I was able to sneak away the other day. I left ere break of day – which is quite a feat when you have a 2 month old and a two year old. My eldest was still sleeping, I left the baby on my snoozing husband’s chest, and I stole out of the house and drove directly to the nearest berry farm. Strawberry season is fleeting here in the Upper Midwest. You blink, and you miss ‘em.
Since I went on a weekday, I was accompanied by strawberry lovin’ seniors – and let me tell you, I was duly impressed by the core strength this group had. My lower back was aching as I crouched over my row, trying to fill my flat within an hour before my cell phone began to ring with pleas from my dear husband to come home and feed the baby. But these old folks, they were pickin’ when I got there, and pickin’ when I left. I need to start doing more crunches.
The dear woman picking the row next to me would spout out a song fragment every few minutes. I think she must have been singing in her head, and the music overflowed from time to time. She seemed to favor Abba – take a chance on me! It made my morning escape all the sweeter.
Now, besides eating a ton of berries fresh, freezing a few bags for smoothies, attempting strawberry freezer jam for the first time, and combining these red lovelies with rhubarb in various concoctions, I was looking for something else that was a little different.
This recipe drew me solely on the name (and the fact that it called for 2 cups of fresh strawberries, which I definitely had.)
First, I thought it would have honey in it, and anything with honey in it is pretty good. It didn’t. The recipe belonged to a woman named Mama Honey. And that’s the second reason – what a great nickname! When I turn 50, I want people to call me Mama Honey.The original lives in Texas, so I don’t think she’ll mind. I am a mama, and I’m a beekeeper, so I’m qualified to carry the moniker, right? But since you can’t nickname yourself, you all will have to remember for the next 17 years, and then start calling me by my new name then. Thank you in advance.
This recipe was utterly delicious, and to be honest, I was a little surprised. I mean, I knew it would be good, but this is one of those recipes whose finished product transcends its ingredients. Based on everything you’re putting in the bowl, you think it will be good. But something happens in the oven - and WOW. There is a ton of cinnamon in this recipe, which to be honest, I almost omitted or reduced. Strawberries and cinnamon seemed like odd company to me. Cinnamon is all toasty autumn, and strawberries are bright summer. But, I’m glad I didn’t, because I think the cinnamon is the secret. It gives the bread (really, almost a cake) a lovely caramel color, and a depth of flavor that is nuanced and deep – the bread really doesn’t taste ‘cinnamony’ at all.
Go get yourself some berries, and make some today. Drink with lemonade, and if feeling decadent, top with a bit of freshly whipped cream. And feel free to eat it for breakfast (I feel like I say that a little too often around here – although breakfast at our house is fun.)
Mama Honey’s Strawberry Bread, adapted from Cook’s Country America’s Best Lost Recipes (I know, enough already, but I just can’t get enough of this cookbook, and it’s due back to the library this week.)
3 cups flour
1 T cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups strawberries, hulled and chopped
1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour two 9×5 inch loaf pans.
2) Whisk the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the eggs, sugar, and oil in a separate bowl.
3) Make a well in the flour, and add the egg/sugar mixture. Stir until mixed well. Stir in the strawberries, and divide between the two loaf pans.
4) Bake until a toothpick comes out of the center of the loaf clean, 50-60 minutes. Cool in pans about 10 minutes, then remove from loaf pan and cool on rack.