Sunday, February 6, 2011


Blueberry Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Cookies
If the seeds are small it's blueberries.  If they're many and large, they're huckleberries. So says the Joy of Cooking.

In my winter dementia I wonder why the cartoon character Huckleberry Hound had a southern accent?

I'm standing in the Amish bulk store reading the overdue accounts posted on a corkboard.  On a table that functions as counter there is a list of grocery items not found on the shelves. A few frozen entrees are listed next to fresh produce.  Blueberries catch my eye.  "Ach," I sputter.  "Don't need no blueberries."

Martha tells me to go to the house if I want eggs.  Inside the entire clan is sitting on wood benches eating lunch.  "Oh, I'm sorry," I mutter.  "Didn't mean to intrude."  

"That's all right,"says the Patriarch. They are used to the interruptions.  Next to our car a elderly man pulls up in a twenty year old, white Oldsmobile.  He doesn't get out.  Martha goes to the car to retrieve a grocery list.  "He has trouble getting in and out," she says.

"You need blueberries?  We got 'em," the Patriarch tells me.  They're still out of "farmer" eggs.  They make the distinction because they also raise organic eggs on a large scale.  Six hundred and seventy five layers, to be exact.  That's why the Patriarch chides me about my desire to raise chickens.  He tells me, "Just fill a bucket of water twice a day. Then walk to the fence line and pour it on the ground.  Do that 365 times and you'll have a small notion of the work involved."

Dawn comes up to the house.  Before she can come inside, I head her off. I know if she comes in, it'll be another 30 minutes before we leave.  We drive off down the lane and stop at the highway.

"Shoot, I forgot the eggs."  I make an illegal and dangerous wide turn on the highway and drive back up Shady Lane.  Another daughter has been chosen to serve yet another visitor to the bulk store.  I glance at the produce menu.  Blueberries are 40 cents a pint or $3.50 a case.  Unbelievable.  As Marion fills empty egg cartons for the first customer, she fills another for me.  She walks around to an unheated room to fetch the case of blueberries.  Twelve pints of luscious looking berries.  The label says they're from a nostalgic sounding place called North Gate Farm.  Underneath it lists the point of origin-Chile.

I'm familiar with Chilean wine.  I go to the net to look up a company that makes an exceptional Merlot. The views of the vineyard and surrounding area makes me drool with envy.  Verdant green hills and valleys, Picturesque vines gracing a gentle slope.  It makes Tuscany look like a wasteland.

My afternoon is awash with blueberries.  Suspicious of the unknown growing conditions in Chile, I wash, sort and soak the large, plump blue berries.  My first task is to make freezer jam.  A double recipe calls for 10 and 1/2 cups of sugar.  "Mandy, wanna go for a ride?"  She's off the couch in a blur as we drive back to the Amish bulk store.  I grab a ten pound bad of sugar and two pounds of rolled oats and walk to the house because nobody comes out to greet me. Inside I tell Mom,

"I knew there was something wrong when I left here with money in my pocket."

I make six or eight pints of freezer jam and grab the cookbook from the bookshelf.  Next, I'll make blueberry syrup.  While the syrup is simmering on the gas stove, I mix my oatmeal cookie extravaganzas.  Five cookie sheets later, I thumb through the basics of pies and pastries.  A blueberry cobbler sounds nice.  Blueberry pie, hmm.       

I forget the crucial underlying precept here.  Someone has to eat this stuff.  I stand with both arms outstretched holding the beaters covered with cookie batter-butter,flour, sugar, vanilla, brown sugar-as the dog laps at one and the cat discreetly licks the other.  Yes, just like kids.  They don't need those calories any more than I do. 

I fill a cereal bowl with berries for blueberry buttermilk pancakes in the morning.  There's another stainless steel bowl in the refrigerator waiting for a Sunday morning inspiration. I'm blueberried out.  Perhaps I should purchase another case and stock up? In a follow up post I'll explain the blueberry psychosis.  Even Dawn claims they are the sweetest berries she's ever eaten.   

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