by Roberta Bailey
I love berries...all kinds of berries. When I was a child, I knew every berry patch or vine or tree and when they would ripen. My summer was a grazing progression from one fruit or berry to the next, starting with wild strawberries, red and black raspberries, blueberries, mulberries, sour cherries, then peaches, grapes and pears.
When the strawberries were ripe and I was on my belly in the patch eating sun-warmed fruit, I would proclaim that these were my favorites. Weeks later, as the first delicate raspberries would ripen, I would be reminded that these berries were really my all-time favorites. And then the blueberries would ripen. So it would go every summer...and still does, though as an adult I can appreciate each fruit or berry for its unique blend of sweetness and acidity, for its individual beauty and its culinary qualities.
BUT, lately, I have been thinking that raspberries are my favorite; you know, if I had to name one berry. They are so delicate, with a fine balance of sweetness and not too much acidity. A raspberry hanging on a bent stem, sun warmed to the point where the whole patch smells of raspberry essence mixed with the green of transpiring foliage, itself silver green and beautiful (as a child, I sometimes ate the leaves in anticipation of the berries ripening)--this raspberry captures all that is delicate and fleeting in summer. If you don’t pick it, it falls to the ground. And if you bend to retrieve it, try sitting under that silver green canopy. If you sit still enough and listen with more than your ears, you will find a tiny frog, the exact silvery green of the foliage, with a black and gold line that runs down its side.
All of this sensation is carried into the house in the basket of raspberries, all of this gets eaten on cereal, or yogurt, or whirled into a summer dessert or jam for the winter.
2 to 2 1/2 c. raspberries, lightly crushed
2 Tbsp. sugar or honey
2 c. red wine vinegar
Combine ingredients in the top of a stainless steel double boiler. Place over boiling water. Turn heat down and cook over simmering water for 10 minutes. Pour mixture into a screw top jar
and let it set for three weeks. Strain the mixture to remove berries. If the mixture appears cloudy, strain it through a coffee filter. Pour it into sterilized bottles.
3 c. fresh or frozen berries
3/4 c. water
5 Tbsp. honey
2 1/2 Tbsp. quick cooking tapioca
1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c. white flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 c. and 2 Tbsp. butter
1/3 c. finely chopped raw almonds
1/4 c. buttermilk or yogurt
1 egg, slightly beaten
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium saucepan, combine raspberries, 4 Tbsp. honey, water and tapioca. Set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Cut in 1/4 c. butter. Stir in almonds. Add the buttermilk, egg and remaining 1 Tbsp. honey, stirring just to moisten. Bring raspberry mixture to a boil; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp. butter. Pour into a buttered 2-qt. casserole. Drop dough by round spoonfuls on top of fruit. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned. Serves 5 to 6.
2 c. flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 to 4 Tbsp. honey
7/8 c. milk, soy milk, water or orange juice (7 oz.)
2 Tbsp. oil or melted butter
1 tsp. grated lemon or orange rind
1 c. raspberries, lightly dusted in flour
Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add egg, liquid, oil or butter, and grated rind. Mix until just moist. Fold in the floured berries. (Over mixing toughens muffins.) Spoon 2/3 full into well-greased and lightly floured muffin tins (or use muffin papers). Bake for 20 minutes in a 400-degree oven until delicately browned. Makes 6 to 8 muffins.
-A summer fruit mold-
2 1/2 Tbsp. agar flakes
2 c. white grape or apple juice
2 Tbsp. lime juice (about 1 large lime)
1 1/2 c. fresh raspberries
1 c. fresh peach or nectarine slices
Dissolve agar in the juice and add the lime juice. Let sit 5 minutes, then stir and heat to just below a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour into four individual glass bowls or wine glasses. Allow to cool for 15 minutes. Gently stir in the peaches and raspberries. Chill for at least 35 minutes or until ready to serve. Makes 4 servings.
(This sauce has many uses...on ice cream, pound cake, chocolate cake, bread pudding, poached peaches, or custards, for starters.)
1/2 c. orange juice
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 c. fresh or frozen raspberries
2 Tbsp. sugar or mild honey or to taste
In a saucepan, whisk together the juice and cornstarch until dissolved. Add the raspberries and cook on low heat, stirring until thickened. Stir in the sweetener and remove from heat. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.