"He turn’d a fruit to an enchantment which cheers the sad, revives the old, inspires the young." ~ Lord Byron
photo by sunshinesyrie
Did you know that May is National Strawberry Month?
Lots of sweet, juicy beauties have been appearing in the stores for a few weeks now, and I can’t get enough of them. I think they just might be the most beautiful, perfect fruit around — no peeling required, no pits or troublesome seeds, ounce for ounce, containing more Vitamin C than citrus fruits, and only about 50 calories per cup!
photo by heatherkh
*bites into a dark red ripe berry and sighs with rapture*
My first bite of strawberry each spring instantly brings to mind three things that make me supremely happy: Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski (still a sentimental favorite), "Strawberry Fields" by the Beatles (no explanation needed), and Wimbledon tennis.
I lived in Wimbledon for two years, and once walked over to see Martina Navratilova play in Court #1, followed by a serving of the best strawberries and cream I’ve ever had in my life. English berries are simply divine! This experience prompted me, while living in London, to indulge in scones, strawberry jam, and Devonshire clotted cream at every opportunity. I have since tried to recreate this particular dreamstate to no avail, as this treat is best enjoyed with a nice cup of Fortnum and Mason Darjeeling in a chilly bedsitter, gazing at a quintessentially English grey sky.
photo by su-lin
Ah, but there’s so much more to strawberry love than its taste. ♥
photo by snapper48
I recently learned that each spring in some parts of Bavaria, country folk tie small baskets of wild strawberries to the horns of cattle as an offering to the elves, who are mad for them. This supposedly helps to produce healthy calves and an abundance of milk. I’m thinking maybe I should wear a basket of strawberries around my neck, so the elves here will help me produce good stories! ☺
Either that, or I could copy a certain Madame Tallien, who hung around Napoleon’s court. She was famous for bathing in strawberry juice. Can you imagine? It took at least 22 pounds of strawberries to fill a basin. I’m guessing she didn’t bathe that often. More likely, she had her fair share of cold strawberry soup, which was routinely served to newlyweds as an aphrodisiac. *fans self*
By now you’re probably hot and hungry, so I’m serving up a poem by Genevieve Taggard, and my recipe for Strawberry Cobblecake. You may know Genevieve by her biography of Emily Dickinson, written while she taught at Mt. Holyhoke Seminary. Apparently she was a socialist who was criticized for her political poems (what else is new), but more interesting to me, is that she was raised in Hawai’i, where her missionary parents ran a multicultural school. Her poem captures the rapture.
MILLIONS OF STRAWBERRIES
by Genevieve Taggard
photo by Mr.Jaded
Marcia and I went over the curve,
Eating our way down
Jewels of strawberries we didn’t deserve,
Eating our way down,
Till our hands were sticky, and our lips painted.
And over us the hot day fainted,
And we saw snakes,
And got scratched,
And a lust overcame us for the red unmatched
Small buds of berries,
Till we lay down —
Eating our way down —
And rolled in the berries like two little dogs,
Into the late gold.
And gnats hummed,
And it was cold,
and home we went, home without a berry,
Painted red and brown,
Eating our way down.
Now, to eat your way down, try this easy recipe. It’s from a charming little cookbook called Strawberry Patchwork by Susan A. McCreary, a local Herndon author. The cobblecake is a good brunch cake — down-to-earth, homey, unpretentious. You simply pour the batter into a greased pie plate, and arrange the strawberries on top, like this:
As it bakes, the batter gently puffs up around the berries.
It’s delicious with whipped cream, and makes a nice change from shortcake, or as they say, "sit on a cushion and sew a fine seam, and feed upon strawberries, sugar and cream."
2 cups strawberries
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter
1 T sugar
Cut 6 T butter into flour, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar until mixture is crumbly. Beat egg slightly in one cup and add milk to make 1 cup. Stir in flour mixture until blended and pour into greased deep pie plate. Halve strawberries and arrange cut side down in rings on top of batter. Dot with 2 T butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 350°F for 50 minutes, or until center is firm. Cut in wedges and serve with cream.
Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is being hosted by the lovely Susan Taylor Brown at Susan Writes. When you see her, give her this: !
A FEW MORE TIDBITS:
Strawberries (a symbol of Venus, the Goddess of Love), have long been synonymous with passion, healing, and perfect righteousness. Its luscious red color and heart shape have inspired poets and painters through the ages; Medieval stone masons carved strawberry designs on altars and around the tops of pillars in churches and cathedrals.
The ancient Romans believed that the berries alleviated symptoms of melancholy, fainting, all inflammations, fevers, throat infections, kidney stones, halitosis, attacks of gout, and diseases of the blood, liver and spleen.
American colonists created their own version of strawberry shortcake after tasting the bread baked by the Native Americans, which contained crushed berries mixed with cornmeal.
Don’t miss my recipe for Fresh Strawberry Pie. Seriously, seriously good!