Bountiful Blueberries

Summer, summer, summer time means it’s time for harvesting fruits and veggies and berries.  Just a week ago, some of my coworkers and I went on a quick hour long road trip to a farm just across Lake Pontchartrain—Blue Harvest Farms, where we were able to pick and eat bucket loads of plump, sweet, juicy, ripe blueberries.

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As a kid, I always thought my grandpa owned his own farm and I knew what it was like to be on a farm, to pick fruits and vegetables, to husk corn and snap peas.  Little as I was, those rows and rows of vegetables in the garden of his front yard hold no comparison to the rows and rows of blueberries at Blue Harvest.

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Upon entering the farm, we were each given a one gallon bucket lined with a plastic bag and also offered a blue strap to clasp around the bucket handle.  What a clever idea?!?  As you can see, I opted for the strap; it was a great help to not have to hold the bucketful of berries and have two hands free for pickin’ and eatin’.  There were also some signs showing a level $10 dollar gallon or a heaping $15 gallon. 

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I picked my $10 gallon but probably munched on the $5 heap as I walked the three designated rows tasting in search of that perfect tree that taste as sweet as honey.  Once I found that tree I went to town loading my bucket then moving on in search of the next.

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Along the way I happened to lose my $20 bill—perhaps pulling my iphone in and out of my pocket taking pictures.  I began thinking to myself, “Now, I’m on a farm.  Surely these are good, honest, hardworking people.”  And lucky for me, they were.  An unidentified lady, who I would’ve loved to thank and hug for that matter, turned my twenty into  Mr. Farmer Man.  I was so grateful. 

After an hour or two of eating, sweating, and picking the girls and I finished filling up our buckets and headed to check out.  I paid my $10.00 in exchange for my 8 pints of very selective, most plump, most sweet, blue berries.

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To reach maximum ripeness, we were informed to spread the berries out on baking sheets and let them sit out 36 to 48 hours.  So I did just that. 

And ever since there has been much blueberry consumption on my part as evidenced in my—-well, let’s just be reminded that what goes in must come out (without being too graphic).

DSC01810 On oatmeal.

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On bread with peanut butter.

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In an oven baked blueberry crisp.

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More oatmeal.

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Mixed in with greek yogurt, granola, and milk.

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And in dessert–A blueberry cream cheese with pecan crust.  I completely forgot to take the final picture with a cool whip and pecan topping.  Nor did I take a picture on Father’s Day when the family cut into it.  Woopsy.

I still have about 8 or 9 cups of berries left in my freezer.  Don’t worry, they will be consumed. 

And a couple tips that I learned on the farm—

1. If you want to grow your own blueberries, you must plant at least two species of blueberries next to each other so they can cross-pollinate in order to grow.  My husband planted one species in spring which sprouted slightly, but it has yet to produce anything.  So take that as you wish.

2. If freezing the blueberries, do not rinse them until you are ready to use them.  If you rinse prior to freezing they will become a mass of ice and you will not be able to use them.

If you are interested in picking your own blueberries, click here to find a farm near you.  I had a great day doing something I’ve never done before.  Do it if you get the chance, but only if you are not afraid of bugs or sweating.

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A Science Lesson (from a Teacher)

The fruit versus the vegetable–how do you know which is which?

It is my understanding that fruit is the protective covering of a seed(s), which contains the ovary(ies) of the plant.  A vegetable, on the other hand, is any other part of a plant not containing seeds such as the stem, leaf, roots, or flower petals/buds.  Accordingly, rhubarb, spinach, potatoes, and broccoli are vegetables; and zucchini and squash, tomatoes, bell peppers, and snap peas are technically fruits. 

Now I know we generally call many fruits a vegetable.  I guess people have their own opinions of what is classified as fruit and what is classified as a vegetable.  Generally, if it most often used in sweet dishes I refer to it as a fruit and more savory, then it’s considered a vegetable. 

Regardless, we need to eat more of both.  According to  USDA guidelines of 2005 (they will be updated this year), Americans should be consuming 5-13 servings or 2 1/2- 6 1/2 cups a day dependent upon individual caloric needs.  There are an abundance of ways to make fruits and vegetables more desirable, yet retain there health benefits without saturating them in creams and buttery sauces.  Roasted vegetables are a delicious addition to any meal.  And fresh fruit with peanut butter or atop some non-fat yogurt can be a satisfying sweet treat.

What are some ways that you “spruce up” your fruits and veggies?

