) on top of one cake.

Then place the strawberry halves, flat side down and cut side facing out, in concentric circles on top of the marzipan.

Place whipped cream on top, and then top with top layer of cake.  You can decorate the top with strawberries or extra marzipan or more whipped cream if you like.  It’s also traditional to drizzle some chocolate over the top.  I was told to put the plain round circle on there so that’s what I did.

And we ate it and were very happy.  Then Z. said it was time to, “put your hand way out and take a picture of ourselves hugging,” so I did that too.  Hope your Mother’s Day was just as sweet and silly.

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So Summer, Quiche and Clafouti 2

Posted on July 20, 2009 by crankycheryl

bread bcoho july dinner 008Oh, it’s summer, green and wet and if not exactly sunny, then still with beautiful days for the beach and camping and adventure seeking.  The boys are covered with dirt and mosquito bites and scraped knees, whirling around in a perpetual cloud of brotherly violence/love, worlds of pirates and griffin-hunting and trucks and dinosaurs, pleas for more ice cream, for just five more minutes at the beach, in the water, under a tree.

“Be here,” I keep telling myself.  Just be here with them, in the streams of light through pine trees while we’re camping.  With the smells of leaves and the sounds of their laughs as they run to the far side of the pond to capture a frog or tackle a friend.

And I’m trying, I’m trying.  To be here, to breathe deep of this beautiful life, my wild and wonderful boys.  To keep the joy in balance with all the worry, my fears about taking a brave plunge, about money, work, how I’m going to deal with fixing my bathroom floor, all of it.

In the midst of it, it was still my turn to make a cohousing community dinner last week.  And what else is there to do but use the what we have at hand to celebrate, even sanctify these full moments?   So though I was packing to go camping, and in a full-scale anxiety attack over the rest of it, we grabbed vegetables from the garden, and Vermont cheeses and cream and eggs from our co-op and off we went to cook and feast together on this beautiful, thrifty, simple and custard-y Vermont Bastille Day meal.

Rolling Out the Piecrust

Rolling Out the Piecrust

Summer Quiche
4 – 6 servings

Preheat oven to 375.

Gather and prepare ingredients:

  • 3/4 c. sauteed or steamed vegetables, well-drained.  (This amount is the yield you want after it’s cooked, so make sure to start with more!)  We made two combinations:  1.  Broccoli, mushroom, basil and sage.  2.  Swiss chard, lacinata kale, zucchini, garlic scapes.  We sauteed each combo in a large pan with butter and olive oil.

Beat together:

  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups cream, whole milk, or creme fraiche
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch freshly ground nutmeg

Arrange vegetables on bottom of crust, then sprinkle over them:

Pour the egg mixture over the top.  Bake until the filling is browned and well set, 25 – 35 minutes.

Clafouti Egg Breakin'

Clafouti Egg Breakin'

Nectarine & Strawberry Clafouti
6 servings

Preheat oven to 375.  Butter a 10-inch deep-dish pie pan.

Beat until very frothy:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 c. sugar

Add and beat until smooth:

  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 T. cognac or rum (optional), or
  • 2 t. vanilla

Stir in:

  • 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt

Arrange evenly over bottom of pie pan:

  • 1 lb. mixed nectarines, cut into 1″ cubes, and halved strawberries, rinsed and dried

Pour batter over the fruit and place the pie pan on a baking sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 and bake until puffy and well-set, about 35 minutes.  Cool on a rack for about 20 minutes, then dust with:

  • Powdered sugar.

Serve in wedges, or sloppy scoops, whatever seems to come out of the pan.

bread bcoho july dinner 022

Zucchini-Greens Quiche

Finished Clafouti, Ready to Serve

Finished Clafouti, Ready to Serve

Leftover clafouti batter, mixed with strawberry jam and baked into a dutch-baby style pancake for breakfast the next morning.  Yes, that's a Blue's Clues plate.  What of it?

