My parents grew up during the Great Depression. Dad was a New England boy whose parents owned a small farm. Grandma had a little neighborhood market and Grandpa worked in one of the big factories. Dad often told stories about growing up during those years. Not too far from my grandparents' is a great big hill covered with blueberry bushes, known locally as Blueberry Hill (what else?). These are big, high bush blueberries. When I picked there as a child I remember those bushes being far over my head. An enterprising young man, during blueberry season my dad would take three big 5-gallon lard pails and head on up Blueberry Hill, picking until he had all of those pails full almost to overflowing. Grandma would make a pie or two from part of them, can some for winter and the rest Dad would put up in little berry baskets lined with leaves from the grape arbor and take them around to the more well-to-do part of town. He always sold out just as fast as he could pick the berries.
Blueberries are a wonderful fruit - high in antioxidants, low in calorie, and easily canned or frozen if you have an abundance of them. It isn't quite "Pick Your Own" season here, but if it is where you are you might remember this trick my Grandma taught me years ago. Put your blueberries a handful or two at a time into a pie plate. Tip the pie plate up at about a 45 degree angle, give it a teeny shake and all the blueberries will roll downhill, while the sticks and leaves stay behind to be scooped out and discarded.
These days, of course, most of my blueberries come from the supermarket where you can buy them fresh every day of the year. Somehow, though, they are never quite as luscious as they were in the days when fresh blueberries could be had for only a couple of weeks a year.
I was appalled a month or so ago to find them put up in the tiny containers that raspberries usually come in at an asking price of $3.99 a container. This week, however, the containers are back to the 1 pint/2 cups size and the price is back to $1.99 so I brought a couple of pints home.
Most of the time I simply add a handful of blueberries, a couple of sliced strawberries and a handful of granola to plain yogurt as breakfast. I've also been known to make a pretty dessert out of it by layering the berries, granola and yogurt in a glass. Every now and again, however, I like to bake Blueberry Muffins or a special Blueberry Coffeecake for a weekend brunch.
One of my favorite baking books is Beatrice Ojakangas' Great Holiday Baking Book. Beatrice Ojakangas is a Finnish-American who grew up in an a community that was heavily Scandinavian. Over the years, Beatrice has written more than a dozen cookbooks. I've never had a recipe of her's fail!
This recipe one of my favorites:
Blueberry-Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
|Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake, hot from the oven!|
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, 6 ounces) butter at room temperature, cut into bits
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large* eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 8-ounce package cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups fresh blueberries, cleaned & washed1/2 cup slivered almonds
1. Grease and lightly flour a 9.5 or 10 inch springform pan and set it aside. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Put 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour and 3/4 cup of sugar in a medium-sized bowl and stir to mix. Cut 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces, 3/4 cup) of room temperature butter into bits and add to the bowl. Use a pastry blender or your fingers to rub the mixture together until it resembles coarse crumbs.
4. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder to the larger portion of crumb mixture. Stir to mix, then add 1 egg, 1 teaspoon almond extract and 3/4 cup of sour cream. Mix until a dough forms.
5. Press the dough over the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the springform pan.
6. In a small bowl beat together an 8-ounce package of cream cheese, 1/4 cup of sugar and 1 egg until smooth. Spoon over the dough in the springform pan.
7. Arrange 1 pint (2 cups) of blueberries that you've picked over, washed and drained well over the top of the cheese mixture.
8. Sprinkle the reserved crumb and almond mixture over the blueberries evenly.
9. Bake at 350F for about 50 minutes until the crust is golden and slightly pulled away from the sides of the pan. Remove and allow to stand for 15 minutes before removing the side of the springform.
|The easy way to get the sides of a springform pan off.|
To get the sides of your springform off without ruining the cake, gently run a knife around the edge, release the clasp and push-pull to start the plate out of the groove in the bottom of the pan. Place the pan on something heavy that is wide enough to support the base of the pan but not so wide that the ring won't drop over. Free the side from the base and it drop down to the counter. Now you can just move the cake to a cooling rack.
Get 'Em While You Can!
There are just 2 days left to take advantage of the June $3.99 or Less Kindle Books. Here are a couple that were top of Grandma's list:
Leon Uris has been one of Grandma's favorite authors for many years. Many consider this his masterpiece.
Rosie's Bakery Chocolate-Packed, Jam-Filled, Butter-Rich, No-Holds-Barred Cookie Book has been in Grandma's collection since just about the day it was published. The layout of this copy isn't quite as pretty, but the recipes are the same and it is missing the batter stains.
Camping season is here and this Kindle version of Campfire Cookery: Adventuresome Recipes and Other Curiosities for the Great Outdoors will be much easier to pack along!
Mastering the Grill - right on time for the Fourth of July!
The Locavore Way: Discover and Enjoy the Pleasures of Locally Grown Food