Sunday, June 8, 2008

Summer Berries

I absolutely love this time of year, when more berries than you could possibly consume are in season and calling out to you from almost every vendor at the farmer’s market. Blueberries, marion berries, red currants, logan berries, and raspberries are just some of the fruits glowing their beautiful colors at the market right now.

As I walk each week the few blocks to the Portland Farmer’s Market, under the warm summer sun, I never fail to marvel at how fortunate I am to live so close to fresh, delicious fruits, vegetables, and gluten-free bakery items (a local gluten-free baker has a stand at the market). I also have a hard time restraining myself from purchasing more than I need. Yesterday, as Ben and I walked to the market together, we had berries on the brain. And I gave in to an entire half-flat. I think Ben and I ate almost an entire pint of them on our walk back to my apartment, they were so ripe and delicious.

They also ended up being the perfect take-along snack for our bike ride to the Sellwood neighborhood that afternoon. Ben and I have discovered we are both antique and thrift-shop junkies and can spend hours poking through collections of vintage and antique furniture and, okay, Junk. Partly intrigued by the uniqueness of some of the items, and a lot intrigued by the history they contain, we seem to not be able to get enough of the things we might find in the Goodwills and antique shops that dot the Portland area. Also, we wanted to check out the Sellwood area in general because we think that might be a neighborhood in which we would want to buy our first home (of course, we haven’t ruled out the other areas yet, we’re just collecting information right now).

Sellwood is linked to downtown Portland by this great bike/walking trail called the Springwater Corridor. It makes the 3.5 miles go by so swiftly because it’s a straight shot and you’re not dealing with traffic. We gleefully pedaled down the corridor and parked our bikes along one of the Sellwood main strips. We poked around the antique shops and we were excited to stumble upon a couple of art galleries as well. After a good hour and a half, we took a break to sit on a bench and munch our fresh blueberries and some pecans, giddy to be out enjoying the summer sunshine together.

Later that day, back at home, I washed the remaining pints of berries in a large bowl. I froze the majority of them, but I also made a batch of blueberry muffins. I love these fresh out of the oven, with the blueberries warm and bursting in my mouth as I bite into them.

I have made a number of variations of this recipe, each one slightly different. Play with it and see what you like best. The tapioca flour gives the tops a nice crust and the sorghum flour and flax add fiber and omega-3. They may be a bit crumbly for some people (though this is what I like about this recipe – they almost melt in your mouth), so if you like a more robust muffin, add a teaspoon of xanthan gum to the flours.

Blueberry Muffins:

1 cup brown rice flour
½ cup each millet, sorghum, and tapioca flour
¼ cup ground blond flax seed, soaked in ½ cup room-temp water
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup water or apple juice
¼ cup oil
¼ cup honey, agave nectar, or brown rice syrup
1 egg
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 and grease and flour (with rice flour) muffin tin or use a non-stick muffin tin.
Blend all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy and stir in the oil, honey, and water/juice. When wet ingredients are well blended, pour into the well of the dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Carefully fold in the blueberries
Spoon batter into 12 muffin molds (I use a quarter-cup measure for efficiency) and bake for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

Feeds 12 (or fewer!).

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