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The War for the Strawberries
Jun 14, 2012
There is a war taking place in my backyard. Ace, one of my miniature dachshunds, has been battling with the squirrels since he was a mere pup. He stalks and chases them daily. They respond by bouncing from tree to tree and limb to limb, mocking him with their perky chattering. Meanwhile, Ace plants his stout frame on his hindquarters at the base of the mighty cottonwood in which they make their home and bays like a coon dog. It has been comical, and I will admit that I have laughed at him on more than one occasion.
However, the laughing is over. I am joining Ace’s army against the squirrels. You see, last week I witnessed one squirrel digging merrily into my strawberry plants. His bushy tail swayed cockily as he plucked one of the few red, ripe berries and sat back on the railroad tie edging of the berry patch to eat it. Then, haughtily, he reached in and grabbed another. WHAT?!? THIS is why I don’t have any strawberries to harvest?
I have invested in netting to drape my precious strawberries, but the internets are telling me that it won’t be long before my pesky little friend finds a way through that meager barrier. Hubs has suggested a .22 mounted to Ace’s back that he can fire with his tail. This may be war, but I (and city ordinances) would like a more peaceful solution. What is your method for protecting your garden from critters? Any tried and true way to keep the squirrels from driving you nuts?
If you are lucky enough to have strawberries, here is an easy recipe for a sinfully creamy strawberry dessert. This Strawberry Mousse is excellent on its own, served with a few butter or chocolate cookies on the side, layered with fruit and cake or crushed cookies in parfaits, or as a dressed up whipped topping on your favorite strawberry pie or strawberry rhubarb cake. The ideas are endless…if the squirrels don’t eat your strawberries.
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
4 cups strawberries, quartered, plus a few additional berries for garnish, if desired
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
4 1/2 tablespoons water
1 cup heavy cream, well-chilled
Mash the strawberries with sugar and lemon juice in a bowl with a fork or potato masher. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over water in a small saucepan and let stand 1 minute to soften. Warm water gently over low heat, stirring until gelatin is dissolved. Stir gelatin mixture into mashed strawberries. Chill bowl of berries and stir frequently until gelatin begins to set, about 5-10 minutes. (The mixture should hold its shape briefly before dissolving.) Meanwhile, beat cream until it holds soft peaks. Fold whipped cream into the strawberries. Spoon mousse into serving dishes and chill for at least 30 minutes, until set. Garnish with additional whipped cream and berries, if desired. Serves 4.
Fran Hill has been blogging about food at On My Plate since October of 2006. She, her husband and two dogs reside near Colome.