Cultivate Simple Podcast in iTunes Chiot's Run on Facebook Chiot's Run on Twitter Chiot's Run on Pinterest Chiot's Run on Flickr RSS Feed StumbleUpon

Friday Favorite: Strawberries in October

October 25th, 2013

This spring I planted 25 ‘Seascape’ strawberry plants in my garden. They took their time getting settled in and finally started producing a few berries last month. They’re really in the swing of things right now. I’m not the only one growing these beauties, there’s a stand at the farmers market that has had them for the last month as well.
strawberries
It’s kind of crazy to be harvesting fresh strawberries from my own garden at the end of October. I’m not complaining, a handful of fresh strawberries is just as good in October as it is in June. It’s kind of like the last hurrah of summer before the snow flies!

Do you have any ever bearing strawberries in your garden?

Little Yellow Wonder Strawberries

July 2nd, 2010

Last year, on a whim, I purchased a packet of ‘Yellow Wonder’ strawberry seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I started the seeds mid-summer and planted them in my garden in the fall.

The plants are compact, about 8-10 inches tall and very lush. I’m using them as a ground cover and edging in the front foundation garden. ‘Yellow Wonder’ is an alpine strawberry, so it doesn’t put off runners. This is why they’re in the front garden, I don’t have to worry about them taking over like some strawberry plants might.

The best part of these strawberries is that they’re everbearing, meaning they’ll bear fruit all summer long and into fall. They started producing a few berries in the spring, when the regular strawberry plants fruited. I wasn’t sure I would like them at that time, the fruit seemed a little mushy and they weren’t producing very many berries. About mid-June things changed. They started producing nicely and the fruit tastes much better, I’m actually quite fond of them now. They have an exotic flavor much like passion fruit, they’re really wonderful topping a salad.

Being able to grow interesting varieties of thing is one of the reasons I garden and grow edible things. I’m quite certain I never would have tasted a yellow strawberry had I not planted them in my own garden. Now I’ll be enjoying these little yellow beauties on my salads all summer long!

Do you have any interesting varieties of fruits or vegetables you’d discovered?

Signs of Summer

July 1st, 2010

One of the best signs of summer (besides bare feet) is berry stained hands. I have many fond memories of picking berries when we were at the family cabin so my grandma could make us a black raspberry pie. Of course we ate as many as we picked and rarely had enough pie, perhaps it was my grandma’s way of getting us out of the cabin?

We’ve been picking a berries for a week or so. We have wild black raspberries growing around the edges of the property. We’re trying to cultivate a few more of them because we don’t have a ton yet, but we get enough for salads and for eating fresh.

My mom has loads of wild black raspberries at her house and we often head over there when she’s gotten all she needs. Yesterday we went over for a work day. Brian cut up a tree, then spent the afternoon picking blueberries and black raspberries and my mom and I worked in the garden.


I still have some black raspberries in the freezer from last year, but you can never have too many tucked away for winter. There really is nothing better on a cold winter evening than a steamy black raspberry pandowdy.

Are you picking any raspberries or other berries?

Baking Up Some Winter Comfort

February 3rd, 2010

pan⋅dow⋅dy (noun) – sliced fruit baked with sugar and spices in a deep dish, with a thick top crust.

A couple weeks ago I got Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More from the library. It’s such a great little book, all the recipes sound wonderful! I’m a big fan of desserts that contain fruit, so this cookbook is right up my alley.

Since my freezer is filled with blueberries, blackberries and wild black raspberries, we really enjoy baking them into lovely cobblers in the winter for light dinners or afternoon snacks. A cup of coffee and a serving of gingered apple and cranberry pandowdy* is all you need on a cold winter evening. I’ll definitely be baking more wonderful things from this cookbook! I have some black raspberries that are begging to be baked into something wonderful.

What’s your favorite kind of dessert: tangy fruit, rich chocolate, sugary sweet…?

*The actual recipe in the cookbook is for gingered pear and raspberry pandowdy, but I had some apples and cranberries that were begging to be used up.

