Time for a wholesome family activity: strawberry picking! We got an early start and headed up to Pine Tree Apple (Strawberry) Orchard in White Bear Lake, where I discovered that yes, the minivan will off-road in a cornfield. Good to know.
The perhaps best part about this particular berry patch is that you ride a tractor to get out to the berries. It's really not that far, maybe 1/3 mile, but I suspect they prefer you don't walk through their pumpkin patches that lie inbetween. Either way, everybody patiently waits for the tractor rather than hiking out.
Then we are assigned a row, bursting with strawberries. The rows are well mulched with soft, clean straw, so it is a pleasure to kneel and get busy filling our boxes.
Bella was a very conscientious berry picker, UNTIL she saw the boys in the next row munching on some strawberries. Then something dawned on her. And all she did the rest of the time was slowly stuff berries into her mouth.
I wasn't much better myself, I must admit. And the sky was so perfect for photos, and the berries were posing so prettily, that I was more than a little distracted with taking pictures. But we managed to take home 12 lbs of strawberries.
They were quickly transformed into loaves of Strawberry Bread, strawberry jam, and vacuum sealed frozen berries for later use. Brent read me Twilight while I hulled and jammed. (Although I have since finished the book on my own, since once it was apparent it was a romance novel, he wouldn't read another page.) And I attribute this year's being the Best Jam Ever to Brent's excellent berry-mashing skills. I usually use the food processor, but a potato masher and a strong man seem to be the way to go. Oh! I almost forgot Bella's favorite part of our berry picking adventure! The strawberry donut at the end.