Monday, July 30, 2007

Blueberry Fields

There's nothing better for a food lover than to find themselves situated in the heart of a major agricultural area at the peak of its crop's season. I had this experience recently while spending several weeks working in Southwestern Michigan. A veritable produce section of incredible fruits, including: peaches, raspberries, black raspberries, sweet cherries, tart cherries, strawberries and blueberries, especially blueberries.

The cool, damp mornings and hot, dry afternoons in Allegan county, with its 30 miles of Lake Michigan frontage, along with the sandy soil make it the perfect environment for growing beautiful blueberries. I've known this for years, as I grew up just in the next county, and have fond memories of making weekend trips to the lake to get some sun and stock-up on the areas most popular fruit. But recently I've been able to share these amazing berries with friends and clients in St. Louis, as I've been commuting back-and-forth to Michigan all summer usually with several large boxes of blueberries in tow (or in the carry-on). For people who've only experienced the $5 half-pint of sour blueberries from their local shopping center, it's a revelation. (On my last trip, a 10# box was running $20). If you're a blueberry lover the 6-hour drive to South Haven, Saugatuck or Douglas is well worth a long weekend trip. Don't forget, blueberries freeze really well. Just rinse, dry and portion into small baggies.

One of the classic blueberry memories of my childhood is a recipe, actually more of a combination, that my family acquired from Ruth Ellen Church, the late food and wine writer from the Chicago Tribune. It's incredibly simple, and undeniable delcious.

Serves 4

Fresh Blueberries, Rinsed and Dried 1 pint
Sour Cream, Creme Fraiche or Yogurt 1/4 Cup
Dark Brown Sugar or Unrefined Sugar 2 Tablespoons

In small bowls top the blueberries with a dollup of the dairy and sprinkle with the sugar. The crunchy sweetness of the coarse sugar with the creaminess of the topping and the texture of the blueberries is an incredible combination.