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I recently saw online a photograph of lettuce at Cole’s Farm in Madison. Perhaps it was Mr. Cole himself, holding a head of what may have been butter lettuce, my favorite. The head was as big as a basketball, and the caption said that lettuce is almost done.
I hope that isn’t exactly the case everywhere, since I will be picking up my first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) produce this week.
To prepare, I made a quart of dressing. I have enough granola and toasted coconut flakes for salad for the next couple weeks. Maybe the cucumbers are locally available, too. I am so excited.
And, fresh locally grown strawberries are here.
My paring knives are ready to core the berries. They will be in my salads every day until it is blueberry and raspberry time. I will drop the cut strawberries into a big bowl, add a few tablespoons of sugar, and toss them together. If I leave them on the counter for a couple of hours, they will get juicy, and I will pack them in quart-sized plastic bags, and freeze them for the winter.
I will eat fresh strawberries for dessert, too. I can’t wait.
The only person who craves strawberries more than I do is my friend, Nancy. She works full time, and spends at least another 20 or 30 hours trapping feral cats, getting them back to healthy and spayed or neutered. She will send many back to their cat colonies, where they won’t make any more kittens. The lady cats who are already pregnant will stay with her until the kittens are weaned. She finds homes for the kittens, but some of the mom cats stay with her until she finds someone like me to take one home.
She doesn’t have time for cooking, but I will make her this strawberry pie.
Hopefully, she will give me a strawberry margarita. No one makes a better one.
Lee White of Old Lyme has been a food editor and restaurant reviewer for more than 25 years. You can email her at email@example.com.
Strawberry Cream Pie
From Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts
by the Moosewood Collective, Clarkson N. Potter, New York, 1997
Yield: Serves 8
10-inch pre-baked pie shell (I use Oronoque frozen pie shells if I don’t make my own)
4 cups sliced or quartered fresh strawberries (about 2 pints)
¼ cup sugar, to taste
1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
For the custard:
¼ cup cornstarch
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups milk (use whole milk here)
3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Fresh whipped cream (optional)
Combine strawberries and sugar in a saucepan and place on medium heat. Bring to a simmer stirring gently. Stir in the dissolved cornstarch into the simmering strawberries. Cook just until thickened and translucent, and set aside.
For the custard: Combine cornstarch, sugar, and salt into a heavy saucepan. Gradually add a little milk to make a paste, and then whisk in the rest of the milk and the egg yolks until smooth. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 7 to 8 minutes. Lower the heat, if necessary, to prevent the custard from sticking or becoming lumpy. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Stir the cooked strawberries into the custard and pour the mixture into the pre-baked pie shell. Refrigerate for about 2 hours, until thoroughly chilled. Serve with whipped cream, if desired.
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