What do you do with a freezer full of blueberries? Blueberries that were lovingly picked by hand during the height of the season by your mother? Especially when that freezer that belongs to your recently deceased mother?
You start making recipes that have blueberries!
I would like to say that I packed up all the blueberries and put them in my freezer – and eventually I will. But right now I am trying to make room in my freezer for all those blueberries. And I mean a lot of blueberries. My mother picked enough every year during the season (approximately July-August in New Hampshire) to have blueberries at least once a week between September and June. So approximately 40 pints in the freezer?
So this week I made single serving size blueberry bread pudding for my husband (used about 1/2 of a pint of berries up) with some leftover sweet focaccia bread I happen to have on hand and a quick custard of sugar, vanilla, eggs, whole milk. I also like to add a dash of cinnamon – which I consider to be the blueberry’s best friend.
start with sweet bread
just a small dish
prepare the night before and bake the next morning
Some might think I was referring to the “post-blizzard” Boston streets. Although they are a “mess” they are definitely not hot. However back in my kitchen, trapped for 3 days, it was time to clean out the fridge/freezer. Thankfully because I wanted to and not because I had to due to power loss!
A pint of blueberries and a cup (+/-) of diced fresh pineapple, along with a few other items became the filling for a rustic “pie” of sorts.
pile it all in
be careful not to stretch too thin…
I threw in a few dashes of ground cinnamon, ginger and salt with the fruit for a little something special, a tablespoon of all-purpose flour will help thicken the juices, 2 tablespoons of butter to enrich everything, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar help sweeten the deal. (you may prefer more sugar as this was a bit of a “tart” tart.)
now for the tricky part…..
I used one of those pre-made pie crusts… you know in the red or blue box, all rolled up. But I was worried it wasn’t big enough so I rolled it a bit thinner in an effort to get more surface. I thought I was being careful. I tried to close it up carefully.
However….a hot mess shortly developed. Probably had the oven a little too hot ( 375 degrees might have been better than 425) and maybe I left it in just a tiny bit too long…
Recently, I acquired some early New Hampshire grown peaches and some late New Hampshire grown blueberries. (Thanks mom!) The peaches were really ripe and soft – too delicate to eat without dripping juice all over everything. The blueberries were dwindling in amount after being added to morning smoothies. So I decided to combine efforts and put them both into a pie. Because everything is better with butter and brown sugar right?
I simply combined the roughly cut up the peaches (4) and the 1/2 pint of blueberries and added the “universal pie mix” of: a bit of brown sugar, pinch of salt, teaspoon of cornstarch, a healthy shake of ground cinnamon and a good squirt of lemon juice.
Into my store-bought pie shell (don’t judge – it was easy) and I made the effort to create a streusel topping out of cubed butter, flour and lots of brown sugar with a pinch more of ground cinnamon and a tiny bit of ground cloves!
I baked it in a hot oven (400 degrees!) for 35 mins or so. Tip: you may want to cover it with a loose piece of foil for the first 25 mins so the top bits of exposed sugar don’t burn too quickly. Notice that I did exactly that. Not.
If can you stand it – let this pie cool at least 40 mins before slicing into it!
or if you want to be a little fancier you can break out a pretty dessert bowl…
…and yes that is a bit of cubed pound cake you spy. Think “trifle” in a personal size.
Strawberries were lightly sweetened with honey and mashed just a bit to get them nice and juicy. The whipped cream (homemade) is sweetened with a bit of vanilla and agave. The blueberries didn’t need a thing. The pound cake was purchased and cubed up. The mason jar version could be made ahead ( not too far – but like a couple of hours) and stored with lids on, in the refrigerator till party time.
Or what about using ice cream instead of pound cake?
Breakfast for dinner is not a new concept. And using up the pancake mix hanging around the pantry is always a good idea.
But having a little bit of “summer” for dinner is not as common.
Nothing says summer like fresh picked blueberries.
Every summer my mother picks MANY pounds of blueberries. She drags my father out there in the heat to pick – grumbling the whole time. We are no good at picking – I just hide among the bushes eating them until I have a stomach ache. She is the only productive picker. She goes every few days during the height of the season. She even follows the crop like a migrant worker, traveling to a farm 50 miles further north to catch an extended season of picking. After the picking she stands for hours in the kitchen, sorting through and separating them. Some get frozen whole and some get a gentle simmer on the stove with the smallest addition of sweet honey. She fills the extra freezer in the garage with her efforts and ends up with enough so she can have blueberries at least once a week till the next picking season arrives. If a burglar was to break in – forget about the TVs – the real treasure is the blueberries.
In a weak moment recently she parted with a small container of them. We rushed them home in a cooler like precious cargo. We promptly made giant, fluffy pancakes on the griddle, skipped the maple syrup and topped them only with butter and the blueberries.
With the first bite we were transported back to summer!
I called to compliment her on them. I told her how delicious they were and how I appreciated that she parted with some. She told me, “flattery will get you a lot of things but not anymore of my blueberries!”