Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bountiful Blueberries

7/9/08 Cook’s Corner
Betty Kaiser

Blueberries really know how to dress up a meal. They are a great fruit to eat out of hand or flavor recipes and simple to freeze. I usually buy a flat or two, spread the fresh berries onto cookie sheets and pop them into the freezer for a few hours. Once frozen, I portion them out into plastic baggies and put them back in the freezer to use as needed. Voila! Done!

Blueberries freeze well without washing and generally maintain their deep freeze quality for 10-12 months when they get yucky. For me, that means carefully keeping track of my inventory. I have inherited a Great Depression mentality when it comes to seasonal fruits and vegetables. All year, I miserly dole out my precious stock until the new summer crop appears.

Sometimes finding the last berries in the freezer is like looking for a needle in a haystack. They tend to mysteriously move around and hide between the pork chops and frozen peas. So, if your food is sneaky like mine, now is a good time to get organized.

This will save you grief later on this summer when you’re wondering where to put all that shredded zucchini. Fresh produce will soon be at its peak and you’re going to need readily available space to store nature’s bounty. I even inventory the freezer contents but my kids tell me that’s obsessive compulsive!

Last week I found six bags of my 2007 blueberry stash lurking behind a bag of stuffing and a pot roast. My first inclination was to make my infamous Bumbleberry Pie. This combination of whatever berries I have on hand in the freezer is a hit any time of the year. It was pretty yummy, so I moved on to a couple of other old favorites.

I have two blueberry sauce recipes that we particularly enjoy. One is sweet and the other is savory. Laura from Eden Valley Farm gave me the sweet sauce recipe from the Oregon Blueberry Growers Association many years ago. I have modified it slightly. The savory sauce recipe’s origins are a mystery. Both are simple and surefire hits whether served on pancakes, vanilla ice cream or pork chops. Give these recipes a try and treat yourself to a (mostly) blueberry meal.

Savory Blueberry Sauce

2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons chopped shallots or onions
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme, crushed
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 cup each dry red wine and water
1 1/2 cups blueberries

Sauté shallots in butter in small saucepan. Add flour and herbs; cook and stir until mixture bubbles and thickens. Gradually add wine and water; stir in blueberries. Cook and stir until mixture thickens and boils; simmer 2 minutes. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Note: Water with added red wine vinegar may be substituted for wine.

Pork Chops with Blueberry Sauce

4 boneless pork chops (not thin cut)
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
Dash cayenne pepper
Enough oil to brown meat

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Combine spices and sprinkle over chops.

Heat a heavy, ovenproof skillet and brown chops. Transfer skillet to oven and bake about 15 min. or until cooked but still moist.

Serve the chops garnished with the savory blueberry sauce or on the side. Delicious with oven-roasted potatoes, steamed carrots and blueberry corn muffins (recipe follows).

Blueberry Corn Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup margarine or butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp grated orange peel
2 cups fresh blueberries

In large bowl, combine flours, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In small bowl, combine buttermilk, orange juice, margarine, egg and peel; add to flour mixture and mix only until moist. Stir in blueberries. Spoon into prepared muffin cups. Bake at 400 degrees 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean. Makes 18 muffins.

Good On Anything Blueberry Sauce

2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons flour, mixed with ¼ cup water
Dash of salt
1-1/4 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Dash cinnamon

Combine all ingredients except lemon juice and let stand five minutes. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in lemon juice, zest and cinnamon. Remove from heat and cool 20 minutes. Stir. Serve warm on ice cream, pudding, cake or pancakes. Cover and store leftovers in refrigerator.

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal! 
Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes
that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare. 

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