Posts Tagged ‘pick-your-own’

Where to Pick Strawberries This Weekend {Virginia}

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the pinnacle of strawberry season here in the DC area, though our earlier-than-usual spring means we’ve already been enjoying them for weeks. (As evidenced by, well, my last ten posts, give or take…). Assuming you’re not sick of them yet, here are a few favorite places to get out and pick your own in Northern Virginia:

strawberry patch at wegmeyer farms

  • Great Country Farms Bluemont, Va. (note: GCF charges admission, but is basically a farm adventure land for the kids. Check the website to see about special events.)
  • Hollin Farms Delaplane, Va. (also has pick-your-own seasonal vegetables)
  • Wegmeyer Farms Hamilton, Va. (see comments below)
  • Westmoreland Berry Farms Oak Grove, Va. (on the Northern Neck, they serve barbecue fare and ice cream/strawberry shortcake in season)

foodie tots at Wegmeyer Farms, Va.

A few things to note for a successful berry picking trip:

  • Go early and ALWAYS call ahead to check picking conditions. The farms around here tend to get picked out quickly on nice summer days, and this weekend is sure to be busy.
  • Dress the kids in dark colors (or red) to avoid stains and wear appropriate footwear (e.g., not the flip flops my toddler refused to change out of. They were new, after all, and a girl can’t be separated from her new shoes.).
  • Bug spray and sunscreen/sun hats are a must.
  • You can’t plop a toddler down in a field of the freshest berries she’s ever seen and not expect her to nibble — so be courteous and round up your tab at check-out to cover any excessive in-field consumption.* And if you hope to have enough leftover for jam, you might want to buy twice what you think you’ll need.

We went to Wegmeyer Farms earlier this week, an easy under-60-minute drive from Arlington, and loved it. The berry patch is a manageable size (and easy walking distance from parking) for younger kids. There are a couple picnic tables but unlike some of the larger farms (Great Country and Westmoreland have full-service concessions) you’ll have to pack your own lunch.

The 19th Annual Delaplane Strawberry Festival also takes place this weekend, May 26-27, if you just want to spend the day in the country and celebrate nature’s most perfect berry.

If my kids leave any, we’ll be making strawberry shortcake this weekend. You?

virginia grown strawberries

*The foodie tot heard the farmer say, “Go ahead and taste ‘em,” and promptly shoveled three in her mouth.

Worm Wednesday: Celebrating Strawberries

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

I’ve lived in Virginia for more than a decade (gulp), and yet I still have trouble thinking of May as strawberry season. Growing up, the grange down the road from our house hosted an enormous strawberry shortcake festival every Father’s Day weekend. On the bright side, Virginia’s accelerated berry season means I get to enjoy my favorite dessert for Mother’s Day — but I still feel a tightening in my chest as Memorial Day approaches and I realize it’s already time to think about preserving strawberries for winter. (My plans? More freezer jam — easy and so heavenly to open up a jar mid-winter and enjoy the scent of fresh berries again.)

strawberries from the garden

We’ve enjoyed a handful of fresh berries from our own garden — the first batch went directly into the boy’s mouth, the second time around there were enough to share one with the baby, too. We still are a long way off from meeting our strawberry consumption demand with entirely home-grown berries, though, so we’ll be back to market and perhaps a farm over the weekend to stock up.

home-grown strawberries

I loved the pictures Fun Mama shared of her adorable toddlers picking berries at Wegmeyer Farms in Loudoun County. (They helpfully advise parents to dress children in red or other stain-appropriate clothes for the outing.) Great Country Farms in Bluemont, Va., hosts their annual Strawberry Jubilee this weekend — but check their website first and get there EARLY as they sell out of berries. (Really!) You can find a pick-your-own farm near you at the PickYourOwn website. Have you gone berry picking with your kids yet this year?

