Eat Well: Blue La La

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, Mom!
If it seems like I’ve been MIA it’s because I have been. My son, David and his wife, Alyssa recently moved to Portland, Oregon, and between two trips to visit them, a trip to Texas to hear Rachel’s last doctoral recital, and several trips back and forth to LA for Archer and Fable activities—all in the last two months, so I’ve hardly been home. I fell in love—FELL HEAD OVER HEELS IN LOVE—with Portland. For a green-starved Southern Californian, it was like going to heaven. We hiked up waterfalls, down waterfalls, to alpine meadows filled with fields of wildflowers, ate delicious food, walked to everything near where they live, and marveled at everyone’s gorgeous spring-blooming gardens. I love how many people plant vegetables in the tree lawn in front of their houses. And then there are the berries. All of the woods are teeming with berry bushes of all kinds, as are people’s homes. David and Alyssa have a huge number of raspberry canes, which were just starting to bear fruit when we left. They are now in full swing. 

When Rebecca was a baby, we lived in New Jersey for a couple of years and had a huge raspberry patch in our backyard. Every day in early summer, Rebecca and I would pick bowls and bowls of raspberries, most of which we would eat right there in the garden. They were by far Rebecca’s favorite fruit growing up, and it was hard to explain, once we moved away and no longer had an endless supply of them, that unless you grow them, they are a special occasion, once in a while luxury that come in very small packages. 
If you live in an area where you can plant perennial berry bushes—raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries—I highly recommend it. There is nothing more gratifying than going into the garden to pick berries. Make sure you check with a reputable source, such as your local farm advisor or a local garden expert, to find out which varieties grow best in your climate zone. (Nurseries are not always a reliable source of information.) Or if you don’t have the space or the right climate, going berry picking at a local farm is also fun. I was lucky last week to get an invitation from my dear friend, Mary, to go blueberry picking 5 minutes from home at a farm that she is working with. We picked about 10 lbs of blueberries, and I’ve been gorging on them ever since. I shared some, froze some but mostly have been eating them by the handfuls.

On Father's Day, I made a delicious recipe for blueberry buckle. (You can also make raspberry or blackberry versions.) This recipe came from The How Can It Be GlutenFree Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen. It is yummy, easy to make, and the batter can be made ahead of time to be popped in the oven when you sit down to dinner, ready to be served hot from the oven. If you are not on a gluten-free diet, substitute regular flour for the gluten-free flour. 

Individual Blueberry-Almond Buckles 

5 ½ ounces (3/4 cup) sugar 
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted and chopped coarse 
(toast at 325 for about 8-10 minutes before chopping) 
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 
¼ teaspoon salt 
1/3 cup heavy cream 
2 large eggs 
½ teaspoon almond extract 
3 ½ ounces (1/2 cup plus 2 T) King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour 
(or about ¾ cups plain flour)
½ teaspoon baking powder 
3 cups fresh blueberries 

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray eight 6-ounce (or six 7-ounce) ramekins with vegetable oil spray and place on rimmed baking sheet. 

2. Process sugar, ¼ cup almonds, butter, and salt together in food processor until finely ground, 10 to 15 seconds. With processor running, add cream, eggs, and almond extract and continue to process until smooth, about 5 seconds. Add flour blend and baking powder and pulse until incorporated, about 5 pulses. 

3. Transfer batter to large bowl and gently fold in blueberries. Spoon batter into prepared ramekins and sprinkle evenly with remaining ¼ cup almonds. (Buckles can sit at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap, for up to 2 hours.) 

4. Bake buckles until golden and beginning to pull away from sides of ramekins, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let buckles cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.

RASPBERRY—Substitute shelled pistachios for almonds, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract for almond extract, and fresh raspberries for blueberries. 
BLACKBERRY—Substitute walnuts for almonds, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract for almond extract, and fresh blackberries for blueberries.

And if you have a bumper crop of berries, freezing them is a wonderful way to enjoy them after your bushes are no longer producing. 

Freezing fresh berries: 

Wash and dry thoroughly. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet so that berries aren’t touching. Put in freezer until frozen (1-2 hours).
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Transfer berries to a Ziplock container, sucking out the air with a straw. The berries will be frozen individually and you can take out as many as you want at a time. Frozen berries make great wholesome snacks for kids! They think they are eating popsicles!