Hi, ya'll. Come on in for a cup of coffee on a beautiful, spring evening in South Georgia. It has been a wonderfully beautiful day down here and I am loving it. Strawberries are in season and we plan to go up to Rutland's farm up close to Tifton in the next day or two and buy fresh strawberries picked that day from their fields.

It is a great place to buy strawberries for they are fresh that day and have not been refrigerated. This makes them sweet and juicy for they only pick the ripe ones and those left and are in danger of spoiling are made into jams and jellies which you can buy. When they are picked they are packed in the green, plastic baskets but are carefully packed in alternating rows so that you get the maximum number of strawberries per basket. You surely get your money's worth there and the staff is friendly and helpful.

You can also pick your own but at my age and with my aching back, I now let the younger ones pick them for me. It would cancel out the savings of going to the farm if I have to pay the chiropractor to snap, crackle and pop my back so that I can stand erect. I will be sure and take some pictures of the fields and the farm to share with you for it is a beautifully managed farm.

If you like to fish, they have several ponds you can pay to go fishing and I have seen them catch some right nice ones up there. There are docks you can sit on or put in your boat and the children love it. School field trips to this farm are very popular.

I was in too much of a hurry to have some fresh strawberries this weekend so I bought some at a fresh produce market. They were only about five dollars a flat but had been shipped in from Louisiana and were not sweet. When you have to pick them right before they are ripe the sweetness is just not there. I did make a dessert from them and froze several packages to use in smoothies or to cook but they will have to have sugar to be sweet enough to eat.

To store strawberries, there a couple of tricks to use so that they will last longer. First, don't wash or stem them until you get ready to eat them for if you store them washed they will spoil very quickly. Secondly, store them in an airtight container in the fridge and they will last for several days. I like to use big-mouthed glass jars which I have saved. Plastic will work also but I prefer the glass peanut butter jars I save. They are easy to fill and to get out a few strawberries at the time.

This weekend I tried 2 new ways of using fresh strawberries and I wanted to share them with you for they are quick, easy and deeeelicious.

Quick and Easy Strawberry Dessert

1 pt. fresh strawberries, washed, stemmed and sliced (always wash before stemming)
1 carton strawberry yogurt (I used the low-fat Yoplait)
1/2 carton frozen whipped topping - thawed

Mix the yogurt and whipped topping using a folding method until well mixed. Fold in the sliced strawberries and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. Chill and serve with a light dusting of cinnamon on top. You want to enhance the flavors with the cinnamon not overpower so sprinkle lightly.

Garden Salad with Strawberries and Bacon

I make these as individual salads not a big bowlful

Spring salad mix
Broccoli slaw mix
Sliced strawberries
Cooked bacon slices - crumbled
Red onion thinly sliced
Feta cheese

Fill your salad bowl with salad mix. Sprinkle on some broccoli slaw mix, onion slices, bacon crumbles, and top with sliced strawberries. Sprinkle with feta cheese and serve with raspberry vinaigrette salad dressing of dressing of choice. Adding some fresh spinach would also be good.

When I cook bacon, I bake it on a rack placed over a baking sheet and bake a whole package. I store part of it in plastic bags in the fridge to use as crumbled bacon over salads or other recipes which use bacon bits. It can also be heated it in the microwave for bacon ,tomato sandwiches.

I was about to forget the other way I used them today and it was also good.

Strawberry Breakfast Smoothie

2 cups milk - slim, 2 percent or whole
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
1 cup clean strawberries
(I add 4 scoops of chocolate, protein powder)
Optional - a couple of tablespoons of chocolate syrup
Blend until smooth.

I hope you enjoy these suggestions and get out and find a local farm selling strawberries for they are so much better than those you buy in the markets. If you go to this website you can locate farms close to you for they list farms all over the US and Canada. http://www.pickyourown.org/index.htm This a website I have used several times and have not been disappointed in the results. It is also useful for all fruits and vegetables not just strawberries. This site also give great instructions for preserving your fresh fruits and vegetables and has good recipes. I had much rather have fresh than store bought even if I have to pay a little more but most of the time it is cheaper.

Get out and find farms close to you and pick your own or let them do the work but enjoy freshly picked.

That's about it for tonight and I am going to go watch the Braves get beat. They are not playing well tonight but I stick by them through win or lose. Go Braves!

Nuff said,

The Georgia Peach

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