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A passion for food: Strawberry fields aren't forever in Oklahoma, so buy your berries now.

A passion for food: Sherrel Jones shares tips and a recipe for using Oklahoma’s fresh, seasonal strawberries.
BY SHERREL JONES, Published: June 11, 2014

In case you hadn’t noticed, we are deep into strawberry season.

In this season of plenty, it’s hard to choose between a simple dessert of sliced strawberries, sprinkled with a little sugar and spooned over a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or a more elaborate dish of strawberry shortcake.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Before you decide how best to enjoy fresh strawberries, you must prepare them for use. Of course, washing the berries, removing the stems and slicing them up is pretty simple. I tried using one of those strawberry-hulling gadgets for removing the stems, but the motion of changing tools for slicing seemed to add an extra step to the process. I like wielding a knife for both.

Instead of cutting straight across the top of the berry to remove the stem, I use a small paring knife to cut a stem-removing “V” before slicing the berry. Sliced from top to bottom, you end up with pretty heart-shaped slices. Sounds a bit fussy, but it is really just as easy as cutting each berry into random chunks.

If you enjoy strawberry ice cream, I recommend my longtime friend Donita Mitchell’s recipe. Mitchell, an Enid resident, recommends pureeing those berries and adding them to the ice cream mixture to eliminate hard frozen chunks. Thin slices can be incorporated during the freezing process as the ice cream begins to thicken.

Strawberries have a lovely affinity with other fruits, including kiwi, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, bananas, and of course, rhubarb. The tart flavor of rhubarb teamed with strawberries enhances both when tucked into pastry. Strawberry-rhubarb pie is a favorite around our house at this time of year. Combined into a sauce for ice cream and other desserts, this unique pink pairing is beautiful and hard to resist.

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Donita Mitchell’s basic vanilla ice cream

This rich and creamy vanilla ice cream is the starter for an amazing strawberry ice cream. Start with a quart of fresh berries and leave out the vanilla bean for the strawberry ice cream. (Makes 1/2 quarts of vanilla or more than 2 quarts of strawberry.

2 cups half-and-half

2 cups whipping cream

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

8 egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar (a little more if desired)

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, cut into pieces

•Combine first three ingredients in saucepan. Bring up to boiling point, but DO NOT boil.

•Remove from heat, cover and let stand at least 15 minutes.

•Beat egg yolks with sugar until thick and lemon colored. Whisk one-third of scalded cream mixture into the egg and sugar mixture. Then combine with remaining cream mixture. Cook until custard forms and begins to thicken — take care not to boil. Remove from heat and stir in butter one piece at a time. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to three days. When ready to use, remove vanilla bean and scrape remaining seeds into custard.

Strawberry ice cream

Slice berries, add 1/2 cup sugar then set aside until sugar melts, forming strawberry juice. Do not incorporate any extra sugar. Puree about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the strawberries with some of the liquid. Freeze the basic ice cream until partially frozen, then add the puree. If you want chunks of strawberries, mash them a little with a fork and add to the puree. Add additional mashed chunks or thin slices just before ice cream is totally frozen. Extra liquid can be saved to make a sauce.

SOURCE: Donita Mitchell, Enid


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