Thursday, April 14, 2016

Strawberry Season!

It's Springtime here in the South and that means it's strawberry time!  Honestly, this is really the only time of year that I even like strawberries.  There is just something different about locally grown fruit. 

Near our house is Cottle Farms, which has been growing strawberries in Columbia pretty much my entire life. Maybe even longer than I've been around, I'm not sure.  It's a huge operation and our kids love going out to the farm to pick their own berries.  If you've never gone, you should.  A word of caution though.  Don't let yourself get carried away and bring home 3 buckets full. It's easy to get all excited and keep on pickin' but remember, the berries go bad if they hang around too long and you can always go back to the farm when you need more!

We went out after school on Monday and the strawberries are gorgeous.  Bright red, glossy and plentiful.  Years ago, I came across one of the kookiest recipes ever.  It was in a magazine, although it's been so long now, I couldn't even begin to tell you which one it was. It was for a turkey and strawberry panini.  I know, I know.  Sounds insane, right?  Well, it's not.  It's been years since we made these sandwiches, but when I saw this year's crop, I decided it was time to bring back the panini.

Here's the skinny...Get a loaf of fresh Italian bread from the bakery.  Give it a layer of pepper jelly. Yes, you heard me.  Then layer really smoky, sliced turkey with some brie, sliced strawberries and fresh basil leaves.  Press and grill it with a panini press, waffle iron, in a pan, whatever your usual grilled cheese-technique is.  Prepare to be amazed.  It's the craziest combination of flavors and IT WORKS.  I told our friend Dottie about the sandwich and when I saw her yesterday in the school yard...well, suffice to say, she was raving about it.  Her husband loved it, kids loved it, she loved it.  I'm so glad she tried it because in the past when I've told people about this recipe, I get that sideways "okaaaay, right, Elizabeth" look. 

Dear readers, food fanatics, culinary daredevils, good food consumers, take my advice on this one.  Get thee to the farm!

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