Plump sweet berries and red juice dripping down small chins are a sure sign of the onset of summer. Ever since I was a little girl, strawberries have been at the top of the list for all of us. I will never forget my father’s “Mmm” when he thought of the first serving of sliced sweetened strawberries spread on a fresh chocolate cake. Sometimes, as an added treat, we filled a six-liter ice cream freezer and made homemade ice cream for it.
Cleaning strawberry beds has never been more fun, especially when we have hundreds of plants and pick the berries to sell. When I was 8 years old, I remember our parents giving us 5 cents a quart. We shuffled one liter basket in a row for our customers with strawberries, and prepared another for us, the whole family. As we neared the end of the season, it seemed endless to fill the quart with these tiny berries.
To our great delight, my parents then told us children that each of us could calculate how many strawberries we could put in a basket per quart and then get pennies apiece for them. Imagine several children kneeling between rows of berries, carefully stacking as many as possible, when a handful of berries falls, they all fold even more carefully.
A quarterly basket of strawberries for $2.50.
The quantity was then carefully written down on our list at 5 cents per quart, which gave it a good boost. At the time, my parents charged $2.50 a liter of beer that we sold to local customers, and if I remember correctly, what we sold at my uncle’s shop cost $3 a liter.
I didn’t particularly enjoy shooting the tops, but it was a welcome break from working in the sun. My mother always got up early and tried to get up early before the heat of the day, and some days before the rain.
Then washed them. Imagine large bowls on the table, waiting in line to be washed, drained, and chopped. It was more fun because the cool water ran through our fingers as we rinsed them. (Yes, our community has running water.)
When I was a teenager, we were introduced to our first strawberry smoothie, made with ice cubes and sweetener. These berries were put into the blender whole, so we started to freeze them without sweetener or grind them. In recent years, we have used frozen milk cubes or even yogurt with a little vanilla and a natural sweetener like stevia. When using frozen berries, we used fresh milk instead of frozen milk cubes. Now we also like to add a banana or a handful of blueberries, as it not only adds flavor but also creates a creamier texture.
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Having kids of your own adds even more variety to the strawberry season. One year old Joshua is completely enamored with the amazing discovery that juicy red berries can be found right in the garden! It picks only red berries surprisingly well; he has his dad’s caution in small details as such.
New plot next to the main garden
Daniel and I have laid out a new plot next to the main part of the garden. I often smiled as I watched Daniel put his whole heart into preparing the soil, fertilizing and mulching everything he could think of to get the best yield. He was so excited about this spring and our first berry harvest to see what the harvest will be like.
Now that they have bloomed, I thought about him endlessly. My heart hurt inside. What fun it would be for us to marvel together at a harvest filled with plump berries beyond anything we’ve had so far. Because I have done this “a million” times in the last six weeks, I have given it to God. Even though I was still in pain, I knew everything would be fine.
“Imagine what dad has in heaven,” I thought to the children, “without a doubt, he has things even better than strawberries!” Now that we miss dad, we thank God for the berry patch he has prepared for us.
strawberry fruit pizza
¾ cup brown sugar
½ cup butter
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon flavor, wholesale
1 teaspoon baking powder
1¼ cups flour
Pour into a greased 9 X 13 tin. Bake at 300 for 20 minutes. DO NOT overbake; it shouldn’t be brown at all.
Cream Cheese Blend:
½ cup powdered sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
8 ounces whipped cream
Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Lay out the beaten topping. If desired, add a little lemon juice. Spread onto cooled crust.
¾ cup sugar
5 heaping tablespoons of Clear Jel*
3 glasses of cold water
3 tablespoons strawberry jelly
¼ teaspoon salt
Mix everything in a saucepan, bring to a boil, boil for a few minutes. Cool and spread on top of the cream cheese mixture. Cold. We like it best the day after it’s made, as the flavor blends better.
* You can also use cornstarch, then the filling will be more cloudy.
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