June 21, 2008

Strawberry Fields Forever

It was 9 a.m. on the first day of summer and my brow was laden with sweat as I was out picking fresh strawberries. That day was to be Featherstone's Strawberry Social. That morning we hadn't had as many strawberries stored in the cooler than we thought, so we had to go out and pick some for the strawberry shortcake topping. As strawberry picking can be somewhat time-intensive, and often painful (the thistles) I decided to bring out my iPod to take my mind off of the clock and the pricks. I have been listening to the Forrest Gump soundtrack for the last week because they played it at Wiscoy volleyball last week and I fell in love. (That's actually what we listen to when packing CSA boxes, too. That- and the Beetles, but I've made everybody here sick of the Beatles by now.)

While picking strawberries and listening to the music from Forrest Gump my mind wandered to his infamous 'Life is like a box of chocolates.....' line. And an analogy hit me: 'Life is like picking strawberries, you've got to get through the thistles to take hold of the berry. ( I've often thought that people are like vegetables, their true colors come through when you put them in hot water!)

The day rolled along and people started arriving by the van-loads to the social. It was so great to see our shareholders, especially their children who were very enthusiastic about the whole affair. Many kids said this was their first time picking berries and the thistles didn't seem to mind them one bit. One boy in particular was smart because he wore his soccer socks which went nearly up to his thighs - not one exclamation of pain was heard from him. After seeing the armloads-full of berries people were leaving with, it was clear that many strawberry pies and jam were soon to be in the works. And of course, strawberry shortcake and lemonade followed.

After the strawberry social farmer Jack gave a tour of the new land that Featherstone has acquired to build a new washing and packing plant. I, of course, was there with my camera - stumbling over mounds of dirt to capture some shots. The acquisition of this land is very exciting for Featherstone because it will centralize the farm as it is one more step in our attempt at sustainability.

The farm had cleared out upon our return, and the social was officially over. Before walking up to my cabin I stopped by one of the neighbor's house because he was outside prepping his bike for the 'bar crawl' ride that was to be on Sunday. As we were talking about strawberries, I shared with him a recipe I had made up the previous night - a strawberry and pea salad (no lettuce involved, here.) A look of shock, then intrigue was present on his face - so I decided to make another batch that night. As I entered the Common House kitchen Alex (who helps out with our Twin Cities deliveries) and Steve Yedder (the soon-to-be Warehouse Manager that I am stoked to be working with) were making supper because they were spending the night at the farm. They warmly invited me to join, which was perfect as I was going to make that salad (recipe below) anyways. We got to cooking as Steve told us of his many (as he would say) 'hippie journies'. This meal was the most Featherstone-filled meal I've had yet: Red romaine lettuce salad with sliced radish and zucchini; turnip, radish, pea stir-fry over rice; and my strawberry pea salad. We sat out on the porch, watched the sun set, and turned up our senses to soak up the beauty around us.

As the summer solstice came to a close, I decided I could not have spent the dawn of summer in a better way - picking strawberries with Featherstone's shareholders and having a fresh meal with my co-workers - all sharing the bounty together.


1 pint strawberries
1 tsp sugar, to taste
1/2 lb sugar snap peas
1 tbs balsamic vinaigrette
1 tsp olive oil
chopped mint, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Wash and slice strawberries, put them in a bowl then spoon sugar over them and stir. Cut the peas (in shell) into thirds and place in another bowl and mix with the balsamic vinaigrette. Combine the two bowls, mix, and add the oil, mint, salt, and pepper.


Anna Augustin said...

It has been so sweet to know how your summer has been through your blog, Melinda! I love keeping up with your posts. Keep em coming!

PS- I splurged on in a silpat this week, and I love it :)

Melinda said...

You're too sweet, Anna. I'm glad you enjoy it; it's truly a joy to be here. Minneapolis doesn't even compare.

Don't you just love your silpat ?