I currently live in Charlotte, NC and after spending 7 years as a personal chef and caterer, I am now happy to share my love of cooking with friends and family. My heart is in the kitchen, but my soul is in the stars!

Strawberry Fields Forever

Field-picked strawberries will always hold a special place in my heart because they remind me of my childhood, so when I had the opportunity to travel back to my hometown and attend the Strawberry Festival it was just like going home and being a kid all over again.

The Strawberry Festival is still in the infant stages of becoming a large, well-known regional festival like our Apple Festival, but it was created in honor of a man named Wayne Scott who pioneered the strawberry movement in my hometown some 50+ years ago. The weather was not very cooperative this year and eventually put an end to the festivities early, but even still it was a fun time celebrating all things strawberry.

Sharing a funnel cake top-heavy with fresh strawberries and powdered sugar with my grandmother was one of the major highlights of the festival. You can see from the photo that she had a death-grip on the edge of the plate out of fear that I'd take off running with the thing and not share (I'm not sure why we only children have such a stigma surrounding us about our inability to share.)

I've shared a recipe for fresh Strawberry Salsa that will now become part of my strawberry season repertoire.  It was something that I tossed together to take to the second picnic gathering of the Charlotte Food Bloggers to celebrate the theme of strawberry picking. I was unable to join the group when they hit the fields to pick their own berries but that didn't stop me from enjoying the fruits of their labor. I was amazed at the creativity and beauty of the dishes brought and I suggest you check out the blogroll and take a look-see for yourself what our fabulous members bring to the table. I find them all to be such an inspiration!

Homemade cinnamon-sugar dusted tortilla chips were the perfect accompaniment to the sweet and spicy Strawberry Salsa, and now that strawberry season is over, don't be afraid to use store-bought berries in this recipe. Those berries have a firmer texture and they actually hold up better and longer in the salsa than freshly picked berries.

Strawberry Salsa
Inspired by Gourmet Magazine

2 fresh jalapeƱo chilies, finely chopped
2 cups finely chopped strawberries
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
6 oz. finely chopped dried pineapple
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Combine chilies, strawberries, onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Mix gently to combine. Salsa can be made several hours before serving and chilled. Yield: 3 cups.

Homemade baked tortilla chips are really easy to make. I used the whole wheat variety but feel free to use the flour ones if you wish. Stack them up together and cut them into 8th ~ cut in half, then half again and then cut each quarter into halves. Brush each triangle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. If you'd like savory chips, feel free to use any spice blend you desire! Bake in a single layer on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for approximatly 10-12 minutes or until chips are slightly browned.

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