Friday Recipes, Farmers Market Edition: Strawberry Pancakes

June 05, 2009 | Written By:


This week we have a guest blog from HSC friend Melissa Graham of Purple Asparagus and Monogramme Events & Catering.

I can pinpoint the precise moment that I became a locavore and it was far before the word entered the American lexicon. As a child growing up on Long Island with a middle-of-June birthday, strawberries were always part of our family celebration.  I have memories of these big juicy, ruby red to core strawberries, grown locally, sometimes even picked by my own little fingers at U-Pick farms. When I went on to college and then law school, I didn’t have much time for farmers’ markets, if I could even find one. And my memory of these little gems grew faint, tainted by the industrial California version bred for shipping not flavor.

Then early in June back in 2001, I discovered the Green City Market. Mounds of pristine, multi-shaped strawberries graced many a table.  Like Proust’s madeleine, one taste transported me to those birthdays of my childhood and my life, or at least my diet, was forever changed.

Eating from the farmers’ markets is the best way to get children in rhythm with the seasons and to create a meaningful connection between them and their food.  It was a proud day for me when I learned that my 4-year old son’s response to his grandmother suggesting that they buy strawberries in February: “We can't buy them, they're not in season!”  My little locavore!

Simple visits to the farmers’ market can make this connection, but frequenting markets with children’s programs make the trip one that any child will happily anticipate.  Under the leadership of volunteer extraordinaire, Sara Gasbarra, Green City Market’s Club Sprouts program introduces children to ingredients both sweet and savory. Gasbarra, who works for Jeanne Pinsof Nolan, the Organic Gardener, has expanded the program to include some terrific growing projects. In this program, families can also learn how to cook simple, kid-friendly dishes with market products.  My Sprouts demo is on July 15; check the Green City Market’s website for the full schedule. 

For a more peripatetic program, Purple Asparagus began its Roadshow last weekend at the Oak Park Farmers Market.  We travel far and wide to Chicagoland farmers markets from Geneva to Woodlawn teaching children and families how to cook with the bounty of the markets.  Our next stop will be at the 61st Street Market at 11:00am on July 11.  For our schedule, visit

The best use of local, market strawberries is to eat them straight from the berry basket.  If you happen to have some remaining, the following is a great recipe to make with your kids:

Strawberry Pancakes
Serves 4

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1/3 cup diced strawberries
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda and powder and salt.  Whisk the eggs into the buttermilk and pour over the dry ingredients.  Stir until the liquid is absorbed by the dry ingredients.  Add the strawberries and orange zest mixing just until incorporated.  On a hot griddle, melt the butter and drop the batter by 2 tablespoon measures.  When browned, flip and brown the other side.  Serve with maple syrup or confectioner's sugar.


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