Breakfast Lunch and Dinner

I need to extend the number of meals we eat from the standard Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner to include Brunch and  Afternoon Tea, and if there is room at the end of the day then a suppertime snack can be squeezed in before bedtime.

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Strawberry season is here my friends. Plumptious ripe ruby red berries of every size and shape, from the teeny–tiny berries no bigger than a thumbnail increasing exponentially to giant gob stopper‘s, so large that when eaten whole the muncher can do nothing else but munch.

We have them sliced on granola for breakfast, later in the day a few in a bowl topped with a spoonful of Greek Yoghurt and even later on their own to finish a meal on a fruity note, or perhaps seeped in a little Crème De Mures.

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Of course there are liquid options too – strawberry smoothies have featured for breakfast and today my kitchen adventures will see me ending my working day with a cocktail – I’m thinking of Daiquiri’s, note the plural!

Frankly I’ve been too hot or harried to bake or get whizzy in the kitchen. I know I could make pancakes, syrups, cakes, scones and cookies galore, I could add them to salads and get a little bit funky – but time and effort mean it’s easier for me to pick a berry from a bowl and pop it into my mouth. No implements, sweeteners or fuss needed. Just a will and a way.

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There have been two brief forays in the kitchen, the focus of wanting to take a house warming present saw me making Shortbread to pile the berries on – consider them as strawberry vehicles without wheels, gears or brakes; a means to move strawberries into your mouth via a buttery crumbly treat.

The second trip was at a friend’s, having picked another kilo and feeling rather full I finally succumbed to jam making. I’m not a great Jam Fan, but I was blowed if I was going to waste the gems, besides little jars come Christmas time will I’m sure be gratefully received – that is if I managed to get the recipe right and haven’t created Botulism from hell in a jar. In all honesty, combining cooking on an Aga for the first time and jam making may not have been entirely successful. Hence they have been Christened Jammy Strawbs , the jars look like Jam and are in fact labelled up as such. We’ll see what the toast test reveals another day.

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GROWING STRAWBERRIES ~

We all know how to grow strawberries don’t we? We can buy them from a garden centre, or from a plant stall at your local fete or even look lustily at your neighbour’s strawberry patch, and if you do this for long enough they will eventually take the hint and give you some runners/small plants. I find the later tactic works a treat 🙂

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The plants are perfectly ok shoved in the ground and generally ignored for the majority of the year, you can enrich the ground with well-rotted compost or manure; in the main growing  season you can use straw underneath the plants to make life more difficult for slugs and snails to get to YOUR fruit; you can net them so Mr and Mrs Blackbird, who have the same penchant for strawberries as we do, can’t gorge themselves. We can grow them in pots or window boxes in a sunny spot, watering and feeding them well throughout the growing season.

I know gardeners who cut the leaves back every autumn, some even running the lawn mower (on a high cut) over the patch. But one thing to remember is that strawberries have a short life, a producing lifecycle of three years; they will carry on producing berries but the numbers decrease year on year. Not to worry as we can use the runners to create new plants and increase our stock.

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TIP-TOP TIP alert for Successful Strawberries!

And here’s the trick a friend passed to me – to only use the newly growing strawberry runner nearest to the main plant and discard the rest. You have to be brutal my friends and throw the others on the compost heap. I’ve since read that you should cut all the runners off first year plants to help the main plant develop and settle in. I’ll give that a go next year and see if me and mother nature can reproduce the berry mountain of 2013.

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On a personal note can I say thank you for the blog lurve, I’ve been popping in and catching up on your news, slowly-slowly reading and revelling, pausing and reflecting, thank you for the welcome back, it really is special my friends, as are you x

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75 comments

  • Strawberries are a sure sign of summer. You might think of infusing strawberries in liquor…I have used vodka and it works great.

