Our strawberry plants have gone wild. We didn’t even plant them; they were here when we moved in. Over the last week conditions have been just right to provide about 2-3 cups of fresh berries every couple days. I love strawberries, favourite berry hands down. I like them all but blackberries, raspberries too seedy, and blueberries, well they are OK. I think my son is on my side too. He loves running out to the patch to pick and eat, although he had not yet mastered the difference between ripe and not ripe. He doesn’t seem to mind the green ones though.
Strawberries out of the garden are a whole different animal then the imported variety from the grocery store. So sweet, tender and real tasting. The berries and the growing season don’t last long so I wanted a way to enjoy them just a little longer. I found this recipe for Strawberry Conserve, sounded just right to me. Conserves are sort of like a whole fruit jam, in this case whole fruit in a light syrup. The lemon rind provides pectin to help naturally thicken the juices, as strawberries are low in pectin.
4 cups fresh strawberries (about 1 pound), halved
1/2 cup super fine sugar
Peel (with white pith) of 1/2 lemon
Combine all ingredients in a heavy, wide pot. Cover; let sit at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours. The berries will ooze and sugar will dissolve.
Bring strawberry mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring gently, until strawberries are just tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer strawberries to 1 pint jar. Continue simmering liquid until it thickens into a syrupy consistency, 3-4 minutes. Discard lemon peel and pour syrup over strawberries; seal and let cool to room temperature. Chill for up to 1 month (Adapted from Epicurious).
I used less sugar then the called for 2/3 of a cup, I thought the result was the perfect sweetness. I also simmered the liquid a little longer as it wasn’t that thick after the 1-2 minutes the recipe suggested.
The fragrance and colour alone was enough to get real excited over. The taste? Perfect, garden fresh strawberries at a whole other level. Now what to do with Strawberry Conserve (or in the words of my husband; I am confused about what this is)? Well it would make a great topping for Greek yogurt, vanilla ice cream, angel food cake, pancakes, waffles or oatmeal. I also think it would be amazing on a nice slice of multigrain baguette with some goat cheese (I am actually drooling thinking about this). Endless possibilities. I might just drink it, ha.
If you can get your hands on some fresh BC grown strawberries or if your plants are going wild, get on it. Save some of the goodness for a little longer, although I am not too sure this is going to last long. Maybe you have someone around that would enjoy the spoon like someone I know.
I had planned to share a summery salad today, but with the rain it didn’t feel quite right. I can hear the drops bouncing off my roof, a sound I actually love. I kind of like the rain, I said it. Maybe it is because I grew up on the West Coast, maybe it is because it gives you an excuse to cuddle up with some hot tea and a good book in July. It also makes me grateful that I have a roof over my head and a place to call home. Would I want it to rain everyday? Probably not, but I can handle a few rainy days.
I eat my bananas when they are yellow, no brown spots. This is the way my husband likes them as well, so I have a few things to do with over-ripe bananas like muffins and adding them to smoothies. There have been a lot less of these brown beauties around since my son has turned into a banana monster, but I did have one the other day, looking rather sad and lonely in the fruit bowl. I have been wanting to make banana rice pudding ever since I came across the recipe two years ago, the time had come.
I like to think of myself as willing to try quite a variety of foods. But I had decided long ago that I didn’t like rice pudding even though I had never tried it. I knew I didn’t like tapioca and this all seemed the same to me. Then one day I tired it, I am sad that I wasted so many years not eating rice pudding.
Baked Brown Rice Banana Pudding (Adapted from the Swedish Heart Diet)
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups skim milk
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 tbsp whole wheat flour
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp margarine or butter
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 medium banana
Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook brown rice as directed or use left over rice. In a blender mix together milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, brown sugar, vanilla and margarine (this will all just fit in a Magic Bullet). In a large bowl mix together rice, raisins, pecans and mashed banana. Add the blender mixture and stir making sure the rice doesn’t clump. Pour into a 8”x 8” glass baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 45 min.
Very, very good. Huge hit with my son. I think cinnamon always adds a sense of sweetness, there is not a lot of sugar in the recipe but the end result tastes quite sweet. This rice pudding makes a great dessert or is great for breakfast in place of hot cereal (you know how I love new non-egg breakfast ideas). When reheating it helps to add a little milk to moisten. For a 1/2 cup serving there are 292 calories, 8 grams of protein, 7 grams of fat (mostly unsaturated) and 4 grams of fiber…nice! I thought the use of a blender sounded a little weird, but it worked out really well and made things a little quicker.
The perfect way to make up for my years of not eating rice pudding…
I think it is safe to say that summer has officially hit the Island. Today was a wonderfully warm and sunny day that involved sprinklers, eating meals outside and of course popsicles. I actually made the popsicles last week hoping it would entice the sun out of hiding.
There are about a bigillion recipes online for home-made popsicles. I browsed a few but most didn’t catch my eye. A lot of them called for juice. I have a bit of a beef with juice and children, even 100% juice. In my humble opinion there is no good reason for young children to drink juice. First off, not good for their teeth. Second, not a lot of health benefits. It is basically sugar water with a little vitamin C (if you’re lucky). Third, it replaces room for food that actually has some benefits. Water is the perfect drink and real fruit provides all the vitamins and fiber that juice can’t. That’s my dietitian rant, I will now move on.
When I found this recipe for Strawberry Raspberry Yogurt Popsicles I was sold.
1 cup plain yogurt (for children under 4 use full fat, for the rest of us 1% or non-fat works great too)
1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup raspberries
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
Blend in your blender, pour into popsicle molds and freeze. If you don’t have molds use any small container that will stand upright, freeze for half and hour then insert popsicle sticks so they stay in the middle. (Adapted from The Perfect Scoop)
Of course you can use any mix of fruit you would like (I might try pineapple strawberry next time). I like that the yogurt provides creaminess and gives the popsicles less of an icy texture, plus added calcium. Because I used plain yogurt I can control the amount of sugar. I tasted it with no sugar and found it pretty tart. If you use flavoured yogurt there would be no need to add any sugar. These were very quick and easy and far better than the store bought variety.
My cousin and her daughter came to enjoy the afternoon. The popsicles were a huge hit with the two little ones…and their Mom’s. I heard a few “more please”. Ahhh summer welcome back, feel free to stay a while.
Tiffany McFadden, RD