Strawberries are in season so Jackson and I headed to the local berry farm to pick enough for shortcake and a good stash of popsicles. This three-year-old loves strawberries and has already helped plant a large pot of them in the backyard. He’s also been known to sneak warm, sun-ripened berries from his school garden during playtime. (If he’s not actually caught in the act, the juice dripping down his chin is a dead giveaway.)
Armed with small white baskets, we got down on the ground amid rows of fruit-laden plants that seemed to go on forever. I lifted up the leaves and exposed the red treasures that Jackson sought. We talked about the small white flowers and how they become baby berries that grow in to the big juicy ones that he loves. Along the way he explored the insect population and found a pill bug. “Here, you hold him while I eat.” The kid is lucky that I’m not squeamish. With our full baskets plus an extra pre-picked flat, we were ready to head home and tackle our projects.
The strawberries filled the kitchen with an intoxicating fragrance that screamed summer. I prepped the berries and started the macerating process with sugar and water. A few hours later, Jackson joined me for the fun part of making strawberry popsicles—squishing the fruit into tiny pieces. We giggled and had great fun reducing the berries to just the right consistency. Part of the joy of cooking with kids is watching them work. Jackson concentrated intently with his tongue hanging out of his mouth as he carefully filled each popsicle mold. The joy of accomplishment was all over his face—along with quite a bit of sticky red juice—once all the molds were filled.
The next morning Jackson woke up early and headed to the freezer for breakfast. This is the ultimate reward for a job well done. Our day was joyful and Jackson learned a bit about plants, harvesting berries and the satisfaction that comes from making your own food—especially this sweet treat.