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The EATEN PATH: Sumptuous strawberries

Fresh Fraser Valley strawberries. - Paul J. Henderson
Fresh Fraser Valley strawberries.
— image credit: Paul J. Henderson

For people who like food—I mean, really like food—this time of year is exhilarating as the literal fruits of spring start to appear at markets, grocery stores and roadside stalls.

First it was those cartoon-like fiddleheads on display at Hofstede’s and some other local produce purveyors.

Then we saw the long tendrils of rhubarb laid out as sour soldiers awaiting piedom.

More recently, gnarled nugget potatoes overflow from shelves yearning to be roasted.

These are the foods many of us endure long winter months pining for as we survive on frozen blueberries, pickled asparagus and homesick vegetables up from their birthplaces in California or Mexico.

But it is another product this time of year that stirs local tastebuds and steers local cars onto gravel shoulders at ubiquitous fruit stands.

The strawberries are in.

These red harbingers of spring need no recipe for the most part. They are one of those rare products that often don’t even make it home, snacked on as they are right out of their containers.

But here are two simple classic ways to enjoy strawberries, one decadent, one healthy, both delicious.

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Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Recipe by Chef Dez

“The combination of the chocolate & butter makes the coating richer and easier to bite into, without it falling apart.”

Ingredients:

8 - 12 large strawberries

4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate

4 tbsp butter

1.5 oz white chocolate

Directions:

1. Rinse strawberries, leaving on the green tops. Pat them dry thoroughly.

2. Bring about two inches of water to a light simmer in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, then just use a pot and a stainless steel bowl instead.

3. Melt the semi-sweet chocolate and the butter together in the double boiler (or the stainless steel bowl) over the simmering water, stirring occasionally, until completely melted and combined.

4. By gently holding onto the leaves of a strawberry, dip each one into the melted chocolate/butter mixture. Run one side of the berry against the edge of the bowl before taking it out to remove any excess, and place that side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

5. Store the sheet of berries in the refrigerator to solidify the chocolate coating.

6. Melt the white chocolate over the double boiler in a separate bowl, stirring occasionally until completely melted.

7. Take the cooled strawberries out of the refrigerator. Using a teaspoon splash the white chocolate vigorously in a back-and-forth motion so that thin lines of white chocolate fall upon the strawberries.

8. Refrigerate once again.

9. Let sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes prior to serving.

Makes 8 – 12 strawberries

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Strawberry Chia Seed jam

Recipe by Joanne Menard, naturopathic doctor

“Full disclosure: I’m not a jam person. But my four-year-old daughter adores jam and her breakfast of choice is jam and almond butter on a piece of bread.

"It’s certainly not an unhealthy breakfast but I’m not thrilled about the added sugar that is found in basically every homemade jam recipe and every bottle of jam you find on the grocery store shelf. So I was intrigued when a friend of ours suggested making jam with just chia seeds. No sugar. Well, the verdict from the above-mentioned four-year-old is in. Absolutely sugar-free chia seed jam is not just edible, but delicious. And Dr. Mom couldn’t be happier.”

Ingredients:

12 cups strawberries

2 cups water

1 cup chia seeds

Directions:

1. Hull & wash strawberries.

2. Add the strawberries and water to a pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce to a low simmer for 15 minutes and mash the strawberries down during this time.

3. Add the chia seeds and continue to simmer on low for 5 minutes.

4. Let stand for 10 minutes before adding to jars.

5. Fill the jar leaving a half-inch of space at the top. Allow to cool. These can be eaten up immediately or frozen for one year.

Makes eight 250 ml jars of healthy and delicious jam.

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