By Mir
May 17, 2013

Some days I have a ton of work to do, deadlines coming out of my ears, and also there is laundry to be done and the kitchen is a mess and the dog needs a bath and my children are needy in various ways, and because I am a professional and also a master of life balance I look around and say, “Screw it. Let’s go pick strawberries.”

So we do.

I love taking Monkey to the strawberry farm. For one thing, I feel like it’s often hard for us to get quality one-on-one time; between other (louder, arguably more pressing) demands on my time and the fact that I am not particularly interested in discussing math/Minecraft/Pokemon until my ears bleed, it can be difficult to carve out a Monkey-and-Mom space in the midst of everything else. For another thing, in much the same way that Licorice will spot her ball at the end of the day, all OMGOSHDIDYOUKNOWIHAVEABALLABALLABALL?? and be consumed with joy, Monkey is endlessly delighted by the various shapes and sizes of berries and the places they hide, and observing this phenomenon never fails to make me happy. (Yeah, I just compared my kid’s berry-picking delight to my walnut-sized-brain dog’s inability to grok object permanence. Mother of the freaking year, over here.)

We have fun, is my point. Also: fresh strawberries. What’s not to like?

On the way out there this week, Monkey decided we needed to play the Alphabet Game. I bet this has a more official name somewhere, but it’s where you run through the alphabet looking for each letter on various signs. The thing is, the farm is kind of out in the boonies, and he found the letter “I” just before we hit that stretch of road where there’s pretty much nothing for miles.

“J… j…” he murmured, craning his neck and peering out the window, becoming agitated that the game couldn’t continued.

“Don’t worry, son,” I assured him, ever the picture of maternal comfort, “in a little while we’ll arrive at Strawberry Jfarms! And then you’ll have your J.” I meant this as a distraction, but somehow the idea of the the place actually being called Strawberry Jfarms was HILARIOUS INDEED, and the remainder of the trip was spent with him calling out various items—“Look! It’s a bunch of guys on Jmowers!” “Did you see that Jfence?”—and then laughing hysterically at his own wit. Monkey will never, ever be unamused with himself, I can tell you that much.

We arrived and set to work, by which I mean I began picking and Monkey began a running commentary on the plants, the berries, things he found stuck to his shoe, the direction of the wind, and how he really should’ve brought a water bottle. Nevertheless, a good time was had by all, and somehow we managed to fill our two buckets before he collapsed from heat exhaustion and/or dehydration. (Full disclosure: The time it takes to pick two giant buckets of berries at this place is MAYBE twenty minutes.)

After paying for our bounty, we carefully placed the buckets in the cooler I’d brought, and then we went out to lunch, because picking berries is HARD WORK. Also, we’d worked our way up to Q in the Alphabet Game by the time we got back to civilization, plus someone NEEEEEEEEEEDED ice cream, so we went to Dairy Queen.

So this is all well and good; the day we picked and went to lunch, we had a wonderful time, and we came back home and Monkey went off to read for a while and I went back to work and everything was dandy. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized I now had a metric butt-ton of strawberries that I needed to process and I still had work and laundry and dishes and everything else.

This week I’ve been working through the strawberries, or at least the ones my family hasn’t just shoved directly into their gobholes. (Note: I fully support the direct application of strawberries to gobholes, don’t get me wrong.)

First I had to wash and hull fifty pounds of berries (maybe not really fifty pounds, it’s possible I’m exaggerating) and put them in various containers and pots and freezer bags and whatnot.

(Not pictured: the other forty-nine pounds.)

Then I got the bright idea that I could make freezer jam, because how hard could it possibly be? Not hard at all, as it turns out, though it does turn your entire kitchen into a sticky crime scene by the time you’re done.

(Not pictured: red goop all over the stove. Delicious!)

And then I still had a bazillion berries and one of the things Chickadee will never turn down is ice cream or frozen yogurt, so it was time to make strawberry-basil Greek froyo, because STRAWBERRIES and PROTEIN and YUM:

(Not pictured: both children shoveling this down their gullets after dinner.)

