Strawberry Fields, Fraisier, More and Renoir

Making Strawberry Jam

The really pretty strawberries are starting to come in at the grocery now; we’ve already gotten a couple of containers. It’s not quite warm enough here for our strawberry picking or for the local ones to be at farmer’s markets — that’s more like mid-April, I think, here in central Alabama.

Strawberry Picking at Jerry Marsh Farm, Cleveland AL

We like to go picking fruit. We do muscadine and scuppernong almost every year, plus I have a friend with some nice vines so that makes it even easier. The last couple of years we’ve done blueberries, and we should do more apple picking, really. Pick Your Own is a great site to see what’s available in your area. The first container of strawberries this year were just for snacking on, and the ones that managed to get a little over-ripe went to the chickens, who looooved them. I really meant, though, to try to make a pie something like Strawn’s Eat Shop in Shreveport, which is the #1 place in the entire universe for strawberry pies.


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From a couple of our visits:

Strawn's Eat Shop, Shreveport LA

Strawn's Eat Shop, Shreveport LA


Strawn's Eat Shop, Shreveport LA

Strawn's Eat Shop, Shreveport LA

even the produce truck we saw pull up there one day was gorgeous

Santa Maria Produce, Shreveport LA

Okay, well now I’m in the mood for all things strawberry, and the idea that we’ll hopefully be out in the strawberry fields with baskets next month makes me really happy.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Porky’s Pride in Fultondale used to do a strawberry ‘nana puddin

Strawberry Pudding, Porky's Pride BBQ, Fultondale AL

Below, the strawberry butter at a church-run, now-shuttered, restaurant called Kairo’s Kafe in Birmingham, which was in the old Ollie’s Barbecue building. Once Ollie’s family took over and moved the business to Hoover, it floundered and closed (then the Daphne one too), so now maybe the only Ollie’s thing left is their bbq sauce in grocery stores.

The Ollie’s waitresses could remember gigantic orders without writing them down. There were tracts by the register. The pies were amazing and I have a recipe for their chocolate pie which is one of my FIL’s fave things I make. (I’ll post it here soon). And if you’re in the mood to read about a barbecue/civil rights lawsuit, here you go. The round building that housed the business is a B’ham landmark, and people still talk about missing the old Ollie’s.

Kairo's Cafe, Birmingham AL

Here, the srawberry cobbler at the now-shuttered Helen’s Place in Clanton, Alabama — an area famous for their peaches. This dish made USA Today’s list for best desserts in the south back in 2008, which put this sweet little house-turned-restaurant on a small town sidestreet right alongside Cochon and Commander’s Palace.

USA Today's Pick for Best Dessert: Strawberry Cobbler at Helen's Place, Clanton AL

At the Amish community outside Pontotoc, Mississippi

Amish Community Outside Pontotoc MS

homemade strawberry jam

Making Strawberry Jam

Nectar, Alabama

Fruit Stand, Nectar AL

I was incredibly proud of this fraisier I made


…and strawberry shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

In Hartselle, Alabama

Strawberries, Tomatoes, Veggies arrow sign, Hartselle AL

IYKYK (I’ve never had a bite of theirs, but one of my best friends says there’s none better and doesn’t care what anybody has to say about Shoney’s. That’s good enough for me. When we find a Shoney’s in the wild — it’s not so easy — we like to run in and buy a whole pie to take home to his momma and daddy, who often reminisce about sharing a slice back when they were teenagers and dating)

Shoney's Strawberry Pie

strawberry sorbet at The Grill Room at the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans

Sorbet, The Grill Room, Windsor Court Hotel, New Orleans

fried pie flavors at the Peach Pit in Clanton

Peach Pit, Clanton AL

strawberry-chocolate muffins I made last week, vaguely based on the recipe in the NYT for Ritz-Carlton blueberry muffins

Strawberry & Chocolate Muffins

Let’s end with a Renoir that was on view at Crystal Bridges at a visit in 2014

Pierre-August Renoir: Strawberries

Pierre-August Renoir: Strawberries

Steve Cole Show at Bare Hands 2010

Steve Cole show 'Literal' at Bare Hands Gallery, Birmingham AL 2010

I was reminded of the Steve Cole show, ‘Literal’, at Bare Hands Gallery in Birmingham back in March 2010. I reached out to Steve last week to see what he’s up to now — his last show was last year during the pandemic, and he says while he’s reting from teachering, he plans to continue to make art and exhibit.