  • I’m on my way to enjoy a Daiquiri with you…
    Hmm, will have to keep the runner closest to the plant bit in mind for when summer shows her beautiful warm face our side of the the world.
    Have a beautiful week ahead Claire.
    🙂 Mandy xo

    • I’m picking a batch this afternoon, the season is nearly over, so I think we should celebrate don’t you Mandy 🙂
      And the tip really does seem to hold true

    • Thanks for the link I’ve never heard of strawberry butter before, and having looked at the recipe(fish is a favourite of mine) I’m even more intrigued now!

  • Delicious. I’m going to try to make jam at least once in my live … the dragon fruit experiment was not a complete success. I actually tossed it after about a month in the fridge as I was never tempted to actually use it.

    • I’ve made marmalade many times, when the Seville oranges are in season, but jam….. I’m not sure I’ve really managed it! Shame about your experiment, I guess we live and learn…. 🙂

  • You forgot midnight feasts 🙂 I love English Strawberries but I think they’ll be long finished by the time we get there – the ones here are enormous and taste of absolutley nothing 😦

    • 🙂 Midnight feasts remind me of camping with the Brownies and Girl Guides……
      I didn’t know that English strawberries are so different from the Spanish, could you plant some English ones on your hillside or even in your seaside garden? I know someone who will have some spare runners later in the year……

      • We probably could try, we planted the Spanish ones one year and they grew well (we just didn’t lie them so pulled them up). I’ll be round in about a month for some beans then 🙂

  • I am just a little jealous as your strawberry season is “now” and our season is “not now”. Fresh early berries are so sweet and special. I picked, I ate, I made all sorts of easy recipes using our local Strawberries during our very short season due to the Nashville heat and now I will just have to enjoy your stories and photos. Very pretty pics.

    • Oh Teresa I suffer from that same jealousy when I read all the early strawberry recipes from the States!! Its a short season here – about 3 to 4 weeks, short but sweet as they say. But the currants are starting to ripen and after that it will be the blackberries and raspberries…… and now I’m wondering what other cocktail adventures I could have )

  • Feel the same way about strawberries that you do. I am happy to consume them in every fashion. Don’t think I’ve ever had a Daiquiri though… I will have to try that too.

    • evening Simon, lovely to see you here. The Daiquiri is a treat, I’ve had the lime ones before as I like the sweet sour flavours, the strawberry are much sweeter (as you’d expect). to be honest they are a treat to be savoured after a long day at work!

  • Our berries are just finishing up…Lord knows, we all ate our weight in them while they were here! I’ve got 6 or7 pounds stashed in the freezer for making jam after the weather cools off!
    So glad to have you back!

    • I need a bigger freezer Marie!! That or more friends 🙂 And trust me my friend its fabulous to be back, yabbering away with my friends, I’ve been missing you too …Are you planning a Paris trip this year? Just wonderin’

      • Hubby has been over twice, but I’m not ready to put Angel on a long-haul flight yet…she’s still having some toileting issues…Maybe in late fall, if things go well!

  • Love the photo of the strawberries served in a stem glass, very classy. Like Karen’s idea of infusing strawberries in liquor.

    • Thank you Norma, I had a lot of fun taking that photo, I’m not usually very good at dressing photos or using props, to much of a rush probably! isn’t Karen’s idea a great one!

  • Your strawberries look lovely – it must be nice to have mountains of them. I like the sound of strawberry shortbread and the cocktails of course!

    • It’s the first year I can honestly say I’ve had LOTS of them, so it’s been a bit of a revelation munching my weight in strawberries 🙂 we tried the cocktail tonight – and it got a monster thumbs up !

  • I’m pretty strawberried out after about three weeks of them now – as it should be! I rarely buy them out of season, so we must make the most of them… cocktails is a good idea, since it’s too warm to do much baking here too. Enjoy the sunshine and berries Claire! 😀

    • I know what you mean about buying them out of season, nothing like homegrown or fresh is there Cathy. And after sampling the cocktail mix tonight (yes I realise it’s a Monday!!) I can totally recommend them 🙂

  • Claire! Nice to see you again. Strawberries in all their various disguises; it’s what makes summer, summer. Lovely post and beautiful photos. Happy summer!

