A beautiful, vibrant rainbow greeted us yesterday morning when we looked out the kitchen window. My 3-year-old daughter Pamela was especially excited to see the colorful wonder. I couldn't help but hope the special sighting signified promise for our day.
But as the rainbow faded and more rain sprinkles showered our neighborhood, our hope for strawberry picking later in the morning dimmed. Pamela put on her "strawberry" dress anyway, perhaps drawing hope from the rainbow that we would be bringing home buckets of strawberries before the day was over. It's always good to follow the lead of a young child with dreams and determination. Her middle name is Hope, after all.
We didn't get to the strawberry patch in the morning. Instead we took Joseph to the allergist for his immunotherapy shots for several environmental allergies. I was happy to cross the errand off of our list for the week, but I should have remembered that those shots also exemplify hope. Hope that someday Joseph, 8, will be desensitized to at least some of those allergies that induce asthma attacks and contact reactions. I've already seen improvement in him after more than a year of receiving the treatment. Those shots also spur hope that the immunotherapy treatments currently being studied for food allergies could also someday help my son, who is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, milk, egg, soy, sesame and mustard.
I still wasn't too hopeful that we'd get strawberries when we left for story time yesterday afternoon. But as I wrote recently, a visit to the library always brings smiles. When we left the library after yet another fun story time, the sun was shining and we finally headed to DJ's Berry Patch to pick strawberries.
Joseph and Pamela were so excited to carry their buckets into the field and start filling them with bright red strawberries. Of course, they tasted a few upon picking them to make sure they were just as sweet and juicy as they looked. Pamela loved the tiny strawberries and said they looked like little lights when she picked one with the skinny stem so it swung in her hand like a tiny fairy light. Joseph liked the cool-shaped strawberries that almost looked like little, chubby hands. Both couldn't wait to get home to sink their teeth into more of their juicy haul and had lots of ideas about what we should make first.
First, we just enjoyed the strawberries as they were – delightfully sweet in their own right. Then, we had some chocolate-covered strawberries using melted Enjoy Life Mega Chunks. Today, we made deliciously creamy, dairy-free strawberry ice cream. I also made a batch of strawberry jam for us to enjoy tomorrow on warm bread (King Arthur Flour gluten-free bread mix) that I will bake in the morning with Pamela, my willing assistant. I have fond memories of enjoying my grandparents' homemade strawberry jam as a child. They made and preserved fabulous jam each season, including peach, plum, marmalade and strawberry, which always had a way of bringing me comfort. I make an extremely simple jam recipe – there is no pectin or sealing jars with wax for me. This method works for my low patience level, yet still provides a comforting, sweet addition to our meals.
We still have a bucket of strawberries left from our picking to enjoy. Joseph has requested strawberry shortcake. We made Cybele Pascal's recipe for strawberry shortcake from her Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook last weekend and it was a big hit. But perhaps we will make her allergy-free strawberry cupcakes for tomorrow's strawberry treat.
I am thrilled that such a simple food is so sweet and healthy in itself. It is even more exciting for my kids that there are so many yummy treats we can create with the juicy fruit that are allergy friendly. Even better is the joy I had spending some time in a strawberry patch with two kids who were happy as could be because of a field of fruit. Red has been a prevalent color on my children's faces for us since seeing that rainbow yesterday. I'm so glad that my daughter's hope that was reflected in that rainbow was fulfilled.