Summers Over

Youth Pills Are Here: Blueberries

August arrived and with it the realization that Summer 2016 is ending. The month of August also brings to fruition the fruits of your labor that was doled out while working in  your garden planting, watering and weeding. But all this work will not be in vain when you delight in all the wonderful bounty in return from Mother Nature.

Speaking of Mother Nature, I witnessed a beautiful display of love, companionship and parenting into the lives of two mourning doves for well over three weeks.  The saga began early one morning when I lifted the shade on my side porch door. Staring at me with a rather frightening glare, was a huge bird perched on top of potting soil in a hanging basket, I had yet to plant.

Every morning and early evening I would look out the window to check on any new activity.  Sure enough, one morning there was momma and two little babies. She would peck at them to clean them and cuddle them under her wing. She seemed never to leave their side, so I thought.

When anyone came to visit I was so excited to show off my little family, I would hussel them over to the side porch door. This day. my visitor happen to know more about birds than I, and said “that is not a female, it is a male and pointed out the markings and the shape of the feathers on it’s head.  That evening when I checked, there was two huge birds sitting in the basket.  It seems that they co-parent caring for the babies and foraging for food.

The next morning before  leaving for an appointment, I checked and I could not believe what I saw.  The mom and dad were sitting in the nest and the babies were frolicking and climbing all over them and they would gently push them down in front of them to make them behave. You really had to see this to believe it.  

Saturday morning I had a surprise visitor and she asked about the birds, so we went to the door to see them and the nest was empty.  My little family moved on, which of course made me a little sad because I really enjoyed watching them and even had an opportunity to photograph them, but a few days later, I was at my kitchen sink and looking out the window I saw the mother bird sitting on top of one of the bushes in my yard and just below her were the two little birds flapping their wings going from branch to branch having a grand old time!

On March 3, 1512, Ponce De Leon led an expedition  from his colony in Puerto Rico in search of Bimini, and as we all remember from our geography classes, the reported miraculous Fountain of youth.

On April 11, 1512, he discovered what he then believed to be an island, which he named Florida because it was Pascua Florida, the Easter season.  The country abounded in spectacular healthy flowers and greenery. Everything just seemed to flourish beyond believe in Florida. Little did Ponce De Leon know back then in 1512 that the mere mention of Florida could conjure up fantasies of youthful activities and relaxation, how millions of people would flock to Florida’s sunny skies to rejuvenate their bodies and brighten their dispositions.

If you were to check the demographics stats of Florida you would find a huge percentage of senior citizens that reside there.  In the winter months, many tourist seeking to get away from the cold join them.  If you really think about it Ponce De Leon might have discovered the Fountain Of Youth after all. But according to some amazing scientific discoveries we may find a less expensive way to rejuvenate our bodies. Yes, the secret of youth may be closer than we imagined. As close as the local pick-your own farm or you local supermarket shelves. Yes I am talking about blueberries 

Many scientific test using blueberries conducted on laboratory rats proved very encouraging according to many recent reports.  Elderly rats were fed the human equivalent of only a half cup of blueberries a day. There was a marked improvement in balance, coordination and short term memory.

Blueberries contain chemicals that act as antioxidants. According to reports on the subject, scientist believe antioxidants protect the body against oxidation stress; one of the biological processes that cause aging. Also new studies show that blueberries aid the immune system, contain anti cancer compounds and improve eyesight. Also blueberries may help to prevent or treat diarrhea, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar. Blueberries contain vitamin C, fiber-a handful of blueberries can help to meet your daily requirements, manganese-helps the body process cholesterol, nutrients, carbohydrates and protein into energy and Vitamin K.  Well it looks like blueberries are a Fountain of youth in a cup and at only 84 calories, that is a bargain.

CREATIVE CORNER-Featured in the Creative Corner today is Carrie from Connecticut surprising her family with her delightful homemade PlumTomato and Pesto Pizza made from fresh vegetables from her garden.