  • Hooray, you’re back! We’ve missed you! 🙂 Your strawbs look amazing, we tried for years but couldn’t seem to grow them in our backyard – they wouldn’t ripen, and the few that did were invariably eaten by slugs or a visiting dog. You’ve inspired me, think we might try again in hanging pots!

    • Hanging pots and baskets are good, I’ve grown them like that when space was short. I think you need to feed them though (I nearly always forgot to!). A friend on my allotments grows them in old plastic milk pots, cut up and nailed to a fence, very practical but maybe not something you’d want to look at at home….
      And it’s lovely to be back with my friends Celia 🙂 thank you

  • If there was time, you could maybe squeeze in morning coffee sometime between breakfast and brunch… it’s only a short season after all, and the strawberries are especially good and tasty this year! Good to see you back Claire.

    • I now have two more eating times to add – midnight feasts and mid morningsnacks – I love my blogging friends 🙂
      It seems our awful Spring has morphed into a good summer……. fingers crossed eh! And thanks for the comments and support Sarah, it’s great to be back in blogland with my buddies !

  • your strawberries look plumptious indeed claire! oh for the taste of a freshly grown berry … when we have rather tasteless ones in the shops now … but our turn will come … so glad your summer is turning out well 🙂

  • Lovely! I am eating a bowl of strawberries right now, but mine are from the store. It would’ve been nicer if they’d been from my garden! My kids would love to grow strawberries–it’s one of their favorite fruits–but that will have to wait until they’re a bit older and can help out more in the garden.

    • Fresh strawberries in season are fab aren’t they! What a lovely idea, I haven’t met a kid yet who doesn’t like to pick berries, it’s fun searching for them under the leaves, gently pulling them off, and oops there goes another one into the mouth and not the bowl!! Happy days 🙂

  • Ahhh…so nice – the berries and your pictures. I’ve been making lots of strawberry smoothies…even made a spinach and strawberry smoothie one day. It was delicious – rather like having salad for breakfast!

    • I finally got into smoothies this last winter, and what a revelation they are… I’m not sure I’m feeling courageous enough to add spinach, I’m sure it would be good and tasty, …. it would have to be a BRAVE day ! Mind you I do love salads…… Lovely to see you and thanks for popping in 🙂

      • Claire, today I made a chocolate peanut butter & banana smoothie. It was delicious – like dessert for breakfast! Nice to see you too!

  • I’m afraid I am a real old fogey: love standing at the strawberry bed and eating them then and there just as they come 🙂 ! But your post has given me a nudge; yes, a number of my plants are way past the three year limit and next season I better watch out for more of the ‘free stock’ produced!!

    • Lovely to see you Eha, and that is nothing like being an old fogey – that’s just plain sensible and bright! And it’s a pleasure to nudge 🙂

  • You weren’t exaggerating one bit, Claire, when you mentioned all of the strawberries in your garden. It would be wonderful — at first. Then the reality sets in. If they were carrots, you’d be sporting a nice orange complexion by now. Karen’s idea of making strawberry flavored liqueur sounds wonderful. You certainly won’t have to worry about it “going bad.” 🙂

    • It seems to have been a super year for them John, that long cold Spring we had didn’t do them any harm.
      I keep thinking of the Oompa Lumpas in the Chocolate Factory – they were purple (??), but I’m sure there is a strawberry coloured character out there………

  • I planted 20 runners about 5 years ago and they did quite well. This year I am going to dig up my whole berry garden and start again as it has all died back 🙂

    • Nothing like starting afresh Tandy – I love my currants and have planted new ones this year so I’m no expecting a great crop, but roll on next summer

  • Now those are some *awesome* strawberry photos!!! I love visiting your blog Claire, and learning so much. We knew about the short lives of plants, but I’m taking note of the runner info. My daughter and I made strawberry ice cream for the first time and I cannot believe the taste! I have not been successful with jam though, but I just might give it another shot this year (quickly as the season is nearing the end). Dana

    • Oh my Strawberry ice cream sounds amazing! I used an old Delia Smith recipe, and I had a little taste the other day and it’s fine for a first attempt ! Well it was fine for me and my toast 🙂 Hope you have a super sunny weekend Dana

  • Maine strawberries are in now, and they are small and sweet. So far I’ve done nothing with them other than pop them in my mouth or use them in a breakfast smoothie. I’ve not tried growing them in my little garden, but I bet the squirrels wish I would!
    Thank you, Claire, for your visits.