The King Bar

I am thoroughly enjoying my new windows and the beautiful weather that has finally arrived this weekend!  The cool breeze of fall showed up this morning. :0)  To recap yesterday’s eats, my day began with a hot cup of French Market Coffee and Chicory.  I steamed a 1/4 cup of low-fat mlk and added the coffee with some stevia for a delectable Cafe’ Au Lait.

For breakfast I enjoyed an egg and spinach omelet with a slice of whole wheat toast and a schmear of Brummel & Brown.

Laughing Cow Light Queso and Chipotle + Spinach Inside

After some much needed housework, I gobbled up another bean and cheese enchilada.  Mmmmm, those enchiladas are so sinfully tasty!

And a plum on the side.

Can you spy my Niko (german shepherd) in the background?  He ain’t nothing, but a hound dog.

Nothing like a little bit of Elvis to get ya’ in the singing mood! 😉

I’ve been thinking about the popular Larabars and it dawned on me.  Why not try to create my own?  They contain just a few, all natural ingredients and require no cooking.  So my first attempt at a Lara-like bar was a success, in my opinion.  In the name of Elvis, I created a peanut butter banana flavored bar–a.k.a. The King Bar.

A little known fact, the King, himself, was an absolute fan of peanut butter banana sandwiches.  I, too, enjoy those tasty sandwiches as you may have noticed it is a breakfast staple.  Once, many months ago my mom and I visited a little shop called the Cupcake Factory.  One of the cupcakes on display was named the Elvis Presley cupcake.  And I asked, “Hmmm, why is that named after Elvis?  It is a banana cupcake with peanut butter frosting, and he was known to eat his fair share of peanut butter and banana sandwiches.  With that, I introduce The King Bar.

The King Bar

Servings: 5 bars Calories: 166

Ingredients:

30 dates

1/4 cup dry roasted salted peanuts

1/2 banana

Directions:  Put pitted dates in food processor.  Pulse until a fine ground consistency is reached.  Remove dates to a mixing bowl.  Next, pour peanuts into processor and process until finely ground.  Pour grounded peanuts into bowl with the dates.  Lastly, pulse banana until chopped and add to bowl.  Lay out parchment paper at this point.  Mix all ingredients until evenly distributed.  Scoop mixture onto paper and form into a 6 X 3 1/2 inch rectangle.  Wrap paper to seal bars.  Use a ruler and pen to divide rectangle into 5 bars on outside of paper measuring 1 3/16″ X 3 1/2″.  Place in freezer for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, lay out 5 pieces of plastic wrap to individually wrap bars.  Once removed from the freezer, unwrap paper and cut bars to wrap individually using a large knife; use lines as a guide which should be seen through the other side of the paper.  Store in refrigerator until time of consumption.

Slicing and Wrapping Individual Bars

The King Bars are naturally sweetened from the fruits being used.  No additional sugar is needed.  They are a tasty, filling, snack for a great energy booster.  My bars were not quite as dense as the true Larabars, but the flavor was 100% all there.  I think more dates would have made it more dense, but I wanted to keep the calorie counts under 200, since they do serve as snacks, rather than meal bars.

The hubby and I shared one of the bars to test it out.

Verdict= Thumbs up!

After a busy day of housework, I was not in the mood to cook anything that would take much time.  So, I baked 3 Boca Chik’n Meatless Patties for 12 minutes at 350*.  Two were for hub to eat on sandwich thins and I ate the other on a salad, which is what my body was in the mood for since I hadn’t had one in a couple days.

Salad mix of baby spinach, cucumber, grape tomatoes, carrots, squash, chik’n patty, and 2 tbsp. Light Asian Sesame Dressing.

Rainbow of Flavor

After the hubby went on to work his night shift, I swung by Mom’s to pick up some groceries she had for me.

THANKS MOM! I ❤ FREE FOOD!

A Bag of Romaine, 2 Ears of Corn, Raspberries, Avocado, Kashi Granola, a bag of opened Veggie Stix (she didn’t like and thought I might), and unpictured pack of Wheat Sandwich Thins

Most were buy one get one free at the store, so I benefited from the “get one free.”  As for the veggie stix, I sampled them and they have the crunch of a chip, but the flavor is not the greatest and the smooth, waxy coating on the outside kind of scares me.  But I’ll keep them for when I need a little salt and crunch in my life, or they become stale–whichever occurs first.

Finally, I felt the need for some dessert.  These mint ice cream sandwiches have been in my freezer for a little over a month and I decided to have one.

Chocolate + Mint = Winning Combination in My Eyes or Mouth That Is 😉

My Mom showed me this video and I thought I’d share–pretty incredible!

Question of the Day:  Does your animal have any talents?

My Niko can sit pretty, roll over, heel.  But nothing like the one above.  🙂