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TIP OF THE DAY: Things To Do With Blueberries

Got blueberries? There at an excellent price right now.

When October brings half pints of blueberries for $5 and more, you’ll be sorry you didn’t enjoy more of these during peak blueberry season.

So enjoy all the blueberry and mixed fruit salads, cocktails and pies. But also try the little blue orbs in:

BEVERAGES

  • Blueberry Lavender Water
  • Blueberry Lemonade
  • Blueberry Lemonade Cocktail
  • Blueberry Mango Chile Smoothie
  • Blueberry Pom Smoothie
  • Coffee Shake With Blueberries
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    BREAKFAST

  • Baked Oatmeal With Blueberries & Almonds
  • Blueberry Breakfast Salad
  • Blueberry Yogurt Granola Parfait
  • Fresh Blueberry Muffins
  • On cottage cheese, French toast, oatmeal, waffles and
    plain, blueberry and vanilla yogurt
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    MAINS, SAUCES & SIDES

  • Blueberry Gastrique For Grilled Meat, Poultry & Fish
  • Green Salad With Blueberries & Blue Cheese
  • Rack Of Lamb With Homemade Blueberry Jam
  • Scattered blueberries as a plate garnish
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    DESSERTS

  • Blueberry Cobbler
  • Topping for angel cake, cheesecake, pound cake
  • Blueberry Sorbet
  • Lemon Blueberry and White Chocolate Cream Cake
  • No Bake Blueberry Cheesecake
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    THE HISTORY OF BLUEBERRIES

    Blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) are one of the few fruit species native* to North America and unknown in Europe: perennial flowering plants with indigo-colored berries. Also included in the Vaccinium genus are cranberries, bilberries and grouseberries.

    Vaccinum is a member of the Ericaceae family, which also includes the huckleberry (the most common in the U.S. is the black huckleberry, Gaylussacia baccata) and popular non-edibles including azalea, rhododendron and various common heaths and heathers.

    Blueberries are called by different names, including bilberry, cowberry, farkleberry and sparkleberry.

    Wild blueberries were gathered by Native Americans to eat as fresh fruit during the season, andused dried fruit thereafter.

  • The dried berries were used in soups and stews and as a rub for meats. They were mixed with dried meat and cornmeal into pemican, a nutritious, easily portable food carried by hunters and travelers.
  • Blueberry juice was used as a dye for bloth and baskets and to make cough syrup.
  • The leaves of the plant were made into a tea to “fortify the blood.”
  • With the introduction of honeybees by Europeans, the berries were mixed with cornmeal, honey and water to make a pudding called sautauthig.
  •  
    The blueberry was considered a sacred food by Native Americans, because the blossom-end of the berry is shaped like a five-pointed star. American Indians believed that the berries were sent by the Great Spirit during a great famine to relieve the hunger of their children [source].

    The Blueberries The Pilgrims Ate

    Dried blueberries also sustained the Pilgrims. When they arrived at Cape Cod in November 1620, blown off course from their Virginia† destination, it was far too late to plant crops.

    The settlers nearly starved to death until the Wampanoag people shared food and taught them to grow native plants such as corn and squash. The settlers of Plymouth learned which foods to gather and dry (blueberries, cranberries) to sustain them through the winter.

    The blueberries used by the Indians were the wild, or low bush variety, which are the state fruit of Maine, where they are a major crop.

    Most blueberries that are cultivated today are the high bush variety, domesticated in the early 20th century. The plants have been improved over the years to increase the size and color of the berry and the yield of the bush. Cultivation of the high bush blueberry has has been so successful that America now grows over 90% of the blueberries in the world.

    However, while Maine’s low bush blueberries are significantly smaller, they are more flavorful.

     

    Blueberry Breakfast Salad
    [1] Blueberry breakfast salad: combine any fruits atop greens (photo courtesy Blueberry Council).

    Blueberry Yogurt Parfait
    [2] Blueberry-yogurt-granola parfait (photo courtesy Fruits From Chile).

    Blueberry Vinaigrette
    [3] Blueberry vinaigrette for salads and broiled proteins (photo courtesy Wild Blueberries).

    Salad With Blueberries
    [4] Blueberries into a grilled chicken or salmon salad (photo courtesy CFAA).

    Salmon With Blueberry Sauce

    [5] Salmon with blueberry sauce (photo courtesy Munchery).

     
    Some 20 years ago, blueberries were anointed a “superfood” after studies of the benefits of antioxidants became part of healty eating in the U.S. Blueberries are one of foods highest in antioxidants.

    Blueberries are easily preserved by freezing, canning and drying. They can also be juiced or made into jam or preserves. The surge in the popularity of blueberries has caused home gardeners to plant these shrubs in nearly every growing area of America.

