April 22, 2014

I Pick, U Pick, We Pick

 

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, we had a blast picking blueberries over the weekend with the folks at Southern Hill Farms in Clermont. 

The owners were so hospitable, the land was sprawling and gorgeous and the blueberries were literally the best we have ever had. I’m not even kidding.  Just ask Mike, he is STILL raving about it.

 

southern-hill-farms-logo

Southern Hill Farms is a family owned and operated u-pick and commercially harvested blueberry farm, as well as a wholesale ornamental tree farm. We are located atop one of Central Florida’s rare and picturesque rolling hills in Clermont, FL, just southwest of Orlando. We planted our first crop of blueberries in 2010 and currently have 40 acres of blueberry bushes on our 120 acre farm. We welcome guests to our family friendly blueberry u-pick farm when the blueberries are ready to be harvested at the peak of their ripeness, usually during the months of April and May.

 

We arrived around 1pm and the weather was overcast and breezy…almost a little cool.  I had never been blueberry picking before – at least not that I can remember – and didn’t know what to expect.  I didn’t really even know what blueberry bushes looked like and was hoping that we wouldn’t be doing a lot of bending over like with strawberry picking.

Well, we hit the jackpot.  The blueberry bushes were tall, almost like small trees and there was hardly any bending at all.  Score.  The top of the bushes were perfect for the adults and the bottom was the perfect height for E.

 

IMG_6327 

 

IMG_6332

IMG_6320

After a quick introduction (Everett goes to daycare with the owners’ grandchildren) and a short how-to lesson, we were off and picking. 

The rules: 

  1. Do not cut through rows (to protect the plants/fruit).
  2. Only pick the dark blue berries.

Simple enough.

We kept E in the stroller in the beginning (the rows are very stroller accessible), and just kept feeding him the goods.  He loved it and couldn’t seem to get enough.  He and Mike were in blueberry heaven.

 

IMG_6393IMG_6412IMG_6394IMG_6395

The bushes were full of berries and we honestly didn’t see one bad berry.  There were some that weren’t ripe yet, but none that looked rotten or spoiled…I’m telling you, the blueberries there are GORGEOUS (and huge!).

 

IMG_6323

IMG_6326

IMG_6356

I couldn’t even believe that the blueberry glasses stayed on the whole time!  Yessss!

 

Blueberry Picking–Southern Hill Farms 4/19/14

 

IMG_6387

Straight from the bush directly into the mouth – you can’t get any fresher than that!  Forget farm to table – that is farm to belly!

 

IMG_6378

IMG_6392

 

We left with $7 worth of blueberries that in a grocery store would have cost us about $20 without all of the memories.  I encourage all of you in the central Florida area to go check out Southern Hill Farms.  I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Here are the specifics from the Southern Hills website-

2014 Blueberry U-pick Season Information

We will begin our u-pick on Saturday, April 12, 2014 for our grand opening at 9 am! We will be serving blueberry pancakes from 9 am to 12 noon for you to enjoy, free of charge. We will be open on Saturdays and Sundays through the end of May, however we will be closed on Sunday, April 20 in observance of Easter. We are looking forward to picking blueberries with you, your friends and family soon!

2014 Pricing
  • $4/lb u-pick blueberries.
  • Free parking.
  • Concession snacks and drinks available for purchase.
  • CASH ONLY.

Please remember to bring a hat and/or sunscreen. There is a barn with seating available for when you need shade. We will provide you with a bucket to pick your blueberries, as well as a clamshell to take them home in. Please see the Blueberry U-Pick tab on the left for more information.

 

Click here for your coupon!

coupon

 

So then, the question becomes, “What do you do with nearly 2 pounds of blueberries?”.  Well, blueberry danish of course!

Here’s how:

 

Blueberry Danish

Click here to print!

 

  • 1 box puff pastry {2 sheets}, thawed to room temperature

Filling

  • 2 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1-1/2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

Frosting

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. Heavy Cream (or milk)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • pinch of salt
  • chopped almonds, walnuts or pecans (optional)

 

Directions:

Lay one whole pastry sheet onto a greased cookie sheet (or Silpat lined).  Mix softened cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract together until well blended.  Spread on top of pastry sheet.

Top with blueberries.

IMG_6459

Cut second puff pastry sheet into 10 long strips.  Weave strips on top of blueberries.

Bake at 375 F for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

 

IMG_6476

Pipe or drizzle the frosting to be fancy schmancy and sprinkle with chopped nuts if desired (I totally forgot to add the fanciness to mine – we were too excited to try it!).

Enjoy!

April 21, 2014

Menu Monday

 

First of all, Happy belated Easter everyone!  Second of all, what a crazy, fun and exhausting weekend we had!

Recap:

Good Friday-  Since our Spring Break (almost) always coincides with Easter we had to wait quite a long while to get to this point…but boy am I happy now that our break is here!   Our Spring (Easter) break started on Holy Thursday and lasts throughout this week – alleluia! 

E and I spent Good Friday with good friends.  We attended our friend Palmer’s rocket themed 3rd birthday party at East End Market in the morning and then headed to meet Mike and his co-workers for lunch a bit later.

