#2: Babies picking stawberries

Today is Day 2 of 30 days of blog posts about why we love growing our own vegetables (and fruit!)

Reason #2: Picking and eating our own strawberries

Strawberries are one of Nature’s most delectable little creations. I would argue that there is no more perfect a moment than biting into juicy, sun-ripened, non-GMO strawberry that you have just plucked from the plant… except perhaps sharing a bowlful of juicy, sun-ripened, non-GMO strawberries that this adorable little toddler has just pluck from the plant! At 20 months of age, our daughter Sophia is an expert strawberry pick-and-eater, and is getting very good at (albeit sometimes begrudgingly) sharing her haul with mummy, daddy and even granny.

It doesn't get any sweeter than this!

It doesn’t get any sweeter than this!

Now, I don’t like to brag, but have we got a motha f*ckin’ bumper crop of strawberries this year! You really do want to get invited to dessert at our place.

It has taken two seasons for the strawberry plants to get really well-established in the garden. They spent last year reproducing themselves like crazy; strawberries do this by putting out “runners” that then take root and establish a new plant. I was a bit skeptical about how much fruit our plants would ever produce, given they are located in a spot in the backyard that gets only partial sun, but they really don’t seem to mind. In turn, we don’t mind that the new growth is slowly creeping out of the garden bed and onto the lawn. We are just going to expand the bed to accommodate their search for more sunshine. This spring we spent a lot of time thinning out the plants, moving some of them around and giving some away to friends and family. Then we carefully turned some peat moss and compost into the strawberry patch. They seem to have loved the pampering!

Most importantly, this year we have been very careful to keep our stawbs under cage as soon as we saw the first flower. Without a moment’s hesitation, squirrels will gobble up your entire crop in one sitting… and those little bastards don’t even wait for the fruit to ripen! Last year we made the mistake of waiting until it was too late to protect the plants. This year we are hyper-diligent about keeping the strawberry patch secure. Borrowing some great design ideas from our friend Mark (of PLOTNONPLOT), Ben constructed an 8′x4′ cage to cover the patch, consisting of a wooden support frame and three arcs of salvaged plastic tubing, covered in chicken wire. (You can see it, somewhat out-of-focus, in the photo of Sophia.)

We have two varieties of strawberries growing in the garden. One of them, I am pleased to say (with a bit of a lump in my throat) I dug out of my Mum’s garden back home in Rossland B.C. a few years ago. I’m very happy to be sharing this taste of the Kootenays with little Sophia, who is arguably even sweeter than the strawberries. (awwwwww)

In-Season Recipe (early June): Spring Mix Salad with Shaved Radish and Baked Goat’s Cheese Medallions

Spring mix salad served with portabello mushroom and asparagus fritatta. Spring eating at it's best.

Spring mix salad served with portabello mushroom and asparagus fritatta. Spring eating at it’s best.

Randy for radishes!

Randy for radishes!

Early season harvests are the best!… tender greens, baby spinach, crisp spring onion and the pièce de résistance – ravishing ripe red radishes. Planted in early April, these tangy, peppery little delights are now ready for the picking… and the eating! It’s so tempting to eat them right out of the ground, with just a wipe on the shirt sleeve to clean them off. But they are also amazing in a salad of fresh garden greens.

Here is a delicious and simple recipe that is a perfect way to enjoy early season greens and radishes. Serve this as a light meal or as a side. It’s pictured above paired with a portabello mushroom and asparagus frittata. Enjoy!

Spring Mix Salad with Shaved Radish and Baked Goat’s Cheese Medallions

For goat’s cheese medallions:

  • Soft unripened goat’s cheese (quantity is up to you!)
  • Egg, beaten in a bowl
  • A couple handfuls of bread crumbs on a plate. (If you’re eating gluten-free, try using some ground flax and cornmeal, or whatever “breading” substitute you are using.)
  • Olive oil.

Gooey baked goat's cheese. Drool!Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease a baking pan with olive oil. Shape goat’s cheese into 1tbsp sized medallions. One-by-one, dip medallions into the beaten egg and then press lightly into the breadcrumbs, making sure they’re well-coated. Place medallions on the baking pan. Bake for approx. 15 minutes, flipping once. They’re ready when golden brown on the outside and gooey soft on the inside… Mmmmmm.

While goat’s cheese is baking, toss the following in a salad bowl:

Early June harvest basket.

Early June harvest basket.

From the garden:

  • Assorted lettuce (Jericho Romaine, Red Oak Leaf and Curly Green Leaf)
  • Giant Winter spinach
  • Astro Arugula
  • Bunching spring onion
  • Cilantro
  • Raxe radishes, finely “shaved” using a carrot peeler, or chopped very thinly
  • Walnuts (or any nut you have in your cupboard)

For the vinaigrette:

  • 2-3 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I used a raspberry balsamic)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • tsp honey
  • tsp grainy mustard
  • sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

As soon as goat’s cheese medallions are done, toss salad in the vinaigrette and top with 2-3 medallions. Drizzle with balsamic glaze if you have it.