I love to pick strawberries. Every summer you’ll find me at a local farm picking those big, plump, juicy berries. I have a little raspberry patch in my yard, and I love picking berries for muffins or jam. But when it comes to blueberries, I confess, I just buy them. The local farmer’s markets sell them and when I run out of them I buy frozen ones from the store. It’s a real struggle for me to pick them. My father loved picking blueberries, but when I was little I felt like I was being punished when he would put a pail in my hand and take me with him to pick blueberries. I picked and picked and picked and after hours and hours and hours the bottom of the pail could still be seen. When I was older, the habit became one in which he picked, and I cleaned the berries when he returned. Regardless, though, whether they are handpicked or bought, I love blueberries.
What caught my attention when I saw this book, was not that it is a cookbook or that it is a blueberry cookbook. What I noticed right away is the beauty of the book itself. It is like a work of art. It’s just a bonus that it is also a blueberry cookbook. The Blueberry Cookbook by Sally Pasley Vargas is a 2019 release from Down East Books and it is delightful to the eye and the palate.
Vargas’ introduction is followed by a section in which she discusses the ingredient choices she makes and the methods she prefers. It is quite informative itself. As a matter of fact, I learned that if I add a little sour cream to heavy cream it will last a little longer once it’s whipped. Though the recipes are divided into six sections, they, practically speaking, can be divided into to groups: blueberries for breakfast and blueberry desserts. Many of the recipes are old recipes with a new twist, but they are well worth trying. There’s even a recipe for the Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins!
The book’s lay out is eye appealing and very easy to follow. Usually one recipe a page with an exquisite photo that makes it difficult to choose which recipe to make first. The instructions are clear and laid out in step-by-step format.
I made Lemon Posset with Blueberry-Cherry Wine Sauce. (A posset, for those like myself who might not know what a posset is, is a cold dessert made from thickened cream usually flavored with lemon or a drink made of hot milk curdled with ale, wine, or other alcoholic liquor and typically flavored with spices, drunk as a delicacy or as a remedy for colds. Thanks to Google for the definitions.) The lemon posset was firm and bursting with lemon flavor. My tongue tingled from it. My family is big on lemon and we loved it! I want make it again and try it as a filling in a layer cake. The sauce also had a strong flavor, but when they were put together the sauce tamed the posset and the flavors blended superbly. The recipe for the sauce called for cardamom pods, but I didn’t have any so I substituted a combination of cinnamon and nutmeg. The making of the dessert was quick, but I did let the posset sit in the refrigerator overnight and chilled the sauce before serving.
Just like lobster and potatoes, snow and sleet, the forests and the oceans, the lakes and the trails, blueberries are a part of Maine culture. The Blueberry Cookbook is a celebration of the blueberry, and in my opinion, should be a staple in every Maine kitchen!