Picking: Blueberries and Raspberries

By: Michelle Buffardi
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You can pick your friends. You can pick your berries. But you can't pick your friends' berries.

Unless you have a friend named Patty who owns a huge u-pick berry farm on the North Fork of Long Island. Or a friend like her.

I spent the morning of July 4th, a beautiful, sunny, summer day, at Patty's Berries and Bunches, roving the fields for the sweetest and ripest blueberries and raspberries. Now, I'm known for overusing the phrase, "This is the greatest day of my life," but on this day, my utterance was quite valid. I spent the morning at a berry farm, popping fresh berries, warm from the sun into my mouth (a few did land in my berry basket), the afternoon at the beach, and the evening with family and friends, sharing sangria and a patriotic Fruit-Topped Flag -- decorated with the aforementioned berries -- as fireworks burst overhead. See what I mean? Best day ever.

After this glorious day, I'm faced with one problem. I've eaten all of the raspberries. Right from the cartons. I mean I shared some . . .  but the point is, they're all gone and I didn't get to make the Raspberry Bellinis, Grilled Peaches With Raspberry Sauce, or the Chilled Raspberry Beet Soup With Mint that I now realize I want. I didn't even save any to stir into Greek yogurt with a little honey. So, whoops. Next time I'll calm down a bit, maybe pick a few more cartons, and make some raspberry jam, or pair them with blueberries for some Blueberry-Raspberry Jam With Allspice and Rum.

I did show some restraint with the blueberries and have a few cartons of those left. Blueberries freeze really well, and when I go picking again, I'll probably freeze a few pints to use in muffins and smoothies in the coming months. But what should I do with the berries I have left from this trip? BrownEyedBaker's Blueberry Boy Bait (cake) promises to not only be delicious but to, well bait a boy . . . berry pie has always been a summer favorite of mine and Emeril's uses all of my favorite summer fruits, Dave Lieberman's Blueberry Pecan Crumble looks particularly amazing (topped with ice cream? Come on). I can also see myself taking the healthy route and making a quick Berry Mint Salad, not only because it's fresh and tasty, but it's one step from eating the berries right out of the carton.

So what do you think? Any thoughts on using the rest of my blueberries or ideas for my inevitable next berry-picking excursion?
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