Homemade Blueberry Skillet Cake

January 11th, 2010

We spend some time each summer gathering sun ripened berries and stowing them away in the freezer. They’re a delightful reminder of summer during these cold dark winter months. Our freezer is currently stocked full of blueberries, blackberries and wild black raspberries. Yesterday I decided that some blueberries would go perfectly with those lemons I got a while back. I settled on blueberry muffin cake, since it would pair perfectly with our morning coffee on a sub-zero Sunday morning.

I call it a cake because I don’t bake it in muffins tins (I have a strong aversion to all things non-stick). I like baking in a cast iron skillet, so all of my muffins are made in one batch in this cast iron skillet that’s probably twice as old as I am. I find that they bake wonderfully, it takes a little longer, but it’s well worth the extra time. Not to mention there are no muffin tins to wash, which is a big plus in my book!

I prefer my breakfast to be a little less sweet so I have developed this recipe to suit our tastes. It’s a lower sugar recipe, so if you’re looking for those sweet as candy muffins you can buy at the local coffee shop, double the sugar in this recipe. You could also sweeten them up with a crumble topping, sprinkled on top before baking or by drizzling them with some lemon juice mixed with powdered sugar after taking them out of the oven.

LEMON BLUEBERRY SKILLET CAKE

2 2/3 cup of flour (I use half whole wheat flour)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup of sugar (double this for sweeter muffins)
zest and juice from 1 lemon *
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract *
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons of room temperature buttermilk (use regular milk or cream here if desired)
3/4 cup melted coconut oil, unsalted butter,** or cooking oil of your choice (the coconut oil doesn’t impart a “coconut” taste to the muffins, but it seems to add another layer of flavor)
1 1/2 – 2 cups berries (fresh or frozen, allow to thaw a bit if using frozen)

Heat oven to 400. Put cast iron skillet in oven. In large mixing bowl combine: flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Stir to combine.

In another bowl crack eggs and whisk. Add vanilla extract, buttermilk and lemon juice to eggs and stir to combine. Remove cast iron skillet from oven and melt coconut oil in skillet, swirl oil around to coat skillet. **If using butter make sure to oil skillet with shortening or oil, not butter.

Pour wet ingredients (including coconut oil) into dry ingredients and lightly fold until almost combined. When almost combined add berries and stir to incorporate. If batter is too thick add a little more buttermilk or milk. You want this batter to be too thick to pour, but not too thick to smooth into edges of pan.

Spoon batter into cast iron skillet and put in oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean. Baking time will be longer if eggs/milk were not at room temperature and if berries were not slightly thawed. Keep checking every 5 minutes until done. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack for 5-10 minutes. Slice and enjoy with coffee.

If baking in muffin tins bake for 20 minutes checking after 15.

*Optional flavor combination: cranberry & orange, cranberry & almond, strawberry & lemon, strawberry & vanilla, blackberry & lemon, black raspberry & lemon.


You can use any kind of berry in the muffins. I have used: blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and even cranberries. Strawberries would also be delicious, I think I’ll try those next time, or tomorrow depending on how long this batch lasts. Change the extract or citrus flavor depending on berries used. Cranberries and oranges are a wonderful combination. Almonds compliment cranberries or cherries beautifully and lemon pairs perfectly with blackberries, blueberries and raspberries. Strawberries would be heavenly with lots of vanilla.


So grab some berries from your freezer (or the grocery store freezer) and let you imagination run wild. Heat up that oven and bake up a batch of sunny muffins. Enjoy a delicious taste of summer in the middle of this cold winter weather.

What’s your favorite kind of muffin?

Also Find Me At
Reading & Watching
Resources

Shop through these links and I get a few cents each time. It's not much, but it allows me to buy a new cookbook or new gardening book every couple months. I appreciate your support!

Tropical Traditions
Mountain Rose Herbs. A herbs, health and harmony c
About

This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.

Blogroll
Admin