Sunday, February 26, 2012

Florida Strawberry Season

Florida Strawberry Season Festivities

It's been a mild winter here in Florida this year.  Indeed, you could hardly call it winter, with warm days and cool nights, not good for those of us who look forward to fires in the fireplace, but perfect for growing strawberries!  Unlike last years expensive freeze ravaged fruit, this year we have a beautiful bumper crop and the prices are astoundingly low, under $9.00 for a flat of perfect ruby red strawberry jewels.  Even in the grocery stores strawberries are running about $2.00 a quart on sale!  Perfectly priced for a strawberry feast!  Typically, in the south, around Valentines Day dessert delights shift from all things citrus, like lemon and orange pound and bundt cakes, to all things Strawberry.

You'll find every Strawberry dessert under the Florida sun offered.  From fancy chocolate covered strawberries, the men strawberries dressed in formal tuxedo wear and the women strawberries dressed in white chocolate gowns, to strawberry pie, and naturally strawberry shortcake.  The local French Bakeries are offering yummy tartlets with wonderful light and flaky butter crusts filled with silky pastry cream and topped with slices of perfect red strawberries.  At Sunday dinner, no one would be surprised to see the cake ladies beautiful white cake split into four layers, each layer stuffed with sugary strawberries, drizzled with juice and an layer of lightly sweetened whip cream, topped with jewel red slices of perfect strawberries!  Is it dessert time yet?  So many strawberry desserts so little time!

My Mother's favorite way to serve strawberries was to make individual meringues pipped into the shape of shallow bowls.  Just before serving, she'd spread the bottom of each bowl with a heaping tablespoon of lemon curd then dress with sliced sugared strawberries and whipped cream.  Beautiful on the plate and easy to serve because the meringues can be made ahead.  A true seasonal treat as humidity is the enemy of meringue and every southern cook, this can only be served during the dry months here in the swamps of Florida.  Elegant yet simple this desert would look fabulous on these bread and butter plates (below), which will do double duty for dessert, offered by Denise and Lizzie in their Etsy shop ClassicTableware for a family Sunday dinner or an intimate celebration.

Available on Etsy using this link:

Now is the time to enjoy Florida strawberries whose season runs from December through March and each year here in Central Florida the season is topped with the annual Florida Strawberry Festival, located in Plant City, just west of Lakeland about an hours drive from Orlando.  This years theme is "Growing Sweet Memories" and the old fashioned festival runs from March 1st through March 11th.  This year promises carnival rides, a selection of music from Blue Grass to Rock, pig racing and naturally a Strawberry Shortcake Eating Contest!

The Downtown Farmers Curb Market offered free Strawberry Shortcake 2/25/2012
The Downtown Farmer Curb Market, Lakeland, FL

If you're not close enough to enjoy the Festival here in Florida, why not make your own sweet memories by creating an old fashioned Strawberry Festival in your home and invite family and friends for a Sunday afternoon filled with fun.  Inexpensive and easy recipes like pulled pork sandwiches, decked out potato skins and a tossed spinach salad with sliced strawberries dressed with a slightly sweet honey lime dressing will mean you get to enjoy all the fun with your guests.  Naturally, you'll want to serve Strawberry Shortcake for desert!  Keep it simple by serving iced tea and coffee.  I estimate serving about 17 to 22 people for about $50.00 with this menu.  Now that's fabulous frugal entertaining and memory making!  If you would like recommendations on recipes for this menu send me an email at

Available on Etsy using this link:

Organizing an old fashioned Strawberry Festival is the perfect excuse to expand your vintage entertaining housewares which will also come in handy for Easter!  My friend Laura from, OceansideCastle vintage, has a beautiful set of  Pfaltzgraff coffee cups, saucers and dessert plates (above) offered in her shop on Etsy.  It takes just a moment to picture your fabulous strawberry desert on these plates served with freshly brewed coffee.  Yum!

So set the mood with your vintage table cloth and napkins and celebrate strawberry season serving buffet style!  Get the kids involved with dessert by having a strawberry hulling and slicing contest.  It's easy and safe when you use plastic picnic knives!  Prizes can be vintage Little Golden Books or Strawberry Shortcake figures also found on Etsy.  All the planning is done, now it's time to have fun!

Living the vintage lifestyle makes life's moments together special!  Enjoy!  Deb