strawberry picking.

I recently got a much needed break — Dhara and I went strawberry picking along with a new friend from church, Juanita, and her kids, Owen and Julia.  Yes, it’s fruit picking season, and I’ve really been looking forward to desserts made with freshly picked fruit.  So yum.  After picking to our hearts content, we headed back home to make jam!  We made 4 kinds — plain ol’ strawberry, strawberry orange, strawberry pear, and spicy strawberry.

strawberry brain freeze

blueberry fields.

blueberry summer

She was super busy picking and eating the unripe green blueberries.  This is the very reason I love blogging — because it documents our life as it unfolds.  The day to day outings, milestones, experiences and hopes.  My trusty camera is usually always by my side — it’s been through alot.  With all the beatings it’s gotten over the past years, it’s stayed true to my love of watching and documenting my daughter taste life one blueberry, or strawberry, or tart cherry at a time.

This afternoon I took Dhara and Hannah [my little cousin] to a blueberry field so we could pick enough berries for a quaint little celebration I’m hosting this Sunday. We went picking this same time last year with Zuma.  I just adore Dhara’s little blueberry top she’s wearing in these photos — she wore it as a dress last summer when she was a wee one.  [I actually purchased it a year before I got pregnant, something I would do here and there.] Wish I had one like it.

[gifty, she’s wearing a camp lighthouse for the blind t-shirt]

until next year

spicy strawberry jam.

Dhara and I recently went strawberry picking — most of these divine berries went into our mouths or a fruit juice or a strawberry jam.  The last time I made strawberry jam was in college, so I thought it was about time for another batch! When searching for recipes, I knew I didn’t want to use loads of sugar or even pectin like most recipes call for.  I wanted something simple, with whole real ingredients, but at the same time with the least amount of ingredients, so that the full taste of the berries would be experienced.  I ended up choosing a recipe for Spicy Strawberry Jam from the Healthy Green Kitchen blog.

I would prefer to call it a strawberry preserve, because that’s just what comes to mind when I taste this jam.  I love how the berries are kept whole, and not halved or quartered. Makes for a lovely presentation.  After a while of simmering, the berries become a deep, dark, rich color and are speckled with chili seeds. It’s a beautiful jam, really it is.  And it tastes even better.  Sweet, with just the right amount of heat, or in my case heat — I ended up adding more chiles than what the recipe asked for.  Sooo very yummy on homemade bread.  This one’s a keeper.

fresh strawberries, right off the vine

organic sugar cane

dried new mexico hot chilies



topped with a sprig of mint, here’s a taste test for the hubs

even baby liked it!

strawberry season.

It’s strawberry season — so my little strawberry and I hopped in our car and rode out to a nearby farm to partake in some good old fashioned strawberry picking!  I just love when picking season roles around — blueberries, peaches, rhubarb, spinach, beets, kale, and the list goes on!  I must say, so many excellent fruits and vegetables for juicing — my newfound hobby!  And I love that my daughter can be a part of it all.  The whole process of picking together, tasting together, and finally cooking together is such a wonderful feeling — there’s not quite anything like it — this time of being together and enjoying the simple things in life.  Trust me, strawberries are very simple things.  : )

I’ve dreamed of living this life as a child — thinking ahead of all the wonderful things I’d like to do with my children — and now I feel in awe of it as my dreams unfold.  Especially when I see my daughter popping strawberry after strawberry into her mouth as she picks leaves.  After a pleasant afternoon of picking, we headed to the farm’s market store for some freshly picked kale, romaine lettuces and pumpkin seeds.  As some of you know, I’m on a juice fast, and the greens were too hard not to pass up.  You don’t see greens like this in the grocery store! They were amazing — so full and green and beautiful.  We also picked up some cans for canning.  Today I will be cooking up some spicy strawberry jam and strawberry muffins.  Maybe even some little shortcakes if I have berries left over.

my little strawberry picker 

halfway through our picking

the fields were chockfull of delicious red strawberries

these little guys were the sweetest strawberries — so good

too sweet that we often had a taste — and I mean often

sneaking more bites

strawberry stained faces

we came home with pounds of strawberries!

to the farm.

