Cathie Campbell

Love those strawberries

I have been pleasantly surprised (so far) with the taste of the fresh strawberries I have been buying at grocery stores. There were a couple of times when they had the dreaded green shoulders that usually indicate they are not very sweet, but other than that, I have been blessed with some very tasty berries. I have just been eating them plain, although this summer I may get a flat of them and make some sort of preserves. Maybe even dry some. I think I am ready to move on and make something with fresh strawberries, so if you are interested, I will share some recipes that are pretty good.

Strawberry muffins

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup sugar

1 3/4 cups flour

1 cup chopped fresh strawberries

1. Preheat oven to 375. Oil an 8-section muffin tin or use paper liners.

2. In a small bowl, combine oil, milk and egg; mix lightly. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Toss in chopped strawberries and stir to coat with flour. Pour in milk mixture and stir together.

3. Fill muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until the tops spring back when pressed. Cool 10 minutes and remove from pans. Makes 8 muffins (or more, depending on the size of the muffin tin you use).

Strawberry spinach salad

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white or cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon minced onion

10 ounces fresh spinach, washed, rinsed, patted dry and torn into bite-sized pieces

1 quart strawberries, cleaned

1/4 cup slivered, blanched almonds

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sugar, olive oil, vinegar, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and onion. Cover, and chill for one hour.

2. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries and almonds. Pour dressing over salad, and toss. Refrigerate 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Strawberry buttermilk sherbet

2 cups fresh strawberries

2 cups buttermilk

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1. In a blender or food processor, process fresh berries until they are smooth, about 45 seconds. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides a time or two. Run the strawberry puree through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large bowl, pressing with back of a spoon. Discard the solids. Add buttermilk, sugar, and vanilla to puree; stir until well blended. Cover and chill 1 hour.

2. Pour strawberry mixture into freezer container of a 1 1/2-quart electric ice-cream maker, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Makes about 4 1/2 cups of sherbet.

Strawberry pretzel gelatin salad

I would venture to guess that most people have at least one version of this, but for those who don't, please do give this a try.

For crust:

8 ounces (about 2 2/3 cups) chopped salted pretzels

3 tablespoons sugar

3/4 cup butter

For filling:

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 small tub whipped topping (Cool Whip or something similar)

For topping:

1 6-ounce box strawberry gelatin

2 cups boiling water

16 ounces crushed strawberries

1. Preheat oven to 350. For crust: In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar and butter until creamy. Add crushed pretzels and press into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes; allow to cool.

2. For filling: In large bowl, mix the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Fold in the whipped topping and spread over cooled pretzel crust.

3. In another bowl, add boiling water to the strawberry gelatin; stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved, then add the strawberries. Carefully transfer to refrigerator and allow to chill until partially set (do NOT allow to become firm and set). Pour over the cream cheese layer and chill until completely set. Makes about 18 servings.