Saturday, April 30, 2011

Blueberry Pickin'!

Blueberry Pickin'!

We went Blueberry Pickin' Today! (8lbs worth!!) We'll be making lots of jams, pancakes, muffins, french toast, pasta, burgers, desserts, etc. with them!   We learned alot more than they are Antioxidants and good for memory!  We learned that really blueberry crops have only been around commecially in Florida for about Two Decades.  The Rabbiteye is the most common.  You need at least Two plants to cross-polinate, but having Three or Four is better for bigger, juicier berries!  The University of Florida has about 15 varieties and they try a different one each year.  Usually, Blueberries grow between May and August, but with Florida crops and the different varieties, they've found they can get them as early as March.  This is especially important for growers, since the earlier they get them to market, the higher the price they recieve.  UF has gotten a block grant, with hopes for more, to research mechanical harvesting and disease understanding.

The only understanding I have is that they are MMMmmm, MMMmmm Good!  One of the Pioneer Recipes we found was for Blueberry Buckle! Kind of like a Crumb Cake! Yum! Can't wait to try.

We'll be cleaning, rinsing, and freezing our Freshly Picked Blueberries today!  In the spirit of All Things Blueberry, we'll be trying to cook everything with Blueberry tonight!  Interestingly, there are more recipes than I thought for Blueberries, both sweet AND savory!!  Shocker!

We'll let you know how it turns out!

Information on how you can pick Blueberries:

The warmer night and nice gentle showers have really ripened the berries quicker than I expected!  The bushes are now loaded with lots of ripe berries.  We have a record volume of berries ready to be picked now!  Our next day to be open is this (Saturday) April 30.  Picking will continue to be good through the following Saturday (May 7).  After May 7, I'll update you on how the picking looks for the 5 to 6 days remaining to be open during the early season and information on where to get Peaches, Thorn-less Blackberries, and Vegetables.

(Blackberries will be in season about Three Weeks from now!)
TWO Seasons to U-Pick at B & G Blueberries

Picking times are 7:00 AM until 1:00 PM -
     EARLY SEASON: (Good Crop) April 23, 26, 27, 30, May 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11, 12, 14, 18, Maybe 21 ($3.50 per pound) 
     NORMAL SEASON (Great Crop) - June 4, 10, 11, 15, 17, 18, 22, 24, 25, MAYBE July 2 ($2.50 per pound). Check our answering machine for any changes to these dates.

We sell Plants, (Blueberry, Thorn less Blackberry, & Persimmon), fertilizer & pine bark.  Pre-picked Blueberries – Call for details.

From Silver Springs go east on SR 40 to CR 315. Go left 5 1/2 miles to NE 100 St. Go left and follow the Blueberry signs ¼ miles to B & G Blueberries.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ok, so Pioneer Cooking... It's pretty good! We started out by making Steak and Onion Pie, Shortnin' Bread, and Country Style Chocolate Cake (made with mash potatoes!)

After a nice little trip the store for a few things, twe were on our way to preparation!

Wow! The Steak and Onion Pie surprised me with how wonderful it tasted! It reminded me of a beef pot pie without the vegetables in it! It also wasn't difficult to make and after all the requests for more, we'll probably be making this again!

I also made Shortnin' Bread. When you first bite into it, it tastes like hard tack. Hard tack was a simple, hard cracker or biscuit made from flour, water, and salt and was commonly used for sustenance for long sea voyages or military campaigns.  The difference in the Shortnin' Bread (because they look and feel the same) is that it starts to taste like hard tack, but then you get this sweetness to it. It's a three ingredient recipe and all you need is flour, light brown sugar, and butter. It' worth making again!

For dessert, I made a delicious Country Style Chocolate Cake. It reminded me of a dense brownie, even though it was cake! By tasting it, you would never know that it was made with mashed potatoes! Although without some sifted powered sugar or icing, it just tasted like dense chocolate.

Pioneer cooking, ok, so NOT outside with a fire or open hearth. Still using a Dutch oven, it was all and all some good eatin' and everyone agreed we should do the Pie and Bread again! Not completely thrilled with the cake, but 2 out of 3 wins isn't bad!

Steak and Onion Pie

2 medium onions, sliced
1/4 cup shortening
1 lb round steak
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
Dash ginger
Dash allspice
2 1/2 cups boiling water
3 medium potatoes, diced
1 unbaked pastry top crust

Cook onions slowly in melted shortening until yellow.  Remove onions and set aside.
Slice meat into one-inch cubes and toss in a mixture of flour, seasonings, and spices.
Brown meat cubes in the hot melted shortening.
Add boiling water.
Cover skillet and cook over low heat approximately one hour.  Add potatoes and cook 15 minutes more.
Arrange onions over top of mixture.
Pour into 8 inch casserole dish. Fit pastry crust over top.  Slit top with knife and seal edges of crust.
Bake in 450 for 25 minutes.

Shortnin' Bread

4 cups flour, sifted
1 cup light brown sugar
2 cups buter, softened

Combine flour and sugar.
Work the butter in gradually until well mixed.
Place dough on a floured surface and pat out (do not roll) to a half-inch thickness.
Cut into shapes with glass or cookie cutter. 
Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Country Style Chocolate Cake
(Made with mashed potatoes)

2/3 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 egg yolks, beaten
1 cup hot mashed potatoes
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa (unsweetened)
2 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup milk
1 cup chopped nuts
4 egg whites

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
Beat in egg yolks.
Blend in mash potatoes, vanilla, then cocoa.
In separate bowl sift together remaining dry ingredients, add to creamed mixture alterntely with milk.
Beat egg whites to stiff-peak stage.
Fold in nuts, then egg whites.
Pour batter into two buttered loaf pans 5x9 or a 13x9x2 pan.
Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes.

(We personally would add some sifted powder sugar, for some added sweetness on top!)

Pioneer Cooking

What is pioneer cooking?
Well, the pioneers did four types of cooking:  boiling, roasting, baking, and steaming. The pioneers cooked over an open fire with blackened iron cookware and utensils. The cookware used were different sized kettles, Dutch ovens, long handled fry pans, iron griddles, and tea kettles. The utensils that were used the most were skewers, a spit, trivets, long handled spoons, dippers, and cooking forks. Some of their utensils were wooden and handmade.
The area know as their "kitchen" was in the corner of their "home" or near the fireplace. They had a few open shelves and a wooden trough-like box that was their sink with no drain. Wooden buckets were used for transportation of their water. Their refrigerator was a wooden box built over a spring or stream that allowed milk and butter to sit in the cold water.
We like camping, but this is really roughing it (and all the time!)!!  It will be interesting to find out how tasty pioneer food really is!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Welcome to our first Blog!

Inspired by Julie and Julia, we're going to start our first Cooking Blog - Homeschool Style! Not only are we going to cook, but we'll learn about the time period or culture of our subject, as well! Just as Julie did with Julia! Since we can't travel back in time or to other cultures of the world, what better way than to do a little learning via food! Typically we have found that EVERYone Eats, they just don't eat the same things! So, we're going to figure out just what makes them tick, er, eat!