A Lesson In Food

A couple of days ago my friends, Kristy and Chloe, and I packed up two minivans worth of wagons, toddlers and picnic lunches and headed off to do some blueberry picking. We were quite enthusiastic about our field trip.

We drove out to the country, turned down a long, winding, gravel driveway and ended up in the front yard of somebody's house in the middle of some fields. Ummm...where's the farm? You know the ones, complete with petting zoos, tractor rides, a ticket at the gate...Oh, that's not a real farm?!

No, apparently this was a real farm. Complete with blue sky, green grass, fruit bushes and plenty of fresh air.

Chloe immediately said, "You're doing all the talking here!" HA! I guess it was my idea to load us up and bring us all the way out to a REAL FARM!

Not long after we pulled up the front door of the old house swung open and a very nice man came out, said hello and he would get us some buckets. I continued to look around for the picture-perfect, rustic scene to take pictures of the babies. After all, we had dressed them in smock and hairbows! {Not Anderson, no hairbow for him; but plenty of smock!} 

And while I was looking around for the "rustic photo booth" Chloe was being attacked by ants. Yes, real ants! Fire ants! She was quickly becoming displeased with this Real Farm Experience.

So you know it took about FOREVER 15 minutes for us to unload 3 toddlers, wagons, picnic lunches & diaper bags, apply bug spray and sunscreen, hand out various sippy cups & snacks and in general get our act together. Then we were off to do some picking.

Since we are kind and generous friends we had agreed to pick a couple of extra gallons of blueberries for our other friends who couldn't join us. We left the shade and headed right for the center of the sun. Or maybe we just headed a few yards behind the house to some blueberry bushes but seriously how can it be so much hotter a few yards away?!?!

We began to sweat. No, not glisten or shimmer or anything lovely like that. We were full on nasty sweating. The children were sweating. I think the blueberries might have been sweating too.

Quickly we ditched the extra gallon buckets and "told" our absent friends they could drag their toddlers out to the Real Farm and pick their own stinkin' berries because GOOD GRIEF IT WAS HOT!

At one point all 3 toddlers were in the same wagon {because it's awesome & has an umbrella!} literally melting down, crying, hitting each other and fighting over Chloe's camelback. All the while we were being brave mothers battling spiders and various flying, stinging bugs to pick them fresh, chemical-free blueberries and they better perk up and enjoy this rustic experience because WE ARE GOOD MOTHERS WHO LOVE YOU AND DRUG YOU OUT TO A REAL FARM IN THE MIDDLE OF JULY...our bad.

In all it took us about an hour to pick our gallons and we retreated to the wonderful shade of some trees on the side of the house to enjoy our picnic lunches. The owner came back outside and talked with us for a while and shared some history of the farm and his family and about the different plans he had for the farm.

He had some blackberries but they were pretty much gone from all the rain we've had recently but in a few months he is going to have Christmas trees complete with hot chocolate and coffee!

He told us we were welcome to stay as long as we liked and showed us where the hose was so we could spray down our sticky, sweaty children and Kristy's wagon. Which is where toddler snacks go to die...

We packed up all of our belongings and headed for the minivans which were parked a whole 10 feet away. But let me tell you, in the southern heat & humidity of July it felt like a mile, especially since we were leaving the nice shade of the trees.

Somehow we survived.

Although Chloe got ant bites and Kristy got stung by a wasp we were not deterred. {And of course Chloe brought her essential oils so we were able to treat the sting!} We picked 3 gallons of fresh, chemical-free blueberries all while having 3 toddlers in tow and lived to tell about it.

We laughed on the way back about how we were so grateful for air-conditioned grocery stores and could we imagine having to pick all of our food all the time?! I know I'm not living up to my name, Laura Wilder. I mean she was the ultimate Pioneer Woman. But I'm grateful for washing machines and ready-to-wear clothing and air-conditioned everything!

But it did make me think. We are really distant from our food. When people had to pick their own food they probably didn't pick more than they needed and they certainly didn't gobble it all up as soon as they returned home. They had worked for that food, they probably made it last as long as possible.

So because I had a gallon of wonderful blueberries I decided the next day was Baking day. I made 48 mini blueberry muffins and a blueberry pie. That used about 4 whole cups of the approximate 16 cups of berries. Yeah, a gallon is a lot. My next step is to either freeze some or make some preserves. Chloe made preserves and is really enjoying them so I may ask her to tell me how. Any other ideas that you may have for lots of blueberries???

Also, when we pulled in the driveway from berry picking someone had left 3 full bags of these tiny apples for us. So kind! We don't know for sure who did it but THANK YOU!

So that got me thinking about what I could make with apples {I know, there's a million ideas. Thanks, Pinterest!}. I decided on apple sauce. And I still might try some apple jelly too!

I spent a solid 3 1/2 hours in the kitchen baking with all of this wonderful fresh fruit. It was approaching lunch time and I fixed a plate of {frozen, microwave-cooked} mac-n-cheese, fresh blueberries, a blueberry muffin and homemade cinnamon applesauce for Anderson and a similar plate for myself. 

The applesauce turned out great and was so easy to make except for the part where you have to peel the apples. Peeling bites The Big One! {I'm not sure what The Big One is but I know it really bites}. Anyway, I couldn't eat enough! My child however, only wanted the microwave-cooked mac-n-cheese....Thanks. That makes mommy feel really good about lovingly preparing all of this healthy food for you! And also thanks for gagging  when I force-fed you a spoonful of the applesauce. It did wonders for my cooking ego.

Anyway, at the end of the day I am really grateful for our food that God has made. And I'm really glad we experienced picking it ourselves. A little work makes you really grateful for Publix. 

 Can I get an Amen?

If you would like to enjoy some wonderful, chemical-free blueberries but don't have time to pick them yourself please be sure to visit the Pepper Place Farmer's Market to purchase some of MMF's berries!

{I am in no way affiliated with Mountain Meadows Farm and they did not ask me to write this. All opinions are my own.}


  1. Ha! This is so similar to what happened when our playgroup went blueberry picking last week! It was miserably hot, and the kids were all crying and complaining. Except, y'all did better than us, 'cause I don't think anyone actually got a full gallon. And yeah, I told my mom there was no way I was picking her that extra gallon she asked for!

    I pureed a bunch of mine and froze them in ice cubes to use in her smoothies and oatmeal. And she just eats them straight. I made peach blueberry muffins, too, and they were great!

  2. I absolutely LOVE your rendition of this story. Agreed, peeling ANYTHING just plain sucks. I'm so terrible at it. I like to get blueberries when they're BOGO at Publix and just freeze them whole...EK has really be loving eating them frozen lately, in fact, she's preferring that right now over fresh. Go figure. ;)