Leftover clafouti batter, mixed with strawberry jam and baked into a dutch-baby style pancake for breakfast the next morning. Yes, that's a Blue's Clues plate. What of it?

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Strawberry-Honey Jam 9

Posted on June 15, 2009 by crankycheryl

bread and jelly 002Allow me to start with what is not included in this post:

  • How I brought my children to a hot field on a sunny day with milk in sippy cups, but no water at all.
  • How Z. clung to my leg and whined and pleaded to go home, insisting we hold hands every time I took a step.
  • How I went to pick a week too early, knowing we’d be away for the peak berry-picking weekend, which resulted in twice as much work for half the results.  And a sunburn.
  • The growing awareness of how so many of these allegedly golden, wholesome childhood moments I seem so hellbent on providing are like this.  Sigh.

Regardless, we are completely out of last year’s jam, and I heard that the call had gone out that strawberries were ready.  So off we went to Adam’s Berry Farm in Burlington’s Intervale, at which we can pick our own organic strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.  (For blueberries, I’m also especially fond of Owl’s Head, which has an astonishingly beautiful hillside setting and live music, even if its berries aren’t organic.)

june 007One double bedtime, some serious lolly-gagging, and seven pounds of berry-cleaning later, I was getting ready to can.  Well, truth be told, I was trying to talk myself out of canning because it was 11:00 and I wanted to go to sleep.  But I had washed the berries and couldn’t trust them not to spoil, and there was no way I was letting all that suffering be for naught.

I pulled out the Pomona’s, a citrus pectin that’s activated (i.e., is able to gel your preserves) with the addition of the calcium powder that’s included.  I know some serious jam-makers who don’t like its texture, but I think it makes great stuff.  Plus it doesn’t require a crazy amount of sugar (in fact, you don’t really have to use any), and you can double or triple batches, unlike with many traditional recipes.  Isn’t flexibility nice?

strawberries and chicken 002Strawberry-Honey Jam

About 5 pints

  • 8 cups of strawberries, cleaned, with stems removed, and cut into halves or quarters, depending on how chunky you want the results.
  • 1 cup honey
  • peel from 1/2 organic orange, or 1/2 t. dried
  • 4 t. Pomona’s pectin
  • 4 t. calcium water made from packet included with pectin

Wash and rinse jars, lids and bands.  Some boil everything, and some say this isn’t necessary.  Whichever way you decide to go, do that and then keep in hot water until ready.

Place water in boiling water canner deep enough so that it will cover the jars you’re going to fill once you put them in.

Mix calcium water according to package instructions and set aside.

Put berries, orange peel, and calcium water into stockpot and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Stir pectin into honey.  As berries are approaching a boil, look at the texture and either leave as is, or use a potato masher to smooth out chunks as desired.  When berries are at full boil, vigorously stir honey-pectin mixture in for 1 – 2 minutes, being sure to stir hard enough to dissolve the pectin.  Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.  Remove orange peel if using large pieces.

Fill prepared jars to 1/4″ of top, wipe around the rim with a wet cloth, then place on lids and bands.  Carefully strawberries and chicken 007place jars into boiling water, and boil for 5 minutes.

Place on a rack to cool.  In the next little while you should hear the slight snap of the lids sealing completely, which will let you know that they’re ready to store.  To test the seal, tap on them.  If they move or wiggle at all, just keep in the fridge and use within three weeks.

This jam is delicious.  Like fresh strawberries themselves, bright and sunny and not overly sugary.  My mom (and you know how moms are always the most objective of critics) said it was the best strawberry jam she had ever had.  It may be immodest, but I agree.  What a treat it’ll be if that taste lasts into the depths of winter.  And by then, I’ll have forgotten the rest.

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    Cheryl Herrick's brave Vermont quest to bring together food-love and mom-life. All original content (written, graphical, recipes or other), unless otherwise noted, is © and/or TM Cheryl Herrick. All rights reserved by the author. Want to reprint a recipe? Just get in touch and ask.

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