    ________________
    *Blueberries and cranberries, along with other indigenous fruits such as mayhaws and papwpaws, were unknown in the Old World. North America has its own native species such as cherries, grapes, plums, persimmons, raspberries and other species of which were well-known in the Old World. Here’s the list of fruits native to North America.

    †At the time, Virginia included the region as far north as the Hudson River in the modern State of New York. The Hudson River was their originally intended destination.

      

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    RECIPE: Grilled Peaches Or Nectarines With Ricotta

    Grilled Peaches & Ricotta
    [1] Peaches and cream, reimagined: Grilled peaches and ricotta, for breakfast, lunch or dessert (photo and recipe courtesy Good Eggs).

    Organic Stone Fruits

    [2] Organic stone fruits—nectarines, peaches and plums—from Frog Hollow Farm. They ship!

     

    Part of our paean to summer’s stone fruits, our tip on easy fruit tarts and our recommendation of summer fruit salads with fresh cheese, is another seasonal special:

    Grilled stone fruits with ricotta cheese.

    Use any stone fruit large enough to grill, unless you have a grilling basket or pan. If you do have one, apricots and cherries are splendid in this recipe. You can use avocado as well, or mix the types of fruit.

    Peaches and nectarines are the right size to be grilled.

  • Serve two halves for breakfast or lunch, on a bed of greens.
  • Serve one half for dessert, with optional berries and/or biscotti.
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    RECIPE: GRILLED PEACHES OR NECTARINES WITH RICOTTA

    Ingredients For 6 Or 12 Servings

    Stone fruits and ricotta are a marriage made in heaven. This recipe takes just 15 minutes from grill to plate.

    Ricotta is a mild cheese that welcomes both sweet and savory garnishes: a drizzle of honey, a grind of fresh, pepper, and/or flaky salt for a bit of crunch. You can also add raisins, nuts and/or seeds.

    Ingredients

  • 12 peaches or nectarines, halved and pitted
  • Olive oil
  • Pinch of coarse sea salt or flavored salt (balsamic, chile, ginger, lavender, lemon, lime, rosemary, truffle)
  • 4 ounces ricotta (the best you can find)
  • 3 tablespoons quality honey or infused honey (chile, lavender, truffle, and other flavored honey)
  • Optional garnish: microgreens
  • Optional: peppermill
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    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the grill to medium-high heat. Toss the peaches with enough olive oil to coat, and season with sea salt or flavored salt.

     
    2. GRILL the peach halves cut-side-down on the grill or pan and sear them until almost blackened. If using a stovetop, cook 2 minutes, flip, and cook for another minute. If using a grill, cook for 2 minutes with the lid down, without flipping.

    3. REMOVE the peaches from the pan, let cool, and serve with a generous dollop of fresh ricotta. Top with a drizzle of honey and pinch of flaky salt. Have a peppermill on the table for those who want an added layer of flavor.

    4. GARNISH as desired, with a pinch of microgreens atop each peach.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Classic Peaches & Cream

    For National Peach Month, August, try one of the oldest peach recipes: peaches and cream.

    If you read novels or short stories from centuries past, you’ve no There are many ways to make peaches and cream

    In a book of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short stories, The Basil And Josephine Stories, he introduces Basil, a fictionalized version of his younger self. One of Basil’s favorite foods: peaches and cream.

    Is peaches and cream as simple as it sounds?

    Yes, if you have juicy, ripe peaches, waiting to be sliced into a bowl and covered with heavy cream (or in the U.K., clotted cream).

    Otherwise, poach or bake the peaches first.

    The following recipe has a Southern spin, with bourbon and brown sugar.

    RECIPE: PEACHES & CREAM

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 3 peaches, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon + 4 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 teaspoons bourbon
  • Garnish: toasted pecans
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    Preparation

    1. TOSS the peaches with 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Set aside until juicy, about 30 minutes (the sugar helps to extract the juices). Meanwhile…

    2. WHIP 1 cup heavy cream until it has begun to thicken; then beat in 4 teaspoons brown sugar. Add the bourbon and beat until soft peaks form. Layer the peaches and cream in dessert glasses and top with toasted pecans.

    FANCIER RECIPES

    For more elaborate preparations:

    Add caramel sauce, as in this recipe from Spache The Spatula. The peaches and cream are drizzled with vanilla bean-zinfandel caramel sauce.

     

    Peaches and Cream
    Classic peaches and cream: ripe peaches and heavy cream (photo courtesy Spache The Spatula).