There was a handout with two pieces of research that were displayed prominently at the gallery, one regarding Armageddon, and the other about Alabamians specifically: 75% of Alabamians believe the Bible is literally true. (Rasmussen poll, August 2006)

Steve Cole show 'Literal' at Bare Hands Gallery, Birmingham AL 2010

This first piece is called “Adam and Eve’s Marriage Certificate”, and I haven’t had Av translate this from the original yet, but the handout has the translation as “Holy matrimony was celebrated between Adam and Eve on this day Six by authority of G-d.”
It’s signed there Sat(an), witness and (cherub), witness and then the line at the bottom is “What I have joined together, let no angel put asunder.”

‘Supernatural Disasters of 2007’:

Steve Cole show 'Literal' at Bare Hands Gallery, Birmingham AL 2010

Trying to Escape the Flames of Hell’:

Steve Cole show 'Literal' at Bare Hands Gallery, Birmingham AL 2010

This piece is called ‘Good Church / Bad Church’ in the handout but I think it is really the true church and false church. There’s also the symbolism of what each church’s foundation is resting on:

Steve Cole show 'Literal' at Bare Hands Gallery, Birmingham AL 2010

There’s one print that the artist made based on an inflammatory letter he received from the daughter of the “preacher” of Westboro Baptist Church (you know, the people with the dayglo posters with hateful slogans).

Sidenote: I was once at the synagogue in Jackson for services when they showed up. The police had the protesters a certain number of feet from the building so honestly if you didn’t know they were there you probably would have missed it entirely. I’m not sure what they were upset about, but they had the same signs you see on television, nothing customized for ‘us’.
When those same people showed up to protest at the Twitter offices in California in January that year, they were met with people holding these signs.

Steve Cole show 'Literal' at Bare Hands Gallery, Birmingham AL 2010

There are a number of archival inkjet prints as well, and they are available unframed in limited editions of 100:

Steve Cole show 'Literal' at Bare Hands Gallery, Birmingham AL 2010

Steve Cole show 'Literal' at Bare Hands Gallery, Birmingham AL 2010

Steve Cole show 'Literal' at Bare Hands Gallery, Birmingham AL 2010

From a review of one of his previous shows, ‘Believe’, it was written:

For those who believe that religious art has been pretty much turned over to hack illustrators and sincere drudges, this show serves as a shocking expose of how art can delve into the mean-spirited ignorance that can sway the ignorant and frightened. Cole does not preach. He does not ask the spectator to commit as much as he offers the opportunity to examine and think.


At the end of this past November, the NYT ran a piece called Horse Troughs, Hot Tubs and Hashtags: Baptism Is Getting Wild: In some evangelical churches, a once-staid ritual is returning to its informal roots — and things sometimes get “a little rowdy” along the way.

I know next to nothing about baptismals (I’m Jewish, sooo…) but love finding ones churches use that are outdoors. This one is at the Fields of Wood Bible Park in Murphy NC:

Fields of the Wood Bible Park, Murphy NC

Fields of Wood is probably best known for Fields of the Wood Bible Park, Murphy NCthe biggest one of these most of us will ever see.

Union Springs Missionary Baptist in Talladega AL:

Outdoor Baptismal, Union Springs Missionary Baptist, Talladega AL

Outdoor Baptismal, Union Springs Missionary Baptist, Talladega AL

Oak Grove Baptist Church in Gallion AL:

Outdoor Baptismal at Oak Grove Baptist Church, Gallion AL

Outdoor Baptismal at Oak Grove Baptist Church, Gallion AL

First Mt Pleasant Baptist in Jefferson AL:

Outdoor Baptismal, First Mt Pleasant Baptist Church, Jefferson AL

Mt Zion Missionary Baptist in Apalachicola FL:

Outdoor Baptismal, Mt Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Apalachicola FL

Clementine Hunter’s depiction of a very traditional ceremony, Panorama of Baptism at Cane River, 1945

Clementine Hunter, Panorama of Baptism at Cane River

Clementine Hunter, Panorama of Baptism at Cane River

from the NYT piece:

In South Florida, members of Family Church gather on the beach for afternoon baptisms in the ocean, bracing themselves against the waves and keeping an eye out for sharks. At Walk Church in Las Vegas, leaders set up a folding tub in the courtyard of the middle school that they use for Sunday services. In Mansfield, Texas, Creekwood Church rents out the Hawaiian Falls Waterpark, where twisting slides tower over the ceremony.

“I would have probably thought a decade ago that not having a traditional baptistery would feel disconnected from my tradition,” Mr. Moore reflected a few days after his son’s ceremony, which took place at Immanuel Nashville, where he serves as minister in residence. “But I’ve found it to be the opposite.”