The Cat Spruce Difference

Russell and Emily are visiting, and they brought some of the strawberries they just picked from their urban farm — now known at Cat Spruce Fields.  Those plump red berries in the metal bowl are the fruits of their labors.  You can see the difference in color between their natural, locally grown, hand-picked berries and the bowl of commercial strawberries we bought from the grocers, and the difference in taste is just as great, too.

What’s better in the summer than strawberries?

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Into The Heartland

Yesterday Kish and I drove east and north on a weekend trip.  Our destination was Carroll County, to pay a visit to Cousin Jeff.

Carroll County is one of the least populous– and therefore one of the most bucolic — counties in Ohio.  It’s primarily farming territory, with some Amish communities mixed in and the occasional fracking platform tucked behind a screen of trees.  It’s a wonderful place to go if you like rolling countryside, the sound of birdsong, and winding roads that seem to never really go anywhere except past pretty Midwestern scenery, with horses and cows, silos and hay bales, and farmhouses and barns.

During our visit we stopped at the lovely Twigg Winery, where I had a glass of tasty Ohio red and we took in the captivating vista inadequately pictured above.  There we bought several cartons of strawberries that were hand-picked yesterday morning.  Forget the fist-sized, fibrous monstrosities you get at your neighborhood mega-grocery store — these sweet, tart beauties were bursting with flavor and freshness and made you remember what strawberries are supposed to taste like.

Carroll County is a good place to visit if you want to get off the beaten path and kick back into our rural heritage.

Savoring Summer Fruit

I had my annual (well, occasional) physical last week, and saw the concerned face that our family doctor probably puts on whenever he talks to a guy in his mid-50s who has a desk job.  There was talk about test results (normal, whoo-hoo!), aging-related diagnostic checks (an MRI to evaluate plaque build-up in blood vessels), and statistics that show that, for men, the late 50s are the danger zone for heart attacks, strokes, and other unwelcome forms of sudden death (yikes!).

Inevitably, the discussion turned to diet.  Time to eat fewer juicy cheeseburgers and more dry, unadorned fish and chicken!  Let’s try to choke down more leafy green vegetables, shall we?  And watch out for those evil “empty calories,” too, while we’re at it!

Fortunately, the good doctor also recommended that I eat more fruit.  No problem!  I felt proud of myself when I drove to the neighborhood grocer and, following doctor’s orders, bought fresh raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and melons for some welcome, juice-dribbling-down-the-chin goodness.

With this group of fruit choices, timing and sequencing is crucial.  You always start with the raspberries, before they get soft and soggy, when they still have the crisp snap as you bite into them and savor their tart flavor.  Then you move to my favorite, strawberries, perform the necessary surgery on the stem remnants, cut them into sections, and gobble them down — in my case, typically on a bowl of Corn Flakes or Rice Chex.  Next up is the blueberries, to pile heaping spoonfuls into your mouth and get that explosion of flavor as your teeth breach the skin of the fruit.  And finally you reach the melon, after a few days of ripening, scoop out the seeds, and then enjoy the succulent spoonfuls of sweet melon flesh.

These are some of the best tastes of summer, which is the golden season for local Ohio fruit.  If only every instruction from my doctor were so easy to follow!