Last week, D and I went strawberry picking at Grays Farm with a friend of his - another D. D and D were from the same antenatal group, so they've known each other since before they were born. It's so funny hearing my D (also known as Little D) trying to get to grips with what to call the other D. Options included 'spiderman', 'other D' and 'Mister D'. Telling one child off while the other looks on in puzzlement at his name being used generates lots of fun too!
Anyway, despite a couple of downpours, it was a really lovely morning. I hadn't been to Grays before but suspected there would be a big picture of a strawberry to direct us and asked D to keep an eye out. Imagine our surprise to come across this 'big CRAZY strawberry' to tell us which way to go. Brilliant.
Grays offers a large array of fruit and vegetables to pick including strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb, carrots, courgettes, beetroots and sweetcorn.
We had a very definite goal in mind - strawberries. We were a little thwarted by the shop assistant telling us that the thermo something or other that strawberries had meant that they had all gone into hiding. He told us that there wouldn't be many strawberries on offer but that the raspberries were pretty much falling off the bushes. So we purchased a large basket for 50p and were on our way.
So, with some disappointment we headed for the raspberries (or rasbugs). He wasn't far wrong - a little exploration led us to an amazing selection of raspberries and D loved running around and picking them, rejecting any yellow ones and looking out for the nice plump red ones.
With rather a large collection of raspberries (it's kind of addictive once you get started) we decided to give the strawberries a little look and found just enough to make these biscuits. There were a few little clumps here and there but generally, they were either overripe or not in existence.
It was a brilliant day out and I already have plans to return and spend some time at the craft village opposite. I was informed by the helpful people at the shop that next week should yield more strawberries and some corn. Although corn carries a points value, corn on the cob is well worth it.
We picked up some beetroot for the soup made at the weekend for only 25p a head - although the ones I picked myself were a little small in comparison to the professionally picked ones in the shop!
Anyway, on with the recipe. This is an adapted recipe from Simon Rimmer's Seasoned Vegetarian and was a decent baking exercise with D - mainly through measuring and a little bit of mixing. It needs a bit of preparation time - two hours for sorting out the strawberry pieces can drag a little when you have a three year old. He did enjoy laying out the strawberry though and making sure that it didn't overlap.
|Why one MUST use baking paper when making the chewy strawberry pieces...|
175g strawberries cut into slices
1 tsp caster sugar
125g butter, softened
100g muscovado sugar
50g maple syrup
1 beaten egg
1 vanilla pod
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
Lay strawberries on baking paper (or have to do battle with the baking tray at the end) and sprinkle with caster sugar - I think in this case this could have been omitted. Bake in the oven for about two hours at gas mark 1.
Remove the strawberries and turn up to gas mark 6.
Cream the butter and muscovado sugar together. Add the eggs, seeds from the vanilla pod and maple syrup and mix together. Fold in the flour, baking powder and chewy strawberry pieces.
Spoon on to a baking sheet (I used a heaped tablespoon for each one) and put into the oven for around 13 minutes. The cookies should be soft but cooked through. They do spread when cooking.
Allow to cool on a wire rack.