Since my burgeoning strawberry fields are still in their first full year, they aren't quite up to the significant production I demand of them. And since I was gone during a critical stretch where the berry box needed to be shielded from marauding birds (with some bird netting), my own personal strawberry production was decidedly sub par this year. How oh how was I going to make strawberry jam this year? Well, Alycia and I were going to have to be proactive (not one of my stronger characteristics) go and fetch some berries.
Alycia's Mom had been trying to engineer a trip from Cavalier, ND up to Altona, CA (the CA here means Canada, not California) where they've been strawberry picking before, but I adamantly said "NO!!!" I always buy American when I can, especially my berries and my bicycles. As luck would have it that very day, an ad was posted in the City section of the Grand Forks Herald that said "U-Pick Strawberries" and had a phone number for a local farm just West of town where we could go pick berries.
To say that the strawberry picking was mosquito-intensive would be the understatement of the year. We hung in there and picked despite the swarms of skeeters and now have some delicious strawberry jam-esque substance to show for it. I say "jam-esque" because I got a little too loosey goosey with the jam recipe and it didn't set like it should have. (hanging head in canning failure shame)
Note to self - Jam isn't like canned applesauce, pears, or pasta sauce. You can't just mix up a big vat/cauldron of it, you need to follow the recipe.