Strawberry Vacation

25 Jun

photo photo copy 2

“So what are all these photos from?” you ask? They are from the land of strawberries, yes there is such a place, it runs from Orange County, all the way to the Monterey Bay, growing about 88 percent of the nation’s strawberries. (actually these were taken by Matthew Carden  the photos of real people are by me!)

There are 400 farmer families that grow all of those and countless workers that carefully harvest them. I had no idea how a strawberry got from field to market but I do now! The Strawberrry commission of California arranged fantastic tours, meals from famous chefs who made the yummiest and unsuspected delicious from the red fruit. I was so lucky to go stay at the beautiful Carmel Valley Ranch with a bunch of uber talented bloggers for two days. I feel like I learned so much about strawberries but even more than that I learned how the commission supports their farmers and helps educate the public about sweet sweet strawberries!  It was great to be on the coast, smell the salt air and stand in the fields, it’s rare that we get to be where our food grows.  I had the feeling of a larger world around us, something we don’t think about on a day to day basis. The farmers do, they work hard and care about the product they grow.   Check your strawberries the next time you buy them, I bet they will be from the Monterey area, if they aren’t then keep searching.

Yes there was a cooking competition, and Team Buffalo Strawberry took the gold (the Visa gift cards) With our LOW Sodium version of Buffalo Wings ala Strawberry BBQ sauce. You can check out that recipe below.  My contribution was a grilled corn and strawberry salad with grilled peach vinaigrette, I will share that recipe with you in a week or so.

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I know, I know…lots of photos but my new friends peer pressured me into joining Instagram, and I kind of went nuts! It was worth it because I ended up winning the Instagram Strawberry scavenger hunt!

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So are you intrigued by Strawbuffalo sauce?  My friend over at Sodium Girl  said I could share our secret recipe with you….make sure to go read her amazing blog, she’s funny!

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LOW-SODIUM STRAWBUFFALO CHICKEN20130609-210651.jpg20130614-215146.jpg

recipe courtesy of Sodium Girl

Ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 shallot or half a red onion, chopped
  • 3 cups strawberries, stemmed and washed
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped
  • 1 to 2 tsp salt-free chili powder
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp salt-free garlic powder
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 chicken legs and thighs (bone-in and skin-on) or a bunch of wings
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Directions:

In a medium-size sauce pot, heat up a tablespoon of oil and when ready, add the garlic and the onions. Cook until softened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Then add your strawberries, jalapeños, about 1/4 cup of water and lower heat to soft boil. Allow the strawberries to soften and break down into a slushy sauce, about 15 minutes. Add the chili and molasses and let it cook another 10 minutes.  Then, using a handheld or standing blender, give the sauce a whirl until it is pureed and smooth. Transfer the sauce back to the pot, add the vinegar, and continue cooking on medium-low heat for another ten minutes.

While the sauce is going, place your chicken on a roasting pan and drizzle some oil on all the pieces, rubbing it so they are all slick. Then in a small bowl, mix together the cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper and give all the chicken pieces a good rub down with the mix until they are covered. If you are using a bbq and it is ready to go, then place the chicken on the grill on a cooler part of the grill, skin side up. If you are using an oven, heat it to 375 F and throw that pan of chicken pieces (laid out in a single layer or even on top of a roasting rack on the pan) into the oven.

If you are using breast/leg pieces, let them cook 25 minutes. If you are using wings, let them cook 15 minutes.  Then, slather your chicken pieces with sauce and then continue cooking another 10 minutes, putting the sauce back on the stove on low to keep warm. If you are BBQ’ing, then you can move your chicken to a hotter spot on the grill.

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Ten things I learned about Strawberries

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1. They are delicious grilled (and wrapped with pancetta)
2. They are hand picked, boxed and shipped within a day, (that’s crazy because they are picked one at a time by workers who bend down all day and painstakingly pick, pick, pick!) Strawberries are picked and brought to a giant cooling facility where they are labeled and shipped that day.

3. They are also delicious in savory dishes such as in our winning dish Strawbuffalo wings, yes you heard right! For the yummy low sodium version visit my incredible team-mate over at Sodium Girl
4. California is the nation’s leading producer of strawberries.

5. Four hundred family farmers grow strawberries growing about 88 percent of the nation’s strawberries.

6. 8 strawberries contain as much vitamin C as one orange!

7. According to a recent study, eating strawberries more than twice a week appears to delay cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years!

8. Dynamite for diabetics: The American Diabetes Association (ADA) identified berries, including strawberries, as one of the top 10 superfoods for a diabetes meal plan.

9. After being picked every extra hour the berries sit in the field (on the truck) the berries lose one day of shelf life.

10. Bloggers can party anywhere, even in a strawberry field!!

There is so much more to know from these beautiful and informative posts from these bloggers:

Superglue Mom Garlic Girl BlogPlayful Cooking,  Muy Bueno CookbookPinch My SaltSavory SimpleUknown MamiMy San Francisco Kitchen, Cooking with Amy, The Veggie Queen, Mitzi the Nutrition Expert

Join my friends at CA Strawberries

Twitter: @CAStrawberries

Facebook: CAStrawberries

Pinterest: CAStrawberries

Instagram: CAStrawberries

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5 Responses to “Strawberry Vacation”

  1. mysfkitchen June 25, 2013 at 9:12 PM #

    Great post! It was so nice to meet you, what a fun trip!

  2. Nicole June 25, 2013 at 11:53 AM #

    Those Strawbuffalo Wings were delicious and I’m so excited that you guys shared the recipe. That strawberry vacation photo at the top of your post is so great! Can’t wait to come check out the gallery soon.

    • playfulpantry July 9, 2013 at 12:09 PM #

      Nicole…yes please come visit. Ping me first we have limited hours.

  3. Jen @ Savory Simple June 25, 2013 at 5:38 AM #

    I am so excited to make the wings at home. And it was really great meeting you!

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