Extra Helpings: Strawberries


Strawberries at this time of year are little weapons of seduction.

Allow me to explain.

All year we eat strawberries… strawberries that look good, but really only taste, well, okay. But we go ahead and buy them anyway, because they remind us of something bright and warm and wonderful, something hard to pinpoint, but something we desperately want to feel again.


Then, the first REAL strawberries of the season arrive… and it all comes rushing back: the sweet taste of summer. The lovely promise that the next few months will be as bright and beckoning as this bite. Happiness.

Farmers’ market tables are heavy with just-picked strawberries right now. If you shop in supermarkets that carry locally grown produce, you’ll find these luscious natural treats as well. You can thank the unseasonably cool weather for the bounty.

Here are a few strawberry buying tips and facts to help you select the best:

• Look for plump strawberries that are evenly colored with soft, green, leafy tops.

• Avoid those that have soft spots or are bruised.

• Smaller strawberries tend to be sweeter… bigger is not always better.

• Look at the bottom of the strawberry container before you buy it. If it is heavily stained or the strawberries looked smashed, put it back.

• Gently clean unhulled strawberries with a mushroom brush or a damp paper towel.

• Strawberries are low in calories and high in fiber and nutrients.

• Strawberries spoil quickly, so eat them within a day or two.

If you have more berries than you can eat right away, place all the unwashed, unhulled strawberries in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with paper towels. Cover with another paper towel and refrigerate. Eat as soon as possible.

All year we eagerly wait for so many things… some of which are worth it, and others not so much. Fresh strawberries? Definitely worth the wait.







Try This: Popcorn On The Cob


Found these in the farmer’s market last week, but I’ve also come across them in the supermarket: Popcorn still on the cob that you pop in the microwave… cool!

October is National Popcorn Month, so I thought I’d try it out. These crisp autumn days are just begging for a big bowl of hot popcorn sprinkled with a little Parmesan cheese… lo-cal comfort food (except the cheese, of course).

And you know how much we love popcorn around here. Click here… and here.

Golden yellow Popcorn on the Cob differs from Flint corn, also known as Indian corn or calico corn. Flint corn is absolutely gorgeous, with kernels of purple, burgundy, red, orange, yellow and white…but it’s also hard as a rock (hence the name “flint”). Great for fall decorations…not so great on the teeth!

Don’t try popping up a bowl of Flint corn… it’s too tough.

If you see Popcorn on the Cob, grab a couple of ears. Place one cob in a brown paper bag and fold the top of the bag to seal it. Put it in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the popping slows (watch and listen carefully!). Eat it right out of the bag.

I promise the kids will be fascinated… and it’s the perfect complement to family movie night!










Kitchen Think: This Week’s Food News You Need to Know


Here’s a smattering of some of the more interesting food news this week… as well as an image of a frighteningly realistic cake!

 There’s a huge war raging right now… that I bet you didn’t even know about!

Food culture is really seeping into our consciousness. As proof, check out some of the new words added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online. I’m surprised that “red velvet cake” wasn’t already in there!


Starbucks is going cashless. This is either very good… or very dangerous.


The ongoing drought is going to make you worry about how food gets to your table. Thirty million dollars in federal aid will help… but it won’t be enough.

Finally… this is easily the most incredible cake I’ve ever seen. It is an Amelanistic Burmese Python made by North Star Cakes in Kent, England. Check out what other enchantment they create!

This week was National Farmer’s Market week… find a market and go shopping! Have a great weekend!


Bright Lights Swiss Chard Tacos


Have you ever been shopping and seen something you just had to have?

Some people are like that with when they go shoe shopping. Mama’s like that at the farmer’s market. Weird, I know.

Last week I saw this gorgeous Bright Lights Swiss Chard and couldn’t resist. Look at those colors! Ruby red, vibrant yellow, shocking orange. I didn’t even think about a recipe or how to cook it… I JUST HAD TO HAVE IT.

Well, that’s an impulse purchase if I’ve ever heard of one. The Bright Lights Tacos were the perfect answer for our Meatless Monday night dinner… and it only took about 30 minutes to pull together.

Everyone built their own tacos. No complaints (even Miss Picky liked it!). And in the long run? Waaayyyy cheaper than falling in love with a pair of Jimmy Choo pumps!


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I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: mamashighstrung@gmail.com