Friday, June 13, 2008

Pick your own

There are two types of people in this world. Those who understand the purpose and enjoy the activity of "u-pick" produce, and those that do not. The not-so-much people figure what is the point of going through all that trouble, when for only a few cents more (and much less bugginess, heat, mud, and trouble) they can get pre-picked baskets that are just as fresh. "What do I know about picking a good apple? Leave it to the experts". I am one of the people that actually likes to pick my own fruit. You get to eat as you pick, you get to choose what you like (for example, I prefer small apples for eating and bigger apples for pies and baking. If I am picking apples to eat out of hand I can make sure they are all smaller. That sort of thing). Plus it makes a nice activity. Like a little adventure. Driving out into the country, watching for signs, picking and eating, weighing in, then making your way back home again. Often it includes stopping for ice cream or french fries or looking in antique stores. Of course, in the case of items like sweet cherries and strawberries you do run the risk of "taste testing" so many that by the time you are done, you can barely look at the ones sitting in the basket. That usually proves to be temporary though, because by the time you get home family members start picking at the ones you paid for again. Which is fine if you bought them for eating but can run you into trouble if you want to, say, make jam. To spend an entire day and a tank of gas so that you can make a batch of jam then end up without enough fruit for a few jars can be a bit disheartening. On the bright side, you can always go picking again! Dh and DD? They are of the not-so-much variety. Which would be fine if they would just let me go and have my little adventure by myself. But DD doesn't want to be without me for a few hours and neither does DH so they insist upon being dragged along. And they are mostly miserable for the entire adventure. Neither one really likes fruit to begin with. To stand outside on a hot day with your feet mired in mud (how does that always happen?) and mosquitoes and other beasties flying around - it is just not their thing. If we walked out, stopped at the first row, picked our baskets and left I think it might be better. But I like to roam. I like to get to the areas that aren't as picked over. Or try the different varieties they may have planted. To these two, a strawberry is a strawberry and a cherry is a cherry and an apple is an apple. To me? I see june berries and everlastings, prince reinier and byng, fuji and mutsu and empire. I find it so interesting that different trees of the same variety can range so much in taste, texture, size, and so on. The princess anne cherries from THIS tree can be smaller and tarter than the ones on THAT tree across the row. THESE black cherries are firmer and sweeter than THOSE. I am nerdy enough that these things interest me. I bring this up because the signs for strawberry U-pick and Pick Your Own farms are starting to spring up everywhere. AND I WANNA GO. That's all. Tee hee! Now. About the fluffy white icing made with the flour paste. There was one comment posted and I got a couple of e-mails that this might not be the best choice. Which is quite worrying. I had already made the paste ahead and refrigerated it, but went ahead and made the icing so that I would have time to run out and get more supplies for something different if I had to before DH had to leave for work. I think I am okay, though. It isn't to frost a cake but rather to fill it. The final product tastes very much like a fluffy custard. In taste it very much reminds me of the filling for a boston cream cake. The texture is not quite the same. I don't know that I would frost a cake with it, but as a filling I think it would be fine. Not as light as the filling for a twinkie though, so this cake might be more remnicent of that boston cream cake after all. I added a couple of teaspoons of half and half to lighten the texture a bit, which worked, but made it look a bit curdled or grainy. The texture feels no different in the mouth though, so I am still fine with it. I wonder if maybe trying doubling the butter and sugar and keeping the flour paste amount the same would yeild something more like what I was looking for. I'll have to try that next time. The only thing I can say is maybe other people did not cook their flour and milk mixture long enough to cook out the starch? I was very careful about that. But thanks anyway for the heads up LOL!

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