Monday, May 9, 2011

Picking, Freezing, and Preserving Goodness

Strawberry Fields Forever

This past weekend was the opening of the season for you-pick strawberries at Scott’s Strawberry Farm. My son and I beat the Saturday crowds and picked in the coolness of Friday evening. Sampling the irresistibly sweet goods as we went along, we managed to bring home about a five-gallon bucket full of strawberries. The smell of fresh strawberries wafted through my house and smiles abounded.

In attempt to eat more local, I am going to put some effort into taking advantage of produce when it is in season this summer. Instead of driving and buying frozen organic berries from the grocery store in mid-winter to make my yummy smoothies, I will skip downstairs to my chest freezer and pop open a bag of frozen strawberries.

I also made my first attempt at making strawberry preserves. The air was humid and sticky sweet in my kitchen last night as the sugar, water and strawberries simmered and I patiently waited for that magical moment that the syrup thickened. The mixture is setting for 24 hours before it is scooped into delightful little jelly jars and simmered in their warm water bath for longer term storage.

The humidity of last night had lifted and night air had done its natural thing and cooled my house overnight. The preserves had set up well while I slept and breakfast was a welcome treat – cereal topped with fresh strawberries shared with my little dude.

Straw Strawberries

The grass is long and my seasonal allergies (grasses) came back in their tried and true way on Saturday. I usually do not mind cutting the grass, but today I know it will involve much sneezing and eye-watering and an immediate shower afterwards. This is where I share my final employ of the strawberries – ice cream! I made two quarts of mouth-coating, calorie-laden, Ben & Jerry’s strawberry ice cream. It is my reward and incentive for cutting the grass today. Off to do some mowing!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

No Paper Towels

In moving to my "new to me" house last year, I was happy to return to one of my habits of yesteryear. I ditched paper towels and went back to cloth napkins and cloth rags.
Cloth napkins are so easy to do and make for a colorful, if not seasonal, addition to dining. I started collecting cloth napkins many years ago, often catching them on sale or receiving them as a gift. My three-year old son knows to put his cloth napkin in his lap as we start to eat a meal. It does my heart good to see him fumble with a paper napkin, scowl at its comparable roughness, and use a cloth napkin properly. Hint: if you're managing cloth napkins with young children, patterned cloth napkins are much better at hiding the inevitable marinara sauce or blueberry smear.
As for the cloth rags, they can come in any size that you find, save or cut them - old bath towels, old dish towels, old wash clothes, old socks, stained cloth napkins, old and stained whatever. With two dogs and a little dude running around, my cloth rags get deployed frequently.