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  • Oregon strawberries are sweet purity

  • The strawberry is one of Oregon's dearest commodities, and it arrived early this year. So time's a-wasting!
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  • The strawberry is one of Oregon's dearest commodities, and it arrived early this year. So time's a-wasting!
    With a narrow window to accommodate your pent-up hankerings for fresh strawberry treats, it would be unconscionable to ignore the moment. From simple to sublime, there are loads of ways to enjoy this sweet treasure.
    Of course, for most of us, a full-blown shortcake event is more of a special occasion than an everyday occurrence. Schedules and waistlines would suffer from such daily festivities.But it's the mini-celebrations that really celebrate the fruit in all its sweet purity anyway.
    So this season, I thought it would be fun to share some of the simple little strawberry treats that you can assemble in a moment's time.
    For instance:
    • Make fresh strawberries your go-to garnish while they're available — on cocktail glasses, in glasses of sparkling wine, alongside slices of fresh melon.
    • Pile lightly sweetened strawberries (just a sprinkling of sugar) into bowls or goblets; squirt a bit of fresh lemon juice over each serving. You'll find that the slightly sweetened lemon bath brings out the natural flavor of the berry.
    • Arrange a pint of rinsed and hulled strawberries on a pretty platter, sprinkle on a bit of sugar, if desired, then drizzle a couple of tablespoons of very high-quality balsamic vinegar on top, garnish with sprigs of fresh mint, and serve.
    • For each serving: sprinkle Grande Marnier over bowls of rinsed and hulled strawberries; whisk together 2/3 cup sour cream and 1/3 cup heavy cream, then drizzle this on the bowls of berries.
    • For each serving: place a thick layer of caramel ice cream on the bottom of each dessert bowl, then arrange very ripe berries on top and cover with sweetened strawberry puree.
    • Arrange strawberries in a pretty china bowl, then dredge with confectioners' sugar and drizzle with freshly squeezed orange juice; chill well.
    • For a colorful compote, toss together halved strawberries, sliced peaches, and diced mangoes; drizzle with a sweet-style sauterne and chill well.
    • Pour creme de menthe over strawberries and dust thoroughly with confectioners' sugar, then chill for an hour and serve with passionfruit pulp.
    • For a summer garden party, chill white wine and lemonade together in a crystal pitcher and garnish with sliced oranges, sliced strawberries, and a few sprigs of lavendar (for a chillier version, freeze the oranges and strawberries first).
    Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a Corvallis food writer, artist and author of "Oregon Hazelnut Country, the Food, the Drink, the Spirit," and four other cookbooks. Readers can contact her by email at janrd@proaxis.com, or obtain additional recipes and food tips on her blog at www.janrd.com.
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