Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Blueberry picking

Last weekend I ventured out to the Chickamaw Farm-Ranch and Wildlife out in McDade Tx. Their blueberries were ready to be picked, so they opened their farm up to the public. This was the first time I have done anything remotely like this, so I was pretty damn excited. After driving for about 30 miles, I found the little nondescript entrance to pick blueberries. Thank god there were other cars there because I might have missed it. I walked up to a make-shift table and told the gentleman that I was there to pick some blueberries. He explained the process ($6.50 per pint), gave me a bucket, and told me how to tell if the blueberry is ready to be picked. Blueberries should be dark in color and have a slight white powder look around the part of the berry that is attached to the stem. Before I could get to berry picking, I spent a little time with their 4 gorgeous dogs. They have 4 Catahoula's and they were all super nice. Chewie is part Catahoula and I just love their personalities. After each dog got their Dana lovin I headed out to pick the berries.

This farm is organic, and they suggested that I eat a few blueberries while picking them to get a good taste for them. They haven't had a good crop this year due to the lack of rain, but for the blueberries that did grow, they were fantastic. They also do a pick your own blackberries, and strawberries. I look forward to heading out there to do some more picking!

Here is one of the dogs at the farm. I wish I could have gotten a few more photos, but these dogs had no idea what a camera was and wanted nothing to do with it. After each picture, I had to put the camera down and coax them back to me to pet for a bit. They all had at least one crystal blue eye and would lick you to death if you let them.

Some of the blackberries that I picked

Of course I had to do a self portrait. At this point I was very sweaty... not from the berry picking but from the freakin heat. It was only about 11am and the heat was in full force.

I determined that this bucket was deceiving. I didn't think I picked many blueberries, but it turned out I picked about 4 1/2 cups of blueberries. Another person picking berries checked out my loot and said that she only picked about half of what I did. That's right... I thought it was a contest and I WON!!! I beat the other berry pickers :o) I'm not competitive, I swear.

This picture is a little dark, but you can see the berries hanging out in the bush.

These pretty flowers were outside of the farm. I'm sure they are some type of weed, but they looked great along the road
I knew exactly what I was going to do with all of those blueberries... make a pie! I don't think that I have made a blueberry pie before, so off to the internet to find a recipe to use!
SERVES 8 , 1 pie

5 cups fresh blueberries (I used 4 cups,,, and the pie was kind of flat but still great tasting)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 (15 ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts ( I made my own using a butter pie crust)

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon sugar

SPRINKLE berries with lemon juice; set aside.
FIT half of pastry in a 9-inch pieplate according to package directions.
COMBINE 1 cup sugar and next 3 ingredients; add to berries, stirring well.
Pour into pastry shell, and dot with butter. (didn't dot with butter and it came out okay)
UNFOLD remaining pastry on a lightly floured surface; roll gently with rolling pin to remove creases in pastry.
Place pastry over filling; seal and crimp edges. - as you can see in the pictures, I didn't make enough dough to have a complete cover of crust over the pie so I improvised and cut out stars and put them over the pie the best I could
Cut slits in top of crust to allow steam to escape.
Brush top of pastry with beaten egg, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar BAKE at 400° for 35 minutes or until golden. (I baked for about 40 min)
Cover edges with aluminum foil to prevent overbrowning, if necessary.
Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired-

My attempt at cutting out stars free hand with a knife... some were good some were blah
The pie came out soooooo gooood! I think the key is to let the pie cool before you eat it, that way it gives the juices time to thicken up. If you eat it straight out of the oven, you'll have a pie that is more soupy than thick. Either way, it was FANTASTIC!!!! It would have been way better with ice cream but we didn't have any.

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