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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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