Saturday morning at the University Farmers Market the buzz was, ” Billy has strawberries”. It is hard to believe that anyone in our region has weather warm enough for strawberries but there they were at Billy’s — the beautiful, plump, sweet berries I’ve been waiting for. One more indication that summer is happening this year, apparently without us.
When I got home, I ran out to check on my strawberries. Just as I thought –pathetic and shivering — a lot like me lately. Okay people, what is up with this weather? I listened to Cliff Mass, an atmospheric scientist at U of WA, who talks about the weather every Friday on KUOW at around 9:50AM. (If you miss it, you can listen by going to the archives for the show called “Weekday”). Last week he said he has never heard so many complaints about our weather. We are experiencing the coldest spring in the last 30 years. Our temperatures have been around 54 degrees and the normal for this time of year is 68 degrees. I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll have enough heat for tomatoes.
Enough of my complaining, back to the strawberries. The local berries make the ones that have been available for months in the grocery stores seem pale in comparison. Like much of the produce in grocery stores, berries are so fragile they must be shipped before they ripen. Berries from the farmers markets are freshly picked and should only need refrigeration if they are not going to be eaten in a day or two. That is not a problem at our house, they are usually gone before they ever hit the fridge.
When I get any first-of-the-season produce I like to enjoy the pure unadulterated flavor before getting too fancy with preparation. Straight out of the carton or sliced on cereal is a good way to start with strawberries.
I also love to make strawberry smoothies. There are many variations on this recipe — you can add other fruit, ice cream, ice cubes, whatever you’d like. I like this recipe because it can be completely local.
1/2 cup yogurt
1 cup milk
6 large strawberries
1 teaspoon honey
Put everything in a blender or in a large glass if you are using a hand-blender.
I guess the weather could be worse — unbearable heat on the East Coast, tornadoes & floods in the Midwest. Suddenly, it doesn’t seem so bad — we just had five minutes of sunshine. The strawberry smoothie must be working its magic on me….