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Garden Fresh

Tis the season for fresh fruits and vegetables everywhere you look. Farmer’s markets, u-pick, farm stands – we are trying to make the most of what is seasonally available. We are still working on the first batch of ice cream I made in my new ice cream maker, Blueberry Ice Cream, and I just put another batch of popsicles in the freezer, Watermelon Mint.

icecream

I have two recent posts on Dayton Moms Blog that I wanted to share with you. While there is some information local to Dayton, Ohio in them, but the ideas translate to where ever you happen to live.

Farmer’s Market Fun for Kids

That’s My Jam: Making Homemade Freezer Jam

I recommend exploring your area’s farmer’s markets. If you are near Shelbyville or Bedford County in Tennessee, check out Bedford County Locally Grown Farmers Market. My sister-in-law is one of the masterminds behind it and it is unique in that it lets you pick exactly what you want from the participating growers. They offer everything from produce, to eggs, to bread, to handmade soaps and you make one stop to pick them all up once a week.

In the Garden

This year we scaled back what we are growing in the garden. We wanted to keep the girls interested in the growing and caring for plants but honestly didn’t know how dedicated we would be able to be to it this year. With all the rain, we haven’t had to water the garden and the flowers too often, but it is a chore the girls enjoy in addition to pulling weeds and just digging in the dirt, just because. Besides, it turns out we are awesome at growing leaves.

spinach

We had a good run of spinach at the beginning of the season and the kale is about ready to start getting picked regularly. We tried broccoli but it didn’t really seem to take. It’s still in the garden in the hopes it attracts butterflies and the girls still pick the little buds and eat them right off the plant.

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The herbs are doing well, as usual. The mint is huge and I am happy we decided to put it in its own container last year because it was the first thing to take off running this year. We got new basil and rosemary plants and they are doing great. The surprise of the season has been the dill Kelsey grew from a seed at a program at our local parks system last year. It came back on its own this year and has been an interesting addition. Although, we still haven’t really figured out anything to do with it.

What’s in your garden this year?

First Time Strawberry Picking and Strawberry Oatmeal Muffins

We have been enjoying our first week of summer. I made the spur of the moment decision to join a playdate with a local mommy group for strawberry picking the other day and so glad I did. It was the first time I had finally made it to something with this group and it seems like a good group and they are always doing things so it will definitely be nice to do things with other people.

Even though we lived near Plant City, Florida, where LOTS of strawberries are grown, for three years, this was the first time Kelsey actually went strawberry picking and the first time in a long while for me. We had a nice time, with Aubrey playing on a blanket, the nice quiet with clear air, and Kelsey had a blast running up and down the rows, picking berries, and playing with the other children. I used to love doing u-pick with my father growing up so it’s fun to share something with my children.

strawberry Collage 3

Kelsey proved to be pretty good at selecting berries and I certainly put her to work while I was feeding Aubrey. We ended up with about 5.5 pounds of fresh, sun-ripened strawberries. Aubrey pounced on them grabbing a few and squishing them and, of course, Kelsey and I had to sample a couple, too. They are melt in your mouth and sweet.

It was nice to show Kelsey the full circle of gardening since she has been great at helping care for our little garden at home. It was some work and we all got a little muddy, but at least the reward was a big bowl strawberries when we got home. I highly recommend doing a little u-picking this summer if you can. PickYourOwn.org is a great resource for finding locations near you.

strawberry Collage 2

I wanted to do something tasty with some strawberries and eventually decided on trying to make something with oatmeal that would be a good snack or for breakfast. I was able to get Kelsey involved by letting her smash the strawberries, pour things in, and stir the bowls. These came out pretty tasty and got the Kelsey, and even the Aubrey, seal of approval! I started out with this recipe and made some changes.

The Troy Strawberry Festival is this weekend and encourages vendors to use strawberries in creative ways. My favorite from the last time we went is the Strawberry “Sweet Heat” Salsa that is made by The Future Begins Today, which helps students pursuing post-secondary education goals.

recipe Collage

Strawberry Oatmeal Muffins

  • 1-1/2 Cups oats quick or old fashioned, uncooked
  •  1-1/4 Cups all-purpose flour
  •  1-1/4 Teaspoons baking powder
  •  3/4 Teaspoon baking soda
  •  1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •  1-1/2 Cups strawberries, mashed
  •  1/2 Cup fat-free milk
  •  1/2 Cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 -1/2 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  2 Tablespoons greek yogurt
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • sugar to sprinkle on top, optional

Heat oven to 400°F. Line twelve medium muffin cups with paper baking cups or spray bottoms only with cooking spray.

Combine oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in large bowl; mix well. In a second large bowl, combine mashed strawberries, milk, brown sugar, vanilla extract, greek yogurt and mashed banana; blend well. Add to dry ingredients all at once; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. (Do not overmix.)

Fill muffin cups almost full. Sprinkle sugar on top, if desired. Bake 15 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool muffins in pan on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pan.