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Market Watch: Strawberry Fields Forever

Market at the Square was packed last weekend and patrons filled their shopping bags with the largest variety of vegetables we’ve seen thus far this season. I had the benefit of shopping early and was able to get some gorgeous Red Russian and Lacinato kales, swiss chard, turnips, salad greens, radishes, purple and green asparagus and of course, strawberries.

Cary’s Garden of Eatin’ had strawberries piled high with crate after crate of the blushing beauties. She was selling them packed in four different sizes suitable for all appetites and canning needs. I’m sure there will be plenty more to be had this coming Saturday, and I’ve got strawberry daiquiris in mind.

f you are like me and want to buy enough strawberries to last a few days be sure to store them properly; unwashed, uncut and in a paper towel-lined plastic container in the refrigerator. A bruised strawberry will likely spoil overnight, so take care to be extra gentle when handling them. Strawberries also freeze well for future cooking applications, so if you have the cash, consider stocking up for the length of summer. Simply remove the hull, wash, let dry and place in the freezer, spread out on a cookie sheet. When the strawberries are completely frozen you can pack them into freezer bags and store for several months. Fresh, local strawberries can be used in hundreds of recipes from sweet to savory, and with their current abundance I encourage avid experimentation. Here is a good recipe to start with from Gourmet Magazine :

Balsamic-Glazed Strawberries Over Ice Cream

Servings: Serves 2.

6 large ripe strawberries
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
about 1 1/2 cups super-premium vanilla ice cream

Trim strawberries and cut into wedges. In a small heavy saucepan heat vinegar and brown sugar over moderate heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Simmer 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and add strawberries, tossing to coat. Scoop ice cream into two bowls and top with warm glazed strawberries.

Unfortunately, it was a bad weather week for all of us with torrential rain storms and plenty of thunder and lightning. Hopefully the weather wasn’t too hard on the farmers and nobody’s fields were flooded. My feeble attempts at gardening were destroyed and my baby beets and beans took a royal beating. Luckily, we have the professionals at the market to make up for our own shortcomings. The forecast for Saturday morning looks gloomy, so be sure to pack your umbrella or raincoat and be prepared for some scattered showers.

Urbana’s Market at the Square sets up shop Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon at Lincoln Square Village’s east parking lot.

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