He was so warm, and so generous. “We actually don’t open until tomorrow, but let’s see if we can set you up, anyway.” Three buckets later we had our fill of lovely pesticide-free organic strawberries, for which Paul charged us only the fee for 1 1/2. Perhaps this is because many [most] of Olive’s berries were still green… but trust me, she had eaten plenty of ripe ones, too.
Olive, Violet and I had headed to Natura Farms in Forest lake to go strawberry picking – a now annual event that started last year. It’s the most marvelous place – on a lake (though what isn’t out here?), veggies, herbs and berries in glorious rows. I am in utter heaven when we’re there, and Olive simply couldn’t get enough. She would pick one and say to herself, “Oooh, good berry, Olive!”
But beyond the heaven of fresh food and warm earth was Paul Otten. He welcomed us heartily and spoiled us rotten with horrendous discounts – we came home with freshly picked lettuce, tomato plants, potted basil and oregano, a flat of zinnias and our two boxes of strawberries (which, unfortunately, I decided to wait until the next day to slice up and freeze – and since they haven’t been genetically engineered to keep well for cross-country travel, many of them grew mold. I still have enough for jamming, though, thank heavens, and we’d already eaten our fill). All this for a mere pittance.
AND he gave gardening and composting advice and hooked me up with someone who could help me get my garden plot soil in tip-top shape! I’m in love!
So, out of the vast generosity and spoil of the weekend, I continue the giving spirit by sharing with you the world-famous recipe we make each year with our freshly picked strawberries….
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- 1 8oz brick cream cheese
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 packages ladyfingers, from the bakery section
- fresh fruit - strawberries, peaches, blueberries, whatever sounds good to you.
- Whip heavy whipping cream till stiff peaks form.
- Beat together cream cheese and sugar.
- Beat together the whipped cream and cream cheese mixture.
- Crack out a springform pan and line the edges with ladyfingers.
- Put a small bit of the cream mixture down on the bottom of the pan, then use half the remaining ladyfingers to layer across the bottom of the pan.
- Spread half the cream mixture over the top, then layer the rest of the ladyfingers and the rest of the cream mixture.
- Top it off with fresh fruit.