One of the qualities I’ve always admired in my next door neighbor is her sheer determination, but singly, her incredible ability to really maximize time, make every moment count.
A few years back she and her husband bought a summer home at the Jersey shore and one of the goals she shared with me began with breaking down precisely how many weeks were in the summer, well that is, how many weekends the shore home could be used during the warm months adding on a couple of weekends onto the early and back ends of pleasant seasonal weather. She was determined not to miss a single weekend opportunity. It was rather striking to ponder this view, recognizing the reality of limited fleeting moments when one considers cool weather beginning in late fall, long winters, and relatively cool springs. There may be some lazy hazy days, but summer time requires maximizing, and my friends point inspired me to re-think how I plan out the hot weather season, in particular, rather than casually viewing the calendar jotting down invites, and fitting in barbecues. I now look at these precise number of weekends more as limited treasures purposefully planning all desired adventures within the precious window of time.
Of course among choices, there are so many choices, and then there is life. So this summer life threw a curve ball at my next door neighbor, though in all good ways, but, limiting her ability to maximize the shore weekends. This has caused me some stress, in a constructive sort of way, for her usual precise, to the point texts, have recently gone on as a whirling dervish of activity, and like a geese busily pecking at its seed, keeps me on constant edge questioning myself if I am absolutely certain that I’ve got each weekend of this limited seasonal time frame maximized. Thus far have been trips visiting friends in Delaware, a short vacation in Maryland, eating plenty of ‘all you can eat’ spicy Old Bay boiled crabs on the Eastern shore, water taxi’s in Baltimore, visiting friends in Annapolis and other fun weekend travels as well. Sigh. With no extra time available between so many choices, this packed schedule in its timing then left out the annual Pick Your Own Strawberries at area farms and so, thus missing that short window of time occasion, was not about to have the blueberry season pass me by. With our youngest, Alex the Athlete home from Baltimore for the weekend, on Saturday morning we loaded up the car and drove about forty-five minutes to one of my choice places for a summer PYO visit, Terhune Orchards in Princeton New Jersey.
Now it may be that the fruit itself, blueberries, and their ripe flavor between the sweet and tart are commonly the same, but just as no single blueberry is the same, this too sustains between individual PYO farms and orchards growing and producing among a diverse range of fruits and vegetables, no two are ever alike. Off side of the entry area pulling into Terhune Orchards features a lovely, colorful flower garden with an area just beyond for picking your own flowers.
The day’s Blueberry Festival at Terhune featured some extra fun activities but the first activity at hand was the picking. After an initial $5 per person entry fee, each picker then paid a three dollar fee and received a ticket, a coupon of sorts reducing the price cost of the blueberries based on each participant picking at least one pound per person. An hour or so later, plastic lined buckets balanced between fingers, we weighed in at somewhere nearing four pounds and then redeeming the coupon tickets paid something like $2.35 for the batch, not too bad for a day of entertainment and clear bags of one of the healthiest foods in the universe, which ironically so many people seem to actually really love. That says a lot for the blueberry, I think.
With plenty of blueberries to prepare a variety of dishes I first opted for today’s old fashioned Blueberry Crumble which really is so easy and quick to prepare that I could have made it upon returning home from a hot day out on the field and later enjoying the festival, but alas we already had restaurant reservations at a local Italian restaurant that evening (you know, maximizing the summer days) while actually also celebrating Bob’s upcoming birthday with Alex being home.
The Orchard brought out lots of pickers lining the center isles between the mounded strips of blueberry bushes on either side. Still, there were plenty of ripe berries to go around and plenty more room to pick them continuing along the overhead cover netted paths.
Bushels of peaches lined the shelves outside the small Terhune Orchards Farm Store offering the usual fruits, vegetables, homemade pies, cider doughnuts and a refrigerated section hosting the dairy, cider, juices and some of the farm prepared sauces and salsas. It seems the cat was more or less entertaining itself rather than serving guard to the just picked. Peaches are still not ripe enough for my personal preference and so I shall, as usual, wait until a bit later for picking among the harvest.
Large tents overlooked the grounds of the orchard which after a free tractor ride circling the grounds noted it as smaller than many of the PYO farms visited in the region, this too made it a bit more intimate. Beyond the tents were children’s outdoor games and even a wooden cow with udders stationed with a bucket beneath for the children to practice milking a cow, eventually each child got the knack, but it was quite entertaining to watch in the interim.
There were also pony rides for the children which served as the precursor on the following day for my grandson, the J-Dude when his mom took him on an actual horse trail ride at a ranch where they trotted through one of the area state parks. This horse seemed a bit cranky and I admit, didn’t particularly like me petting him one bit, but I liked him anyway, if for nothing else, his name, “Peaches.”
Wild guinea hens wobbled around the premises, this one above on the way to check out the high piercing squabble going on between its other feathered friends alongside the big farm style house.
Easy to stroll the grounds enjoying the various natural elements, Terhune Orchards also hosts a small art gallery, and nearly adjoined, a wine tasting area that at glance resembles a small stone cellar style storefront, as the Orchard also produces wine, including a Peach variety. With plenty to entertain us and otherwise, with a 9 year old, we never made it back for the taste testing. Talking about production, with no band name displayed, these gentlemen provided upbeat high quality entertainment with everyone having a grand time listening to them from young to old, including a young boy around three who was getting his groove on dancing up and down precisely to the beat in between the lined picnic benches, it might have been a viral video it was so hilarious. Perhaps this was a small gig for the talented musical group but between listening to them under the tents, or, picking blueberries to the beat, they sure did sweeten the day, and add to lots of fun, especially that is, when one is intent on maximizing the limited treasured days of summer.
Terhune Farms is located at 330 Cold Soil Road in Princeton New Jersey. You can check our their ‘Pick Your Own’ schedule here.
- 3 cups blueberries
- 1 lemon, seeded and juiced
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup flour
- small pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup plus a tablespoon butter, cut into bits, softened to room temperature
- 6 ramekins for preparing crumble
- Tumble clean, stemmed, blueberries into a glass bowl, pour over the lemon juice, stir. Grease 6 ramekin cups with butter. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a fork or your fingers work together the softened butter, flour, salt, and brown sugar until evenly well mixed. Stir blueberries, spoon into ramekin cups almost to the top leaving a half inch space. Top blueberries with the crumble mixture leveling out at the top. Place filled ramekins onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Slide blueberry crumbles into the oven and bake until bubbling hot, around 25 minutes.
- Blueberry Crumble may alternatively be prepared in a greased glass pie plate or tin.