The story of Strawberry Bill, my great grandfather, an excuse to share a great low-calorie, low-point appetizer, snack or dessert.
“Strawberry Bill” he was called, my Great Grandfather Gossard. He kept ten acres of berries in Webster City, where June was the big month for strawberry-picking in early-1900s Iowa. Late in life, my Gramma Kellogg, his daughter, wrote about Iowa strawberries in a memory book called “Stories for My Grandchildren.”
At sunup, she wrote, local women and children pinned on their straw hats to commence picking, Gramma and her sister Miriam too. The pay was 2 cents a quart. “No one got rich picking berries. A dollar a day was fair pay for work at that time.”
As the sun grew warm, the fragrance of the berries was intoxicating. Every now and then, Gramma wrote, a luscious-looking berry was too tempting and she would pop it into her mouth.
By late morning, berries were boxed for delivery to local grocers. Afternoons, Miriam pulled a little red wagon through town, selling just-picked strawberries door-to-door.
Years later, my dad sold berries door-to-door too. He remembers one woman’s hesitation. “The berries are just beautiful,” she said ruefully. “But they’re just too much money.” A quart of sun-ripe, sun-warm berries was a dime.
Strawberry Bill worked at the post office too. His government salary kept the family but the strawberries, story goes, put my gramma and her sister through college. His post office shifts left the berries unattended for a few hours and at the mercy of young boys from town who were, Gramma wrote, “thoroughly familiar with his work habits.” Years later, one remembered Strawberry Bill. “Best strawberries I ever tasted, those I stole at night from Mr. Gossard’s patch.”
On Sunday, I picked up a flat of home-grown berries from a roadside stand in Illinois and it got me to thinking about berry-picking a century ago, when my great grandfather was known as Strawberry Bill. Home, I worked through one quart after another, making two batches of strawberry jam, a bowlful of Strawberry Salsa and freezing some berries for later.
But the real treat was last night, shared with my dad who’s visiting for a few days, a five-generation Iowa tradition: Strawberry Shortcake Iowa-Style, not for dessert, for dinner.
STRAWBERRY SALSA with
BAKED TORTILLA CHIPS
Time to table: 30 minutes
Makes 4 cups salsa and 5+ dozen chips
BAKED TORTILLA CHIPS
- 8 6-inch flour tortillas
- Cooking spray, butter-flavored
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 12 ounces fresh strawberries, stems removed, sliced vertically
- 2 kiwi fruit, peeled and chopped
- 1 apple, skin on, chopped
- 2 tablespoons honey or agave syrup
- Zest of a lime
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- Fresh mint, to garnish
BAKED TORTILLA CHIPS Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone liner or parchment.
Stack the tortillas. To yield 8 chips per tortilla, slice in quarters, then each quarter in half. Arrange the chips in a single layer (this-way-thatta-way for most efficient use of space) on one or more baking sheets. Spray with cooking spray. Stir together cinnamon and sugar together, then with your fingers, sprinkle over each chip. Bake until brown and crisp, about 15 minutes.
Can be made ahead, just let cool and transfer to a ziplock bag.
STRAWBERRY SALSA Mix all ingredients. If needed, chill for 1 – 2 hours before serving.
TO SERVE Place salsa in bowl with chips alongside.
CHIPS ONLY Per 8 chips: 86 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 250mg Sodium; 16g Carb; 1g Fiber; 3g Sugar; 2g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 1.5, PointsPlus 2
SALSA ONLY Per 1/2 cup: 53 Calories; 0g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 1mg Sodium; 14g Carb; 2g Fiber; 11g Sugar; 1g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points .5, PointsPlus 1
COMBINED Per Serving, assumes 8 servings: 139 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 251mg Sodium; 29g Carb; 3g Fiber; 13g Sugar; 3g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2, PointsPlus 4
ALANNA’s TIPS The bad news: I had high hopes that healthier corn tortillas would make awesome savory-sweet chips. No such luck. The good news: the flour tortillas are very, very good! Depending on your sweet tooth and the sweetness of the berries, you may want to add a little sugar to the salsa. But sugar will macerate the berries, making the salsa more juicy. Chop the berries, kiwi and apple small, otherwise the pieces will be too big for small chips. Home-grown berries will stain the kiwi so if making the salsa ahead of time, add the kiwi just before serving. For a “mini chip” of sweetness, cut each tortilla in 12 small wedges, great for serving alongside a salad or even a fruity dessert but too small for salsa.
This Week, Years Past 2002 - 2011
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