Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It's June..so bring on the berries!

Every year, since I don't know when, I've looked forward to berry season. Vacationing at a family cottage in Mattituck, Long Island, I was introduced to that wonder of wonders "The Strawberry Festival".  Since our Ohio summer vacation started two weeks earlier than our New York relatives, we were able to spend those two weeks seeking out the glorious foods of 1960's Long Island.  At that time the North Shore was full of duck and potato farms..not something that particularly makes a kid go food crazy. But who doesn't like strawberries? So we indulged our love of strawberries for one whole day..strawberry shortcake ruled the festival..fresh biscuits topped with luscious sliced red berries and get this, real whipped cream.  Thankfully, Cool Whip had yet to rear it's ugly head.  And we ate sliced berries on our "Frostie Flakes" every morning for weeks. 

How lucky was I to have found this little pamphlet from 1966 in my cookbook stash! 

I just realized it was probably the very first cookbook in my soon-to-be collection of hundreds of cookbooks!

So, if you are traveling and find yourself on the North Shore of Long Island near Mattituck, NY in mid-June check  out:http://mattituckstrawberryfestival.org/

Well, I'm a little bit older now, so when berry season came two weeks early this year, I was in trouble. I figured that I'd take my oldest grand-dot Kaelin berry picking (always helps to have a young one with you to do all that bending and carrying, right?)  Well, she couldn't make it when the berries decided to ripen early, so off I went to Boughton Farms http://www.boughtonfarm.com/ to pick a flat in the heat of the day. Yeah, I know the fields open at 7am, but what chef in their right mind gets up before 11am?  The berries were tiny but so sweet.

So after washing the berries, I gave Kaelin my ancient strawberry huller which I've used at least 40 years and hopefully, it will last another 40 years and become a prized kitchen gadget in Kaelin's kitchen also.  It keeps little hands safe with no sharp blades to worry about.  In fact, I'm not sure this little tool does anything other than take the tops off berries.  You can pick this great little invention up at any hardware store, or if you want to spend big bucks for the same thing, probably Williams Sonoma.

Then we got down to business.  Mashing, stirring, simmering, water bath canning resulted in this:
My deep, rich Strawberry Balsamic and Thyme Jam which I'll be using for some lucky catering clients.

Next came the much quicker (like 90 minutes quicker) freezer jam which has a brighter, cleaner and a very berry, strawberry-ish flavor.  But who has room to store 36 pints of freezer jam?
So we only made two batches for lucky relatives. 
You are welcome!
So which one does she like best? 
The Strawberry Balsamic made a good snack over vanilla ice cream
the freezer jam was great right out of the container.

So what memories of strawberry season can YOU share?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Welcome to my world

Driving around the back roads that have become part of my new life,
I had an AH HA moment. 

I realized I live in a lovely little spot of the world and instead of always focusing on my destination, I needed to start appreciating the moment.  There are so many new adventures waiting around the next bend, at the end of the next mile, or in the next little town.

So now, instead of taking for granted these little nooks and crannies, I'm going to start exploring. 

And since I'm chef/owner of Splendid Fare Catering,
I'm going to focus a lot on foodstuffs, recipes and little out of the way foodie finds. 

So.........as my dad used to say "Sit back and enjoy the ride"!