One of the difficulties of eating this way is that when some food is in season, there is A LOT of it. For the past month, I have had more spinach and lettuce than I could personally consume, and in about a week, I am going to have yellow summer squash coming out my ears. Eating, preserving, and sharing so much food can become a challenge. Even a burden.
This happened recently with strawberries. Who doesn't love strawberries? My own little patch was producing a handful every couple of days. But my step-dad's patch was producing about 15 quarts every other day. He and my mom needed help keeping up with them. So, when I mentioned I might like to try again to make a batch of strawberry freezer jam, they gladly shared.
Only instead of the quart I would need for jam, they insisted I take all seven quarts we picked together that afternoon.
"Oh, I don't think I can use that many," I told my mom.
"No, just take them. You can always share," she insisted.
Within a day or two, I had eaten strawberries with sugar a couple of times and made one very successful batch of jam without really putting a dent in them. Now what was I going to do? I didn't really have plans with anyone during those few days who might want to share, and strawberries take more time to prepare than, say, blueberries. I was starting to get bitter about the abundance in the fridge.
Then, on a Sunday afternoon when I was feeling more rested and had had my soul recalibrated in worship that morning, I realized my strawberry situation was suffering from the same excesses as other parts of my life. Growing bitter and complaining about it was one option; cultivating gratitude and making a plan was another.
It was more than just finding myself with lemons and making lemonade. It was about first realizing that lemons are a blessing and being thankful to God (or in this case strawberries).
So, I grabbed a knife, sat down for two hours to de-stem those little red cuties, and pronounced to myself over and over that this would be a summer of gratitude, a summer of counting my blessings instead of grumbling and complaining.
And I also whipped out my seasonal cookbooks and spent the afternoon making another batch of strawberry jam and a loaf of strawberry bread, freezing four cups of strawberries for future recipes or smoothies, cutting up another three cups to take to a friend's house that evening, and preparing the rest to make into homemade icecream the next day.
Abundance is only too much to the ungrateful.
Have a few too many strawberries yourself? Try this recipe below, or check out the cookbook mentioned for other recipes for strawberries and produce available in season over the next few months.
Strawberry Ice Cream
from Simply in Season by Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert
2-3 cups strawberries mashed (I used my Magic Bullet)
2 cups whipping cream (whipped to soft peaks)
1 1/4 cups sweetened condensed milk
1 cup cold water
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
Chill all ingredients. In mixing bowl, beat all ingredients together with an electric mixer. Pour into a 9x13 inch pan and freeze until mushy, 3-4 hours. Remove from freezer and return to mixing bowl. Beat until smooth but not melted. Return to pan and freeze another 3 hours. (DELICIOUS!)
Today, I am joining Ann Kroeker for Food on Fridays when she discusses all things food, including recipes, tips, and discussion. Since I am a bit of a foodie myself, I plan to join her discussion often. Stop by and visit her yourself, too!
Finally, my last summer book which I saved until now is Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I started reading it a month or two ago, but as I have dubbed the next few months of 2010 the Summer of Gratitude, I thought this would be an appropriate time.