Have you ever been to a pick-your-own berry farm? I never had during my 50+ years of life. Maybe five years ago, I bought a strawberry tower pot. It was a dismal flop – no berries! This year I decided to leave the growing to the experts, but still get the experience of fresh fruit.
This past week, my husband and I headed off to a local you-pick farm. As we were checking in, I could hear people around us who sounded like they do this every year. I felt like a child in a new school. Thankfully we weren’t given a lot of rules. Basically we were advised not to pick immature berries and to be careful not to crush the small plants.
The farm was very organized. Initially seeing the number of cars in the parking lot, I thought there might be a mob mentality – everyone lunging for the best berries. I was pleasantly surprised to find that each person was assigned to a specific part of a row in the expansive fields. Although our section seemed short, the berries were plentiful and it didn’t take long to fill up one of the containers we’d brought from home. Before a half hour was up, we’d picked about six pounds of delicious ruby-red fruit.
I found strawberry picking so enjoyable that there is a good chance I’ll go back next year. If I do, I will note the following: 1) Wear a hat and sunscreen. The weather while we were picking was lovely and we didn’t take long to fill up our containers, but I’m sure some days could be very hot and the berries wouldn’t be the only thing red by the time we were finished. 2) Bring a kneeling pad. Again, the short time we picked saved our knees, but it doesn’t take long for my aging knees to complain. 3) Choose containers wisely. The ones we brought from home were selected because they had lids. However, it was hard to stop picking when the containers were full. Ohh, this berry looks SO good, I’ll just add it to the top. Only with careful rearranging could we get the lids on two of the three containers. In examining the berry boxes they sold at the farm, I noticed they were large, shallow, and topless.
Due to my article last week, the thought that weighed on my mind the most was that I had to have a plan so the berries we picked didn’t go bad before we ate them. As soon as we arrived home with our precious cargo, I separated them into two groups: those we’d eat in the next couple of days as a side dish and those I’d make into a strawberry treat. I ended up making a strawberry cream pie (see recipe at http://www.iheartnaptime.net/strawberry-pie/). I also made freezer jam for the first time. I used the recipe at http://thepioneerwoman.com/food-and-friends/how-to-make-no-cook-freezer-jam/.
What is your favorite way to use strawberries? Here are a couple pictures of the fruits of my labor:
An Update on My Wasteful Reformation
In my Breeding Worms post (http://wp.me/p7RX1h-kg), I confessed to having too many things that I buy and then never use. Of course, I can talk all I want about doing better, but the real truth comes out when we see how I implement what I say into what I do. I thought that a little accountability might be a good thing. To this purpose, I am hoping to make a monthly section that will be an update on my progress. In these updates I will go over how I’ve specifically tackled the steps I outlined in the initial post.
I’m jump-starting this idea by making an update today.
This past week I went through all the food on my storage shelves and in the pantry. I used a black sharpie and labeled each item with the expiration date and shifted things around so that the oldest would be taken first. I found a helpful group of record sheets (master freezer cooking planner pack) at moneysavingmom.com/downloads/freezer-cooking-planners. Obviously, they are meant for freezer cooking, but I found that I could use the ingredient planner sheet to list the items I have on hand that are near expiration date. The middle column has space to list recipe ideas, so I can brainstorm how to use these foods in existing or new recipes. Although I did have to throw out a number of things that were too far past their due date, I was able to already make wise choices for use by just knowing what I had. Take for example, the pie pictured above. The recipe called for a traditional crust, but my husband doesn’t care as much about the crust as he does the topping. I had some graham cracker crumbs that needed to be used, so that’s just what I did. In the end, I felt better about using an ingredient that I may have had to throw out and I also kept from spending as much at the grocery store by buying a store-made crust. Win-Win!
In about a month I’ll send out another progress report. Root me along on my mission to be a wiser consumer. And, if you care to join me and create a plan to make better use of what you have, I’d love to know. The ideas each of us have can generate new insight for the rest and may motivate us to see our possessions with new eyes.
Thanks for following along!