Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Berries, Berries, Berries!

We went berry picking again today. For the last couple of weeks we have done a lot of that. Berry picking is a favorite activity of mine and my kids are getting good at it too, my husband enjoys joining us some as well.
Here in Northern Minnesota there are oodles of berries available just for the picking. We have found trees loaded with Juneberries on public property as well as many wild strawberries and raspberries. I also noticed that the pin cherries are getting ripe and the chokecherries will be ripe soon. We have also picked some wild blueberries. If you keep your eyes open you can probably find some berries around you! We have also enjoyed picking cultivated raspberries and cherries at my parent's farm.
After picking of course comes the cleaning, which is made much more enjoyable if you have someone to visit with so I have had the kids learn how to help me. We can get them cleaned quite quickly now.
From our berries we have enjoyed the normal raspberries and ice cream , making jams and jellies and then we have also made a lot of fruit smoothies.
To make a fruit smoothie we combine some plain yogurt (we use our own homemade stuff), lots of berries (strawberries and raspberries have been a favorite), and either a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream or some sweetener. You can also add some milk, vanilla or a banana. Then use your blender (I use a handheld one right in the pitcher). They are so yummy! I am always trying to reduce the sugar usage in our diet so I start not very sweet and add more as needed. If you start cutting done on the sugar, pretty soon your family will find normal stuff way to sweet.
We also enjoy Berry Muffins I have used either blueberries, juneberries or raspberries, I am sure other fruit would work as well.
Cream together: 1 cup Oil (I often substitute either yogurt, applesauce or grated zuchinni for 1/2 of this)
1 1/2 cups Sugar
4 Eggs
Then mix in: 1 cup Milk (I usually use 1/3 cup dry milk and 1 cup water)
2 t. Vanilla
Then stir in: 4 cups flour (I usually use at least 2 cups whole wheat)
4 t. Baking Powder
1/2 t. Salt
Last, fold in: 2 cups of Berries
Put in greased or lined muffin tins. Make a mixture of 2 T. sugar and 1/2 t. nutmeg and sprinkle a little on the top of each one. Bake at 375 degrees for 20- 25 minutes. Sometimes I will put the batter in two loaf pans instead and bake it that way. The time will need to be adjusted.
This recipe makes around 30 muffins. They freeze very well.
Happy berry picking! I would love to hear your favorite things to do with berries.

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