One of the best things about June —besides peonies— is fresh picked strawberries from the garden. I have a small but productive patch of fraises des bois (Fragaria vesca) —better known as alpine strawberries— in my potager (click here for more information about this wonderful berry). And right now, the alpine strawberry plants are producing so many plump, juicy fruits, I hardly miss the few that I know Mr. Catbird is snatching. For the past few days, I’ve been strolling down to the kitchen garden at dawn to fill a basket with these sweet, ruby red beauties for my breakfast. I love them tossed on top of homemade granola in the morning, and later —if it’s hot— they are wonderful mashed up in a strawberry mojito (click here for recipe) or a strawberry flirt (click here for that little number). Alpine strawberries are easy to grow in patio pots or window boxes; making them the perfect fruit for container gardeners.
The still, early morning hours are ideal for pulling a few weeds and watching butterflies. This week I spotted a viceroy (which looks like a miniature monarch), several painted ladies and more tiger swallowtail butterflies. All of the pollinators seem drawn to the chives and sage in particular, but also to the recently planted cosmos, calendula and ageratum. Which reminds me, I need to get back over to Walker Farm. I have a little extra space around the fence line, and I aim to fill it with more fresh flowers for cutting!
Alpine Strawberries (Fragaria vesca) are the Sweetest of June Treasures
In winter, I like to add raisins and other dried fruits to my granola. But in summer, I think fresh berries are the way to go. So at this time of year, I prefer a honey-nut granola recipe to complement the tart taste of fresh fruit. The blend below is based on a simple recipe from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, which I discovered while reading Adam Roberts’ very funny food blog, The Amateur Gourmet. This is a fun recipe to make with kids, because the granola turns out best when you mix it with your hands!
Honey-Nut Granola with Fresh Alpine Strawberries
Ingredients: (makes about 3 1/2 cups, multiply and add twists, as you like)
2 cups rolled oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey, plus extra for drizzling
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (+/-) of lightly chopped nuts (cashews, macadamia, etc)
Preheat oven to 325° Fahrenheit. Select a large baking sheet (or cookie sheet) and line with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, mix together the vegetable oil, brown sugar, honey, vanilla with a fork or whisk. Set aside.
Mix oats, nuts, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl.
Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and combine. The best method for even coverage is to use your hands.
Spread the mixture out over the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake 10 minutes, remove pan and drizzle with a little more honey. Turn the granola with a spatula. Return to oven for another 5 – 10 minutes. Watch carefully, as it’s easy to burn. Remove from oven and turn the granola again. If the mixture looks less than golden brown, return to oven for another 5 minutes. Remove the granola from oven and allow it to cool completely.
Serve with fresh berries and milk or yogurt, and a drizzle of golden honey on top. Store extra granola in an airtight canister (it keeps well for a couple of weeks, if it lasts that long).
Succession Sowing of Seed and Planting of Vegetable Starts Continues All Summer Long to Insure a Steady Supply of Greens, Root Vegetables and Fall Crops
Looking Past the Garlic Greens, Peppers, Bean Pole and Into the Heart of the Potager
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