Spring Pickins

Sassy Sous-Chef
This is one of my favorite food times of the year.  Everyone is getting excited and planing their gardens, farmer's markets are open again, road side produce stands are back and fresh strawberries are ready for the pickin!  I loove fresh, ripe strawberries and we are lucky enough to have a local, patch about 10 minutes away from us.  I snuck away for a little Me-Time last week while the munchkins were both in school and managed to pick just over 12 pounds.  Nothing crazy, but enough that I needed to find something else to do with them in addition to eating them non-stop.  I started feeling a little like Bubba from Forest Gump. Fresh strawberries... frozen strawberries... strawberry banana muffins... strawberry panzanella... strawberry jam... strawberry smoothies...strawberry pancakes...

Being in the Kinda Country offers us quite a few of Pick-Your-Own options, but this patch, Hilberts {Nazarene Church Road, west of Dayton, VA,(540) 879-2595}, is also spray free-- not the norm.  This is my second season visiting and I will return every spring.  I love that is so close and I love getting to know our area farmers.  Last year BigBoy was covered from head to toe in mud and Farmer Gary hosed him off for me. This year he said he wished he had a long sleeve shirt to give me cause my arms were allergic to something in the patch.  Real People and Real Food.  Can it get any better than that?

As Farmer Gary rang me up, we chatted about spraying techniques and he told me about his friend who transports tomatoes and strawberries up from Florida.  The friend told him how he is in charge of ripening them up before they get to Costco, Walmart, Kroger, etc.  The fruit gets picked green and they get gassed along the way at various points to ensure they get ripe just in time for unloading. um, yum?  I gave him a big Thank You for providing us with a spray- free patch and let him know how much we appreciate it.  I brought my loot home and couldn't keep Sassy out of the fridge.  She figured out that since I picked them, she didn't need me to worry about washing them (it had just rained- prewashed!), and she was grabbing strawberries all. day. long.

The strawberries were amazing, ruby red and sooo sweet.  None of us could really stop eating them.  I ended up freezing most of them and I made one batch of strawberry banana muffins, one of my favorites. I briefly thought about making Strawberry Panzanella again. but eating an entire dish like this (which I would totally do) probably isn't the smartest thing to do pre-summer.  I'm going back later this week to pick some more and hope to do a batch of strawberry ice cream. YUUUUUUM!

I tweaked the recipe since the berries were so sweet already.  I almost always cut back on the amount of sugar, but for this I subbed out some of the butter, and subbed some regular flour for whole wheat.  I made a batch each way and couldn't tell the difference by much.  The munchkins gave them four thumbs up, so it's a keeper!  You could also play around with using molasses in place of the sugar or agave nectar.  I used molasses last year when I was obsessed with molasses, and they were super tasty, but totally spaced on it this time around.  What do you like to do with strawberries?  Any recipes to share??

Strawberry Banana Muffins (adapted from joyofbaking.com)

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup unsweetened, organic applesauce
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1 - 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries (cut into bite sized pieces)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Position rack in center of oven.  Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners or grease with butter or a vegetable spray.

In a small saucepan melt the butter.  Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl whisk together the brown sugar, applesauce, eggs, vanilla extract and mashed banana. Add the melted butter to the brown sugar mixture and stir to combine.   

In another large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gently fold in the berries, making sure they are coated with flour. This helps to prevent the berries from sinking during baking. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are just combined. Do not over mix the batter or tough muffins will result.

Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, using two spoons or an ice cream scoop. Place in the oven and bake until a tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 12 regular sized muffins


ChrisLS said...


Anonymous said...

I concur-great sweetness and Sassy too.

Nikki said...

Muffins look yummy! I am going to have to try it or pull out one of my old recipes..strawberry bread can be so good. Our strawberries come in season next month...beginning of the endless local berry season. My favorite tip for strawberries...fresh homemade strawberry syrup! I serve it on my favorite whole wheat buttermilk pancake recipe...soo good! You need a good blender (vitamix we love!) Mix 3 cups fresh strawberries, 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar and 1 tsp lemon juice....blend 3 minutes on high...sooooooo good!I make lots of batches and freeze it. Even with the sugar it is so much less than store syrups sugar content.

Anonymous said...

Your muffins look amazing! I love strawberries. So nice that you have that spray free patch so close by. My daughter is growing her own little strawberry plant on our porch, but I'm afraid there will only be enough fruit for her to enjoy. I guess you gotta start somewhere. ;-)

I hate that so much of our food is chemically made and kept fresh. It's just not good for us. Thanks for the recipe!



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