Blueberries and Childhood. My first connection with blueberries was along a soft yellow-orange dusty country road that meandered by the Clinch River and turned up one of the sharp steep little hills that surrounded the New Garden Valley,, VA, where I grew up. Sunday afternoon walks with my Mother, Chakie (short for Charlotte) along that road are still treasured memories of growing up. We'd stop and pick whatever was ripe – blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, even mountain tea berries when we could find them. Mostly we just ate them as we walked, enjoying their sweet freshness as a gift of the bounty of nature. I so enjoyed this connection with my Mother as it was her one day free from work and to be with me. As I write this my heart if filled with gratitude and appreciation for the opportunity to experience the beauty of nature and the love and connection with Chakie, at the same time.
Blueberries always seemed like a special prize, when we could find them as their season was short. Of course that's just my memory of it. Now, you can find them for a much longer while in the summer. And in grocery stores much of the year due to imports from South America.
When next I remember encountering blueberries, I was a young urban professional in Washington, D.C. Blueberries and cream was a seasonal, expensive, and chic dish to serve for desert if you wanted your dinner party to have an elegant and exclusive feel. These were big fat blueberries usually from Maine, not the tiny ones I remember gathering along the road. But, oh so sweet and delicious.
In the mid 70's I was part of an executive team sent to South Bend, Indiana to run a social science research data gathering effort. Situated on the Southern Michigan border, South Bend is surrounded by all sorts of farms, including blueberry barrens. Some of these are U-Pick fields. Friends and I visited the blueberry barrens several times, eating our fill and taking baskets full home with us. To preserve them one had to make jam, or pies or freeze them.
Cooling summer Snack. One of the easiest ways I was taught to preserve blueberries was to wash, dry and spread on a tray that was put in the freezer for several hours until the individual berries froze. The hardened berries could then be put in a baggie or other freezer container and back in the freezer to be pulled out and eaten one by one as a cooling snack. When the heat here in Southern California goes into the high 90's and 100's, that's when I reach for my individually frozen blueberries. Having just a few seems to cool me immediately.
Desert for a hot summer night. And, for those hot summer nights, try a handful of frozen blueberries, sprinkled with coconut sugar and a little cinnamon like I had last night. It's a light, easy desert that settles nicely.
Blissful Breakfast. You can convert this desert into breakfast quickly and easily by adding fresh yogurt, again sprinkled with coconut sugar and cinnamon. Note, to my taste, the best tasting coconut sugar is Mestiza. I've met the folks from Mestiza and know that they take the greatest care in producing the highest quality coconut sugar in a way that it retains its raw goodness.