Health

Finding happiness in a basket of berries

It’s been a lovely, but busy, week around my house. With me taking an extra week off of work and having my two children underfoot, we had numerous sunny summer activities lined up.

Raspeberries image

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It’s been a lovely, but busy, week around my house. With me taking an extra week off of work and having my two children underfoot, we had numerous sunny summer activities lined up. Looking back on the week, an unexpected but not surprising theme emerged that inspired plenty of happiness.

Produce. Fresh, summer produce that is. The week started off with a family visit to our local farmers’ market, one I don’t get to go to as often as I’d like to. Shortly after we arrived and spied the too-good-to-be-true beautiful baskets of berries, bins of corn, piles of ripe red tomatoes and more, we all set off on our own agendas: let’s get six corn — no 12, they look really good! Mom, can we get strawberries and blueberries? Dad, look at those yellow plums! I’ve never had yellow plums before! As we crowded around a melon stand sampling slivers of yellow melon and musk melon, it hit me this kind of excitement at the market rivalled a visit to the toy store. Only it was over…produce?

And then there was our rookie home garden, a first for our household. With visions of garden-fresh salads gracing our table, it’s proven to be a surprising success. We discovered that a stalk of corn had stubbornly made its way past our tomato plants and was determined to grow tall. We harvested a tiny bowl of cherry tomatoes daily which really, didn’t even make it into my kitchen — we popped them into our mouths as soon as they were picked. Firm green tomatoes were growing, inspiring me to Google recipes for fried green tomatoes. And we even spotted some Gherkin-sized beginnings to our cucumbers.

Then came our annual visit to a local berry farm. We chattered excitedly on our drive to the farm about what kinds of berries we could pick and what tasty jams and baked goods we were going to make with the literal fruits of our labour. And an hour or so of picking produced two baskets of fall raspberries and two baskets of strawberries. We topped up our haul with a post-pick visit to the farm’s market for an additional flat of raspberries and a basket of red currents, and had a plan in place: we were going to make raspberry jam. So with Chatelaine’s Raspberry Freezer Jam recipe, my two kids and I made several batches of sweet and sticky raspberry jam.

Our interest in produce is turning out to be a surprising rival to summer’s many happy events such as visits to the ice cream shop or late-afternoon lazy swims in a pool. But when I see how happy produce has made us this week, it’s got me wondering about next summer. Think we can make blackberry jam? Grow melons in our yard? Why not?

Do you have a favourite local berry farm in your area? Let other readers know in the comments!

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