June 22, 2006 at 7:26 a.m.

Nothing quite as good as fresh-picked strawberries

Nothing quite as good as fresh-picked strawberries
Nothing quite as good as fresh-picked strawberries

It’s definitely time for strawberry recipes. I must say the strawberries that have been shipped from California have been very good this year. But, there’s nothing quite as good as homegrown berries and I enjoy going to the local berry patches to pick the sweet red fruit.

I have a little strawberry quiz for you:

•Do you know how many seeds are on an average strawberry?

About 200. No, I didn’t count them.

•Do you know how many U.S. states and Canadian provinces can grow strawberries?

50 states and 10 provinces

•How many berries equal one serving?

About seven or eight.

•How many calories in one serving?

Only 122 and they’re packed with Vitamin C and fiber.

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Let’s get to recipes. This recipe is a little putzy but it’s worth it.

STRAWBERRY-RHUBARB COFFEE CAKE

4 c. fresh sliced strawberries (about 2 pints)

4 c. fresh rhubarb, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 T. lemon juice

1 c. sugar

1/3 c. cornstarch

3 c. flour

1/4 c. sugar

1 t. baking soda

1 t. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. nutmeg

1 c. butter or margarine

1 c. buttermilk*

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 t. vanilla

*For one cup buttermilk, put 1 T. vinegar into measuring cup and add milk to make one cup. Let sit about 5 minutes before using.

Topping:

3/4 c. sugar

1/2 c. flour

1/4 c. butter or margarine

Combine berries and rhubarb in a 2 qt. saucepan; cook, covered, over medium heat 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Combine one cup sugar and cornstarch; stir into berry mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened, about 2 minutes. Cool.

Grease a 9x13-inch pan.

In a large bowl, combine next six ingredients; cut in butter until crumbly. Combine buttermilk, eggs and vanilla; stir into dry ingredients. Spread half of batter in pan. Carefully spread strawberry mixture over batter. (Drop teaspoonfuls over or you’ll have a hard time spreading it.) Drop rest of batter by spoonfuls over filling. Combine sugar and flour; cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs.

Sprinkle crumbs over top. Bake at 350 degrees until cake tests done with toothpick, 50-55 minutes. Cut into squares; serve warm or cold.

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Perhaps you have a strawberry-spinach salad recipe but this one may not be quite the same.

STRAWBERRY-SPINACH SALAD

8 c. fresh spinach leaves, stems removed, washed and patted dry

2 c. (1 pint) strawberries, hulled, washed and sliced

1/4 c. sliced toasted almonds

4 T. olive oil

4 T. raspberry vinegar

1 t. Dijon-style mustard

dash nutmeg

freshly ground pepper to taste

Tear spinach into bite-sized pieces; put in serving bowl and toss with berries and almonds. Combine rest of ingredients in a small bowl; whisk thoroughly. Just before serving, toss salad with dressing. Serves 8.

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This is a “full-meal deal” salad that is very good. Serve with muffins or toasted French bread and perhaps a dish of sherbet for dessert and you have a wonderful lunch or light dinner on a warm summer day.

STRAWBERRY CHICKEN SALAD

3 chicken breasts, sliced in 1/4x2 inch slices

1 T. olive or canola oil

6 c. torn, mixed salad greens (spinach leaves, Romaine, watercress, etc.)

2 c. halved, hulled, washed strawberries

Citrus dressing:

1/2 c. strawberries, cut in half

1/3 c. orange juice

2 T. canola or vegetable oil

1 T. lemon juice

2 t. grated lemon peel or 1 t. additional juice

1 t. sugar

1/2 t. chili powder

1/4 t. salt

couple dashes white pepper

1/4 c. chopped walnuts, toasted (toast nuts in frying pan 3-4 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly; cool completely)

In large saucepan, saute chicken in oil, stirring to lightly brown, about 8-10 minutes. Drain and refrigerate.

In a large bowl, combine greens and berries; refrigerate.

In a blender or food processor, combine all dressing ingredients, except walnuts. Cover and process until smooth.

Pour into a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 5-6 minutes until slightly thickened. Cool until warm. Drizzle half of dressing over greens and strawberries; toss to coat. Divide among four plates. Arrange chicken over salads. Drizzle rest of dressing over chicken; sprinkle with nuts. Makes 4 servings.

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This is a great strawberry pie that is very refreshing on a hot summer day.

LOW-FAT STRAWBERRY GELATIN PIE

1 8-inch reduced-fat graham cracker crust

2 pints fresh strawberries (4 c.) hulled, washed and patted dry

2 T. cornstarch

1-1/2 c. cold water

1 pkg. (.3 oz.) sugar-free strawberry gelatin

3 T. sugar

1-1/2 to 2 c. “lite” or fat-free whipped topping

Set aside three whole berries for garnish. Slice rest of strawberries into a bowl and set aside.

In a saucepan, combine cornstarch and water, mixing until smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in gelatin and sugar until dissolved. Stir in sliced berries.

Cool until it almost starts to set up. Pour into crust. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

Cut rest of strawberries in half. Garnish each serving with whipped topping and a berry half. Makes 6 servings.

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Thought for the day: A weed is a plant out of place.


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