Connecting field to fork at our local strawberry u-pick

As frequent Simple Bites readers will know, we teach our kids about where their food comes from, and try to harvest nature’s bounty through u-picks as often as we can.  Aimee and I were married in an apple orchard, and so apple picking has been an annual tradition.

Strawberry season, however, is much, much shorter, and so this past Monday was the first time our family of five has gone strawberry picking since Clara has joined us.  Four of us absolutely love these seasonal, sweet berries, and the other one tolerated the outing by having races up and down the pathway (he’s not a berry believer).

Strawberry u-pick on www.simplebites.net

It was a deliciously cool and overcast summer morning and we hopped on the trailer for the requisite tractor ride out to the field.  Despite our boys’ need to run, run, run, we were told in no uncertain terms by several of the staff that the field was simply too far to ever imagine walking for adults, let alone children.  Oh well.  It was a nice tractor ride.

Although imported strawberries have been in stores for over a month, the unseasonally cool summer means the local berries are only just starting to ripen, and we were ready for them.

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A new chapter. Actually, make that twelve of them.

If I were to backtrack to where this story truly began, I would have to return to a conversation with my best friend at a ski cabin sleepover, back when we were fourteen-year-old dreamers.

In that hut on the side of a mountain, I remember talking into the darkness above me, declaring that I would be a writer and be published one day. She was going to study medicine and be a doctor. I had already decided that I would marry the boy from Québec, so we conveniently paired her up with one of his brothers, although that part played out differently.

My friend went on to become a nurse practitioner and was my bridesmaid when I married the boy I had loved since my teens. I launched a food blog and published regularly, so that made me a writer. Kind of.

Fast-forward twenty years from that innocent forecast of our futures and you will find me now, eyes wide open with equal amounts of excitement and fright, on the cusp of making my childhood dream an actuality.

You see, I have accepted an offer to write two books with Penguin and am now actively working on my first cookbook. A book born out of this very space.

Yes, it’s absolutely bonkers! [Read more…]

20 recipes featuring favorite June produce

It’s June, or the season where we flit from one display of fresh new produce to the next like a bumblebee in a field of clover. It can hardly be helped. Each proud arrangement of soldier-like asparagus or blushing round radishes is a beautiful thing and must be admired – at least until we spy the baskets filled with the first local strawberries, that is.

With the absolute deluge of rain we’ve been having, it’s been hard to get into summer. We haven’t had that first real heat wave that stops you in your tracks with its humidity and prompts an immediate trip to the refrigerator for a cool drink. It is only when I make it out to my local market and see the seasonal produce speeding ahead toward mid-summer that I realize, oh, right. We’re halfway through June.

Then I buzz from stall to stall, loading up on sweet cherry tomatoes, firm melons, heaps of greens and more. With our lack of sun, my garden is suffering something fierce, so for now, I’m stockpiling at the marché.

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Rain Barrels: How we installed ours and other tips

Written by Danny.

This past week, Aimee’s parents have been visiting from Northern British Columbia, visiting their newest granddaughter and hoping for some summer heat.  Unfortunately for them, the beginning of this week was cool and rainy.  Bad news for them, but good news for… our rain barrel!

Knowing that “we’re into that thing”, my dad had gotten us a pair of rain barrels about a month ago at a civic fair, and we installed them right away, wanting to get the spring rains stored up to get our gardens as lush as possible. This post discusses what we did to install ours, and some resources that I’ve pulled when trying to figure out what to do.

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