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The Weekend, or, Strawberry Subtraction

May 21, 2012

Friday morning, the kids and I drove 30 minutes down to the nearest organic strawberry farm to pick up a dozen quart of strawberries to split with a friend. I had intended to use six quarts to make “Sunday jam” for the winter, and at the last minute, picked up two extra quarts because we’d obviously need some to eat out of hand, so left the farm with 14 quarts. We arrived home just 30 minutes later with only 13 quarts left, and promptly gave away another quart to a friend who stopped by after lunch.  We munched on strawberries throughout the afternoon, and had some for dessert after our Friday night warm-weather-it’s-the-weekend cookout. By Saturday morning, we were down to 10 quarts, and I brought six up to my friend before we all headed out the the Waldorf School May Faire, but somehow, between my house and her house, one quart disappeared. There was much merriment and joy at the May Faire, as we enjoyed the sun on our bare shoulders and took in all the excitement and activities. We went to friends for dinner afterwards, where we enjoyed a fabulous meal and conversation that stretched well into the night, while children stayed up past their bedtimes and played outside by flashlight. By the time we got home Saturday night, I knit three rows on my slow-going shawl, and called it a night. Sunday found us up and at ‘em, and headed to the farmer’s market. We brought home the most beautiful, magnificent asparagus, armfuls of kale, spring onions and another quart of strawberries, which we made quick work of while walking through the market. We stopped at the library, which was inexplicably closed, and them headed to the “score store”, our local thrift shop, in pursuit of some summer gear for my ever-growing children. I picked up half a dozen skeins of Lamb’s Pride Bulky yarn for $10, a pair of brand new Chaco sandals for myself and a sweet cotton dress for each of the girls. We headed home to work in the garden, and I had four quarts of strawberries left to do something with. I had imagined a shelf of strawberry jam by weekend’s end, but with only four quarts left, I hulled and halved them and tossed them with sugar and left them to macerate in the refrigerator overnight while I built a teepee for our hops and beans to grow up, and weeded the cucumber and squash bed. We ate the asparagus with lemon cream sauce and pasta, an a salad with spring onions, beets and radishes from the garden, a meal at once heavy and light. After the kids were in bed, I took a bath and I had a few more berries drifing off to sleep while reading “Wildwood”.

This morning we were all awoken by a cardinal singing at 6am, and I got up, made breakfast and climbed back into bed with my knitting while the big kids taught their little sister how to play chess. When they were through, I sat with the little one and worked on some letters and the big kids did something or other involving magnets. They went upstairs to clean up in advance of the vacuum and told me they had at least an hours work to do, whipping their bedrooms and the playroom into shape and so I took that opportunity to make a small batch of strawberry jam. In the hour it took them to clean up their rooms, I folded two loads of laundry and made half of the remaining macerated berries into five half-pints of jam. I only did a half batch, because it takes much longer to get the big pot of water to a boil, and to get the larger quantity of berries to the “jam” stage, and it was perfect. Of course, as soon as they heard the “pop” of the lids, they were begging to open a jar for a “tester” and so I can forsee being down to only four jars by day’s end. I will make another small batch tonight after they are in bed, and since my schedule is clear for Thursday, I intend to head down to pick up another flat of berries for eating and jamming that morning. Then, in the weeks to come, our CSA, which is to the north of us, should have pick-your-own berries for a few weeks, and those berries we’ll eat fresh, since it’s only a 1-2 quart quantity a week there. Some friends were recently talking about how organic strawberries are the Holy Grail of fruits around here, and it’s true. Such a short, sweet season of subtracting strawberries.

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