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Ode to Berries

Ah, berries. Such beauty and flavor in each jewel-like morsel. There seems to be as many photos of berries floating around the ‘net right now as there are of changing leaves in the fall. And why not? They pretty much have everything going for them.

It has been a remarkable year for our backyard raspberries. They are not as large as the ones from the farmer’s market, but they are sweet and abundant. In the past they haven’t been as plentiful, or we were away while they ripened. This year we’ve eaten quite a few and are freezing several batches for later. Our method is to place a single, unwashed layer on a baking sheet covered with a silpat or waxed paper, making sure that most are not touching (discarding any bits of debris), freeze them until solid, and then place the marble-like frozen berries into a gallon size freezer bag. We give them a quick rinse right before use. We do this for raspberries, blueberries and blackberries and enjoy them in smoothies and desserts (see our berry rhubarb crisp recipe) throughout the year.

Interested in picking your own berries? PickYourOwn.org lists farms and orchards by state, as well as offering canning information and recipes.


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Berry Rhubarb Crisp

Another week has gone by. Although there’s been a little rain, this week has been mostly sunny and beautiful. Chloe, Barkley and I have been spending some of every afternoon outside. All of our raised garden beds sit at the ready with rich, dark layers of compost. The rhubarb fills the back of the middle bed and they are already so big! It’s like they sprung up over night. I’m getting an early start on them this year by adding fresh rhubarb to frozen berries remaining from last year, and throwing some of this topping on it. Tastes like summer already.


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Recipes I'm loving… too much


Easy Apple Crisp (see below for recipe)

Okay, truly, this week I vow to try and start eating healthier and to stop gaining so much weight. Although I’m not technically “overweight” (yet often feel that way), I have definitely gained on the higher end of the recommended amount. And I certainly do not want to birth a ginormous baby. You know what I’m saying? I just want to plateau on all this weight from here on out. (Special thanks to everyone who left a comment on this post. I’ve heard that breastfeeding helps to melt off those post-partum pounds, but at this point, I’m nervous about relying on something I’ve never done before 🙂 )

That said, I’ve realized a big part of my problem is an abundance of ripe, luscious summer fruit, particularly berries, apples, and peaches. So of course I was making all kinds of delectable goodies. Just for fun, here are three recipes that we’ve really been loving:

Blueberry Lemon Sour Cream Cake. This was by far the best tasting cake I’ve made all year. I used the Sour Cream Lemon Cake recipe, but added slightly less white sugar and a cup of blueberries. Then I followed the directions for the lemon butter glaze. Every bite was divine, and we were seriously sad when it was all gone.

Homemade Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. I’ve tried before to make a creamy egg-based vanilla, but it was time consuming, frustrating and didn’t turn out well. Now I mostly just stick to making simple fruit sorbets. This recipe, however, didn’t call for any eggs or cooking, just creams, peppermint extract, chopped or mini-chocolate chips, and a can of sweetened condensed milk (I LOVE this stuff. I can eat it straight out of the can with a spoon). This recipe made more than my cuisinart ice cream maker could handle, so I’ll be halving it next time. And I’m sure there will be a next time.

Easy Fruit Crisp (see below). This is my tried and true recipe for any fruit we happen to have. It is quick, easy, and uncomplicated (no fancy crust to worry about). I’ve had success using both fresh and frozen mixed berries, fresh apples, blueberries, and peaches. With really juicy/wet fruit like peaches, it is a good idea to stir in 2 to 4 tablespoons of flour, so you don’t end up with soup. It also doesn’t matter how much fruit you use, except that the ratio of topping to filling changes. David and I love extra topping, so I usually double that part of the recipe.

Filling:
Up to 5 cups of fresh or frozen fruit
2 to 4 tablespoons sugar

Topping:

1/2 cup regular rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup softened butter
1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1) Thaw fruit, if frozen, and then place in a baking dish. Stir in 2 to 4 tablespoons of sugar to taste (optional).

2) For crisp topping, combine oats, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts (optional). Sprinkle topping over filling.

3) Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until fruit is tender and
topping is golden. Serve warm with ice cream or light cream. Serves 6.

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