posted by Lisa
Caroline’s gorgeous post about berries highlighted one fundamental way that our families are different. We write about the very many ways that our family food cultures overlap in our introduction and some of the ways that we don’t. We thought a lot about cooking and meat and picky eaters. But we didn’t think about berries.
Every Sunday, when I go to market, I wish (oh, how I wish) that I had some of Caroline’s restraint. But, here, we’re sort of profligate with the berries.
It doesn’t matter the kind: blackberries, red raspberries golden raspberries, ollalieberries, strawberries. Whatever Ella Bella Farm or Swanton Berry Farm has in season, we buy.
At the height of berry season we go home with six baskets. At $3 a basket you can do the math. Every spring, I brace myself for the summer market bill as the season ramps up. It gets very, very expensive. I get anxious. But we get by. Berries have not yet bankrupt us, and they’ve given us a lot of pleasure.
Ella and Finn eat them at a fierce rate. This began when they were in strollers, and we would buy an extra basket for them to munch on while we shopped. But the problem was always that they didn’t just pick at one or two berries–they ate the whole basket. This was an expensive snack. But we indulged. As explanation, I can offer the fact that I descend from a long line of Irish Catholics on my mother’s side. My father was a Presbyterian with Roman Catholic sensibilities, who converted in the early 1980s.
So a berry basket gets ported to the table daily and generally devoured. Sometimes, they don’t even make it to the sink for the prerequisite rinse (I know, I know). In fact, Kory and I? We steal the berries when we can. There are very, very rarely leftovers, but when there are, I make ice cream. Last week, I had a very rare 2 pints of blackberries and some basil leftover, and with 1/3 cup of sugar, 2 cups cream, 1 cup milk I made blackberry basil soft serve ice cream. I think it was the best ice cream I ever made.
But I draw the line with blueberries, which was Caroline’s post was so compelling for me. I just can’t bring myself to buy them, ever. At $4 for 1/2 pint, they are just too expensive. Even for me.
But my husband’s Grandmother lives in Oregon, and she picks all her own berries, pounds and pounds and pounds of them. All varieties, every summer, which she freezes and jams and shares with friends. Enough to feed herself all year, and to give pound to us and several of her children. For the last two years she’s developed a system where she picks, packs, and mails fresh Oregon blueberries to us, so a box of midnight blue goodness, probably five or six pounds arrives on our doorstep ready to freeze.
These are so coveted, I can usually bring myself to ration them. But Ella and Finn had two bowls each that first day. Maybe 3. I made a small pie. We had blueberry pancakes three weeks straight. They ate them frozen, right out of the bag. We got them In late July. It’s late September. The berries are gone. Kerplink, Kerplank, Kerplunk…