I'm the type who hates letting things go to waste. So when my dad presented me with a 6-dozen box of Ventura-fresh strawberries, I knew I was in for a long week.
I started by perusing the Japanese online cookbooks. Found an interesting muffin recipe which called for cream cheese, yogurt, white chocolate, and 150 grams of strawberries. Huh? 150 grams? The downfall of my illustrious baking career is that I'm no good with numbers. I can't even count with my fingers. Exact measurements? Forget it. So I started by dicing strawberries. 5 to be exact. Seemed like a safe number. Mixed it with the rest of the ingredients, poured it in the pan, shoved it in the oven and prayed.
Luckily, it didn't come out half-bad. Didn't come out half-good either. They were lightly sweetened, though a bit on the heavy side. (Mental note: Never use an ingredient you've previously banned from your diet. Namely, cream cheese.) But heck, someone's bound to take it off my hands. Good thing Mikey was hungry.
So out of 72 strawberries I only managed to use 5. I got really nervous just imagining a box of berries rotting in my fridge. I could feed entire family in Darfur with what I had!
The next thing I tried was a simple mix of sliced strawberries, milk and honey. Japanese kids grow up eating their strawberries with condensed milk. I didn't have a can handy so I thought this would be just as good. And it was. I highly recommend it. How many berries did I use? Only three. ...Oh well.
I'm a sucker for chocolate-dipped strawberries. It's a simple thing to make so as long as you have a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips around. Well, that I had not, so instead I scavenged through every snack stash I had for spare chocolate. Finally found a use for that Wolfgang Puck Oscar. Woohoo~!
15 strawberries down, 49 to go!
Little did I know, Mikey had a simple recipe for strawberry jam. All you need is a squirt of lemon juice and a heap of sugar. I didn't realize how many strawberries you can blow with a jar of jam.
20 down, 29 to go!
I ended the week with a personal favorite—ichigo daifuku—a strawberry covered with red-bean paste and wrapped with a soft layer of mochi. The first time I had it in Japan, the strawberry was so big that I couldn't help but to marvel at it before taking my first bite. The lady behind the counter placed it in its own waxy paper bag and bestowed it upon me with two hands. It felt like gold.
This was my first try at the daifuku and it came out horribly. Mikey even refused to eat it. This particular mochi is made by mixing a starchy powder with hot water. Well, I didn't get the measurements right yet again. So when I wrapped the mochi around the strawberry it started sagging big time. Strawberry mochi balls are supposed to be round and robust. Virile, if you will. These were the droopiest sacks I'd ever seen.
Well as you can guess, I started playing around with the rest of my ingredients after realizing this one was going nowhere. I tried making a decent snowman but instead it looked more like Jabba the Hut. Strawberries used: 5.
With 24 left, I decided the best thing to do was just eat them as is. Ventura County has some juicy, sweet berries this time of year, so really, why go out of my way to mask its fresh taste? Though if I had more in me, I really wanted to cook up some hot crepes. Stuff it with custard cream, mochi ice cream and sliced strawberries and they're simply mouth-watering.