Tuesday, July 23, 2013

cherry picking at berry patch farms (+cherry compote)

Otis, who turns 4 in the fall, has already committed himself to being a firefighter, a surgeon, a train conductor, a man who studies planets, a dinosaur expert and a farmer when he grows up.
I told him, "Well Otis, those are all very hard and worth while jobs. You can do any one of those things so long as you put in a lot of hard work..." He nodded his head like he understood.

But hard work doesn't always guarantee success. On a trip to Berry Patch Farms we learned that even hard work can result in a total crop failure, as was the case for the farm's first round of strawberries which were non-existent due to late snowstorms in April. Yet the farmers remain determined; they are hopeful that another crop will come around in August and they say the fruits are looking good so far... 
I was impressed that even while acknowledging "some years this sort of thing, it just happens," the farmers remain so optimistic. 

That's when I realized that I'd probably make a terrible farmer. I don't mind hard work (and the drenching sweat that comes from spending long hours in the hot sun), but the stress that comes with the territory and the strength you must posses in order to accept things that are beyond your control (like nature) well, that would be too much.   

When we moved into our new house, I thought that we would finally be able to "live off the land." Despite our small urban plot, I was thinking we'd be able to grow enough tomatoes (heirloom, beefsteak and cherry), jalapeno peppers, cilantro, basil, dill, cauliflower, and strawberries to take us through the summer months. 
But luck was not on our side and I didn't anticipate the bellicose bunch of squirrels who are constantly making war with me and my garden. To make matters worse, I planted almost everything in what-was-then (April) the sunniest part of the garden, but what-is-now the shadiest part of the garden (July). So unfortunately everything except for a few tomatoes and some basil is pretty much dead. Yup, my own personal crop failure. (But I will carry on...)

I already know what went wrong. I planted things too quickly. I rushed to get things into the ground. I didn't do my research. And I should have calculated the risk of having hungry squirrels and little boys on the premises. But live and learn, as they say...

There are billy goats, chickens, turkeys, a pot bellied pig and a donkey on the grounds. This had me thinking about how great it would be to have a chicken coop in our backyard. But then I thought about our neighbors who live in the old carriage house behind our home, and maybe they wouldn't be so keen on the noise and such. So we will have take a wait and see approach...

I think there's a nice take-away from the farm that benefits both me and my children: work hard, stay the course, and when things head south remain hopeful and always (try to) have a smile on your face. That's what I saw at Berry Patch. 

When we got back to Denver (which is about 25 minute away), I was craving cheesecake, which does happen from time-to-time (okay, more often than not). This cherry compote took just a few minutes to make and it went right on top of my upstate cheesecake. There are very few pairings that I like more than this one...(but this one comes close).
Happy day, now go hug a farmer.
Cherry Compote (by Smitten Kitchen adapted from the now-defunct (weep, weep) Gourmet Magazine)
10 ounces sweet or sour cherries, pitted
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
Making the cherry topping: Place all ingredients together in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, cook it for an additional one to two minutes then remove from heat. Cool completely.
Spread topping over chilled cheesecake.

cherry recipes from across the interwebs:
cherry, arugula and quinoa salad by cookie + kate
cherry pie by lottie + doof
red fruit salad by heidi swanson of 101cookbooks
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  1. Those cherries are just stunning! I will have to check out Berry Patch some day! :)

    1. Hi Dulcie! They were stunning AND delicious. Definitely check out Berry Patch. There's another farm near you that I want to go to (they have a Garlic Festival in August)-- Patchamama--or something like that...ever been?

  2. I was feeling really positive about my garden and then today I went to look at it and the tomatoes were full of holes, the beans were crawling with ants, and the squash plants have powdery mildew. And then I questioned this whole gardening thing. On a more positive note, those cherries are so stunningly red and perfect! I wish we had a place where we could pick our own around here.

    1. I hear you, Kiersten. It's hard to get it just right (and it is eluding me as well). It just makes me respect farmers (urban and rural) who are able to grow tons of produce-- especially without the use of synthetic chemicals and do it naturally. It's no joke! Are there no cherry trees by you? We have only 1 apple farm that I know of-- so that's what I miss, being from the Northeast and all :) Hope those crawlers stay out of your garden for the rest of the summer!

  3. How I loved this post! The boys, the farm, the cherries-- and the understanding that our local farms (especially the organic ones)are special places and we owe those growers a lot of thanks! Best wishes for a happy summer! Yours, Anna

  4. Silly, Mama. Don't you know you already possess the strength to accept things beyond your control EVERY single day? You're a parent, of course. :)

    I think these are some of your best pictures by the way... XOXO.

    1. :) Ha.ha. Thanks! I'm working on the photog skills. xoxo

  5. Stunning photos, Batya! Keep working at that garden, it WILL happen one day! Thanks for letting me know that BPF has cherries too- I thought it was only strawberries. Happy day!

    1. You're so welcome, Robin...and thanks! Yes, there are raspberries, cherries, strawberries (but check in August), currants, flowers, basil, etc. It's really a beautiful farm! Enjoy!

  6. The colors are super vivid and I love the composition of the boys, their papa and the landscape. If only there was a pita bread factory with beeping, backing up-trucks across the stream, it would be everything anyone ever needed.