We eat most of our berries straight out of hand before I can do much else with them, but here are some foodie tots-approved strawberry recipes we’ve enjoyed in years past:

(PS I do realize it’s not Wednesday, but yesterday just got away from me. You know how that goes, I’m sure. If you’d like to share a photo of your kids in the garden for a future “Worm Wednesday” post, please e-mail it to foodietots@gmail.com, or leave a link to a recent gardening post in the comments.)

{Preserving Summer} Bourbon Peach Jam

Friday, August 27th, 2010

I mentioned we recently went peach picking at Hollin Farms in Fauquier County, Virginia. Unfortunately my preserving aspirations exceeded my hands-free time during the week (one so quickly forgets how time-consuming infants can be) so sadly we lost a few to spoilage before I got a chance to put up a batch of jam. (We did enjoy quite a few out of hand … and in smoothies … and in a pie, as well. Nothing sweetens the end of summer like fresh-picked peaches!)

The husband is a bourbon drinker, so I’d been searching peach and bourbon pairings when I came across this jam. I adapted the recipe to follow the ratios specified by Pomona Universal Pectin — if you’ve never used Pomona before, it allows you to use less sugar than regular pectin.  I didn’t weigh the peaches, but this used about 24 or so of my smaller- sized peaches.  I’d picked mostly white peaches (White Lady), but thankfully the boy had picked a few of the scarlet-tinged Red Haven orange variety — which has this brilliant reddish-orange hue beneath the skin. Aren’t they lovely?

Aside from waiting for the canning water to boil (tip: start it before you start cooking the jam), peeling peaches is probably the most time-consuming part of this process. Blanching the peaches may seem like extra work, but trust me, it does save time — and avoids wasting any of that precious peach flesh that you might lose peeling with a paring knife.

How to Peel Peaches:

Bring a pot of water — deep enough to submerge a peach — to boil. Drop peaches in and boil for 20-30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and drop into an ice water bath, then set on your work surface. Peels will slip right off.

Recipe: Bourbon Peach Jam
adapted from Beantown Baker

Ingredients:

1 box Pomona Universal Pectin (follow package instructions for exact amounts of calcium water and pectin)
8 cups mashed peaches
4 cups organic cane sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon vanilla paste (or 1 vanilla bean, split in half)
1/4 cup bourbon

Instructions: (Before you begin, make sure all equipment is clean and ready. Sterilize jars in boiling water or the dishwasher — here are prep instructions from the National Center for Home Preservation.) Prepare calcium water according to pectin package instructions. Peel, pit and mash peaches. Measure into a large, non-reactive stock pot, and stir in lemon juice, vanilla paste (or bean) and calcium water. In a large bowl, combine sugar and pectin.

Bring peach mixture to a boil. Add pectin-sugar mixture, stirring vigorously for 1-2 minutes to dissolve the pectin. Return to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in bourbon, not leaning too closely over the pot as the fumes will be quite potent as the alcohol cooks off. (Remove vanilla bean, if using.)

Fill jars, leaving 1/4-inch headroom at the top. Wipe the rims clean with a damp paper towel and screw on the lids. Process in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove from water and set jars on a dry kitchen towel to cool. You should hear the soft “pop” sound as the lids seal — check to make sure the inner lid is depressed, indicating it’s properly sealed. Store jam in a cool, dark place until you’re ready to enjoy. (This made nine half-pints and one full pint.)

Have you joined the Canvolution? What are you preserving for winter?
canning+across+america+logo This was a grown-up-only endeavor — my just-about-4-year-old lacks the attention span for such a time-consuming project — but if you’re looking to include your children in canning, read this article first.

Local Potluck Tuesday (and fresh picked Sweet Corn)

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

My mom, brother and sister-in-law were in town this past weekend, so naturally I took advantage of the opportunity to have extra hands and dragged them out to an orchard for peach picking. (I have a little one to carry, after all.) We went to Hollin Farms this time in Fauquier County, a hilltop orchard and farm with views that can’t be beat.

