Blueberry bushes in bloom, and I even saw a mother and her children picking blackberries near our home even though I think it is still a bit early to find ripe ones.
Around South Mississippi, blueberry bushes are in bloom, but may be a week or two later producing fruit due to cooler temperatures. Florida readers already may have fresh blueberries because the temperature has been warmer there. My Florida readers will have to let me know.
Chef Calvin Coleman's blueberry bushes are loaded with blooms. Just looking at them made me want to tell the fruit to hurry up. He says he expects a good crop because of all the rain we have had.
I love fresh berries, doesn't matter which ones, strawberries, blackberries, dewberries or blueberries, and so does my family.
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Elyssa and I enjoy picking berries and often go to the U-pick farms, enduring heat and all.
I try to freeze fresh blueberries each June, so that we will have the fresh berries year-round. Remember, do not wash the berries if you plan to freeze them; and do not wash the berries until you are ready to use them.
Dewberries and blackberries do not last long enough in my home to freeze them.
Last weekend, I wanted to make my grandmother's blackberry dumplings, but when I got to the supermarket and saw the price I decided I would not rush the season.
Blueberry season runs from May to September. Florida and south Texas crops usually come in first. Mississippi's peak time for the "blues" is early June. Blueberry festivals start later this month in Florida with South Mississippi's largest festivals happening the first and second Saturdays in June. Dewberries and blackberries come in a little sooner.
If you have favorite berry recipes to share, please send them to me. It's almost berry pickin' time.
Sweet potato pone
Elizabeth Norris of Gulfport, Miss., asked for a recipe for sweet potato pone, and Sissie Schindler of Diamondhead, Miss., has an old-time one.
"This is my grandmother's (Evelyn Stewart of Poplarville) recipe," Schindler said. "We had this nearly every occasion, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Mother's Day, etc. I read your recipes every Wednesday, and I can't tell you have many I've used over the years."
Thanks for the kind words, and this recipe.
SWEET POTATO PONE
3 cups grated sweet potato
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup granulated sugar
1- 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg
Bake in a 325-degree oven for about an hour uncovered in a glass baking bowl. Schindler sprays hers with a flour-oil baking spray. Pecans can be sprinkled on top before putting in the oven, if desired.
-- Submitted by Sissie Schindler
Another old-time favorite
While I was playing on Facebook last Saturday night, a friend shared a recipe for pineapple buttermilk pie, which I had to save. As you know, pineapple anything is a favorite of mine. I am going to try that recipe; I'll let you know how it turns out.
As I was "chatting," another friend Fran Boudreaux of Boiling Springs, Pa., formerly of the Coast, asked if I had ever had coconut cracker pudding. I hadn't, but asked if she would share the recipe since my husband loves coconut anything. His coconut desserts are safe around Elyssa and me.
Boudreaux said she got this recipe from the Good and Plenty Restaurant in Pennsylvania.
"This pudding is wonderful, but I bet it would be even better with pecans," she said.
COCONUT CRACKER PUDDING
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 quart milk
1- 1/2 cups coarsely crushed saltine crackers (use the name brand ones)
3/4 cup coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla
May need 2 teaspoons salt (taste first)
Beat egg yolks and sugar together, pour into a double boiler and add milk. Stir constantly so it doesn't burn. Add crackers and coconut and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and add vanilla (and salt, if needed). Cool and then chill in refrigerator. Serve cold.
-- Submitted by Fran Boudreaux
"You could use the remaining egg whites to make a meringue for the top, but they didn't do that at the Good and Plenty Restaurant," Boudreaux said.
Send contributions or requests for this column to Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567. If requesting a recipe, please include the name or briefly describe it and the ingredients. If you are submitting a recipe, please include the date requested. You can reach Andrea Yeager at 832-8568 or to firstname.lastname@example.org.