We recently paid a visit to our local farm to pick up seedlings for our garden.  I love the fact that these little guys grew in soil local to our garden — making it easier for my plants to thrive + grow.  With so many choices the farm had to offer, we finally came home with spinach, red peppers, green peppers, all sorts of hot peppers, eggplant, white eggplant, tomatoes, tomatillos, squash, cucumber, zucchini, rhubarb, cilantro, parsley, mint, lavender, basil, and some strawberry plants.  Talk about new territory for me — I am on a mission.  I would love to make some fresh strawberry and raspberry jams and do some canning this year.  The last time I made strawberry jam was like 10 years ago — I really need to revisit this tasty task.

Although I won’t be using my own strawberries this year because I recently learned from Silka that after strawberries plants are planted, you should pluck all the sweet little flowers off before they turn into fruit so that the next year you have an abundance of strawberries.  So, I’ve been snapping off each one of those little white flowers and handing them to Dhara, while believing in faith that next year I will have more strawberries than I know what to do with!  This year I will have to go strawberry picking at Larriland with the Dhara-girl.  Let’s see how my grand plans pan out!

so many choices!

my beloved strawberry plants

leafy greens

loving the fan

loving the wide open spaces to frolic + play

until next time…

pumpkin patch.

It’s the season of pumpkins, apple cider, apple fritters and such, so we thought a trip to a local pumpkin patch was necessary to complete Dhara’s first fall experience.  It just so happened to be a day when there were tons of people at the farm.  (You might not be able to tell by the photos, but there were probably over a thousand there).  We walked around the pumpkin patch looking for pumpkins for each of us — a big one, medium one, and itty bitty one.  The itty bitty ones were the hardest to find because they were harvested first and taken up to the big red barn to sell.

It really was a glorious fall day in our parts.  Warm enough to not wear a jacket, but cool and breezy enough to feel like fall.  The babers was mesmerized by the splotches of orange that colored the vast green fields.

After we each found our pumpkin, we went to the big red barn to take part in all the fall festivities going on at the farm.  Freshly made kettle corn, straw maze, hayride, and good old fashioned food.

We got a huge smoked turkey leg and two glasses of cold apple cider, found a quiet spot under a tree and had a little picnic.

mama and baby

i’m the boss around here, got that?

papa and baby

greg talking to baby about the farm chickens, goats, and cats

apple picking — next on our agenda!

enjoying a lovely picnic of smoked turkey and cold apple cider

greg taking a bite out of a huge leg of smoked turkey

white eggplant

back home — dhara ecstatic over her little family of pumpkins

it’s really the simple things, ya know?

peach picking.

Tis the season of peaches, and peach picking we went!  With my baby and sis in tow, we went down to the peach orchard to pick suncrest peaches for a cobbler I had in mind.  We invited my wedding photographer and friend, Chelsea — who recently moved to the area — and her two adorable daughters to join in the fun and beauty of peach picking.

There’s something so beautiful about just being in an orchard — gives you a small, small taste of what Eden could have been like.  The nice thing about this orchard is that you can pick and eat as you go.  The suncrest peaches were mouth wateringly juicy and so ready to eat.  Even Dhara got her fair share of peaches.

P.S.  The cobbler was amazing.

berry picking.

Last week, myself, my baby, and Aunty Zuma went berry picking.  I knew I wanted fresh fruit for blueberry lemonade, custard fruit tarts and black raspberry pie for Dhara’s garden party, so off we went to a farm a couple miles away called, Larriland.  Next time I’d like to ride my bicycle there with Greg — just me and him, to pick fruits and veggies.  I was pretty bummed that I missed strawberry season this year.  It came and went just like that!  I remember last year this time when I went strawberry picking with the Juan kids and Oilyn at Blueberry Hill in southern Illinois — what fun it was.

My sister and I picked blueberries at Larriland until the afternoon sun became to warm for the baby.  While they cooled off, I went and picked some black raspberries and beets in the shade.  The beets are for Dhara.  She’s getting used to her real food.

I just love the fact that we can go to the local farms in our area for seasonal fruits and veggies.  It’s so much fun to pick your own.  Peaches will be popping up in the next few weeks.  I found a great recipe for a pecan peach cobbler that I’d love to bake.

Picking berries with a baby ain’t that bad.

Dhara playing under a blueberry bush as mama and Aunt Zuma pick blueberries.

black raspberries.

black raspberry fields.

beets for Dhara.

blueberries for us.