Tag Archives: Strawberries

Two Berry Muffin Bliss and a Story

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It’s still not quite 10am here, so grab a cup of coffee and a muffin.  If you’re lucky, you have one that’s as delicious as mine.  But I’ll get to that later…

I finally decided to change my photo in the sidebar.  I started to think that maybe people didn’t get it — that it was never meant to be something serious considering the sarcastic human I am. 

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When I started blogging, I didn’t begin in Foodland.  I actually just needed to write, so started a blog that has nothing to do with food. *Can you even imagine?*  A good friend and I had made a commitment to begin a diet and exercise program, though, so it seemed like a separate blog (this one) would be perfect to discuss truly scintillating topics such as, "How to make tasty egg white omelets," or "Know your hamburger:  the hidden nutrients in America’s favorite sandwich."  Well, not quite, but almost.

It was actually quite a challenge to write here because I was trying to do something that didn’t feel like me. Not the cooking — the writing.  I was used to just letting my opinions fly, and this didn’t quite seem the place to do that since most of them have nothing to do with food.  Well, fifty percent, anyway.  Clearly, I’ve warmed up to the concept since then and have no trouble whatsoever being a complete smart ass when the occasion calls for it, or the weather is just right.

But what about the old photo?  It came about as the result of a post I did last year on having my hair cut after nearly a year had gone by.  It had gotten long and shaggy, and my roots were seriously in need of attention.  After years of having my hair done routinely every seven weeks ( I know.  High maintenance.), I had begun experimenting with dying my own hair, so not only was it long, it was lots of different shades — grey included.  Finally, I had my hair done, and being the snark I am, decided to dig up some old celeb photos, and mimic them.  I am quite easily entertained.  I guess you had to be there…

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So why did one of them end up here? *like this is news?*  That’s the semi-practical aspect of the whole thing.  I wanted a small photo that I could use as an avatar here and there, and it was easy to cut the least corny one from the four — or two, since I’m not Shelly Long, and could never come close to being Grace Kelly.  Plus, my crazy sister used to call her oldest daughter "Betty," even though her daughter’s name isn’t anything like Betty.  As in, "Come on, Betty.  We’re going to be late to softball practice…"  Yes, my sister also has a snark streak a mile wide.  And then we all know about my childhood obsession with Betty Crocker, right?  And how I have that old cookbook my mother received as a blushing bride in the mid-Fifties?  It just seemed too perfect to have that corny photo of me on this blog in much the same way that a ficititious Betty Crocker’s face appeared on a cookbook all those years.

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Make sense?  Great!  Now watch it change.  Frequently.  In the meantime, how about a muffin?

I just happened to find Susan’s Dos Berries Muffins at A Slice of Sueshe while making my rounds last week. I found Susan at Ben’s What’s Cooking? because she, unlike the complete slacker that I am, submitted them to Ben’s bi-weekly I love baking event.  They looked so amazing, I was crazed compelled to make a special trip to the store to get berries so I could make them the next morning.  Although I chose blackberries and raspberries for mine because they were on sale, and used Greek yogurt (0% fat) instead of sour cream because my sour cream was (is always) moldy, I think the general idea is that two berries are better than one.  So true.  And the recipe?  Mmmm…totally qualifies as excellent because of my all important "not too sweet" factor.

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My son and I enjoyed them warm from the oven with berries still steaming.  They’re outstanding plain so you can enjoy the fresh tartness of the berries, or with butter slathered under a drizzle of honey on the second one, because we each had to sample two.

Pure bliss, and many thanks to Susan for the great recipe!  This one is going to the top of my ever expanding muffin list.   

Do you have a muffin recipe you think I’d enjoy?  Let me know!

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Strawberry Jam Bread Pudding

Here’s what I’ve learned during my brioche a tete saga:  1)  I can actually make a cooking plan and stick to it when a party or special occasion isn’t involved; 2)  I can make it completely through the second step; and 3) by the time the third step rolls around, the brioche is still in the fridge, wrapped sloppily in plastic, and waiting for, well, step three.

That would be now.

Did you know this brioche recipe can actually hold up after several days, and still manage to make it into a recipe?  Actually, it all worked out well, because I’d been wanting a bread pudding, and since I am sort of a traditionalist (winter comfort food, cinnamon, raisins…) when it comes to that particular type of comfort food, the idea of making one in the summer with fruit was quite novel.