Palmer’s party was so adorable and E liked playing with some friends his age.  Everett, Cora and Keats enjoyed eating popcorn, playing with balloons and putting ping pong balls in solo cups (a foreshadowing of beer pong?!?…sigh).

 

IMG_6107IMG_6109IMG_6113IMG_6135IMG_6147

After the party we met up with Mike and his co-workers at Logan’s Roadhouse for a delicious lunch.  Everett loved being the center of attention and was even using the adult silverware (kind of).

IMG_6146

They matched and I didn’t even try to do it!  Score!

 

Saturday:

We started our weekend of fun off with a 5 mile run on the West Orange Trail, followed by a trip to the Winter Garden Farmers Market.  The atmosphere is so quaint and the produce is beautiful.  E loved listening to the musician, eating banana chips and pointing at all the dogs.

 

IMG_6204IMG_6209IMG_6213IMG_6222IMG_6221IMG_6208

The farmers market area is also home to a pretty cool splash pad.  Everett wasn’t too sure about it.  He loved to point to the water, but didn’t want to touch it unless one of us was near.  It was pretty chilly, too…so I’m not sure I blame him!

 

IMG_6274IMG_6313

First time in his baby Speedo – so cute!

After running and marketing we were ravenous – so where else would we end up by 4Rivers Smokehouse.  We got there juuuust before the line was out the door (per usual) and enjoyed some delicious BBQ.  I can’t decide if I like the main dishes or the sides the best – they are all SO GOOD!

 

IMG_6302IMG_6306IMG_6307IMG_6305

 

After lunch we headed to Southern Hill Farms for some UPick Blueberry action!  A couple of the children in Everett’s daycare are associated with the farm (their grandparents own and operate Southern Hill Farms) and we thought we would try it out.

The verdict – SO.MUCH.FUN and SO DELICOUS.  I have much much more to tell you about our experience coming up soon (including a yummy Blueberry Danish recipe that is to die for!).

 

IMG_6393IMG_6394IMG_6412IMG_6395

Everett ate so many blueberries I’m surprised he didn’t actually turn blue.  He (or his father) couldn’t get enough!

 

Sunday -

Easter morning started with our first official family trip (all 3 of us) to mass with Everett.  I was a bit nervous, but he did pretty well; better than I expected.  We did have to make a few “walk around” trips, but all-in-all he was a gentleman.  Whew!

 

IMG_6456

 

After church it was a quick nap (ending with a busted lip and bloody sheets – who knows what went on in the crib) and Easter basket time!

 

IMG_6423

E’s Easter basket came from Land’s End and I highly recommend it.  It is so durable (not to mention cute) and is great for daytrips or used as a toy/book basket when not in use for Easter.  I LOVE it and am so excited that it will last for years and years to come.

Everett’s Easter basket goodies included:  books, bubbles, water gun, a new pair of florescent green shorts from H&M, a windmill and his very first pair of tiny TOMS cordones.  He loved his shoes and wanted to put them on right away – I was in love as well!

 

IMG_6473IMG_6481

 

We spent the rest of they day with our friends Jenny, Jeremy and their son Carson eating brunch, drinking mimosas, taking a walk and dying eggs.  It was the perfect, relaxing day with fun kiddos and great friends.

 

IMG_6502

Carson (almost 2 months) and Everett (14 months)

 

IMG_6475IMG_6491

IMG_6598

Thank goodness for Shout and Oxy Clean!  That while shirt didn’t stand a chance!

IMG_6511IMG_6541

IMG_6607

IMG_6565

 

We opted to color eggs with Kool-Aid this year and have to admit it worked and smelled a lot better than the dyes with vinegar!

 

IMG_6569IMG_6579

IMG_6570

IMG_6597

 

E continued to burn off some energy when we got home and then crashed when it got close to bedtime!  He was a tired little guy – as were we.

 

IMG_6606

 

This morning we started our day with a breakfast date with his girlfriend Kennedy and her mom Jill.  They are so funny together!

 

IMG_6774

Kennedy (13 months) and Everett (14 months)

IMG_6775

He also loved climbing everything and only bit the dust a few times..notice the busted lip from yesterday?  Poor thing.

 

As for this week I am cleaning out closets, organizing our house, spring cleaning (with help from my mom who is headed down tomorrow!) and lunching with friends.  It’s sooooo nice to have a week off to hopefully get a few things marked off of my to-do list!  We are ending our week with a 12K run around Lake Minneola, so some last minute training runs will probably be in the works as well!

As for food – here’s our menu---

 

M: Chicken Pesto Pizza

T:  Egg Salad Sandwiches w/ Chips

W:  Porcupine Meatballs w/ Corn on the Cob

Th:  Pot Roast Baked Potatoes

F:  Breakfast Paninis w/ Chopped Salad

Sa:  Pasta Fagiole

Su:  Grilled Pork Chops w/ Mustard BBQ Sauce and Veggie Cous Cous

 

Have a great week!

IMG_6613