October 9th is James’ birthday and we’re in the midst of the annual multi-celebrations for this special day. That’s what happens when you’re as beloved as this gentleman.
In addition to having friends over for dinner, James and I had decided to go on a food adventure – apple-picking, which neither of us have done. Unfortunately, the orchard we had decided to visit had already harvested all their apples by this weekend but was hosting a “Pumpkin Festival” throughout October, where both pumpkins and red raspberries could still be picked. Knowing that there would probably be a lot of families there, we decided to go anyways. We’re both children at heart and often find ourselves at family-friendly places like museums and zoos because a) they’re mostly free here in D.C. (thank you, Smithsonian!) and b) we love to learn. We also find ourselves having many philosophical conversations about parenting. Since we have 3 new babies in our families combined, we talk about babies and families and parenting a lot. I guess not the worst thing in the world for two young adults considering having our own family someday. (James is turning 29 and I’m about to be 30. Are we young adults anymore? …Please do not answer this rhetorical question….)
We did enjoy some delightful Fair food: James had a hot dog with BBQ beef on top and a lemonade big enough to swim in. I’m experiencing some pretty intense acid reflux from my gallbladder removal, so I enjoyed some delectable butternut squash and apple soup. It was most likely made with chicken broth, which imparted a delectable savory-saltiness to counterbalance the sweetness. I loved it! There were tons of delicious treats to be had: apple cider donuts, caramel apples, soft serve ice cream, but alas, another sad fact of getting older is that we knew better than to spoil our appetites when we had pulled pork, mac and cheese and peanut butter layer cake waiting at home for us.
We visited the petting zoo and enjoyed that quite a bit (we’re a little bit obsessed with the idea of having a pig as a pet.)After watching delighted children enjoy games and hayrides for a while, we exited the festival in search of the raspberry picking.
This was definitely our favorite part of the Butler’s Orchard experience. James could remember a time when he went blueberry picking as a young child in the dead-heat of summer, but I had never done anything of the kind. We boarded a wagon pulled by a tractor and went through a silly little “haunted” forest where there were some pretty hilarious displays of gravestones, ghosts and goblins. The forest opened up to the raspberry fields.
You may have noted from other posts in this blog that I am trying to get more berries into my diet. They’re low-calorie and their bright color suggests that they’re full of disease-fighting antioxidants. Also they taste amazing! So I try to eat them in my yogurt every morning. A great way to start my day with fruit, too.
Raspberries are incredibly expensive, even in season, so I don’t eat as much as I’d like. They also spoil very quickly at home, so they’re not very convenient, and therefore I hardly ever buy them. However, they’re my favorite fruit, hands-down, and James said we couldn’t pass up this opportunity.
It was a fantastic experience! I wish I had taken more pictures, but we were a little bit rushed because we were having company for dinner. First of all, we were given absolutely no instruction on how to pick the raspberries. You get on the wagon, they drop you off in the field and that’s it. We noticed that some berries had turned black and shriveled, while others looked plump but were white. We assumed that we should stay away from these. We concentrated on the bright red ones like you’d find in the store. When you pull the raspberry from the bush, it pops off without a problem, and there’s a small, snow-white core that stays on the bush.
I know now why these berries are so expensive. You can see from the pictures that the raspberry bushes are huge (practically as tall as me), and very green, meaning there aren’t many raspberries on each bush. We are picking at the end of the season but you really need to look for the berries – some bushes only had one or two ripe berries left. James and I picked for about 15 minutes and had about 3/4 of a pound of raspberries to show for it. The harvest must be incredibly time-consuming for big distributors like Driscolls, explaining why raspberries can sell for $4.50/8 oz. I paid about $3.75 for my 3/4 lb., which was practically a steal!
It was a short-lived adventure, but one we’d love to try again. Learning where your food comes from is an eye-opening experience that makes me appreciate the journey of my sustenance. If you can, I suggest going out to discover one of your local farms and what activities they might offer.