Strawberry season has arrived here in Minnesota and it is expected to be a bumper crop. Every time I bite into a sweet ripe red berry, I think how great and forgiving God must be. Not only does he love me in spite of my many imperfections, he loves me so much he created food that naturally tastes as great as strawberries. As sinful as mankind can be, if I were God, everything would probably taste like sauerkraut and fried liver.
Not only do I love eating strawberries….I love picking strawberries. I loved picking them with my grandmother when I was just a small tot in her big patch just east of her little house. I adored picking them on our farm in the patch nestled in the woods behind the horse barn. But most of all, I loved picking strawberries with my children when they were young.
My children and I would pick strawberries together every spring at a strawberry farm in Hugo, Minnesota. The farm was conveniently located only a few miles from our home. We would get up early in the morning to get to the patch to pick before the hot sun would warm up the berries and make them mushy.
The owners of the patch would give each of us a big cardboard flat to put the berries in and then we’d trot out into the fields to fill them. Eating berries as you picked was permissible, but my kids would eat so many ripe berries while we were picking that I always thought the owners of the farm should have weighed them before they started picking and then again afterwards.
We used to pick many pounds of berries to eat fresh, make a dessert or to freeze–preserving a little taste of spring for when we were stuck in the house during the next cold white winter. We would pick for elderly neighbors that were no longer able to pick their own berries and were repaid with jars of homemade strawberry jam.
I encourage everyone to enjoy one of God’s greatest culinary gifts to mankind–fresh berries. There is no comparison between a berry picked right off a plant and one purchased at a store. If you have never picked your own berries, you don’t know what you are missing. Get out there and support your local growers and pick strawberries!
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1/3 cup chopped pecans (optional)
In a small mixing bowl combine ingredients. When combined into a dough, pat firmly into the bottom of a 9 X 13-inch pan and bake twenty minutes. Chill crust in the refrigerator.
1 (8-ounce) package of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 cup Cool Whip
Mix together in a small bowl until smooth. Spread evenly over chilled crust. Return to refrigerator and chill.
1 cup of sugar
3 Tablespoons of corn starch
1-1/2 cups of Sprite or 7-up pop
1/2 cup water
Pinch of salt
1 (3-ounce) package of strawberry jello. (Wild strawberry flavored jello is best.)
1 quart of more of sliced fresh strawberries
Sweetened whipped cream
Large fresh strawberries for garnish
In a medium-sized saucepan combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, Sprite and water. Cook until thickened. Remove from heat and add jello. Cool completely. Then gently add the sliced fresh strawberries. (Do not mush up your berries by stirring too robustly or for too long.) Put strawberry mixture on top of the cream cheese layer. Refrigerate for several hours.
Cuts into squares and top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and garnish with additional whole strawberries.
Sweetened Whipped Cream:
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
In a medium-sized mixing bowl with a hand mixer whip cream on high speed until it thickens. Slowly add in sugar. Beat until peaks form. Add vanilla. Mix only until vanilla is combined. (Over mixed whipping cream makes butter. If you have not made whipping cream before, buy two pints of cream. If you over mix the first pint and the cream becomes yellow and separates, you have a spare pint of cream to start over and succeed with. Should your cream become over mixed and separate into a thin buttermilk and yellow butter curds…do not panic. Drain off milk. Squeeze butter curds together with your hand to get out any milk that may be hiding. Salt, shape and wrap your freshly made butter in plastic and store in the refrigerator until you want to use it. Then, start over again with your spare pint of cream and quit whipping when it looks like the dessert cream you have had before.)