I am blessed to live where fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers are grown locally and readily available. This is blueberry, blackberry, and peach season in North Carolina, and for me, there is nothing quite like fresh picked berries and peaches. Early in the morning, about every week or two during mid-summer, I treat myself to a 20-minute drive through lovely North Carolina countryside to Blueberry Thrill Farm. If I can beat the heat, berry picking is a joy. Seeing families and friends enjoying their time together and hearing the kids announcing their conquest of the “Biggest One EVER!” or “Dad, you’re not gonna believe how many berries I just picked” makes me smile. Women chat about what they will make when they get home – cobblers, pies, salads, cakes, ice cream – old family recipes or something new they want to try. Dads and grand-dads hold the kids up to reach the high ones, and help to referee contests between siblings. Honestly, it’s a slice of Americana, a great learning experience for young and old alike, and generally a very pleasant way to spend a couple of hours on a summer morning. I think it’s the berries and the flowers – I think they make people happy!
Blueberries have been folded in to pancakes for Sunday brunch, sprinkled on sweet kale salads, and combined with sweet corn in a delightful summer salad. I’ll be freezing some from this picking. And I think I have enough left for a cobbler!
I made cinnamon applesauce from the summer apples – some for enjoying now and some is in the freezer waiting to brighten a winter day!
And the flowers, oh the flowers! Beautiful! Zinnias, Ageratum, Cosmos, Globe Amaranth, Lemon Balm. Picked a 5-gallon bucket full and arranged some Mason jar bouquets for the kind vet clinic staff who take such good care of our canine kids (and us too). We appreciate them!
So, here are a couple of my favorite fresh blueberry recipes. I’ll be sharing some more in future posts.
Blueberry and Sweet Corn Salad
- 3 cups fresh blueberries
- 2 cups fresh sweet corn, cooked and cut off the cob
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 orange or red bell pepper
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime or lemon juice – your preference
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
Mix all dressing ingredients in a bowl, except for oil, and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Slowly add canola oil and continue to whisk until dressing thickens. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine blueberries, corn, pepper, & onion. Add dressing and toss gently. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.
Makes a great light side dish to grilled chicken or pork chops. Or, enjoy on a bed of fresh salad greens or as a salsa with salty tortilla chips.
Makes 4 – 6 servings.
Blueberry Coffee Cake
- ½ cup butter
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
- 1 cup chopped pecans
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 ¾ cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 eggs
- 1 pint fresh blueberries (or frozen) – rinsed, drained, and patted dry.
Prepare topping. In small saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Remove from heat and stir in flour, pecans, sugar and lemon peel to form a soft dough. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9”x13” baking pan.
Prepare batter. Cream butter and sugar. Reduce speed to low, add flour, baking powder, lemon peel, salt and eggs. Increase speed, beat until smooth and creamy. Smooth evenly in to greased baking pan. Top with blueberries and crumbled pecan topping. Bake 45 minutes or until golden. Lovely when served warm. Serves 16.