And we were in for an extra treat with pick-your-own-corn. The boy and his aunt and uncle picked a dozen ears of Silver Queen sweet white corn, which we then took home and immediately grilled up for dinner, along with our Cibola Farms buffalo burgers. It doesn’t get any fresher than this!

picking corn

Now typically when we make corn-on-the-cob, I cut the kernels off for the boy. I know some kids love biting into a big ear of corn, but I guess it’s a little intimidating when the ear is bigger than your head. Yesterday, Jan from Family Bites shared a recipe on Twitter for “corn coins,” and a light bulb went off. These “coins” are simply short pieces of corn, cut into kid-sized lengths, wrapped in foil packets with butter and seasoning and cooked on the grill. It’s proof that sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. Sure enough, they boy devoured five of them with dinner. (Thanks, Jan!)

I could eat plain old grilled corn-on-the-cob all summer, but I’ve seen some other corn recipes lately that look pretty tempting, too. Like this corn-and-asiago-cheese bread pudding from the Tennessee Locavore. Yum!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy summer’s sweet corn?

If you’ve got a favorite corn recipe, please share it below — or anything else you’ve cooked up lately from the farmers market, CSA or your garden!

Local Potluck Tuesday — a few guidelines:
1. Share a relevant post — a recipe, menu or pictures of a meal featuring local foods, from the farmers market, CSA, farm stand or your own garden — using the MckLinky widget below. In the link title field, enter both your post title and your name &/or blog name, e.g., “Lemon Cucumber Salad — Colleen @ FoodieTots.”

2. Bonus points if you included your kids in picking, growing, purchasing or cooking the ingredients for the meal! (And by bonus points, I mean increased likelihood of seeing your post featured in a future post.)

3. In your post, please link back to this post here at FoodieTots, so your readers can find the potluck and be encouraged to join in as well.  Of course if you don’t have a blog, you’re welcome to share in the comments.

That’s it! I hope you’ll join in and share what you’re cooking up that’s fresh & local to you!

You’re Invited to Local Potluck Tuesdays

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

This past weekend was the unofficial kick-off of summer, and by now, farmers markets have opened in most areas of the country. Summer is the perfect time to experiment with eating locally, as the coming weeks will see the tables at markets and farm stands laden with berries, squash, melons, corn, and the locavore’s ultimate prize: field-ripened tomatoes. After two years of participating in the “One Local Summer” challenge, we’ve become pretty accustomed to eating locally as often as possible throughout the year. But it’s been such fun to meet others, whether committed locavores or those just beginning to explore a real food lifestyle, through various eating local challenges.

local potluck tuesday

To continue the fun, while sharing recipes and resources, I’d like to introduce a new weekly feature here at FoodieTots: Local Potluck Tuesday. Unlike some of the other challenges out there, this is not a “how local can you go” competition. In fact, while local ingredients should be featured in your recipe or meal, there are no firm rules. You decide whether “local” to you is 100 miles, 125, or within your state. No one will judge if you dress your local greens in Spanish olive oil or if you don’t harvest your own salt for seasoning your local grass-fed beef kabobs. Just show us something local you’ve enjoyed this week with your family — that’s it!

The weekly round-ups start next week, Tuesday, June 8. To keep it as simple as possible, we’ll be using MckLinky — so just check here for a post, add your link, and take a moment to hop around to enjoy the feast from other participants. (If you don’t have a blog, you’re welcome to share in the comments.)

Local Potluck Tuesdaya few guidelines:

1. Share a relevant post — a recipe, menu or pictures of a meal featuring local foods, from the farmers market, CSA, farm stand or your own garden — using the MckLinky widget. In the link title field, enter both your post title and your name &/or blog name, e.g., “Local Burger Bbq — Colleen @ FoodieTots.”

2. Bonus points if you included your kids in picking, growing, purchasing or cooking the ingredients for the meal! (And by bonus points, I mean increased likelihood of seeing your post featured in the following week’s post.)

3. In your post, please link back to that week’s round-up post here at FoodieTots, so your readers can find the potluck and be encouraged to join in as well.

That’s it! I hope you’ll join in and share what you’re cooking up to celebrate our local farms and the wonderful food they provide to nourish our families.