Monday, May 4, 2009

Summer Fruit

It's getting to be time for fresh summer fruit. I'm not sure what that late freeze we had will do to this year's crop. We've been picking a few blackberries (they grow wild around our house), but they don't seem to be as abundant as usual. Maybe we'll have more in the coming weeks. We usually pick peaches in June and July and blueberries in June. I'll be looking for a place to pick strawberries this year.

I remember last year Olivia saying she wanted to go pick blackberries and asking me to come with her. At that time I was 39 weeks pregnant. I grabbed a couple of big bowls and waddled outside into the heat. We ambled along the road looking for berries. Olivia would holler "There's one! Mama, get it." So I would. Then she would eat it. I soon discovered she wanted me to do the picking so she could do the eating. In case you've never picked blackberries, they grow on vines that sprawl along the ground. LOW to the ground. And there I was looking like I'd swallowed a watermelon. I couldn't even see my feet. But, of course, I picked a bunch of berries for her.

There's nothing wrong with eating while you pick, but sometimes it's nice to do something else with your fruit. I don't know how many times we've filled our bowls with blackberries, poured milk over them (sometimes with a little cream), and made supper out of it. You can also make fruit smoothies with any fruit you want. Bananas, blueberries, and strawberries are a good combination. We go to a pick-your-own blueberry farm and pick LOTS of berries. You can put them in quart-size ziploc bags and freeze them. Later just get what you want to put in your smoothie (or yogurt, cereal, muffins, scones, etc.) and return the rest to the freezer.

Below I've added a couple of my favorite recipes.

Peach-Blueberry Cobbler
2 cups pastry whole wheat flour
2 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 stick butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup milk

3 cups peaches
2 cups blueberries
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch (I use arrowroot powder.)
½ teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Butter a 9-inch square baking pan.
Topping: Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter. Beat egg with milk and add to flour mixture all at once. Mix gently, just until combined. Let it rest while you make filling.
Filling: Combine peaches and blueberries in large bowl. In small bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add sugar mixture to fruit and stir gently to combine. Turn fruit into pan and sprinkle with lemon juice. Set aside.
Turn dough onto floured surface. Pat dough into a circle about ¾ - 1 inch thick. Cut with biscuit cutter and “cobble” them together over fruit. Sprinkle top with sugar, if desired. Bake at 350 degrees until topping is browned and fruit is bubbling and thickened, about 40-45 minutes.

Variations: Substitute 5 cups other fruit (or fruit combination). We like to use blackberries.

Blueberry Streusel Muffins
1 ½ cups pastry whole wheat flour
½ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 egg, slightly beaten
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup milk
1 – 1 ¼ cups blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Streusel topping:
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Make a well in the center. Place egg, butter, and milk in the well. Stir until combined. Gently stir in the blueberries and lemon zest. Fill each of 12 muffin cups ¾ full with batter. Make streusel topping by combining pecans, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and lemon zest with a fork. Pour in melted butter and stir to combine. Sprinkle topping over each muffin. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until muffins are browned and firm. Serve immediately. (These are good without the streusel topping, too.)

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