    Peaches & Cream Shortcake

    [2] A fancier approach: jumbo macaron on clotted cream, filled with peaches and vanilla ice cream (photo courtesy Bestia | LA).

     
    Turn it into shortcake. In photo #2, a jumbo macaron substitutes for the shortcake biscuit. It sits on a bed of clotted cream, and is stuffed with peaches and vanilla ice cream.

    Your own take. How else would you present fresh peaches and cream? Let us know!

      

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    RECIPE: Peach Panzanella, Just Peachy For Lunch Or Dinner

    Peach Panzanella

    Peach Panzanella

    Ripe Peaches

    [1] Peach panzanella as a salad course and [2] a main course, with added mozzarella and prosciutto (photos courtesy Good Eggs). Fragrant ripe peaches [3] are a versatile ingredient at every meal (photos courtesy Pompeian.

     

    August is National Peach Month, honoring the most popular stone fruit: the peach. (Other stone fruits, in the genus Prunus, include almonds, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches and the cross-bred apriums, plumcots and pluots.)

    A BRIEF HISTORY OF PEACHES

    The peach originated in China and has been cultivated at least since 1000 B.C.E. Peaches traveled west via the silk roads to Persia, earning them the botanical name Prunus persica. There, they were discovered by Alexander the Great, who mentions half a dozen types and brought them to Greece.

    By 322 B.C.E. Greece was growing peaches, and by 50 to 20 B.C.E., Romans grew them. They called them Persian apples, and sold them for the modern equivalent of $4.50.

    The Romans transported peach trees to other parts of their empire.

    Columbus brought peach trees to America on his second and third voyages. The Spaniards brought peaches to South America, the French introduced them to Louisiana, and the English took them to their New England colonies.

    To this day China remains the largest world producer of peaches, with Italy second. California produces more than 50% of the peaches in the United States (and grows 175 different varieties). And so many peaches are grown in Georgia that it became known as the Peach State.

    Here’s more about peaches.

    Over the next week or two, we’ll be presenting a menu of peachy recipes, starting with…

    RECIPE #1: PEACH PANZANELLA

    Panzanella, an Italian bread salad that uses up day-old bread, is one of our favorites, tailored to the bounty of each season. Panzanella can be sweet or savory. In the winter, with a paucity of fresh fruit, recipes tend to be savory (here’s a classic winter panzanella recipe).

    But when the season gives you so much fresh fruit, sweeter panzanellas call.

    Panzanella is one of those delicious foods invented by necessity: Poor people needed to get another meal from bread that had gone stale (the history of panzanella).

    In summer grilling season, juicy, caramelized peaches and smoky grilled bread unite in this summer panzanella. These recipes, for a salad course and a dinner salad, are from Good Eggs. They were inspired by Julia Sherman’s new book, Salad for President.

    No grill? Broil the peaches and bread cut-side up in the oven.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 shallot
  • Loaf of sourdough bread
  • 1 pound ripe yellow peaches
  • Fresh basil leaves to taste, torn
  • Sherry vinegar (substitute red wine vinegar)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •  
    Additions For Dinner Salad (photo #2)

  • 1/4 pound prosciutto or serrano ham slices
  • 1/2 cup bocconcini or other bite-size mozzarella balls
  • Optional: fresh tomato wedges
  •  

    Preparation

    1. PREPARE a very hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium. No grill? Use a grill pan in the oven)

    2. CHOP the shallot finely. Cut off two large slices of sourdough. Set both aside.

    3. MAKE the dressing: Whisk together 2 teaspoons vinegar, 1 tablespoon oil and the shallot in a small bowl. Set aside.

    4. HALVE the peaches and remove the pits. In a large bowl, toss the peach halves and optional ingredients with 1 tablespoon olive oil; season with a sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil over both sides of the bread slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

    5. OIL the grill grate and let it heat up for a minute or two. Arrange the bread slices on the outer edges of the grill grate and the peaches, cut-side down, in the center. Set the peach bowl aside but don’t rinse it.

    6. GRILL the bread on each side for for 1 minute, or until lightly toasted. Grill the peaches until the bottoms are caramelized and lightly charred, about 3 minutes. Flip the peaches and cook for another 3 minutes. If using an oven, broil both the bread and the peaches cut side up.

    7. REMOVE the toasted bread from the grill, allow it to cool enough to handle, and tear it into bite-sized pieces (we prefer to cut it into large croutons). Cut each peach half in half again (or if the peaches are larger, cut them into into large chunks). Place them in the peach bowl along with the torn bread.

    8. DRIZZLE the dressing over the peaches and bread, and toss. Let the panzanella marinate for 5-10 minutes. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper, as desired.

