Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Berry, berry good

This is the time of which we dreamed during the long winter in northern Michigan. The beginning of summer and its gloriously fine weather also brings with it our short and delicious strawberry season, followed by cherries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. I recommend gorging.

I purchased a flat of organic strawberries, which is roughly equivalent to 8 quarts. Most of them are now in the freezer in zip-lock bags and will comfort me in winter smoothies 6 months from now. Here's my method of freezing berries:

* Slice off the caps and any rotten parts.
* Dunk the berries in a bowl of cold water to rinse clean.
* Drain in a colander.
* Spread in a single layer on a tray and place in the freezer.
* When berries are frozen, transfer to zip-lock bags and return to freezer.

Strawberries freezing in a pie plate
Of course, you want to use as many fresh berries as your tummy can hold while you have the chance, and I have some quick and easy suggestions.

This summer cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen, adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe, and further modified by me, was so good I had to make it twice. For the first go-round, I made it exactly as written, with the barley flour (yes, I had that on hand due to a winter experiment with barley bread). The second time I was out of milk and white sugar, so I used a combination of yogurt and kefir for the milk and turbinado sugar for the sweetener. It was equally good. When raspberries come in, I think I'll add a little cinnamon to the topping, and maybe a sprinkle of cloves.

I weighed the berries the first time, but just crammed as many as I could fit the second time.

Strawberry cake before baking
 The strawberries shrink a little in the oven and the batter rises around them.

Finished cake. Yum!
Other great things to do with berries:
* pancake topping
* oatmeal topping
* ice cream topping
* blend with milk and drink
* add to salads

Oh, the list is endless. Feast on them while you can!