Blueberries in February…?

Raw Blueberrry JamAm I the only one who has been baffled by the mass quantities of cheap blueberries available in the middle of winter? A little poking around the internet tells me that they are apparently from Chile, which has turned into a mega producer and exporter of the little blue fruit. I suppose I should be suspicious of this new “global market” we’re living in and be cautious of what effect purchasing this product has on our planet… but I really love blueberries…. and they’re so cheap… and sooo goooooddddd……

These days when I am presented with a quantity of cheap blueberries, they wind up in my morning juice. Not only are they sweet and incredibly flavorful, they have more antioxidants than any other food on the planet – what better way to start your day? Still, I can’t help but wonder what other creative applications I can use on these amazing little berries. Being a lover of jam, I was thinking I could make some, but the amount of sugar one has to use to make jam is not really bootcamp-friendly. Besides, it’s so easy to just throw blueberries in a pot with sugar – what about keeping them raw? What about butter??? Ooooo!

So here’s what I did. I took a half-pint of blueberries and a half-pint of blackberries and emptied them into my food processor. I did some digging around my cabinets and found some coconut sugar I got from Whole Foods a month ago – it’s a natural sugar (i.e. not processed), so it’s super good for you. I put a tablespoon in. You can substitute maple sugar or sugar in the raw or just some white sugar if you’re not terribly concerned. I then added in two tablespoons of organic raw agave nectar. Why? Because I had it leftover from when I made fresh ginger ale last week. Honey would be perfectly fine as well. Then, a pinch of salt, a drop of vanilla, and I needed some citrus… hmmm…  oh, I’ll steal one of these fresh oranges from my roommate. I squeezed half of it in. But now we need something to thicken this concoction that is not flour or cornstarch or anything super processed. I did some digging around and came up with the answer: ground chia seed. It’s an incredible natural thickener. And more importantly I had it in my kitchen. 1 tablespoon in the work bowl. Grind it all up in the food processor until smooth, put it in a bowl, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Voila, raw berry jam. Not at thick as a real jam, but the flavor is crazy fresh and intense, and as you can see from the pic, it sits beautifully on toast. Here it is in list form:

  • 1 pint of fresh blueberries (or a mixture of blue and blackberries)
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar (or any raw, unprocessed sugar like maple or stevia)
  • 2 tbsp organic raw agave syrup (or honey)
  • 1 drop vanilla
  • 1 small pinch of salt
  • the juice of 1/2 an orange
  • 2 tbsp ground chia seed

–Process all ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Done.

Now you could stop here, but I looove me some compound butter, so I did that too. Take 1/2 stick of room temperature butter and mash in about 2 tablespoons of the jam. Form the mixture either into a ball or a log or whatever you want and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours. Now you have this wonderfully colorful butter to spread on toasts, muffins, croissants, your body – whatever you like! If you want to double or triple the recipe, I would recommend using a hand mixer or kitchen aid to whip it together really well.

If you just can’t get enough blueberry,  check out these other fantastic recipes from my blog:

Blueberry Coffeecake Muffins
Blueberry Pie
Mixed Berry Salsa
Maple Vanilla Fruit Salad
Crust Knots (if you decide to make pie)

A Quest for Raw Milk

So after reading the article I told you about in my post Rawesome, I began reading all these testimonials and facts about raw dairy products and decided, you know what, I need to try this. I did some searching on google (and by searching I mean I typed in “raw milk los angeles”) and found a creamery called Organic Pastures that sells nothing but raw products – milk, cheese, butter, eggs, etc. Not only do they ship to anywhere in California, they actually run what they call a “hub” where you can go to a designated location and buy products right off the back of their trucks. It is the absolute cheapest way to purchase raw products and it just so happens the hub is located in my old neighborhood in Los Angeles – about 10 minutes from where I live, right off San Fernando in Glendale. I called the company and they told me it operates 10am – 2pm on Saturday. Hot damn that’s tomorrow! So, I got up on Saturday, got my cooler, filled it with ice, and started driving. On the way I was thinking how lucky I am to live in a place like SoCal where such products are both legal and easily attainable. As I turned down the dead end street where the hub was located, I couldn’t help but feel a little… criminal. Here I am driving down this fairly unkempt, deserted, industrial street… to buy milk. Weird. I spotted the trucks parked in a fenced-off lot, so I parked my car on the street, walked through the hole in the gate meant for pedestrians, got up to the trucks. They were empty. Both of them. One of the smaller vans was plugged in and running, but there were no people to be found – no employees, no nothing. As I stood there perplexed I saw a man park behind me and start walking towards me. He asked if I was with the company and I said no I’m here to buy and no one seems to be here. He then pointed out a tiny little note written on the back of an envelope that I didn’t notice on my way in:

You’ve got to be shitting me. I JUST spoke to them the day before and they didn’t say a word to me. I went on the website and read this report. You can read the details, but the long and short of it is that due to an outbreak of non-serious illness caused by various raw milk products in California, Organic Pastures had to have numerous samples tested by the state. Of all the tests they did, one raw cream sample came back positive for a certain bacteria, but law states they have to recall all their products, hence no milk to sell. Bummer. On the one hand I am glad that such precautions are being taken to ensure the safety of these products. I mean I am all for natural, but there is still a “right way” to handle them. On the other hand, clearly OP knows what they’re doing. It’s a shame they have to be held under such scrutiny. Who knew it would be so difficult to buy milk? But, fear not readers, I have not given up. When I do get my hands on some I plan to blog about how I like it and any changes I notice in my health. Until then, more fun and recipes coming your way this week.

Everyone enjoying the weekend? Don’t forget to call your mom!!