    9. GARNISH with torn basil and serve.

     
     
    MORE PANZANELLA RECIPES

  • Summer Panzanella Salad
  • Basic Panzanella Salad (basil, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes)
  • Chicken Panzanella Salad
  • Panzanella & Fruit Salad
  • Winter Panzanella
  • Zucchini & Bell Pepper Panzanella
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    TIP OF THE DAY: 12+ Other Uses For Trail Mix

    August 31st is National Trail Mix Day, but we’re jumping the gun with today’s tip.

    Trail mix is a popular grab-and-go snack. Leave out the chocolate chips (substitute toffee chips or M&Ms), and it’s a great hot-weather grab-and-go.

    It’s also fun to make your own creative blend of ingredients.

    12+ USES FOR EXTRA (LEFTOVER) TRAIL MIX

    Turn trail mix leftovers into:

  • Baking: Mix into brownies, cookies, loaf cake (carrot bread, zucchini bread), muffins (toppings or mixed into batter); make granola bars.
  • Beverages: Garnish whipped cream on hot chocolate, milk shakes, smoothies; serve in ramekins with hot or cold drinks.
  • Breakfast Cereal: Top cold or hot cereal, overnight oats, pancakes and waffles (garnish and/or batter ingredient).
  • Breakfast Dairy: Top yogurt or cottage cheese.
  • Candy: Mix into homemade chocolate bark.
  • Dessert: Garnish cupcakes, fruit salad, iced carrot cake, pudding, zucchini bread.
  • Ice cream: Top frozen yogurt, ice cream, sorbet.
  • Party favor: Set up a “trail mix bar” and let guests mix their own, to go.
  • Salad: Garnish green salads.
  • Salad: Mix into protein salads (egg, chicken, tuna).
  • Sandwich: Top a cream cheese, jelly sandwich or peanut butter sandwich; a cream cheese bagel; mild grilled cheese (e.g. Brie) or goat cheese sandwich.
  • Side: Mix into a grain salad (for a trail mix without candy).
  • Snack: Toss with popcorn (recipe below).
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    RECIPE: SPICY TRAIL MIX POPCORN

    This recipe is adapted from Walnuts.org. Here are more recipes incorporating cheese, peanut butter and other ingredients.

    Ingredients

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 to 2 teaspoon kosher salt (use the lesser amount if using lightly salted popcorn)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups trail mix
  • 9 cups freshly popped unsalted popcorn, see instructions below
  • 1 cup dried cherries, cranberries, golden raisins or other colorful dried fruit
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 325°F. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper or no-stick aluminum foil; set aside.

    2. COMBINE the egg whites in a large bowl with the Worcestershire sauce, paprika, cayenne, cumin, curry, salt, and pepper. Whisk until very well combined.

    3. ADD the trail mix and toss well to coat completely. Add the popcorn and toss until the popcorn is well-speckled with the granola mixture. You will still see a lot of the white popcorn, but that’s O.K.

    4. TRANSFER the mixture to the prepared baking tray; spread it out over the entire sheet. Bake until the coating is dry and the popcorn is crisp, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool.

    5. ADD the raisins and mix well. You can stored the popcorn in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

     

    Trail Mix On Waffles
    [1] Top pancakes and waffles (photo courtesy Sierra Trading Post).

    Smoothie With Trail Mix
    [2] Top a smoothie. Here’s the recipe for this chocolate breakfast smoothie from Natural Comfort Kitchen.

    Yogurt With Trail Mix
    [3] Here’s the recipe from Natural Comfort Kitchen (with homemade yogurt).

    Popcorn Trail Mix
    [4]Is it trail mix popcorn, or popcorn with trail mix. Here’s the recipe from Delicious Meets Healthy.

     
    HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN TRAIL MIX

    Mix and match:

  • Candy: carob chips, chocolate chips/chunks, crystallized ginger, mini marshmallows, M&M’s, Reese’s Pieces, toffee, yogurt clusters
  • Cereal: Cheerios, Chex, Corn Flakes, graham cracker cereal, Grape Nuts, mini shredded wheat, rolled oats
  • Dried fruits: apples, apricots, banana chips, blueberries, candied orange peel (gourmet!), coconut, dates, dried cherries and cranberries (our favorites!), dried mango, figs, raisins
  • Exotica: crystallized ginger, Japanese rice crackers, jerky bits, sesame sticks, wasabi peas
  • Nuts almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, walnuts or other favorite (chop large nuts into chunks)
  • Savory: freeze-dried edamame, peas or veggie chips; pretzels, mini crackers, roasted chickpeas, soy beans or soy nuts, wasabi peas
  • Seeds: chia, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds
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    THE HISTORY OF TRAIL MIX

      

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