Our U-Picking Adventure

With spring in the air, and having already missed strawberry picking season (we just couldn’t get our act together to get out and do it), we decided to try to get out to the short blueberry picking season. We started out at Fort Lonesome Farm in Lithia, Florida. It was basically the front and side yard of a home but it looks like a lot of homes in the area take advantage of the land and have a variety of products.

Kelsey had a great time “talking” to the chickens and following them around and then feeling her way around the plants. She wanted to use the shears and kept carrying around the basket. I was happy to let her explore the different textures, shapes and colors.

While there were many more items we would have liked to pick up, we settled on a few, including some things we hadn’t tried before: mulberries, kale, patty pan squash and apple mint.

Mulberries:

These little berries were messy but tasty. Tasted like kind of  cross between a raspberry and a grape to me. We didn’t end up making anything with them but here is a link for information and recipes in case you want to try them.

Kale:

About half was turned in to Kale Chips. The rest eventually became Kale and Basil Pesto.

Kale Chips

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Rinse, dry, remove stems and break kale into pieces. Spread out on baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with spices (we use a Mexican Fiesta blend we found at Whole Foods or black pepper, we try not to add salt to things when we can). Bake for 20 minutes.

Patty Pan Squash:

At the time, we had no idea what this UFO-shaped thing was. The gentleman there told us what it was and told us what he does with it. He said to cut the bulb off and grill the pieces. After a little research, I came across this recipe and made a few changes to suit our taste and to use what we had including the fresh basil and rosemary growing out back.

Buttery Patty Pan Squash with Basil and Rosemary

  • 1 patty pan squash, 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • fresh basil and rosemary, chopped
  • fresh ground lemon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep ingredients. Lay slices in a baking pan, drizzle butter over slices, scatter basil and rosemary over slices and crack pepper over it. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

It came out tasting pretty good, kind of a typical “squash-y” taste and texture, if that makes any sense. The fresh herbs gave it a lot of flavor. I don’t think I’ll be rushing out to get another one but it wasn’t bad and I would have it again.

Apple Mint:

I’ve been having some trouble with insects in my garden and wasn’t trusting the mint so we decided to pick some up while we were here to make another batch of Mint Simple Syrup for iced coffee. Boil 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar and a bunch of mint leaves. Once the liquid is clear, take it off the heat and let it sit the rest of the day. You might want to give it a taste test over now and then to make sure it doesn’t get too strong.

There was some mint still left so I decided to chop it up and freeze it in ice cubes. It might be good with some handmade sweet tea!

After Kelsey followed the chickens around again, we headed out to find some blueberries. It was getting towards the end of blueberry season and not every where was still open for u-picking. Basically we just needed to decide to make a right or left from Fort Lonesome Farm and keep our eyes peeled for a place. We found one which was, again, basically a backyard. Will and I were chitchatting the whole time, which wasn’t very long, and when we got to where we were going, I got out and opened Kelsey’s door only to find she was passed out asleep.

Will and I traded off blueberry picking and waiting by the car so Kelsey could sleep. I had a nice conversation with the man that owned the farm and we talked about a whole different bunch of things. Finally, it was my turn to go picking. You know, I could have stayed out there picking for an hour! You get in to a groove with looking for and picking the blueberries and can just kind of zone out and think or not think, which ever ends up happening.

We ended up with about half a bucket full for about $10 which came out to just over 8 cups worth. Of course, that’s not including the couple here and there that I popped right in my mouth! Check me out in the bucket holding rig – for stylish, hand-free blueberry picking.

Blueberries:

We ended up doing a couple things with the berries. Some went in to shakes and oatmeal. We made some delicious Blueberry and Banana Muffins (had some really ripe bananas I wanted to use up) and Will made a delicious Blueberry Cheesecake. Both recipes were adapted from cookbooks we had at home. I wish I would have taken more pictures, but it was so good that it didn’t last long!

Blueberry and Banana Muffins (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book)

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 3/4 cup mashed banana
  • 3/4 cup fres or frozen blueberries
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Grease muffin cups, don’t line. In medium mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of dry mixture. In another bowl, combine egg, milk, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to the dry mix. Add mashed bananas and lemon juice. Stir until moist, batter should be lumpy. Fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake in a 400 degree oven fo 20 minutes or until golden. Cool in muffin cups; serve warm.

It was great having some different fresh fruits and veggies around the house for a bit. Always makes me feel a little healthier, even if they end up as desserts. Looking forward to the next new food.

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