Strawberry Moon

 

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image courtesy of The Graphics Fairy

Strawberries are nature’s way of preventing humans living in colder climates from committing suicide during the winter. The promise, the thought of them can keep a person going through the darkest days.

While the winter berries from Florida are a nice try, they just don’t measure up to the ones ripened in the summer sun and not subjected to a ride in a refrigerated truck. The full moon in June is known in indigenous circles as the strawberry moon. The real strawberries, the warm juicy ones just from the field are available at farmers’ markets now. It’s best to eat them standing barefoot in the grass, or better yet, having them fed to you, or feeding them to someone.

That is how the humans came to be according to the creation stories of the Cherokee. The Supreme Goddess had created First Man and First Woman, then placed them on earth. All was blissful until the first couple had the first dust-up. First Woman walked off in a huff with First Man frantically trying to catch up with her. The Goddess looked down, and knew that she had to do something to slow First Woman down. And so She created the first strawberry plant and quickly put it in First Woman’s path. First Woman stopped. Gently, she touched the crimson globes hanging from the stems. They emitted a scent as sweet as the warmth of the day. She plucked one and nibbled on it. She plucked another and as she enjoyed that began to think of First Man and the joys they had shared together. By then, First Man had caught up with her. She fed him a few strawberries and, well…now you know where humans came from.

Even in situations where one may not be able (ahem) to express one’s self openly, strawberries still make for a luscious dessert.  Fruit that’s been macerated in wine is a common summer dessert in the Mediterranean region. Slice the strawberries into a bowl, pour a light red wine over them, add sugar (this will vary with the sweetness of the berries and the wine) and let them sit until well acquainted. Works great with a sparkling wine like prossecco, too.

For the celebrations of Canada Day (July 1) and US Independence Day (July 4), you might need to come up with a more G-rated dessert for family picnics and barbecues. Strawberry shortcake goes well with whipped cream. Just slice up some berries and let them macerate in some sugar or stevia for a couple of hours to get them good and juicy. While that’s happening, make a batch of baking powder biscuits. When they’re done, split in two, fill with the berries, and spoon on some whipped cream. If you want to up the ante, put a scoop of vanilla or strawberry ice cream between the biscuit halves.

If you need to capture the feeling of a summer day to inoculate yourself from the dark cold days, try making preserves. Aunt Google will help you find a recipe, or you can ask an older relative or your county extension service. Strawberries do not take kindly to freezing. Instead of ruby red drops of summer, you get tasteless mush when they thaw. There is plenty of cold and slush to deal with outside. You don’t need it on your oatmeal.

However you decide to celebrate the strawberry, don’t forget the whipped cream.  Not on the berries and wine, but the shortcake wants the whipped cream. It just wouldn’t be shortcake without it, and it just wouldn’t be summer with out shortcake or strawberries.

How Strawberries Came To Be

Next week’s Full Moon is the Strawberry Moon.  We will observe with a teaching story from the Cherokee.

After She created the Earth, Supreme Goddess created First Man and First Woman. All was well, but one day they had a dust-up and First Woman walked off in a huff. 

First Man ran after her, but couldn’t quite catch up. 

In order to slow First Woman down, Supreme Goddess created a plant with plump bright red berries. She dropped in in front of First Woman to get her attention.

It worked. First Woman looked at it, held one of the berries in her hand. The tantalizing aroma invited her to take a bite. Its sweet warm juice ran down her chin. She enjoyed a couple more, and as she nibbled away, her thoughts turned to First Man and the sharing of sensual pleasures with him.

First Man finally caught up with her. She started feeding him strawberries, and, well….let’s just say that humans were started that day as well.  

 

The Therapeutic Value of Cooking

I’ve been cooking more than usual this week. Mercury is still in retro; the heavy snow from Monday’s storm followed by yesterday’s rain and wind-driven melting challenged one of the sump pumps to the breaking point; my mainstay paid writing job has been put on hold indefinitely; and of course, Oakley ate a few too many biskies, leading to 2 AM runs in the yard.

So I’ve cooked. Turkey chili, a rotisserie chicken, a cake made with almond and coconut flours, socca with fresh cilantro to go with the chili. The cake was based on a very simple French recipe; the other dishes are regular batters in the culinary lineup. It’s kept me pleasantly busy during the interminable wait for the weather to level out. 

Signs that spring can’t be too far off are coming up here and there. Strawberries glisten like rubies at the store and early greens are coming in to play. Mercury will get its act together on the 28th and go forward. And we shall as well.

Wednesday Musings

Another storm system waltzed through the Chicago/NW Indiana area last night. Knowing that this morning was going to be a cold wet mess, I dropped  Oakley off at day care yesterday instead of today. He played while I picked up the necessary and sufficient supplies. The snow arrived as I was picking him up and wove itself into a white blanket as we pulled up the driveway. I’m allowing myself the luxury of being a little self-congratulatory on my timing of last night’s ventures. 

Caputo’s had an insanely good price on organic broccoli yesterday–69 cents a pound. I stuffed a bag with it and made gluten free pasta with broccoli. Did I give the recipe? If I didn’t, this is how you do it: make paper-thin slices of 4-6 whole fresh garlic cloves and place them into a small frying pan with extra virgin olive oil and a good shake of red pepper flakes. Heat slo-o-o-w-w-w-ly and gently until you can smell the garlic. While that’s going on, break broccoli into florettes, and put them into your favorite pasta pot with plenty of water to cook them and the pasta (I used Tinkyada brown rice fettuccini). When the broccoli is good and cooked and the pasta’s done, drain–don’t rinse. The starch helps the oil and the broccoli bits stick to the pasta. Now, pour in the lovely garlic and pepper infused olive oil, and mix. I topped off mine with shredded Asiago cheese. Perfect antidote to the weather. Oh, and an orange for dessert. If you don’t or can’t do cheese, try some toasted chopped pecans or walnuts. 

This morning, the clouds have dissipated to a thin veil. Hubby and I will have leftover broccoli and pasta for lunch with strawberries for dessert. Oakley is napping, dreaming of his upcoming bonus day care day on Friday. I don’t know if he know that it’s going to be a spa day or not–he’ll be getting a bath and a nail trim then. 

We stay in the moment, yet we count the 42 days to spring.