Archives for posts with tag: berries
First blueberries of the season.

we all love fresh berries! in winter, though, frozen ones are a great option

Last night I made a quick and easy adaptation of a classic blueberry pie. I was in an unusual and very fortunate situation: I had a bag of frozen blueberries, some flour, and eggs all on hand, all at the same time! I checked the cupboards for my usual supply of baking/cooking supplies… yes, I had sugar, salt, milk powder and oil, so I thought “why not”.

I placed about 2 cups of blueberries with a half cup of water in a little pot on the stove. I cooked this at low temperature until the berries had thawed. I smushed them around a bit, to extract more of the juices. You don’t need to do this, though, you actually shouldn’t try to extract the juices. You don’t need to add this much water, either. I was removing some of the juices and blueberry-dye for more artistic purposes, that I will tell you about another time.

Once the berries are soft, you can add a bit of sugar. I used brown sugar, about a third of a cup or so. You don’t need to add sugar at all, but I was feeling decadent. Into this I stirred two eggs (you could use three if you really like a jiggly pie and have enough eggs). I threw in a tiny sprinkle of salt, imagining the salt and sugar contrasting with each other to bring out the blueberry flavour even more. I didn’t really cook this any longer, I turned off the heat at this point.

* * * * *

I used a quick little no-cook pie crust recipe:

1.5 Cups flour3/4 tsp salt

Sift/stir around in your pie-plate or other pan.

Add: 1/2 Cup oil (I used grape seed that I had on hand, in the past I’ve used olive oil) + 3 Tbsp milk (I used a dash of milk powder, and a dash of water)

Mix with a fork or your fingers (I use my fingers) ’til it’s blended enough to press into the pan firmly. You don’t need to pre-bake the crust, though a few minutes in your pre-heated oven before adding the filling can’t hurt. (I didn’t last night, and it’s still a fine and delicious Breakfast-Pie at the moment.)

* * * * *

The next step for this pie is to pour the remaining frozen blueberries (about 2 cups) into this pie crust, then pour the gooey blueberries on top. Put into the oven (preheated to about 300 or 350 F) and bake until the middle of the pie starts to firm up. This is about 30 minutes, I do believe.

You could try this with variations, different frozen berries, cinnamon, vanilla, other flavourings to suit what you have on hand and your taste. I would like to try making the crust with a gluten-free flour. I almost added some almond slivers to the top of the pie, but thought better of it in the end. Maybe next time…

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

(Whipped cream is not necessary, but highly recommended.)

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Raspberries

Raspberries!

One day a guy tried to sell me a supplement made from the red colour that is naturally occurring in raspberries.  At the time, I laughed and laughed. Raspberries are one of my favourite fruits, why would I start taking them in a capsules and miss out on the full experience of tasting them?

Many people take supplements of particular parts of plants.  Research has helped state the benefits of these plant constituents in a precise manner and people can supplement with high doses of these constituents.  And in the case of raspberries, research tells us that the colour in raspberries are anthocyanin pigments.  Found in blue-red fruits, such as blueberries, blackberries, grapes, hawthorn, cherries, and raspberries, anthocyanin pigments are one of the 5 families of flavonoids.  Flavonoids function as plant pigments in colourful fruits and flowers and they are abundant in plants.  They are known for anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-carcinogenic and antiviral properties.  Anthocyanidins are also important anti-inflammatories that aid in wound healing by reinforcing the natural cross link of collagen that forms the matrix of connective tissue.  And as I type this, I wish I was enjoying these little blue-red bundles of beneficial constituents.

In some cases, it makes sense to supplement the diet with therapeutic doses of particular plant constituents.  For the most part, I prefer to get these beneficial plant constituents from the plants themselves.  I enjoy eating and drinking; it is as simple as that.  I also see a spiritual aspect to it all.

Water is a universal solvent.  We get this because most of us at some point have witnessed someone making tea and coffee.  Alcohol is a fine preservative and solvent.  Sugar is another fine preservative.  What do you get when you put the three together and add a few botanicals?  A stable liquid that can taste good and it can even be good for you.

St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

Delice de Sureau Image by TheDeliciousLife

If you enter the liquor store you will see many bottles that were originally tonics.  In fact, many of our modern sodas were once used as tonics.  These fermented beverages were important because they were stable drinks that people could rely upon.  Not only in terms of safety, but also as a product that would strengthen and sustain.  The people making drinks knew the benefits of the botanicals they were using and made drinks to nourish others.  These days though, I feel that beverages are often a mere shell of what they once were.  We don’t know what is in the bottle, it is often much too sweet and it is sweetened with highly controversial sweeteners such as GMO high-fructose corn syrup.  It might be coloured with a dye that is not nutritional in any way (there go my anthocyanins!)  The flavours are to mimic tastes in particular ways.  It may be generally regarded as safe, but it has nothing to do with nutrition!  It is the experience, the flavour sensation that is important.  It is assumed that you are not looking to these drinks for any benefit other than pleasure.   From this herbalist’s perspective, there is room for growth in our understanding of what we are ingesting.  Rather than being pleased by a flavour that imitates something good, I would rather look for foods and drinks that taste good, because they are good for me.  (And, this is not to be confused with the trend in functional foods.  Good food is functional, pointe finale.)

I don’t want a world where all the pleasures of eating and drinking are gone.  I am not going to start a drab way of living that involves taking supplements as a means of sustenance.  At the same time, it can be tricky as I shop for food and drink because I so often fall for something that looks good, but has little benefit to me, other than a taste experience!

So, this is how I do it: I make things I might want to enjoy in the months ahead.  These are two simple examples.  There are many ways to keep the fun in functional.

Raspberry Liqueur

Making a stable liqueur is easy.  Use quality ingredients that are clean and mould free.  Use clean vessels.  Ensure that at least 25% of the volume weight is either sugar or pure alcohol or a combination of the two.

Ingredients

300 grams raspberries (fresh or frozen)

200 grams sugar

700 ml vodka, cognac or brandy

And for a little more inspiration: add some other flavourings: vanilla bean, organic orange peel (avoiding the white pith) and honey.

Pour the above ingredients into a mason jar.  Agitate a little bit daily and let it sit for two weeks in a dark corner of your countertop.  Using a cheese cloth and a sieve, strain the raspberries from the liquid.  Decant the liquid into a nice (clean) bottle with a good (and clean) stopper.  Use your creativity to make a charming label with the name of your product, ingredients and date that it was made.  Serve as you wish, perhaps with sparkling water and a twist of lemon.

*after you are finished with the fruit, you can add it to a trifle pudding or you can bake it in a cake.

**Don’t use honey, unless you include a large amount of alcohol.  Honey and water will ferment turning your product into mead.  This is not a bad thing, but it does require a little more knowledge and care.

Raspberry Vodka

200 g raspberries

800 ml vodka (40%)

This is the exact same method as the above recipe.  Pour the above ingredients into a mason jar.  Agitate a little bit daily and let it sit for two weeks in a dark corner of your countertop.  Using a cheese cloth and a sieve, strain the raspberries from the liquid.  Decant the liquid into a nice (clean) bottle with a good (and clean) stopper.  Use your creativity to make a charming label with the name of your product, ingredients and date that it was made.

Studies prove that consuming excessive amounts of sugar and alcohol is detrimental to the body.  Moderation is key in fully enjoying the benefits of these beverages.

By: Tammy Schmidt, Montreal


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