Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Strawberry Picking

I'm no stranger to tromping around in a strawberry patch. I have so many sweet memories of time spent with my grandma in her great big berry patch out on her farm. I'd walk right beside her, up & down each row, spying out the little green sprouts popping up out of carefully tilled dirt. I remember the tiny white blossoms, indicating that fruit would soon be on its way. And once those berries grew forth, I'd watch intently as Grandma would graze her hands over the plants, pulling back hearty leaves & pointing out which berries were ready to be plucked up from their stems & which ones still needed a bit more ripening. I learned at a young age that a green strawberry will leave quite the bitter taste on your tongue, no matter the amount of spitting & sputtering you do. And I learned also, that there isn't much that can compare to the sweet taste of a perfectly ripened, ruby red, juicy, homegrown strawberry. 

I'm not sure if it's just simply because strawberry picking makes for a fun family morning outing, or because it's part of my own family heritage & the memories that are etched into my very makeup,  {I'd like to think it's more of the latter}, but a desire deep down inside of me yearned for my own children to have the experience & tradition of being surrounded by a big patch of strawberries, on the hunt for just the right ones. 

Lucky for us, we just so happen to have a local orchard that isn't too far of a drive, & I was able to fulfill that desire of mine. 

The crowds were quite large & the mud was aplenty due to the night before's rainfall, but we didn't let that stand in our way. We took a row of our own & had a grand time ol' time  picking & plucking our very own bunch of berries up out of that patch.

Even my hubby, who turns his nose up at almost every fruit & vegetable there is, got in on the fun. He actually ate a few of the berries & admitted they were indeed, delicious. I'll never forget the first time I brought him home to one of my family's big holiday get togethers. We were all gathered around the table & Jared whispered to me, "Holly, I think something's wrong with this corn. It tastes different."  I laughed & said, "That's because it's real. It came from my grandma's garden & she canned it herself."  He has since acquired a taste for the homegrown stuff & has learned that homegrown anything just can't be beat. City boy. ;) 

Jett was on a mission & it made Jared & I laugh at his all business approach to strawberry picking. This kid was into it. 

Lulla, on the other hand, picked one berry---that's right--just one--& called it a day. She was more interested in swinging & flailing the blue flag the farmer had given us to mark the spot where we would finish our berry picking.

Cute story: I dressed Lulla in this little strawberry romper, because I'm just cheesy like that & on the car ride to the patch, she exclaimed, "Oh! Saw-bewwies on my dwess too!"

We ended up with a nice bounty of berries--four pounds, if I'm not mistaken. It was quite a lot for our family so I ended up freezing quite a bit.  

Enjoying a strawberry flavored honey stick. Yum.

While this girl had little interest in picking the strawberries, she sure made no qualms about chowing them down in a hurry. She is my strawberry lovin' girl, for sure.

I still need to get the recipe from my grandma for her special strawberry sauce. That stuff was the best. It was sugary & syrupy & as sweet as could be & we used to put it on everything-- shortcake, ice cream, even just bowl fulls of it by itself. In the summertime, she always had it on hand. My brother & I, having the convenience of living right next door, used to sneak into her back porch where her deep freezer was & snag tupperware containers full of her famous strawberry sauce. We'd sit with spoons & scrape & dig into the frozen goodness. No popsicle could compare on a hot summer day. I wonder to this day if she ever noticed those missing containers from her freezer. Rotten kids, we were.

Even this last time we went to visit Grandma, she served Jett some vanilla ice cream with--you guessed it-- a side of that strawberry sauce.

But since I didn't have Grandma's recipe on hand & before Lulla gobbled up every bit of the fruits of our labor, I found a recipe & the kids & I whipped up some homemade strawberry popsicles.

Talk about delicious.

She wants to "cheers" to everything--even popsicles.

This was our first year of strawberry picking & I am sure that we have started a tradition that will last for many years to come.

If you have the opportunity, I urge you get out there & find a strawberry patch near you. You may be able to squeak in on the tail end of the season if you hurry!


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