I have written here occasionally about my habit of eating locally grown and produced food in season. And I still practice this as much as possible, especially during the seasons when I can grow and process some of my own food.
One of the difficulties of eating this way is that when some food is in season, there is A LOT of it. For the past month, I have had more spinach and lettuce than I could personally consume, and in about a week, I am going to have yellow summer squash coming out my ears. Eating, preserving, and sharing so much food can become a challenge. Even a burden.
This happened recently with strawberries. Who doesn’t love strawberries? My own little patch was producing a handful every couple of days. But my step-dad’s patch was producing about 15 quarts every other day. He and my mom needed help keeping up with them. So, when I mentioned I might like to try again to make a batch of strawberry freezer jam, they gladly shared.
Only instead of the quart I would need for jam, they insisted I take all seven quarts we picked together that afternoon.
“Oh, I don’t think I can use that many,” I told my mom.
“No, just take them. You can always share,” she insisted.
Within a day or two, I had eaten strawberries with sugar a couple of times and made one very successful batch of jam without really putting a dent in them. Now what was I going to do? I didn’t really have plans with anyone during those few days who might want to share, and strawberries take more time to prepare than, say, blueberries. I was starting to get bitter about the abundance in the fridge.
Then, on a Sunday afternoon when I was feeling more rested and had had my soul recalibrated in worship that morning, I realized my strawberry situation was suffering from the same excesses as other parts of my life. Growing bitter and complaining about it was one option; cultivating gratitude and making a plan was another.
It was more than just finding myself with lemons and making lemonade. It was about first realizing that lemons are a blessing and being thankful to God (or in this case strawberries).
So, I grabbed a knife, sat down for two hours to de-stem those little red cuties, and pronounced to myself over and over that this would be a summer of gratitude, a summer of counting my blessings instead of grumbling and complaining.
And I also whipped out my seasonal cookbooks and spent the afternoon making another batch of strawberry jam and a loaf of strawberry bread, freezing four cups of strawberries for future recipes or smoothies, cutting up another three cups to take to a friend’s house that evening, and preparing the rest to make into homemade icecream the next day.
Abundance is only too much to the ungrateful.
Today, I am joining Ann Kroeker for Food on Fridays when she discusses all things food, including recipes, tips, and discussion. Since I am a bit of a foodie myself, I plan to join her discussion often. Stop by and visit her yourself, too!
Finally, my last summer book which I saved until now is Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I started reading it a month or two ago, but as I have dubbed the next few months of 2010 the Summer of Gratitude, I thought this would be an appropriate time.