936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
I believe that it is very important to involve children in the how, what, and why of the foods we eat. I desire to connect my children to the roots of the foods they enjoy eating. I hope to do this by involving them in shopping at the farmers markets, and by introducing them to the actual process of growing things.
This year I’ve decided to not exercise my green thumb, mostly because I do not have one. When thoughts of seeds and pots start filling my mind, my husband is quick to remind me of the 15X30 foot plot he tilled up for me at our old house; the plot which I painstakingly planted my first seedlings in, only to surrender to the hoards of mosquitoes plaguing our yard, and finally giving up for lost my plants for the remainder of the season. It’s not that he wants to thwart my enthusiasm to grow things– not at all, he’s trusted me to grow two babies, after all! But I cannot grow plants. One day, with time and space, I will try again, but not this year.
Thankfully growing plants myself is not the only way to get our hands on fresh, local produce. I’m so thankful for the thriving farmers markets we have, and the farmers who put so much time, energy, and care into the food they grow for us. I’m thankful also for the numerous “U-Pick” farms we have in our area.
This year for the first time, I decided to pick our own strawberries. Last year I missed out, because I had not realized how short strawberry season is! I was prepared this time around, watching for updates on the u-pick farm website. Last week the setting was perfect, and Thursday was a gorgeous (and hot) day. Gray’s mom was in town for the week helping us with the boys, and so I left Ellis home with Nanna, and headed out to the farm with Ezekiel. Nanna had volunteered to keep both boys home so I could get some serious berry picking in, but I figured Zeke would do just fine and enjoy himself out in the field. I should have known Chris was right, she has plenty of experience berry picking with children, after all.
Upon arrival Zeke was thrilled to see the tractor slowly approaching to pick us up and take us out to the field. His enthusiasm waned as soon as we set foot in the field. He did not like the berry plants touching his bare legs, and so he stood still–for 20 minutes. He entertained himself with the flag marker. Occasionally I’d move him to a different spot and encourage him to pick berries. He instead picked up a rejected berry here and there off the ground, and pierced it through with the flag marker. What a boy.
After 40 minutes he decided he had had enough of the heat and the pesky leaves touching his legs. He began to fuss, I told him 10 more minutes. One minute later, fussing gave way to full-blown wailing and dramatic tears began flowing down his cheeks. Great, I am now the mother who forces her child to labor in the hot sun picking berries. I handed him his water cup, mostly to convince fellow berry pickers that I at least hydrate the child. I quickly scooped up our basket of berries in one arm, my tortured child into the other, and made our way to the edge of the field to await a ride back to the barn.
Of course, as soon as we boarded the hay wagon, life was good again! We managed 12 pounds of the 20 I had planned on picking.
Sometimes toddlers are unpredictable. OK, most of the time toddlers are unpredictable. I’m still glad I took him for the experience, and I learned something about my son: I need to find somewhere where he can sit on the back of a hay wagon for a hour. Nanna was gracious to watch both boys the next morning so that I could return to the field, plug in my earphones, and have a much more relaxing time listening to worship music and picking a further 24 pounds of berries.
I’m sure God had a wonderful plan in timing strawberry and rhubarb seasons to overlap; they were meant to marry. Before this year I had never attempted to cook with rhubarb. It was foreign and I was afraid. Like so many times before, my husband convinced me that unfamiliarity with an ingredient is a very good reason TO try it.
After bringing home some fresh rhubarb from our farmers market, Gray cautiously approached me with a piece of raw rhubarb. He was quite surprised to find that I actually enjoyed it raw! Encouraged by what I was tasting, I continued onward using my familiar recipe for Apple, Pear, and Almond Crumble to create a new recipe for Strawberry, Rhubarb, and Walnut Crumble.
I was very surprised to achieve success with the first pan! Of course, I had to make it a second time just to be sure it was perfect. This crumble harmonizes the unbelievably sweet flavor of fresh-picked strawberries and tart rhubarb.
The crumble made but a tiny dent in my strawberry reserve. Chris helped me wash, hull, dry, cut and freeze most of the remaining berries. I could only prep berries for so long however, and with about 4 pounds left I gave up and stuck them in the fridge. There they sat taunting me over the next two days. We happily snacked on them throughout trips to the refrigerator, but there were many of them, and they needed a job.
Inspiration struck on Sunday morning while we were out at brunch with my mother-in-law. We ordered Zeke the “Farmer’s Market Pancake Special”, which consisted of three delicious buttermilk pancakes covered in fresh berries and served with a strawberry rhubarb syrup. I kept sneaking bites of my son’s pancakes for the sole purpose of eating that syrup. I had to make some.
And so I did.
And how simple it was! This was a perfect way to use up our remaining fresh berries, and we will be enjoying them all year round with this beautifully balanced sweet and tart syrup. I couldn’t help myself but to serve it warm over some homemade vanilla ice cream, and I can’t wait to pour it over some pancakes this weekend!
Recipe below makes about 4 cups of syrup. (I made a double batch and was able to can 4 pints to enjoy during cold winter months.)
I’m sure Ezekiel will enjoy the fine art of berry picking a little more next summer. He definitely enjoyed the product of my toils in the fields last week, gobbling up bright red berries by the handful.
I may not have much skill at growing real food, but I can grow our children to appreciate real food. As a mom, I’m just doing what I can to introduce our children to real food, and make it the “norm” in our home. Not all of my attempts succeed, proven by our venture in the berry fields, but I know that despite picky eating or disinterest in the moment, our boys will grow to know what real food is and enjoy it to its fullest as we lead in example.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!