Harmony Valley Farm is in a stunningly beautiful valley near Viroqua, WI. At times we felt like we were in the heart of the Smoky Mountains. On our way home from Madison we stopped for their CSA member strawberry day.
It started to rain just as we pulled in, but no big deal. It was much nicer to pick strawberries in the cool soft rain than with a hot sun beating down. Plus you could wash some and pop them in your mouth as you moved down the row.
Here’s a farmyard character who Ben dubbed “The Artist.” He really did seem quite impressed with himself. I think if you look up “cock of the walk” he’s the poster boy!
We went off into the fields to find a spot to begin picking. It’s amazing. Even when you think a spot has been picked over you can start poking around and find a little cache. It was like a treasure hunt.
Ben hasn’t picked strawberries since he was about 5 years old . . .
But he looks like he had a good time.
We picked about 16 quarts. I was worried I wouldn’t know when to stop, but my legs and back kind of gave out. The farm served everyone a wonderful frozen strawberry dessert and it was time to head home. I heard later in the week from the farm that members picked about 800 pounds of strawberries plus whatever was eaten in the fields. They joked that next year they might weigh the children before they head out.
On the way home we passed many Amish families in buggies or pulling their children in wagons along the road. Down the road we came upon an Amish farm that was having a BIG party. There was a group of little boys sitting on the hill next to the road waving at us. It was such a charming scene. I would have loved to stop to sample their potluck fare!
Most of the strawberries have been frozen for the coming year, but I held back some for eating and to make a dessert I’ve been wanting to try. Fruit Dumplings is a Southern dessert that could be referred to as homely, not because it’s unappetizing, but because it’s old-fashioned, down-home, comfort food.
This recipe goes together very quickly. Let it cool down while you eat dinner and you’ll have a nice warm dessert afterwards.
Oh this was so good made with strawberries. It’s like a marriage between bread pudding and strawberry shortcake.
1 c. plus 2 Tb. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. milk
1 1/2 tsp. melted butter
Sift the dry ingredients together into a bowl. Beat the egg and melted butter together first, to make an emulsion, and then beat in the milk. Stir quickly into the flour mixture, but don’t overbeat.
Drop the dumpling batter by the tablespoonful into simmering sweetened fruit. Cover and cook gently 5-8 minutes, depending on the size of the dumplings.
Stewed Fruit for Dumplings
Note: use a saucepan with a large enough surface area to give you some room to add the dumplings over the surface of the fruit.
4 c. fruit (peeled, seeded, cored, whatever is needed)
2 c. water
1 c. sugar
lemon juice, Port, or liqueur
Combine the first three ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring it to a rapid boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until fruit is just tender. Strawberries don’t take very long.
Season according to taste with lemon juice, Port, or liqueur. Crème de cassis is nice with the strawberries. Add the dumpling batter and continue to cook at a simmer, covered.
Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.
Adapted from Biscuits Spoonbread & Sweet Potato Pie by Bill Neal.