Growing up, we didn’t have a garden. We tried once when I was about nine or ten, but it was a sad attempt. If I remember correctly, we got one anorexic watermelon and three or four wrinkly cucumbers out of the whole deal. We didn’t water it. We didn’t weed it. Until I met Josh, this had been my only experience with gardening. I didn’t have any agricultural plans in my future. Strawberries from California were just fine with me. I mean, anything is good when you dip it in chocolate, right?
That all changed when I met Josh, who grew up watching his grandfather work the ground, raise pigs and chickens and put fresh food on his table. Watching the man in action is a sight to behold. He can take the most ragged piece of land, crawling with grubs, ravaged by deer, and turn it into a field of plump, scarlet berries and mesmerizing corn stalks.
He can tell you what the soil is lacking by slight color variations in the crops’ leaves and knows tricks to rid his garden of any pest that dare cross its borders. The results are nothing short than miraculous. Every year I find myself caught in a state of wonder watching the ground go from crumbling, dark earth to a sea of vibrant, living plants that have grown only because Grampa knows how much water, sunshine and cultivating each individual seed needs to bring it to life.
I don’t get a chance to hunch over in the garden pulling weeds out by their roots, sweat dripping down my neck nearly as often as I would like, but when Grampa talks about which plants like to grow together or how to eviscerate blight the second it touches my tomatoes, I listen. He has given me a deep appreciation of fresh foods and what it takes to provide them to your family. We don’t have a large garden ourselves, but in our modest little plot we do have strawberries and a short row of raspberries. Every year there is one magical week where the strawberries are on their way out and the raspberries are just gracing us with their presence.
The flavor of fresh berries can never be matched by anything that you will ever find in the grocery store. They’re juicy and sweet without any alterations. This simple sangria is easy to throw together and is bursting with fresh berries. Perfect for sipping after a day of sweating in the garden.
- 1 1.5 liter bottle of white wine (I use Riesling)
- ½ cup peach schnapps
- ½ cup sugar (optional)
- 1 rounded cup raspberries
- 1 rounded cup blackberries
- 1½ cups strawberries, hulled and halved
- 2 lemons, sliced with seeds removed
- ½ cup sparkling lemonade
- In a pitcher combine wine, peach schnapps and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Sugar is optional. If you are using a sweet white wine you may not need it, but it is all a matter of personal taste.
- Add strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and sliced lemons to the pitcher. Stir and let set in the fridge for at least six hours.
- Right before serving, add sparkling lemonade into pitcher. Pour over ice and enjoy!
- Don't forget to eat the boozy berries at the end.