No Sugar Needed Lemonade Recipe

Homemade strawberry/apple-mint lemonade, with no sugar needed. 🙂

This is the easiest lemonade I’ve ever made.  Here is what I added together:

1 quart water
juice from 3 lemons
5-6 strawberries, sliced and mashed with a mortar and pestle
5-6 sprigs of apple mint (a unique variety of mint with a sweet, apple-like taste), leaves removed from stems and mashed with a mortar and pestle

That’s it!  Just mix it all together and serve over ice! It is naturally sweet and needs no additional sweeteners. 🙂

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My Experience with Growing Strawberries

Strawberries have not always been my strongest success in my gardening experiences.  It took me a while to find my niche with successfully growing strawberries.  It is really not all that difficult, but I found a few tricks that have helped me tremendously.

I remember seeing my grandmother growing rows and rows of strawberries in little mounds in her country backyard garden, making it seem so easy.  In my first attempt with growing strawberries, I tried to replicate that with my one little strawberry plant, but with failed results.  I had selected a variety of strawberries with very small fruit, and they were getting mushy on the ground before they ripened.

I was discouraged and almost gave up.  Seeing how much my husband buys strawberries at the store, I was determined to keep trying.  I took the same little strawberry plant up out of the ground and put it with some potting soil in a little container.  Right away, it started to perk up.  I did this transplanting in the middle of the winter, so I didn’t see any immediate results right away.  I had it inside my greenhouse in the winter, and I kept tripping on the container.  I put it on one of the little metal chair style plant stands that I had lying around (just so I would stop tripping on it), and within a few days I started seeing tons of strawberry flowers coming.  I suddenly understood why people often recommend planting strawberries in hanging containers.  Getting the container up off the ground really allowed the drainage they were hoping for.

I don’t like the idea of putting strawberries in hanging containers for a few reasons.  First, the most likely place I would hang them would be from our pergola, which is covered with shade fabric.  Not an ideal place for growing non-shade plants.  Second, I am very short.  I hate having plants hanging up high out of my reach. 🙂  Third, this is just a theory, but I have a feeling that putting them up high would just make them more enticing to the local birds!

For me, this accidental combination of the tiny strawberries in the container on the plant stand has been working amazingly well.  They are up off the ground, getting drainage the need, and still within reach for me.

I saw a larger variety of strawberry plant recently and we were dying to try those out now that I had finally gotten success with my other varieties.  For these strawberries, I decided to try them using the mound method I had seen my grandmother use.  These plants are bigger, and it didn’t look like they would hang on the ground as much as the smaller varieties.

I started with my usual method of prepping the soil, but digging up everything in the area to loosen any compaction, and putting the loosened soil back in with the addition of some compost.  I will do another post soon with pictures on how I do my soil prep.

Then I went on with my method of new plant welcome kit, explained here.  This time however, instead of starting the welcome kit at the bottom of a hole, I started with flat soil.  Then I made little mounds of soil above that, where I started planting the new strawberry plants.  I topped them off with fertilizer, compost and mulch.  The two new strawberry plants have been doing really well!  The little mounds of dirt allow the strawberries to gracefully hang down off the plant until they are ripe and ready for picking.  I am so happy that I have finally gotten the hang of growing strawberries. 🙂

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Panna Cotta Strawberry Tartlets

One of my favorite easy desserts to make is panna cotta.  My grandmother taught me how to make it, and it is the easiest dessert ever.  I had a bunch of fresh strawberries from my garden, and wanted to make an extra special dessert with them.

When some people cook or bake, they like the regime of following a recipe or baking from a mix.  To me, that just is not any fun.  Part of the fun of cooking and baking for me is experimenting with my own recipes and seeing how my experiments come out.  I wanted to make a unique little strawberry pie, but not in the traditional sense.  I searched through recipes, and did not find anything that stood out to me.  I decided to try making a combination of a mini pie and panna cotta.  It is definitely our new favorite dessert!

For the pie crust, I started by referencing Martha Stewart’s recipe here.  This was my first pie crust I’ve ever made, so I figured I should get an idea of where to start.  I had a few ideas for modifications though that I added myself, and the result will now be my secret pie crust recipe. 🙂

I stumbled upon this video showing how to make fresh homemade butter.  I know fresh butter isn’t necessary for baking, but I am convinced that it made the extra bit of difference to make this crust extra amazing.  I was so excited with the results that I just had to order her book, and absolutely love it.

For the panna cotta, I had to find a recipe online since my cookbooks are not unpacked yet (with my grandmother’s recipe in them).  Panna cotta is so simple though, pretty much any recipe you use will taste amazing.  The secret is using the best quality vanilla extract you can find.

I finished it all off with freshly sliced strawberries from our garden!

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