A Berry Sweet Summer

EAT | DRINK
2017
May/June

Once upon a time, in a land on the other side of the Sabine River, there was a blueberry farm. On this blueberry farm lived a farmer and his wife and their three children. In the hot summer months of May, June and July, when the sun was in its full glory, the family would harvest their blueberry crop. The land became alive as the family of 5 worked together picking and packaging blueberries for many years. As time went by, the children grew up, married and moved far, far away from the blueberry field. Soon, the two acres that were once a field of berries turned into land full of the laughter of grandchildren as they played in this wide open space.  The blueberry field became alive once more and they all lived happily ever after. The End.

This is a true story. Maybe a little idealized, but true nonetheless. My husband is the youngest child in this story and he refuses to touch a blueberry to this day. In fact, our wedding was planned around blueberry season and my ideal wedding date of May was pushed back to end of a smoldering July…blame it on those stinkin’ blueberries! No matter my husband’s feelings about blueberries, this little berry supports many families in the East Texas area where they thrive in the low soil pH in the East Texas vicinity. You can find fresh blueberries growing in the field from Edom to Lindale to Nacogdoches and many more locations across this area. On June 10th, the city of Nacogdoches celebrates their 28th Annual Blueberry Festival. The festival website describes the event: “The Texas Blueberry Festival is a delightful day of the America you dreamed still existed. This is the most delicious festival in the Lone Star State— a day-long celebration of the annual blueberry harvest. As the only state-sanctioned blueberry festival in Texas, this delicious annual event attracts more than 19,000 people to downtown Nacogdoches. It offers a smorgasbord of activities to keep folks entertained all day long.” A few of the activities on board this year are a pie eating contest, 5K Run/Walk, a cupcake battle, a kids’ obstacle course and splash/bounce center as well as live entertainment and, of course, blueberries! You can visit TexasBlueberryFestival.com for a full list of activities.

When I think of blueberries, I immediately envision my mother-in-law’s fresh out of the oven muffins over -flowing with melting butter and juicy bursts of blueberries. These little berries are incorporated into a variety of recipes and for good reason. Not only do they taste delicious (to most people and not so much to those who grew up on a blueberry farm); blueberries are considered a “superfood”. One serving contains almost 25% of our dietary requirement of Vitamin C that helps in collagen production, promotes healthy gums and capillaries, and aids in immune support. Blueberries are also low in fat, high in fiber as well as manganese that supports healthy bone development. 

The Blueberry Council is currently researching the ways in which blueberries aid in cardiovascular health, brain health, insulin response, and cancer research. This summer, indulge in your favorite blueberry recipe and receive the hearty impact these berries can have your health. I am sharing my mother-in-law’s most coveted blueberry muffin recipe, an all- time favorite recipe from Cookin’ Up the Blues (find them at the Texas Blueberry Festival in Nacogdoches) and a refreshing adult beverage from Kawa’s Hibachi Grill & Lounge:

 

Blueberry Muffins by: Paula Kosmer

¾ cups sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

2 1/3 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1 cup blueberries

Mix sugar and oil together. Add eggs one at a time. Beat well. Mix baking powder and salt with flour. Add dry ingredients and milk to creamed mixture. Mix well. Fold in blueberries. Spray muffin pan with vegetable spray. Fill pans 2/3 full and bake 20 to 25 minutes at 400 degrees.

 

Simple Face Mask Recipe Featuring Blueberries by: Natural Wellness

1 handful of blueberries

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons plain yogurt

Blend all ingredients until smooth. The lemon juice can dry out acne, soften skin, get rid of blackheads, even skin tone and help protect against the sun. Yogurt helps clear damaged skin. Clean face and leave on 10-20 minutes and then rinse face. Can keep for one week in refrigerator.

 

Rustic Blueberry & Brie Puff by: Cookin’ Up the Blues

1 sheet frozen puff pastry

1 wheel Brie

2 eggs, beaten

1 pint blueberries

¼ cup sugar

1.   Combine blueberries and sugar in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar melts and blueberries are hot. Turn down heat and continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes.

2.   Remove from heat and allow to cool.

3.   Preheat oven to 375 degrees,

4.   Defrost 1 sheet of puff pastry for approximately 15 to 20 minutes and unfold.

5.   Gently roll pastry with a rolling pin to flatten and elongate.

6.   *Hint: Remove the top film on Brie so that the blueberries have a chance to melt into it. 

7.   Center the wheel of Brie on top of the pastry sheet. Top with cooled compote.

8.   Bring all four corners of the sheet together above Brie and twist slightly to form a “bundle”. Tie gathered pastry with kitchen/cooking string.

9.   Brush with egg.

10.   Place bundle on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until pastry is golden brown.

 

Blueberry Mojito by: Kawa’s Hibachi Grill & Lounge

2 oz Bacardi White Rum

1 oz simple syrup

1 oz lime juice

2 oz real blueberry syrup

Fresh mint

 

Sage and Blueberry Sugar Scrub by: Eve at Organic Beauty

 ½ cup of organic coconut oil

 ¼ cup of organic grapeseed oil

 1 cup + ½ cup of organic sugar refined

 1 tbs of blueberries mashed

 1 tsp of dried sage leaves crushed into small pieces

 10 drops of lavender essential oil (optional)

1.   Whip the coconut oil for a minute or two until it is creamy. 

It needs to be solidified so you can whip it. If it is melted
(usually around 77 degrees), put it in the fridge for 1 hour.

2.   Add the oil and continue whipping.

3.   Add the sugar, blueberries, sage and mix well.

4.   Finally add the essential oils.

5.   Pour in pretty jars.

6.   This will last a few days in the fridge.

7.   Always take care of using a clean spoon to scoop the scrub so you don’t contaminate it.

8.   Sit in your bathtub and scrub your body once a week. 

9.   Rinse well. Take care of not slipping as the oil can make your tub slippery.

10.   To wash your tub, use hot water and a natural cleaning agent.

 

DIY Tie-Dyeing Technique by: Oh the Lovely Things Blog

- Cotton 100% natural and white)

- Salt

- Large pot

- Two buckets

- Blueberries

Step 1: Prepare your fabric

1.   Pre-wash your fabric.

2.   Place your fabric in a large pot. Add enough water to fully cover the fabric, and add salt at a 1:16 ratio (for example, one cup of salt for 16 cups of water).

3.   Bring up to boil, then simmer for about one hour. The salt acts as a fixative for the dye.

4.   Rinse the fabric in cold water and set it aside.

5.   To tie- dye, tightly wrap rubber bands wherever you want to create a design. Check out the blog site once again for a chart that shows several folding and tying techniques. 

Step 2: Dye bath: Blueberries

1.   Put 5 cups blueberries in a large pot. Add water at a 2:1 ratio. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour.

2.   Strain out water, discard blueberries, and return blueberry water to pot.

3.   Add the fabric in the pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour or two (depending on how dark you would like the dyed fabric to be). If you want the deepest possible color, turn off the heat and let the fabric sit in the pot overnight.

4.   Remove the fabric, rinse it well (until the water runs clean and no more dye comes out), and let it air dry.

5.   Use cold water the first few times you wash your new tie-dyed shirt!

And voila!  Your kiddos will have a groovy new shirt they can proudly say they dyed with blueberries!

 

The story about the blueberry farm just across the Sabine River is not unlike many tales of other blueberry picker children. Harvesting blueberries is hard work so no wonder my husband stays far away from these super berries. Others, though, who have not spent their summer days on a blueberry farm, enjoy the tastiness, health benefits, and many fun activities blueberries provide. Here’s wishing you a Berry Sweet Summer and a final “The End” to our blueberry story.

 

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