If you would like to share a photo in the Creative Corner you may send your photo and any information that you would like to share to my contact e-mail  Readers love seeing what real people are doing and many of the submissions appear on Google and Bing search engines.

Like strawberry picking on our local pick-your-own farm, there also was a few extra weeks of picking due to the colder weather that we had in the spring.  Again I was unable to do my own picking, but fortunately I have very generous family members and friends. So with my greatly appreciated supply I worked on some tasty blueberry recipes for this update. It may be too late for picking, but you can buy some large beautiful blueberries at your supermarket.

Borrowing from Facebook the practice of using past memories photos periodically, here is a photo of my youngest grandchildren on one of our blueberry excursions a more than few years ago-a dead giveaway is the once popular fanny pac. Time sure flies , one is entering college and one is starting high school this year.

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I have chosen the following piecrust recipes to share, because  I have used both of them successfully for both savory and sweet recipes. This recipe takes a few more minutes to prepare and you have the added chore of washing the processor bowl and blade.  Now this may not sound very important to you folks who enjoy cooking and know what it encumbers, but that was the number one reason students in my cooking classes listed as the reason that they did not like to cook.

1 1/2 cups flour
4 tablespoon butter, cold and cubed
4 tablespoon Crisco, cold
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar, optional
3 tablespoon ice water
Sift flour, salt and sugar, if using and place in bowl of food processor. Add cold butter and Crisco. Place top on processor and pulse gentle until combined. Pulse slowly and drizzle cold water through processor tube in cover until dough forms a ball.
Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3o minutes
Roll out on floured board. Follow directions for recipe that you are using.

A quote by the co-author of a study at the Argricultural Department  Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University in Boston several years ago stated the following:  "People are told that once you are old, there is nothing you can do-this may not be true."

Today many people seek out eternal youth in many different suberficial ways.  Cosmetic surgery, quick fix pills and creams.  What ever you desire you can find something or some one to accommodate you.  Well as the saying goes, "What ever floats your boat" or whatever makes you happy, as you are in charge of your own destiny.  For me it is "What you see, is what you get."  I just let nature take it's course.

When it comes to nutrition however, I will try anything.  Blueberries have always been in my diet-sprinkled on cereal, added to muffin or pancake and waffle batter, and of course used in desserts.  Now, spending so much time researching and reading about all the nutritional perks attributed to them, I ceretainly am going to include them more often in my diet.  Perhaps you also would like to try one or two of the following recipes.

1 double piecrust
4 cups blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Prepare pastry-suggested recipes will follow-and roll into a ball with your hands. Place ball into the center of a large baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Roll with a rolling pin or press with your hands to form a 13 or 14 inch circle. Working with pastry form a 2 inch raised edge around circle.
Toss blueberries in a bowl with sugar, flour, and lemon juice. Mound in center of circle and sprinkle any remaining sugar on blueberries. Fold raised edge up over filling, working around center and pleating slightly as necessary.
Spray galette lightly with butter flavored cooking spray and bake in a 350 degree F. oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and blueberries are soft.

I  have been using this recipe for several years, but for awhile I have had a difficult time achiving the right coinsistency.  Then a bell went off in my head,  I realized that like many manufactuers, several engredients labled unhealthy might have been replaced with healthier alternatives and that the recipes might have to be adjusted.  Believe it or not, even  the brand of any ingredient can make a difference.  The flour may be milled finer or the milk may be skim,  fat free or whole.  

So I have a simple solution to the problem.  The recipe that follows will contain the amounts that I used.  If your pastry seems too dry, add a few drops of oil or milk or if your pastry is to moist add a little flour very slowly.

When prepared, the oil piecrust pastry reciipe makes a one crust pie or an 8 inch galette.  Whereas the proccessor piecrust pastry makes a 2 crust pie or a 10 or 12 inch galette.

