In case you don’t know, Oregon has the best strawberries ever. Seriously, I’m not kidding. I mean, EVER. And being from the San Joaquin Valley of California, I, of course, have special license to make that claim. The unfortunate part about strawberry season in Oregon is that it lasts approximately 2.53 seconds so if you blink, you’ll miss it. And it’s very weather-dependent. So if the spring weather is unusually crappy (read: typical), it throws off the whole season. What I’m trying to say here is that it’s both a feat of luck and perseverance to procure at least one Oregon strawberry each summer. (Hmmm…perhaps this is why they are so coveted?)
Last weekend we spent one of our little mini Mt. Hood-getaway days cruising the “Fruit Loop.” No, this isn’t a drive sponsored by Kellogg’s (probably because no one has clued them in yet); rather it’s a named loop around the Hood River area that’s packed with berry (and lavender) farms and fruit stands. And, on a clear day – which it was – it’s all set against the lovely backdrop of Mt. Hood. The fruit loop was pretty cool, except that I must say that once again, as someone who grew up amongst farms, fresh fruits stands and parking lots full of stacks and stacks of shipping crates for fruits right off the vine/tree/whatever, it was somewhat familiar territory to me (minus the Mt. Hood backdrop and plus a typically thick layer of smog that blocks the otherwise very pretty Sierra Nevada mountain range that overlooks the valley). That’s all a long way of saying that we were able to buy some Hood River strawberries last weekend, which we all happily gobbled up during the week. So the mission for this weekend: procure as many additional strawberries as possible before they were gone. The target: The Beaverton Farmer’s Market, of course.
Of course we had every intention of getting to the market as early as possible this morning, which for us these days meant, um, around noon. (Hey, we do have a young toddler who still takes a morning nap sometimes!) First order of the day was fighting for parking along with the about 85 million other people who attend this market each summer Saturday. Once secured, there was no time to waste. I mean, they close at like 1:30 p.m., so suffice it to say that I was getting concerned. What if all the strawberry vendors were sold out?? Think positive, think positive. Jeff was taking care of Elena in the BOB (that’s a stroller for those who are uninitiated), while I led Ian by the hand toward the market. I informed Jeff that there was no time to peruse the Beaverton Bakery stand or anything else…we needed to head straight for the fruit aisle…and mow over anyone who got in our way. (And PS – for anyone who knows me – when have you ever known me to mow over anyone for a fruit or veggie? Exactly. That’s how good these things are!) First stop: Unger Farms. Boxes and boxes of strawberries sitting there…all empty – with a big SOLD OUT! sign in the backdrop. Whatever. I never liked that farm anyway. On we went, pushing through hoards of strollers and small children until, finally, we made our way to the very back where I knew of two additional, sizable strawberry farmers. And there they were…a nice selection of Hood Rivers. Ahhhhhhh!!!!!!!! Sweet success. We came home with our winnings – along with another 1/2 flat of fresh-picked blueberries because Elena could eat her weight in blueberries every day if we let her – and split them up for eating now and freezing them for later. So, so good.
Here are our winnings: