Baking, Breads, Muffins & Donuts, Life

Strawberries, Strawberries!

Early morning at the field

Last week I had a very important early morning date. It was the sort of date you don’t need to get all glamorous for – shorts, a t shirt and your flips will work just fine. No need for fancy hair and makeup – a ponytail will do. By 7:30 Sweet Z and I had meandered our way through the Vermont countryside, down little dirt roads, and stopped at the view you see above. We are so lucky to live in such a beautiful place!

Hello, beautiful!

We had our own personal field guide, Circus C! We chatted and caught up a bit as we were led to the best berries in the patch…thanks, Circus C!!

I am all for picking bushels of berries and when I got home with the goods I got straight to work. 6 quarts of berries now needed some major attention.

My first challenge was to make some jam. I have made jam before with my Mom…the ‘old fashioned’ way…i.e. the stovetop. However my bread machine has a ‘jam’ setting and I was curious to give it a try!

The basics

The basics: 2 cups of strawberries cut up, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest. These are mashed up to your desired texture. Personally, I like little bits of strawberry in my jam.

At this point I was faced with a slight dilemna which I needed to use my Yankee ingenuity to get me out of. (I have been watching old episodes of Julia Child, can you tell?) Based on my research I had read that the strawberry jam made in bread makers could be rather saucy. I needed to thicken this up somehow. Most people would reach for pectin. I didn’t have any. I did have tapioca though! I combined one tablespoon of tapioca with one tablespoon of water and stirred it into the strawberry mixture before I clicked ‘Jam’, then start and walked away. (By the way – it is really weird knowing that your bread machine has a ‘jam’ setting) I had no idea if this would work and I had one hour and twenty minutes to wait. What to do? Make flaky biscuits!!

I have used several biscuit recipes before. I wanted a fairly simple recipe where I had the ingredients on hand. Tracy from Shutterbean came through for me with her recipe. It was a basic and straightforward baking powder biscuit recipe – flour, butter, baking powder, milk type of recipe. The trick: DO NOT OVERMIX! I rolled out the dough and used my grandmother’s biscuit cutter – she always used a little aluminum juice can. (Note: I always roll out the dough too thin…but you can just stack the thinner biscuits atop one another and bake! See, Yankee ingenuity!)

Biscuit time!

Baked biscuits in 13 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By this time the jam was ready. I held my breath and checked out the situation. I let the jam cool a bit and then sampled.

Looking good!

It was tasty! Not too sweet and the consistency was not too thin but could have been slightly thicker. I imagine 5 minutes on the stovetop to reduce it a little more would do the trick. I can now cross one more thing off my 35 things list!

And for the rest of those berries? There may, or may not, be 3 large mason jars full of berries infusing  in vodka or gin hanging out in cool, dark spaces. Hello, summer party soon??

I continued cutting up more berries up and married them with a touch of sugar and balsamic vinegar. I packed it up, along with some biscuits and whipped cream (from a can…totally portable and easier). Some artichoke squares were baked up (think about your favorite hot artichoke dip in a square/ appetizer form…oh, yes! Recipe soon!).

Sweet Z and I had some celebrating to do…

Outdoor concert + picnic +

Sweet Z cooked up a delicious ratatouille and herbed up potato salad. We took in the sights (and saw some friends!) and sounds of the evening as we sipped wine.

 

+ fireworks = happy one year together!

Thanks for reading! I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful summer days and nights!

 

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