Because of the nature of the business (pastry that is), my schedule is erratic at best. Days off are weekdays and never consecutive. Unfortunately, its the price I pay for doing what I love. Anyways, because my schedule can be demanding at times, I have recently decided that my rare day off will be appreciated and valued. Rather than running around trying to accomplish all the tasks that were cast aside the week prior, I have decided to spend the day, or at least part of the day, doing something fun and enjoyable. Last week, I treated myself to lunch out and even a glass of wine. I sat by myself at the bar and just enjoyed the simple pleasure of a cup of soup and a portobello sandwich. This week I decided I would go berry picking – strawberry picking, that is.
Strawberry season is just starting and my favorite local farm recently opened their “pick your own” season. Although picking our own is a nice activity that Scott and I enjoy doing together, I decided to use my day off to its full advantage and pounce on the first pick of the season. Living in the Hartford area, I think Rose’s Berry Farm is the best place for berries around. Located in South Glastonbury, Rose’s offers a variety of pick your own, concentrating on berries, but also including some harvest apples and pumpkins.
So I made my coffee this morning, hoped in the car, and headed off. A quaint farm stand greets you after a twisting driveway into Rose’s. When I arrived, the truck that transports you to and from the fields was making a drop off and I had 5 minutes to spare wandering around the little store. Selling mostly their own canned and jarred products, (everything from jams to grilling sauces) the farm stand also sells local arts and crafts. As promised, the truck pulled up shortly and away we went. After a hair-raising truck ride through the farm, I was deposited at their strawberry fields on the far corner of the property. Grab a flat, and you are ready to go. Early on a cloudy Tuesday morning, I found myself fairly isolated in the fields. Being the perfectionist that I am, I headed straight back to the end of the row (most people pick right at the front, so in theory the back rows would have the best berries). Working alongside Rose’s own employees and a couple stray moms with their young children, I quickly became mesmerized by the search for the perfectly ripe berry. Although strawberry picking is not the most ergonomically sound activity (strawberry plants grown low to the ground, so you spend most of your time crouched or bending down) I didn’t mind at all. I routed through the plants, trying to be as ginger as possible, looking for those ruby-red berries. Picking at the beginning of the season, there are a whole range of berries hanging from the plants: completely green berries not yet begun to ripen, redish-orange berries that just need a couple more days bathing in the sun, and then the berries ripe for picking – deep red in color.
Listening to the sounds of the birds calling to each other and NOTHING ELSE, I slowly but surely filled my flat to the tune of 11 lbs! However, at $2.29 /lb, its an incredible bargain. This is why I love to pick my own. You do all the labor and therefore see a great savings at the register. Plus, it gets me outdoors with the plants, and the berries seem to taste better once you have worked for them. For a city girl like me, berry picking offers the perfect opportunity to commune with nature. I take a 20 minute car ride (headset in ear, coffee in hand) and I find myself in what I consider to be the “country”. After leaving all the gadgets and caffeine in the car, I get to spend a precious hour alone, with only the sounds of nature, and to boot, I leave with a gorgeous flat of fresher than fresh strawberries.
Stay tuned for for multiple strawberry recipes. (I do need to use up 11 lbs. after all.) Now that’s my kind of challange!