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Strawberry season beckons

My favorite season is spring. I just might rename it Strawberry Season.

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Ilina Ewen
Ilina Ewen

With the beckoning of each new season, I drool in anticipation of all the goodness that will hit my kitchen and dinner table. In fall I succumb to root vegetables and roast them every which way. Winter brings hearty leafy greens to my table. It rains squash and tomatoes in summer. But my favorite season is spring.

I just might rename it Strawberry Season.

My family and I go to Vollmer Farm every year to go strawberry picking. Some of my most treasured photos are of baby Deal perched in a backpack on my back with red stained lips and his chubby fingers gnarled around a handful of berries. Then there are the moments of seeing my sons taste homemade strawberry ice cream for the first time. And photos of Bird and Deal dressed in matching outfits, sporting sunglasses and adorable floppy sun hats. Gone are those days, for my babies are growing into little boys who wouldn't don seersucker jon-jons now that they can pee standing up (I can't blame them.). No matter their age or wardrobe, we still go strawberry picking. It seems that 11 months out of the year the boys are asking, "When are we gonna go pick strawberries?"

We slather on the sunblock, pack snacks, and brush our teeth super duper well in anticipation of the gobs of strawberry ice cream and strawberry lemonade we're going to inhale. The boys tiptoe among the rows very carefully in search of the biggest strawberry, while I perch down low and pick all the small to mid-size berries. Mac Daddy hurriedly fills a bucket and then sets out to monitor the boys to ensure they're not picking and snacking (what a temptation that is!). We all load up on berries and can barely carry our sagging buckets. We just might enlist our dog to carry a pack on his back this year so we can carry more.

Our fingers and lips are stained red the whole way home. This is when I'm thankful for leather car seats that I can wipe clean.

At home we realize our thirst for berries is larger than our freezer space. I swear, we need to invest in a freezer just to store our strawberry loot. I set off to wash, sort, and stash our strawberries while the boys reach for just one more. We almost wish we suffered from taste bud amnesia in the off months when we break down and buy strawberries at the grocery store. It. Is. Just. Not. The. Same. Those uniform crimson berries might look magazine-worthy but they taste like wax. They are always a disappointment. Always. In light of the Vollmer Farm local freshness, coupled with our annual family adventure, hand picked strawberries just cannot be beat.

So this year, I've cleared space in my puny freezer, dogeared recipes, and bought provisions to make all sorts of strawberry delights. I'm starting with pie and shortcake. Hey, nothing like a little sun kissed natural goodness to feed my sweet tooth.

Ilina, the mom of two, writes about food here every Wednesday. But you can always find her on her own blog Dirt & Noise.

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