Once upon a time, my husband, in a wonderful display of romance, bought me 5 flats of Plant City strawberries. I grew up not too awfully far from Plant City, Florida, and more than once, my mom and I drove over to eat our way through the strawberry fields whilst picking some for later.
So it was with much joy in our little town near the Smoky Mountains that a few years ago, a man would bring a van full of Plant City, Florida strawberry flats, and sell them on the side of the road.
My husband, who often has to listen to some of the many things I miss about living in Florida (shuttle launches and landings, the beach, fresh seafood at the grocery store, the beach, Sea World, picking strawberries in the “winter,” the beach, wearing shorts year-round, fresh-squeezed orange juice on Christmas morning, Disney, and the beach to name a few) has done his absolute best to satisfy some of those longings when he can.
For instance, every year for Christmas he buys me a bag of oranges. You may think I’m crazy, but I think it’s one of the most romantic things he’s ever done for me. Especially that first year…
Having grown up mainly in Florida, I equate the Christmas breakfast feast with fresh-squeezed orange juice. Oranges are always in season around Christmas time. And if we didn’t have an orange tree, somebody we knew did… until we moved to the mountains of Tennessee. Practically despondent that first Christmas here, my husband surprised me with a bag of oranges. Say what you will, but I remember that gift and have absolutely no recollection of any others I may have received that year…. That’s what I call real romance.
So a few years ago, when my husband saw a van parked on the side of the road advertising Plant City strawberries, he just knew he had to buy some. And not just some, a lot of them. 5 flats of them. If you don’t know how many 5 flats are, remember those little green baskets of strawberries you can buy at the grocery? There are 12 of those baskets in a flat.
That’s a LOT of strawberries.
To put it mildly.
Even more so, when you don’t have enough refrigerator/freezer space to store them.
Especially when you didn’t have your day planned around 5 flats of strawberries.
He thought he was being romantic – and he was. He just didn’t know how much work 5 flats of strawberries was going to be. He thought he would make me happy – and he did.
After the fact.
Because I spent 3 days in a strawberry coma.
Besides freezing a LOT of them, and eating a LOT of them (who needs Benefiber when you’re eating your way through 5 flats of strawberries???), I also made 12 pint jars and 6 qts. of strawberry jam, strawberry cake, strawberry shortcake, strawberry jello, and strawberry smoothies out the wazoo (literally).
Alas, the strawberry man went missing a couple years ago.
But this year, he was back.
My husband called to see how many flats I wanted.
He helped me clean them this time. He helped me cut the tops off this time. He helped me cook this time. He helped me freeze them this time. He helped me clean all the red juice off the floor this time.
And he apologized for ever bringing me 5 flats of strawberries once upon a time. He learned his lesson.
That’s true romance for ya.
Tomorrow: The recipes for my 2 flats of strawberries