I know.  I’m the ONLY one.

Others have already thought of interesting ways to add fruit to bread pudding, like peaches and raspberries, or lemon and blueberries, and yes, even fruit cocktail.  Like I said.  Interesting.

But I wanted something very simple with ingredients I had in the fridge.

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Summer in a Pie: Very Berry!

The local weather widget  on my Mac’s dashboard says it’s 90 degrees outside right now, but I don’t believe it.  Although it does seem to be quite a bit warmer than what the weather guy reported this morning, it’s still not that hot.  I’ll believe 80.  Maybe.  I can feel a nice breeze — refreshingly cool, but the sun is scorching!  No complaints, however.  None at all.  Actually I’m sort of amazed that when summer officially began a couple of days ago with the ending of school, the ever-present June Gloom we’re accustomed to has disappeared.

That means tonight will be perfect for an outside dinner, after I scrape the hard water deposits off the glass on the patio table.  So much for Martha living here, right?  I’ll light some little votive candles, throw a couple of logs in the chiminea, and hope the clouds don’t return so we can enjoy what promises to be a very warm evening.

This first truly summery night deserves an after dinner treat that I’ve had my eye on since the June issue of Gourmet surfaced in my mail stack.  I couldn’t exactly get past the full page glossy photo and the homey looking aspect of the strawberry pie.  Was that jello?  Oh. My.  It’s definitely what my idea of summer in a pie would be.  Very berry!

And what a perfect way to celebrate the Strawberry Moon Festival, hosted by Cooking in Cleveland, a site that features “homecooking with seasonal, locally grown produce.”

Is it cheating that I added blueberries?  I can’t resist the way they look with strawberries.  Okay, and their crunch is quite lovely, too.

I’ll let you know how the dinner goes.

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Strawberry Dream Cupcakes

Strawberry Dream Cupcakes

When I was growing up, we lived next door to a family that kept a small garden just on the other side of a small picket fence behind our house.  I’m sure there was a variety of things growing in that garden, but I only remember one.  Strawberries.  I watched them grow from tiny green berries into large, red lusciousness warmed by the afternoon sun and oh so fragrant.  There was no question that I’d inevitably pick a few whether invited to or not.  I couldn’t help myself.  Had my mother known, it would have been a problem because she’d say it was stealing.  Then she’d tell my father and that wasn’t a pleasant thought.  But somehow, when I leaned over that little fence and picked the first berry of the season, brushing off the damp soil before sinking my teeth into it, nothing else mattered.  I loved strawberries that much.

Fortunately, strawberries are available year round here, and although their flavor will never compare to those I enjoyed as a kid, I still love them.  So it was quite the coincidence when I was asked recently about a strawberry cake.  Not strawberry short cake, or cake with strawberries nestled between its layers.  A strawberry flavored cake.

Hmmm…what about cupcakes instead, topped with a swirl of strawberry buttercream.  Or maybe a little bit of white cake, and a little bit of strawberry cake…the possibilities are endless. Regardless, it did give me the opportunity to use a new cookbook,  The Cake Bible by  Rose  Levy Beranbaum. And since I had the entire day to myself, I decided to compare two recipes for strawberry puree:  one would go in a buttercream frosting, and the other would flavor one of the cakes.  The other would remain white.  Why the comparison?  Because surprisingly, Beranbaum suggests that frozen berries are much better to use than fresh berries, even when they’re at peak season.  Who knew?

In the meantime, Mike’s Table is celebrating this favorite fruit of mine with quite the seductive strawberry fest, so this qualifies as my submission.

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Strawberry Chocolate Tarty Pie

Strawberry Chocolate Tarty Pie

This past weekend, my local grocery store had strawberries on sale:  buy one pint, get one free.  I’m always a  sucker for those deals even though I do take the time to look and see how much the “one” costs and whether it will be anything remotely like what I’d call a deal.

The strawberries were remarkably red, deliciously sweet, and many were larger than the lemons I have in my fruit bowl.  I don’t know that I’ve seen strawberries that large before so knew when it came down to celebrating Pi Day which is being hosted by Kitchen Parade, I’d have to celebrate with strawberries.

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