Saturday, May 30, 2015

Spring has Sprung at the Strawberry Farm!

Hello, everybody! The Fresh Pioneer is back and we're heading into jam season here.
 We don't really have any cherries yet, or many raspberries, or blueberries, or blackberries, or really much of anything but we DO have strawberries!
I'm ready to wear this super cute apron my friend Christalee sent for my birthday! It matches my kitchen and the teapot she sent last year. Teal and red, my favorites!
  I saw on their facebook page that Klicker's, our local strawberry farm, was heading into production, and I rounded up the kids for an impromptu trip. My friend Mindy joined us and we headed out to get in line for the "first come, first serve" buckets of strawberries that arrived from the afternoon shift.
 Something interesting I saw there: morels! We find these in the mountains and although it's technically illegal to sell, trade, or give these away, I think Klicker's has a special permit to sell them. They've had problems with hunters staking out sites and actually shooting people who come mushroom hunting on their property, so the authorities are trying to cut down on the mushroom-related crime. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of morels, so I don't understand shooting someone over them or really, any food... maybe chocolate.
No, not even then.
 A view of the approaching clouds that turned into a storm a few hours later.

 So many preserves!
 I really love these cauldrons. I want one. I can set it up on our outdoor fire, me stirring it with a big paddle, muttering,
                                       "Double, double toil and trouble;
                                     Fire burn and cauldron bubble.
                                      Fillet of a fenny snake,
                                      In the cauldron boil and bake..." Etc.!
 MMMMM.... There were dozens of varieties of hot sauce.
 And so many pickled preserves!
 And lots of local sauces!
 And so many marinades. I wanted to try them all!
 I did buy some Walla Walla Sweet Onion Mustard for a friend of mine. But I tried to limit my spending to...
 The fruit! Ok, this isn't super impressive but it's all we've had for months so it was glorious!
 Young sweet onions for salads and fresh green beans looks especially tasty.
 Oh, and a random shot of my most recent book. That is six month's of work right there! And I love it. Just like all my babies...
 A shot of our clematis that's blooming...
And our sunset!
 Ok, it does occur to me that I didn't actually get any pictures of the strawberries in the fields. But I bought four buckets' worth and tomorrow morning, my friend Mindy and I are making jam! She's providing the pectin, sugar, and most of the jars. Stay tuned for updates! I'm excited!!

I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend and that fruit is making a comeback in your area. It's been a long, long winter and I'm ready! Are you??


  1. This makes sense! As Dave and I were driving into Central Washington two weeks ago, a huge farm market said CHERRIES! ... But they couldn't be ripe yet, right? I thought how weird, cherries in May, but I was on a research mission to Cle Elum and Ellensburg (I fell in love with Cle Elum and a bakery there, and immediately went into the manuscript and gave them a shout out AND their maple buns! Oh my stars, so delicious!) We had so much fun driving around Ellensburg, out into the farms, checking for my setting, local bushes/weeds, etc. I love a good visual, it cements things in my head.

    Virginia, strawberry picking time rocks! Fruits of the season, fruits of the spirit. Love it! And congratulations on your wonderful sales for Pepper in the Gumbo! That makes me so happy to see it! Happy dancing!

    1. I've never been up Cle Elum way but I have a friend who grew up in a town near there with a population of 27 people! Can you imagine? The town is just a bump in the road. Lol.
      I've never even driven through Ellensburg but I think that a lot of kids from there attend Eastern Washington State, in Cheney. That's the total of my knowledge of that area! We just don't have cause to travel that direction. We're usually headed West to the beach or South to California.

    2. You know I picked Central Washington for these books because they have cowboys (and we saw a couple in Cle Elum!!!) and Christmas tree farms... while that sounds odd, the editor gave me those two ideas and asked me to write a proposal incorporating them, so I did! Bonanza meets The Big Valley meets Dynasty... and I've had such a good time writing them! Three motherless, full-grown cowboys, trying to find that missing part of their hearts and souls. :) I love it!

      If there had been time I'd have buzzed your way and ANNOYED you with a surprise visit, but I'd stayed away long enough that I wasn't sure if I'd find more people dead than alive on my return... but once I got back I baked a bunch of cookies and pies and all was well. :)

  2. I'm looking forward to berry time too, Virginia. Such a long winter and funny spring. Our strawberries aren't ready yet...soon though and then I'm going to celebrate with a strawberry shortcake! Hooray!

    I haven't made jam in a long time --- must see if I can dig up a recipe that doesn't take quite so much sugar. That's what turned me off making it in the first place. I usually buy the healthy, organic kind that doesn't have sugar. If they can do it commercially I should be able to do it too, right?

    Loved the glimpse into your part of the world. Mine is stormy today, but we've had an uncharacteristic heat wave so I'm all about fresh rain and fresher air.

    1. You absolutely can make it without added sugar! I bought no sugar added pectin today and the recipes inside detail how to make low sugar/ no sugar jam. We just spent five hours canning jam... And then I ducked out because my second oldest girl had a terrible ear ache. She felt good this morning so I brought all the lids to help, but poor thing is feverish and tucked up in bed now.
      My sweet friend sent us home with a case of jam and will carry on alone. She says she finds the whole process relaxing and enjoyable. Probably because she's so good at it! I'll upload more pics when I get a chance. The jam is gorgeous!

  3. Oh, strawberries! I love them!

    BUT the MORELS!!!! I don't THINK I'd go as far as shooting someone for a mess of morels (sauteed in butter and onion!), but you wouldn't want to test that theory. And I haven't had morels in a l-o-n-g time.

    I cleaned up the gardens yesterday. A few months of drought followed by a month of nearly non-stop rain (starting with a blizzard on Mother's Day weekend!) meant that the weeds had taken OVER. I cleared out the ones in the front flower bed, then with a big sigh of dread, I tackled the raspberry patch. My new plants didn't do well last summer (a misunderstanding between me, my youngest son and weed killer), so I wasn't sure if they survived the winter. But once I cleared away the wild lettuce and Canadian thistles, there they were!

    I'm happy dancing over the prospect of raspberries this summer!

    1. Jan, it's a war, isn't it???? Us vs. weeds!!!!

      I'm not tackling big garden projects until I get back from a writers' retreat next week. I always get poison ivy in my front gardens and the idea of getting a bad case before Alaska or writing time wouldn't be smart, so I'm putting off flowers. But the big farm garden is underway (not by me!) and the rhubarb is lush! I'm happy!

    2. Oh, I love those little purple fingers, Virginia. When I was real little, like three or four, just old enough to dress myself, we had a raspberry bush in the backyard. Every summer morning, I would go downstairs, get dressed and go outside to eat raspberries. Of course, Mom says I inevitably dressed in white. Which would no longer be white when I finally came inside.

      I have yet to make it to the farmers market this year, but I need to make a point to get over there. Tis the season. And now that the rain is gone and the sun is out, no telling what treasures the earth will bring forth. :)