Monday, June 3, 2013

SACG Annual Strawberry Pickin’ Expedition the Shortest Ever

This morning, a group of us from the Stoddart Avenue Community Garden went strawberry pickin’ at Hann’s Farm on Lockbourne Road south of Obetz.    We usually pick for 60-90 minutes, but this year we were done in less than 50 minutes because the strawberries were so plentiful.   While it took us a few minutes to find rows that were not already picked over during the weekend, our efforts were well rewarded in very short order.

Hope was a strawberry picking machine and probably picked the most of the group of us.  Zephyr and Ben were a little more engaged by their outdoor surroundings than in the actual picking itself.  All of us ended up with stained hands, and stains on our clothes from the plentiful ripe berries.  The boys ended up with stained chins as well, but we can only speculate how that happened  . . . . Rose was supposed to join us, but forgot.

I have a ton of extra boxes, but was distracted by my own and my neighbor’s cats while leaving this morning and forgot to pick up the stack of boxes on my breakfast room table that I had piled up for Cathy, Ben and Hope.  Luckily, Hann’s Farmer’s Market was selling sturdy plastic bags for ten cents.   Sabrina and Zephyr brought very nice wicker baskets which she lined with black napkins.

Cathy and I each bought more than $30 in strawberries.  She’s planning on lots of uses, including a strawberry-filled wedding cake and smoothies.  Sabrina is planning on making strawberry jam for the first time (so we discussed the best places to find recipes and the benefits of pectin over just adding blueberries).  Let’s face it, the predicted cool weather expected this week will make canning jam a breeze (compared to the heat wave we’ve had in past years).   I plant to make a batch of jam, will freeze some and will take a few pounds to Knitwits tomorrow evening.

To compare the costs, a pound of u-pick strawberries at Hann’s is $1.80/pound.  A pint at the Bexley Farmer’s Market is $3.50 to $4/pint depending on which booth you visit or $2 at Krogers (or 4 for $5 this week).  A pint weighs about 1.2 pounds, so about $2.15 if you pick the berries yourself.

While I’ve shared jam and ice cream recipes here before, this year I will focus on one of my favorite seasonable strawberry recipes:  Spinach and Strawberry Salad.  I can’t find my regular recipe (because I’ve been making this for more than a decade and can’t recall where I first saw it), so bear with me as I punt a little here.

1 pound fresh spinach, rinsed and well dried

1 quart trimmed and sliced strawberries

1/3 cup walnuts (or pecans)

½ cup crumbled blue cheese

½ cup olive oil

½ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup sliced red onions or chopped shallots

1/3 cup chopped bacon

1.       In a small bowl, combine the oil and vinegar.  Add the onions/shallots and strawberries.

2.      In a large bowl, combine the spinach, nuts and bacon.

3.      Add the strawberries and blue cheese to the large bowl shortly before serving.   Toss well.

You could add chicken if you feel a need for more protein.

This is the first time in a long while that my spinach crop has been respectable enough to make this salad from my own garden. 

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