Friday, June 26, 2015

simple food - a whole new appreciation

rainier cherries!
Something funny happens when you start harvesting your food yourself. At least it has for me. I have a whole new appreciation for my food! While I may not be doing all the work necessary to grow my own food - at least not what I've harvested so far this season - I am putting in the time and labor necessary to collect it from the fields and orchards and that effort has positively changed the way I look at my food.

When things come easy to us, we tend to take them for granted. We appreciate what we have to work hard for! 

Sure, it's easier (and quicker) to drive to the local grocery and pick up strawberries, chilled and neatly nestled in cute little plastic baskets, all ready to be taken home without breaking a sweat. But getting up early and spending hours harvesting those berries in the heat, doing that shuffling crouch as you work your way down the long, low rows of plants looking for the ripest berries? That makes the berries so much more precious! I find myself savoring these berries in a way I never did the storebought ones. I will never look at strawberries in the store in quite the same way...

Getting close to filling my second box of berries Wednesday morning, my back was telling me I had enough for the day. LOL We have a crazy heat wave coming through so this might be it for strawberries for me. Rhubarb too probably. As I dehydrate and freeze berries, I'm realizing very quickly, I don't have nearly as many strawberries as I'd like. I'll definitely be planning my strawberry consumption very, very carefully!

This week's haul. =)
This summer is sort of an experiment for me. I'm learning to get up earlier and arrive at the farms as close to opening as possible to get my share! This week I hit the strawberry farm at 7:15am and the lot was already pretty full! I'm also figuring out just how much I need of each food to last me until next summer. I greatly underestimated this one! Okay, honestly? I knew I didn't have enough but guys, have you ever picked strawberries? It's work! I can only do so much at a time. I don't know how the pros do it all day... and especially for so little pay. 

I've set aside 2 pounds each of strawberries and rhubarb to make fruit leather this afternoon and have dehydrated the rest of both. There will be cobbler to be had in the middle of winter!

Some neighbors I'd rather not meet again!
After the fruit leather, I'll be drying a batch of cherries. From my bit of research (I looked it up but also tossed some pitted, halved cherries on a half full tray of strawberries just to see), cherries take a loooong time to dehydrate so those are going in last. I'm certainly getting my money's worth from that secondhand dehydrator! This time around, I only picked Rainier cherries, but I plan to get a few varieties before cherry season ends. I do live in Washington... didn't I have to start with Rainiers? ;-) They did originate here after all! More of these are getting eaten fresh though. Rainiers are my favorites and after trying them dried, I much prefer fresh. I'll likely dehydrate a bunch of Bings and Vans and possibly can some Pie cherries too. There are quite a few varieties available locally. I plan to try them all!

While at the farms, I also picked up a couple of jars of local raw honey. More on that later. =)

On a completely different note... I met some new neighbors. Not neighbors I want to hang around with! Tuesday evening, the boys and I met this little gang of stinkers near the end of the alley behind my house as we were coming home from our evening walk. Thankfully, we had good timing and enough distance to avoid any threat. Shocking though! I've never seen more than one or two skunks together before! This was the whole darn family out for a stroll. The next evening, the boys and I headed out again and guess what?! We met this stinking herd again!! Thankfully, we had stopped in the park to watch a deer so again, we lucked out and had perfect timing, though this encounter was a bit too close for comfort for me! They were at the top of the hill crossing the narrow path we take from the park back to my neighborhood. Had we been a couple minutes earlier... *shudder* Let's just say, the boys and I have changed our evening route. I have no interest in pressing my luck a 3rd time!

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