Spring is just around the corner, and I can’t wait for that fresh spring and summer produce to hit the stores and farmers markets. Strawberries are the first fruit to ripen each spring. I love to see those beautiful baskets of luscious red strawberries. I can never resist.

Strawberries are great chopped and macerated in sugar to serve over ice cream. Dip those berries in chocolate for a special addition to any dessert. Frozen strawberries are also delicious to have when fresh aren’t available. They are great for dessert preparations. You can easily freeze your own if you have an abundance. Just hull, rinse the berries, and completely dry on a paper towel. Place on cookie sheets to quick freeze, and then place in plastic bags for storage.

Here are a few facts about strawberries:

• There are 200 seeds in an average strawberry.

• They are the only fruit to have seeds on the outside.

• The seeds can grow into a new strawberry plant but most reproduce by the runners.

• Americans eat an average of 3½ pounds of fresh strawberries each year.

• California produces 74 percent of all the strawberry crops in the United States, but strawberries are grown in every state.

• Strawberries are a member of the rose family and give off a sweet fragrance as they grow on bushes.

• They are considered perennials and grow back year after year.

• Ancient Romans believed they had medicinal powers and were used to treat everything from depression to sore throats.

• Native Americans were among the earliest people to eat strawberries.

• Don’t rinse berries under water until you are ready to eat them. It speeds the spoiling.

I hope you will give these great strawberry recipes a try. Thanks for reading.

Strawberry Pound Cake

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

1 (3-ounce) box strawberry Jell-O

4 eggs

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (16-ounce) container frozen sliced strawberries in sugar, thawed

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt or tube pan. Combine flour, baking powder and salt, and set aside. In the bowl of a mixer, beat together butter, sugar and Jell-O until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until combined. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla and strawberries. Pour into prepared pan, and bake for 70 to 75 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and place on wire rack to cool completely.

Fresh Strawberry cobbler

3 cups fresh strawberries, diced

¾ cup sugar

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ cup sugar

1 cup milk

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, add strawberries and stir in ¾ cup of sugar, and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and ½ cup sugar. Add milk, vanilla extract and melted butter. Stir until combined (may be a little lumpy). Grease a 9-inch baking dish, and pour evenly into dish. Spoon strawberries evenly on top of batter — do not stir. Bake for about 40 minutes or until golden brown. May serve warm or cold.

Strawberry and cream eclair cake

1 box graham crackers

2 (3¼-ounce) boxes instant pudding mix

3½ cup milk

1 (8-ounce) container Cool Whip

1 pint strawberries, sliced

1 (16-ounce) can vanilla frosting

Additional strawberries for garnish

Spray the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with whole graham crackers, and layer with half the sliced strawberries. Mix pudding mixes with milk, and beat for two minutes. Fold in Cool Whip. Pour half on top of strawberries. Place another layer of graham crackers on top and then a layer of the remaining strawberries. Pour on top the remaining pudding mixture. Cover with another layer of graham crackers. Heat the container of vanilla frosting in the microwave for 45 seconds. Pour on top of the cake and spread to cover. Refrigerate at least eight hours before serving. Top with additional berries if desired.

Contact Lee Ann Flemming at lafkitchen@hughes.net.

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