Thursday, March 6, 2014

Orange and Berry Pickin'

Can I still say "pickin'" even if I don't live in Arkansas anymore? It's a new, wonderful experience living in a city which offers fresh local organic produce at your fingertips all year. And most of the farmer's markets don't even open until late fall/early winter.
 
Our lovely Saturday began by stopping at the Manatee Viewing Center at Apollo Beach. The manatees will gather in the canal next to Tampa Electric during colder (68 degrees and colder) water months. It is a federally protected manatee sanctuary, and there is a small educational center open during winter and early spring. There were several manatees in the photo, but it's difficult to catch them coming up for air.
There is a long pier through a mangrove estuary, and we just enjoyed walking around for awhile, enjoying the perfect weather. We had also visited this place last March when we were here looking at houses. We had meant to come back during the few weeks it got cold in Dec-Jan because I think the manatees congregate here in greater numbers then.

Then off to picking Honeybells at Dooley Groves. They told us we were going to be the last pickers of the season - until next January! We apparently made it just in time.
 
We had a lot of help.
 
It was fun to sample all of the types of citrus they had for sale (especially because we hadn't eaten lunch yet!). There were also little cups of Honeybell juice and grapefruit juice, which hit the spot so much that we bought a half gallon of the orange juice. When we were back in the car, we drank cup after cup of juice. I just kept refilling everyone's cups. We were all saying, "Mmmm," over and over. We also bought some pineapple oranges and grapefruit. We'll try the gigantic lemons next time.

Next up was Fort Lonesome, which was also down south in the same basic region as Dooley Groves. When we first pulled up, it just seemed like a house with a little garden in front, but we soon realized that wasn't the case. There were rows upon rows of amazing fruits and vegetables waiting on us to pick them and plenty of space for the kids to run and explore.

Fort Lonesome is a member supported CSA. If you don't have a membership, you have to pay a per-person admission, but fortunately he let us try it out this time. We really do want to join a CSA and need to decide on the closest organic one to us.

Picking strawberries in the 2 1/2 acre prairie was even more fun than picking oranges because it takes longer to fill a basket. The berries were so big and beautiful that it made it hard to think about paying $5.99/lb in the store.
 
We also picked some herbs (stevia, chocolate mint, and rosemary) and some veggies (cabbage, kale, green onions, and chipotle peppers). I don't garden, so this was such a soulful experience for me. The man advised us to try chewing on a stevia leaf along with a chocolate mint leaf, and it was delicious. The big kids and I took off on the forest trail, which was amazing. It led back to a creek, and my country-turned-city kids were thrilled to be back in nature.

the fruits of our labor:
We enjoyed strawberry shortcake for the next few days. The first night we used pie crust, and the next morning I made sweet biscuits, which were even better but not photographed.
 
And we have been juicing the tangelos. They are SO juicy, they are almost impossible to eat (without getting juice everywhere). I just take the peel off and stick the whole orange into my blender (with a little ice) so it's juice without wasting anything. We've felt very healthy this week.

For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands;
happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. 
                                                              -Psalm 128:2                      
                                                                                         

12 comments:

  1. It's always so amazing to me when I visit California or Florida in the winter and find I can find just about any fruit or vegetable I want at the farmers market. We got in on the last of the honeybelle season last time we were in Florida, and made the mistake of trying to eat some in the car. What a great idea to just stick the whole (peeled) thing in the blender. I add whole lemons with the yellow skin removed (but not the pith) to smoothies and it's so good.

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    1. Oh, yeah, I did also love California farmers markets...probably more. Yes, we ate them in the car, too. It was CRAZY. I had juice all over my legs and all over the floor. I will try adding lemons.

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  2. Does this post mean you still haven't taken the brood to Disney World?

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    1. We have, in fact, not. It is definitely on the horizon.

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  3. Wow, what a great day! Your little guy is getting so big! We love going to farms and picking fruits and veggies. That strawberry shortcake looks out of this world. What's the topping?

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    1. He IS getting so big. It's crazy.Thanks! It was soyatoo, the kind in the box you whip yourself.

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  4. picking is so much fun! it's apples and berries up here, of course but that juice looks fantastic. I hope you guys get to see some manatees soon!

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    1. We've only seen the tops of their heads and tails. They do have some at the zoo, which sounds horrible, but I believe they are only there for rehab/hospitalization. Then they are released.

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  5. Jenny, I love love love this post! First, your kids are so gorgeous! What a fun time you must have had, picking fruit is always such a great time and the added bonus is you get to bring home gorgeous produce right from the farm. I especially love that the herbs, how cool to be able to pick fresh stevia leaf. I bookmarked this post and the farm so I have it if I should ever move to FL like I have wanted to for years.

    The strawberry shortcake looks incredible. You can definitely tell those are straight from the farm, look how vibrant they are. The juice looks incredible too. Looks like a really great time was had by all.

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    1. Thank you for your nice comment. Move to Florida and be my friend! :) It really is so nice here.

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  6. I wish I live in a city that offers fresh local produce all year long....maybe I should move down to Mexico…the long pier looks beautiful, it reminds me of that long pier in Phuket! What a fun and memorable post - picking is a fun hobby to share with your kids and family! I would love to do that sometimes! These lemons look gorgeous and huge!

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    1. Ooo, I want to go to Phuket! Thanks!!!

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