One of my daughter’s favorite books growing up was Bunnicula, the tale of a vampire rabbit who sucked the juices out of vegetables, leaving behind ghostly versions of carrots, beets, celery, and such.
I was reminded of that hilarious story recently when we had a strawberry tasting at our farmer’s market. We offered market goers samples of commercially grown California berries and ones that were organically grown by Delvin Farms here in College Grove, Tennessee. As I was helping to quarter the strawberries into bite size pieces, I couldn’t help but marvel at the difference. Our local berries were small to medium sized, juicy, and red all the way through. The commercial counterparts from California were larger, firmer, with somewhat hollowed interiors drained of all color.
The mark of the vampire rabbit!
“These,” I told my fellow strawberry tasting volunteer, “are Bunnicula Strawberries!”
The Delvins little heart shaped strawberries were easy winners in the tasting. Poor Bunniculas!
Based on just the visual, some people opted not to try the Californias. Others noted, with surprise, that they were sweeter than the locals, but definitely not Strawberrier.
When you buy local berries, it’s best to eat them or cook with them within days; they are perfectly ripe when picked. And that time is now! For a few short weeks, they will be available.
I treat strawberries the same as tomatoes—no refrigeration. (unless absolutely necessary!) It would be a shame to let them go to waste because they languished on the counter a day or two too long.
But with so many delicious possibilities—in fruit salads, green salads; paired with goat cheese and almonds; pureed into coulis, layered into shortcakes, pudding cakes, or just eaten plain–pure delight–
that’s not likely to happen. (This means more strawberry recipes are to come…)
Here’s one of my favorite Strawberriest treats: this features a double whammy of strawberry—-
sliced strawberry bread slathered with strawberry cream cheese!
Very Strawberry Finger Sandwiches
Strawberry Bread spread with Strawberry Cream Cheese
Strawberry Bread (makes 1 loaf)
1 pint Strawberries, cleaned, hulled, stems removed, sliced and chopped
Â¼ cup Brown Sugar
2 teaspoon Lemon Zest
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
Â½ cup sugar
Â½ cup vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon baking powder
Â½ teaspoon baking soda
Â¼ teaspoon salt
1Â½ cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven at 325 degrees. Coat loaf pan with baking spray.
In a bowl, mix strawberries, brown sugar, and zest together. Set aside.
In another bowl, sift flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together.
In a mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and sugar together. Add yogurt. Scrape bowl sides and beat in eggs. Fold in strawberry mixture. Then add dry ingredients. Mix until well blended. Pour into loaf pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 70 minutes. Allow to cool before removing from pan.
Strawberry Cream Cheese
In a mixing bowl, beat together:
1 lb. softened cream cheese
1 Â½ cups chopped fresh ripe strawberries
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest
2 Tablespoons sugar (optional)
Slice strawberry bread into thin slices, 12-14 slices per loaf.
Spread half the slices with strawberry cream cheese and top with remaining slices.
Cut into rectangles or triangles. Makes about 2 dozen.