With many changes in the family rhythm―sudden rainstorms interrupting sun-drenched days, school ending, and summer camp about to begin―we went to Long Island for an extended family event. My mother, Stella, was to be honored for her large financial donation to a school for girls in Israel. She is the eldest member of her temple community, and the money she sent will provide an endowment for scholarships to a new generation of Jewish women who might otherwise not have the chance at an education. Toward the end of her life, my mother is helping young people build the beginnings of theirs.
At the synagogue my grandfather helped found some fifty years ago―with its dome-shaped sanctuary covered in golden Hebrew letters and filled with colored light filtered through cut glass windows―we paused to consider the nature of generosity and charity. There was no shortage of lively conversation and speeches at this ceremony but I experienced the most meaningful moment in silence. My mother gave her money in honor of my father and sisters―Abe, Marna and Ronnie―whose lives ended for different reasons, each under different circumstances, too soon. It’s been a long time since we were all together, but when I saw the plaque that will stand in the school far away in Israel, listing each of our family members’ names, I shed silent tears of joy. I will never see my father and sisters again, likely never know any of the women who receive the scholarships, but we will be forever connected.
Although just a week ago, the trip seems a distant memory. All is summer and alive here in New England, where the first strawberries are finally ripe for the picking. As I made my way to Cedar Circle Farmon the banks of the Connecticut River to pick berries to bring home to my family, I thought about the land and those people who have been here over the centuries, before us, building and cultivating these strawberry fields for us to enjoy. I knew then I would taste the sweetness of their labors in every bite of the berries and while these are another group of people I will never meet, we are intimately connected.
Sun-drenched, fresh berries need little more than a good washing and their stems picked to add perfection to any meal. Still, I decided to dress my first batch of berries up by putting together this dessert of Fresh Strawberries in Honey and Wine. The wine and honey are a simple syrup. When poured over the berries and allowed to marinate, the natural juices of the fruit are unleashed . Topped with a bit of lime zest and sprinkled with a hint of freshly ground black pepper, this is a perfect early summer dessert.
I hope you are having a wonderful summer. Happy Canada Day! Have a great 4th of July!
I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.
Note: Susan Reade and I have decided to postpone our Eating Well classes until fall. We heard your feedback, and agree, now is not the time to come indoors to focus on cooking.
FRESH STRAWBERRIES MARINATED IN WHITE WINE & HONEY
Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
- 1 cup sweet white wine, such as Riesling or Moscato
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 quart ripe strawberries
- zest of one lime, minced or slivered
- freshly ground white or black peppercorns, to taste
- Put the wine and honey in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the temperature on the stovetop and simmer just until small bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 10 minutes. Stir.
- While the wine and honey are simmering, rinse the berries and dry them on a clean dishtowel. Remove their stems and slice in half or quarters, depending on their size.
- Place the prepared berries in a large bowl, then cover them with the honey/wine syrup. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for one hour.
- Just before serving, divide the marinated berries between 4 to 6 serving bowls. Sprinkle with lime zest and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
- Turn this dish into a refreshing summer drink by puréeing the berries in a food processor or blender after they have marinated. Pour the purée through a strainer into a cooled pitcher. Fill 4 to 6 wine glasses with shaved ice, then pour the strawberry purée over the ice, followed by a bit of fresh lime juice or another splash of chilled white wine. Serve and enjoy.
- If you do not drink wine, substitute white grape juice for the wine.
- Want something a little richer for dessert? Serve the berries withRed Velvet Cake, Anise Shortbread or Trail Mix Cookies!
- This recipe was adapted from Seasonal Fruit Desserts by Deborah Madison.
One Year Ago: Deep Dish Blueberry Pie