    • Hi there, and I bet you are right Squirrels have a sweet tooth, they used to know exactly when the grapes were ripe and ready to pick and eat the lot!

  • Welcome back, and thank you for commenting on my blog. I’ve been having some rather stressful and busy times myself and feel like I’ve been neglecting the blog-o-sphere but in a week or so things should slow down and get back to some form of normal, or at least the new normal!
    Strawberries are a sure sign of summer and your berries have incredible colour, I can imagine how sweet and delicious they are. I used to grow berries in a hanging basket, but unless you have 10 of them there isn’t enough produced, plus the birdies like them too. I have read on other UK blogs that it’s been unseasonably hot and humid your way as well — we’ve been also having high heat and humidity which sometimes makes it feel likes it’s 35°+40°C! Crazy considering what a cool and damp spring we had. On the plus side, the greenery is loving it and my city garden is just so plump and luscious! I had to cut back my English Ivy grown cover as it was taking over my dining area in the back yard…it’s about 35cm high and cutting it back makes me think of when we shovel snow off the sidewalk the way it banks up to the stone.

    • Its lovely to hear from you Eva and I hope life steadies up soon for you. We have so many competing things going on in our lives don’t we!
      and yes we really do have a summer – beautiful warm days followed by more beautiful warm days. Of course that means watering, but I’m loving it! It also means I’m having to get up even earlier so I can go too my allotment to water before the heat of the day kicks in! My Passion Flower is on a takeover bid and I think, if I get the time today, it will have a haircut!
      Happy gardening Eva x

  • Your information is really useful and welcome, Claire. Long ago I did grow strawberries, and I think what I failed to know at the time was that they had a short life! I probably lost interest when they stopped producing well. But you have me picturing where I can start a new patch, and I most certainly will. We love strawberries and I’d love to have so many I needed to add a couple of meals to my day! I wonder if you could approximate for me how large your strawberry “field” is to produce so many? 🙂 Thank you for a great post, my friend.

    • Hi Debra great to see you! OK my patch is about 1 x 3 m (3 ft x 12 ft) approx. And I have loads of plants stuffed in there 🙂 It’s going to get an overhaul this autumn and the new runners moved to a new patch so I can try and rotate the plants. It’s never ending this gardening is it 🙂

      • I am definitely going to begin looking for just the right spot for a nice strawberry patch, Claire. I think it would be so lovely to have more strawberries than I know what to do with! I learned a lot from your post, and it encouraged me to give it another try. 🙂

  • Those strawberries look fantatsic! No need to bake, put them in thngs or add to them…they don’t need it. They are heaven in a mouthful just as they are. Hope the jam does turn out ok. You are very brave attempting that on an Aga! And the less said about Daiquiri’s (yes plural) the better……Havana my friend, how did our livers cope:-)
    xx

  • It’s got to be done Promenade! A veritable procession of sweet succulence that cannot be avoided. Lovely crop…and if I EVER get round to growing some instead of buying them (1kg this week) I’ll be back for the tips.

    • I like growing fruit as it needs so little effort from me! Just plonk ’em in the ground, net them and wait….. my kind of gardening 🙂

  • Love your berries in the martini glass photo! And thanks for the tips–I would like to grow my own someday; I think I could use an almost infinite number of them!

    • Thank you Inger I had some fun doing that photo ! To be honest I started to wonder whether I was turning red I’d eaten so many 🙂 Hope you hav a great weekend

  • I’m heading straight out first thing in the morning and cutting all the runners.
    I think you could fit elevensies in-between breakfast and brunch:)

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