An unexpected and horrible side effect of strawberry picking is the urge to clean out the freezer. I’ve fought this urge valiantly over the past year and a half—scoffing at loose frozen vegetables that are rolling about the bottom bin. I just cover them with stray Popsicles, but eventually a tower of frozen pizzas and burritos takes over and I have to face the fact that 14 pounds of strawberries will not freeze neatly on baking sheets if they won’t fit. So, I throw out the empty ice cream carton and decide that the Hot Pockets must go “boxless” in order to save space. Then, it’s time to unload the dishwasher, put the dishes away, and start washing and freezing berries. Then, I can start making strawberry muffins as well—all before noon. Oh, the lazy carefree days of summer!
Actually, Nate, Alex, and I enjoyed our strawberry picking first thing on Saturday morning at the Bailey Family Farm in Snohomish, WA. However, after just 30 minutes of work, I discovered another side effect I like to call “bramping” or the cramping that radiates from the lower spine. (It goes away with light walking, a few stretches, and a Corona with lime.) Bramping results from stooping over for long periods of time. Apparently, all the best berries are extremely low to the ground and under all of the leafy fronds. To get past the pain, I shouted in my head, “How low can you go?” over and over again in order to help me channel my more nimble years when Limbo dancing was natural and effortless. This technique didn’t help at all. I don’t recommend it.
Once we got home, Nate and Alex had very important haircut appointments to make—the kind that require a “walk-in” on a relaxed Saturday morning.
“You good?” Nate asked, as he placed the cartons of strawberries on the kitchen counter.
“Yeah—I got this!” I said, as I proceeded to re-arrange the freezer, clean up the kitchen, and wash an entire mountain’s worth of silt down the sink. Then, I relaxed by making strawberry muffins. I’m pretty proud of myself for combining the flavors of cardamom and strawberry in a low-fat muffin, so I’ll share the recipe here. However, it’s very important to eat these muffins right away, while they’re still warm. If you absolutely feel like you need to burn off calories after eating all 12 muffins while they’re still warm, I highly recommend strawberry picking followed by rigorous freezer organizing.
Here’s the recipe:
1 ½ cups of flour (all purpose)
½ cup of sugar (granulated)
2 ½ tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. cardamom
¼ tsp. salt
2/3 cup of fat free vanilla yogurt
¼ cup of low-fat butter (melted)
1 egg (beaten)
1 cup of chopped strawberries
Whisk together the dry ingredients in one bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients—but do not add the strawberries yet. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients in. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until they are just moist—do not overbeat. Gently fold in the strawberry pieces. Place the batter into muffin cups/tins and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes—or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
The results? Alex called the warm centers “strawberry pudding,” which sounded so much more tempting than the word that Nate used, which was “goo.” After sampling a muffin or two, we then all went out to dinner and came back to what we thought would be a nice little dessert, but the cooled muffins did not taste very good at all. The adjectives we used cannot be repeated here. Therefore, it’s absolutely necessary that you eat all of the muffins while they are still warm or screaming hot.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: Couldn’t you just freeze the remaining muffins and heat them up later on?
No. No I can’t. There are 14 pounds of strawberries, some Popsicles, a bunch of frozen pizzas, and a Hot Pocket taking up all available room in my freezer—and I’m bramping again.
Your Turn: What’s one project in your house that inevitably turns into 2-3 additional projects?