I would say the whole adventure was pretty successful, all in all. Kind of a lot of work, though. Which is of course why we’ve already made plans to go pick again with friends next week.


  1. Mandy

    You are awesome.

    Also: I’m jealous. Those strawberries in all forms look delicious!

  2. Damsel

    OK, I’m in tears of laughter with your description of Monkey’s running commentary (which is EXACTLY how my son’s goes) and “I fully support the direct application of strawberries to gobholes”!!!

  3. JennyA

    If you’d like the recipe for the strawberry-basil-black pepper-vodka sorbet, I can be persuaded to part with it.

    • Lulu

      OMG, if Mir doesn’t want that recipe, I sure do!!

    • Heidi

      Gasp – Mir had me with the strawberry-basil combo, but your ingredients make it sound twice as good!

  4. sassymonkey

    I saw a recipe for roasted strawberry bbq sauce yesterday if you want to try something different. (Or you could just go to my Facebook page. I shared the linky there.)

  5. diane

    Ugh. We won’t be able to pick our own in Southeast Wisconsin for several weeks. I can’t wait to shove strawberries in my gobhole at lower prices than the supermarkets have right now.

  6. Practical Mama

    Those days, when you spontaneously ditch the “must do” list and go out are the best. All those jam and froyo looks so mouthwatering. I wonder if there is a strawberry farm around Chicago.

  7. RuthWells

    Strawberry basil. Yuuuuuuuuuuum.

  8. Sharon

    July 4. Maybe a week before and/or a week after, but that’s our target date for local strawberries. Your photos are making me drool. I will just have to wait….

  9. el-e-e

    I think I said LAST time you posted about basil-strawberry fro-yo, “MMMmmmmm, that looks amahzing.” I say it again. !!

    • Mir

      I have never made strawberry-basil froyo before, but I do make a basil-lime sorbet pretty much every summer. (I always have a lot of basil….) Is that what you’re thinking of?

  10. Angela

    I need some strawberries to cook up with the rhubarb I got in my CSA share this week! I have been ordered to make pie, post-haste. :)

  11. CuriousCat

    I just now figured out what “froyo” was.

    I am officially old. Also, with froyo, yolo, erhmagaaaad and other non words, the English language is deteriorating at a rapid pace.

    I love strawberry anything (even “froyo”, apparently), but basil??? Erhmagaaad, idk!!

  12. Tracy B


  13. suburbancorrespondent

    My teen son David willingly melts chocolate chips in a double boiler and dips our hand-picked strawberries into it. Whenever I’m mad at him, I remind myself of this fact.

  14. Little Bird

    Arugula salad with strawberries, chives (with blossoms) and parmesean, dressed with balsamic and olive oil. It’s a favorite in this house.
    You know, in case you needed ANOTHER dish with strawberries.

  15. Jeanie

    The strawberries look jyummy!

  16. Chuck

    I may have to go get a strawberry waffle now. Yum!

  17. Tara

    At last! Strawberry Season is here! Wimbledon can’t be too far behind. I don’t think I have the energy to make frozen yogurt, but I think some chilled strawberries whipped up in my blender to make a Strawberry Daiquiri is something I could accomplish!

  18. Kateebee

    dehydrated strawberries are the way to go. just when the are almost too ripe put them through the egg slicer and onto the mat in the dehydrator. enjoy the smell of strawberries as they dry overnight. then hide them! because those delicious little piece of red leather will disappear in a 1 /100 of the time it took to dry them.

  19. Brigitte

    I luuuurve freezer jam! It’s such a fresh taste of summer, come the middle of our next dreary winter.

  20. Heather

    Strawberries aren’t quite ready in MI yet, but I make jam with my grandma every year. It’s worth the mess and the time, because it is quite tasty!!

  21. Rachel

    oooh, yum! And my oldest, spectrummy kid does the same running commentary. I’m choosing to think of it as charming. My middle girl sounds like she and Monkey could hang out for a while and chat Pokemon, which is making my ears bleed.

    Last night I used the dehydrator to make strawberry fruit leather (2c strawberries, 1 cup applesauce). Very good. Very, very good.

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