Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Dorcas Annette Walker
The earth is bursting with life here on the mountain. The hummingbirds have arrived and I saw a pair of Eastern Bluebirds checking out one of my bird houses. This year the wisteria vine in my backyard was so loaded with blooms until you could smell the fragrance on my front porch. You can see pictures of it and my other spring flowers on my website at: www.dorcasannettewalker.webs.com. My green beans are a couple of inches high and the rows of corn have poked their heads out of the soil. Last week I planted some cabbage and this week I plan to put out my sweet potato starts. Then all I will have left in my garden space is room for my tomato plants. I am eagerly awaiting my first taste of fresh strawberries so over the weekend I got out a pack of frozen strawberries and made up a simple Strawberry Salad.
Strawberries are believed to have been first cultivated in ancient Rome in the 12th century. During medieval times strawberries were considered symbols of peace, prosperity, and perfection. 14th century Charles V ordered 1,200 strawberry plants for the royal gardens of France. There is a legend that strawberries were named around the 19th century by English children, who picked the fruit and sold it on grass straws while another theory says that the name came from the practice of placing straw around strawberry plants. Native Americans called strawberries “heart-seed berries” and pounded them into their cornmeal bread. Colonist decided to create their own version, which became known as Strawberry Shortcake. Today the world’s largest Strawberry Shortcake is hosted each year at the annual strawberry festival in Lebanon, Oregon.
Strawberries are a member of the rose family; the scientific name is derived from an Old Latin word meaning fragrance. There are over 20 species of strawberry plants. Strawberries are the only fruit with seeds on the outside (an average of 200 seeds per strawberry) and the first fruit to ripen each spring. It takes three days for a strawberry to ripen from green, to white, to red. The United States is the top producing strawberry country in the world followed by Spain. While strawberries are grown in every state, California is the largest yielding state harvesting 83% supplying one billion pounds of strawberries per year that if laid berry to berry would wrap around the world fifteen times. Every strawberry is still handpicked, rushed to huge coolers, and then delivered to stores by refrigerated trucks.
Strawberries are low in calories, fat, and high in vitamin C, fiber, folic acid, and potassium. A five-day study by the American Cancer Institute showed that strawberries can help reduce the risk of cancer or heart disease. One of the oldest remedies for healing sunburns or reducing inflammation is using strawberry juice.
My Strawberry Salad is great year-round with frozen strawberries, although fresh berries work as well by halving and folding in instead of crushing. The Strawberry Salad has a smooth tangy taste of fresh strawberries coated with a fluffy mixture of jello and cool whip that can also be used as a dessert or frozen. Preparation time for my Strawberry Salad is fifteen minutes (not counting chilling time) and this recipe serves eight.
1 pkg (6 oz) strawberry jello
1 pint strawberries
1 (8 oz) container cool whip
Make jello and cool until partially jelled (about 2 hrs). Crush strawberries, add jello, and cool whip mixing on low speed until thoroughly mixed. Pour into dessert dishes and chill. Garnish with cool whip and a strawberry!
Weekly tip: Layer strawberries on paper towels, seal in a plastic bag, and refrigerate for up to three days for short-term storage. For the best flavor strawberries should be eaten at room temperature. Otherwise freeze strawberries!
Dorcas Annette Walker is a published author, columnist, speaker, freelance magazine writer, and photographer from Jamestown, Tennessee. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org. For more recipes check out her Creative Tennessee Mountain Cookin blog at: www.dorcasannettewalker.webs.com