"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Berry Abundant Berries (Child Labor Pays)

Someday, I hope to can something without injury. Today, I canned ten half-pint quilted jelly jars of blueberry jam, and as usual, burned myself by dipping a finger into the boiling water. This time I also managed to cut myself rummaging around in the drawer for that can-lifter I bought after the LAST time I burned myself by dipping my finger in boiling water. That was when I was canning bread and butter pickles a few weeks ago. Of course, I didn't remember that I'd bought a jar-lifter until AFTER I burned myself again. Ten pints is a lot of jam, but we had a lot of blueberries.

Tonight, I am making an enormous blackberry crumble to bring to a family barbecue. I'm using my largest lasagna pan, a hulking old 10x18" Pyrex monster. Probably takes about two gallons of blackberries to fill it, but that doesn't matter, because we are SWIMMING in blackberries.

Just about every morning, I start the kids off with a strawberry, raspberry, or blackberry smoothie. Yogurt and fruit, seems like a breakfast of champions to me. And it uses up a lot of berries. The freezer is jam-packed (you should excuse the pun) with berries. Last count was four gallons of strawberries, two gallons of raspberries (my favorite, so they go fast), four gallons of blueberries, and TEN gallons of blackberries.

Why so much fruit this year? Well, I have twice the labor force. Homero's nieces, collectively known as the Tamagochis, are staying with us for the coming school year. Their parents - Homero's sister and her husband - were impressed with our decision to spend a year with our kids in Oaxaca, and saw how quickly the girls became fluent in Spanish. They decided it would be good for their girls to have the same experience in reverse. Taking a year off from their jobs as physicians, however, was not feasible, so they asked us if we would be willing to host the girls for a year.

They arrived last week, just in time for the tail end of blackberry season. Although my children would be quick to call me a slave-driving berry Nazi, based on their experience picking strawberries and raspberries with me earlier this season, I was not the one who put the Tamagochis to work in the blackberry fields. Their father, who is staying until school starts, must have been eager to show us how much help the girls will be to us. He made them each a berry-picking bucket by cutting up a plastic milk jug and tying on a rope so it can slip over their heads (very clever!) and those two girls are some berry-picking machines, let me tell you.

Everyone around here is actually a little sick of berries, if you can believe that. That's fine with me. We won't be sick of them in January, and we may actually still have some then!