1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar, optional
1/3 cup oil
2 tbls milk
In a medium bowl, sift dry ingredients. In glass measuring cup measure the 1/3 oil an add the 2 tablespoons of milk and whisk with fork and combine with dry ingredients. Mix gently until well combined and form into a ball.
Cut two pieces of waxed paper and lightly flour one. Place pastry on floured waxed paper and place second sheet of waxed paper on top of pastry and using a rolling pin, shape into a 10 inch circle
If making a galette, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove top piece of waxed paper from pastry and flip pastry onto baking sheet.
Follow directions for the Blueberry Galette or if making a pie, flip into pie plate and follow directions for recipe you are using. However, if you are rolling pin challenged-meaning if you do not own a rolling pin-place the pastry in the pie plate and using your fingers mold the pastry to conform to the pan and flute the edge,

This recipe is a basic corn muffin recipe and ca n be used as a savory muffin  with added corn or other vegetables or used as I have today with an added fruit.  Corn is a complex carbohydrate, but do not shy away from it because it is a good source of vitamin A, B, C, potassium and dietary fiber.  The protein in corn is lacking two essential amino acids; lysine and tryprophan.  But when combined with beans and other legumes and with animal protein, such as meat and milk, corn protein becomes complete. Mature corn is ground into cornmeal  and grits, but should be stored in the refrigerator if it is not used in a few weeks.

3/4 cup all-purpose Flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 teaspoon vineger
1/2 stick butter or Smart Balance
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Greese muffin tins or line with parchment paper-directions follow'
Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a bowl, mix with folk. In another bowl, whish egg until smooth mix in buttermilk and melted butter to combine. Pour into flour mixture and stir until evenly moistened.
Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake 15 to 20 minutes. or until a tester comes out clean.
Filling the muffin cups-for very full rounded muffin tops, fill cups all the way to the top-you will however get less muffins.
If you take note of the photo you will notice that the muffins are baked in what looks like gourmet tulip muffin cup liners-actually that is parchment paper cut into a six inch square, centered on top of the muffin cup and using a drinking glass -with a bottom that fits into the cup-gently push into the cup and twist it back and forth a few times to conform to the shape of the cup and straighten out the points to form petals. The muffins will not stick and when serving, by pulling down the points on the liner they serve as a catch-all for any crumbs.
Also, please note that all the muffin recipes are what I call basic recipes and can be used for a variety of recipes simple by changing the add-ins or adding or substituting the ingredients. I will be periodically posting variations of the basic recipes-hey, I am not called the muffin lady for nothing, have to earn the title! So if you and your family love muffins, as I do, I suggest that you save all of the basic muffin recipes.

One of my favorite breakfast entrees is a fluffy blueberry Belgian Waffle topped with additional fresh berries and other fruit and maybe even a dallop of whipped cream on  top.  Today I am going to share with you a basic healthier Belgian Waffle Mix that takes only a few minutes to make and will enable you to make any kind of waffle you desire.  

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
Mix all ingredients and add to an airtight container until ready to use. This is the base for 2 batches of batter that makes 4 waffles each. I usually make a double or triple batch to keep on hand, Note: Spray your waffle iron with butter flavored cooking spray.
When ready to use add 4 tablespoons Smart Balance or butter if you prefer, 1 egg and 2 eggwhites, 1/2 cup buttermilk or add 1/2 tablesoon of vinegar to 1/2 cup milk to make your homemade buttermilk alternative. Use this batter to make the classic buttertmilk waffles. To add flavor without added fruit add 1/4 cup of All Fruit preserves to batter.
To make whatever kind of waffles you desire, add various add-ins. Example: Add blueberries or a combination of berries to batter. For apple waffles add diced apple a little cinnamon and some brown sugar sprinkled on top. The heat from the waffle iron carmalizes the sugar and with warm pure maple syrup poured over, it is a great fall treat. Add chocolate chips or a combination of chips such as chocolate and peanut butter or caramel.
To make the flavored syrup add 1 to 2 tablespoons of All Fruit preserves to pure maple syrup and heat in microwave to melt the preserves. Of course you would have to adjust the amounts depending on your individual taste and the amount of waffles you are making.