Toddlers love mud, they don’t mind getting their hands dirty, and they are just the right height for picking strawberries. Bearing all this in mind, my husband and I, along with our 20-month-old son, and a couple of friends, drove eastward to Lyman Orchards in Middlefield, Connecticut. It is a pastoral town, not too far from the urban mix of Wesleyan University.
It was a blue-sky-sun-beating-down kind of a day. The berries were plentiful and the fields were dotted with bent backs and stained hands. We plucked and chucked the red, juicy delights into a crate, making sure to leave the green ones alone.
Lyman Orchards’ market, called the Apple Barrel, is known far and wide for its decadent treats. Once inside the cool confines of the shop, I picked up an iced coffee and my fellow strawberry pluckers stuck to the flavor of the day, strawberry lemonade, marking the beginning of many berry-infused drinks that would fill our homes in the coming days.
Back from the farm, we clicked through recipes promising deliciousness in the form of smoothies and shakes, the occasional cocktail, the time-consuming preserve, and of course, the practical “four simple methods for freezing strawberries.” We went as far to stumble upon a Norwegian recipe involving krumkaker (waffle cookies shaped into cones).
But thankfully, most of our bounty was consumed fresh with Cheerios and oatmeal, and then there was a smoothie which elicited an emphatic no from our berry-loving toddler. As the week progressed, and the berries began to show signs of weariness, we blended them with some crushed ice, organic lemonade, simple syrup, and a dash of vodka. Heavenly.
We learnt a few things from this day trip. One, it is nice to have a strawberry-scented car on Monday. Two, although strawberry picking is hard work, it may not lead to an easy bedtime. Our son was on what I call a berry-high. Three, it is good for kids to know where their food comes from. Gives them a sense of where and how.