Jun 17, 2012

Dookie Berries, Brisket and Butterflies





Saturday morning romps through Iowa countryside always make me grin.  Trade in the fast-beat bustle of city life for smooth chords of cornfields blowing among 30 million acres of space.  




The alarm nearly beat the sun this morning, cutting REM early to drive towards silencio.  Berry plucking, 20-hour smoked brisket and butterflies were on today's docket.

Turning from tarmac to gravel on the last pull to the berry patch, the lane was flanked by Holsteins shooting brown magma patties from their tails.  Pigtails winkled her nose and yelled "Daddy, this road smells like doo doo!"  As my Mom used to say when we drove to the farm, "there's nothing like the fresh smell of country air."

I wanted to hook up with the supply that feeds the farmers' market, so we visited Berry Patch Farm to harvest blueberries, strawberries and red raspberries.  In season, you can also pick your own rhubarb, blackberries, gooseberries, currants, cherries, apples and pumpkins

Blueberries at the grocery store run $4.50 a pint.  We hand picked them today at $2.50 a pound, and they're sweeter since we pull them at peak ripeness.  The morning dew hadn't yet turned to gas, smokey clouds turned back the sun.  Curls beside and my daughter beaming, it was time to bag the little blue balls.

Note the intermixed photos of random strangers annoyed by Nikon going paparazzi today.

















acres deep in young blueberry bushes, each one spits 5 pounds of fruit, 15 lbs when fully mature





she loved it



































Blueberries blah blah, you're bored, let's move on to strawberries.  Highlight was a plump gal barking over-and-over to her teen daughter "THIS SUCKS!" as she had to bend over into moist plants to work for her reward.  Maybe she was PO'd they didn't have a Rascal and Magic Grabber available in the field to help reap the fruit.
 






 














The raspberries were excellent, their sweet-cream taste were our favorite over the blue and straw'.


  















































We thought it wise to balance out all those berry antioxidants with platters of meat.  Hickory Park for the win, a family-owned smokehouse that doesn't spank the wallet.  








Smoked wiener, brisket, beans and some other junk. 








hand added for scale








Whoops, look at that, it's midnight, nearly time for bed and I need to wash my berries.  I'll rattle out the butterfly report next time.


 -Beard

18 comments:

  1. While I will agree that you cannot beat fresh picked berries, I cannot keep myself from letting you know that Aldi has blueberries for $1.49 a pint (btw this is my hidden gem for produce, but certain stores are better than others) and Fareway has them in the ad for $1.88. Aldi's raspberries are also $1.50 and strawberries are $1.00! Again, I agree on the fresh picked, but as my children blow through berries like most kids do chocolate, I thought I better share my knowledge with another local parent! Also, LOVE LOVE LOVE Hickory Park! Only place in the world kids can still get excited when handed a dime on the way out!!

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    1. My miserly ways prevent my from shelling out more than two or three bucks a pound for berries, I only buy them on sale. Fareway is the bomb for meat, but I've found their produce lacking. Maybe the berries would be okay there now since they're in season. We grew up on ALDI, I'll give them both a try at your recommendation, thanks for the tip!

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  2. I almost forgot, thanks for the tip, I just added Berry Patch Farm to our "things to do" list for next week!!!

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    1. The Berry Patch Farm is also a good spot in the fall for picking apples and pumpkins. They don't do inflatables are anything like some of the other patches do, but I appreciate their purist approach.

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  3. Good thing she's got that ice cream - Pigtails could use some poundage!

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    1. She's been stuck at 50 pounds for several years now, a little more ice cream will do her good. Not sure what my excuse is, ice cream is a weakness.

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    2. 50 is a tough one to crack - Middle had a hard time, now he's 21 and stuck at 100!

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  4. Here's a hint--don't wash 'em until right before you use them. And I didn't believe this tip until I [reluctantly] tried it--wrap them loosely in NEWSPAPER in the fridge and they stay beautiful for days! You can freeze the (washed) extras on cookie sheets and bag 'em for smoothies or milkshakes. Best hint? Fresh berries for breakfast lunch and dinner! Gorgeous pictures; looks like you had a great day.

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    1. The raspberries were already starting to fall apart last night, so I washed and dried them, then spread them flat in the freezer on a parchment papered cookie sheet so they don't freeze in a clump. We'll eat through the blueberries in a couple days, will bag the strawberries in newspaper to preserve. Thanks Jenny!

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  5. Great pictures. Pigtails looks right at home in those fields of freshness. I love the first photo, she's gorgeous! Yum, so hungry now after this post. Mmmm..pancakes and fresh berries, if only I had your fresh berries, Darn!

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  6. Bag strawberries in newspaper? Tell me about this!

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    1. I did a little reading on preserving strawberries tonight. What I gather is the berries act like sponges and turn to mush if exposed to a water bath. The newspaper, as recommended by Jenny up there, keeps the moisture in check so they don't get soggy or dry out too much.

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  7. I went blueberry picking with my father and his wife yesterday for Fathers Day. We picked sugar snap peas as well! Strawberries and cherries were slim pickin's and blackberries and raspberries aren't quite ripe yet, but, I left with 8.5 lbs of blueberries and they left with 14 lbs. Goodness knows what we are going to do with all of them!

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    1. Freeze those mothers and enjoy purple smoothies all year.

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  8. Hope you had a great Fathers Day!!

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    1. I did, same to you! Oh, wait...

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  9. Melissa6/18/2012

    This is taking me back to the days when I would go out into my grandparents' raspberry patch (next to the highbush blueberries and apple trees) and pick away. Nothing has ever come close to the [memory of the] taste of those berries. My family has always said that roses smell like raspberries...and I still think that way. Glad you had such a beautiful day and experience!

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    1. Now that you mention it, I think they do smell a little like roses. Hope you can find the opportunity to harvest berries that takes you back to your grandparents' patch.

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Thanks for the note, check back for my response!