Yesterday was the first day of Summer, and it came in HOT. I knew we needed to get out of the house to keep our sanity. And, what I mean by that is, I needed to break up the day in an attempt to minimize the fighting between siblings so I could retain the last shred of MY sanity. So, despite the heat, a few of my kids and I ventured off to a local strawberry farm to pick some berries.
I love Walvoord Farm Berries located on Plank Road in Kansasville. We go strawberry picking every year and have tried a few different berry farms, and Walvoord is my favorite. While it can get busy, I’ve never found it as crazy-crowded as some of the other farms. As long as we go at the peak of the season (now), we always end up with lots of delicious berries. Note: strawberry season is short, so if you want to pick your own fresh berries, you need to get out there soon!
We picked berries for probably a good hour, when the older kids ditched me to go back to the air conditioned mini-van, abandoning their boxes of berries in their row. The littlest one was more interested in eating than picking, but as long as I could keep him in the game long enough to fill up a couple of boxes, that worked for me! Every few minutes he would yell, “Mom, look at this one! It’s a PERFECT strawberry,” and pop it in his mouth.
Freshly picked strawberries need to be eaten soon after being picked, as they tend to get mushy faster than the store-bought berries. My girl and I turned quickly flipped my kitchen into a strawberry manufacturing plant and got to work.
Our first mission: strawberry jam. Freezer jam would have been easier, but I wanted to make cooked jam and try the water bath canning method. I followed these guidelines when it came to the “water bath” portion of sealing the jars of my jam. http://www.amodernhomestead.com/homestead-skills-water-bath-canning/
Honestly, this canning stuff is a lot of freakin’ work. It’s not difficult, but it’s very time-consuming. Granted, I was making a quite a large quantity, but next time I will just stick to freezer jam. We ended up with 24 jars, 3 of which did not “seal”, which basically just means we need to keep them in the fridge or freeze them. No big whoop. (No big whoop, Kaia? Wow, haven’t said that phrase since, like, 6th grade.)
I also always like to make a batch of strawberry-infused vodka with some of the berries we pick every year. I’ve made this several times. Basically, all you do is fill larger jars with cleaned strawberries (no need to half them, just throw in the whole berries). Fill with vodka (I get the step up from the cheapest because who really even cares). Screw on the lid and shake the jar. Put in a cool, dark place for a few weeks. Strain, discard the berries, and put in pretty jars. Create pretty labels to put on the bottles, and Voila! I think it makes a cute hostess gift or housewarming gift or birthday gift, or really any kind of gift. Strawberry Vodka and Lemonade with a splash of sprite would be a perfect Summertime bev.
We had this salad last night too. I bought a couple bags of lettuce, and tossed it with: spinach, sliced strawberries, walnuts, Gorgonzola cheese, and strawberry balsamic dressing. I added grilled chicken breast. The little kids weren’t so sure about the cheese (I personally loved Gorgonzola), but otherwise, it was a big hit. Next Up: Dessert, which was strawberry shortcake. Obvi.
My daughter made a couple of boxes of angel food cake for the shortcake. There’s a reason it’s called “angel food” because, I swear, it’s straight outta’ heaven. By the way, angel food cake would definitely be on my list of foods if I had to pick a last meal…. along with a deluxe pizza, powdered-sugar donuts with chocolate cream on the inside, and Tastefully Simple Bountiful Beer Bread with spinach dip. I’d wash it all down with a Faygo Diet Grape Soda. Carbs make me so happy.
After a long strawberry filled day (the loooongest day of the year, in fact), we topped it off with a big bright strawberry moon. I did a little research on the strawberry moon, and this is what I found: The full moon in June is called a strawberry moon. It was named “strawberry moon” by the Algonquin tribes, as it alerted them that it was time to gather the berries. (Apparently, it subconsciously alerted me to.) Last night’s strawberry moon was especially rare because it happened on Summer Solstice. That hasn’t happened in decades, and won’t happen again until June 21st, 2062. If you happened to look up at the sky last night, you may have just experienced a once in a lifetime occurance.
It feels good to have soaked in every minute of the first day of the season. Everyone slept well last night.
Get outside and pick your berries before it’s too late! Carpe Diem. Carpe Summer.