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Monday, August 29, 2011

The Cooking Life: How Many Blueberries in Your Bucket?



Does the amount of blueberries you pick correlate to your enjoyment?

Let’s see how the picking went.

We arrive at Nice Berry Farm. And Cedar Grove Berry Farm.


Nice Berry Farm, Hillsborough NC

Both farms sit next to each other and both have blueberries on the branches we can see, easily. Aileen and I have picked before together. So we have that memory installed in our memory bank.

We wonder outloud if this memory in the making can live up to our previous one. And then we laugh, and wonder if it matters?

As we continue speaking about the memory, it becomes clear that while we each have one, we don’t agree on what it is, or even exactly when it is! But we do share that we felt the same about it. Happy!

So off we go, deeper into Cedar Grove Farm, whereas Rich took the grove to the right into Nice Berry farm. We were the only pickers there on Tuesday morning.

Rich was intent on finding the best berries. What are the best berries, Aileen and I wondered. The biggest? The sweetest, the small tiny most flavorful ones? We giggled and pointed up to the high branches and then decided the ones that were best were the ones we could reach.

Aileen and I exclaimed, almost in unison; what a perfect day. (I hope it’s not annoying; how happy we were.) What were we each going to do with said berries? She had given me some poblano peppers from her garden and I proclaimed I would put them with the berries to make a sweet and hot jam! Our fingers stained purple, our palms looked like we had a bad run-in with a blue bic pen. We ate the occasional berry, speculating over jelly, preserve, and confiture.  The conversation meandered as we ducked under branches, and upon hearing the swarm of bees and wasps we quickly came out of the deep bramble where we were sure the really biggest and best berries lived.  Life was like that, we mused.

The smell of fermenting berries rose up to us, and as we were shorter than Rich we had the benefit of a more potent impact from the" wine leavings." 

Throughout this few hours we’d banter with Rich, but couldn’t see him -  where are you now? you doing ok? Rich swears his totem animal is a bear. Based on recent sightings in Orange County, I wondered if he might not actually find a bear hunched beside him eating the "best"  blueberries. If that happened, I didn't know who to fear for most, the bear or the berry picker.

Rich came out of his rows to join us. His bucket was full. Full!! He showed us how to pick clusters and rolled them off the bush with his fingers, the berries plopped into his waiting bucket. But when we did, the sound was a bit more hollow as our buckets were only a quarter full. Drat.

Who do you think felt the day was a success?
Rich, who picked the full bucket?
Or Aileen and I who laughed in the blueberry branches, but only picked ¼ as much.

Is it the result that counts, or the experience? What do you think?

Either way, the preserves are delicious; both sweet and hot!


 Blueberry Preserves with Thyme, Bay, Lemon, and Balsamic



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