It seems to her that life is like gathering berries into an apron with a hole.
Why do we keep on? Because the berries are beautiful, and we must eat to survive.
We catch what we can. We walk past what we lose for the promise of more, just ahead.
– Elizabeth Berg
I discovered the joy of berry picking later in life. As a kid I remember attempting to pluck raspberries from some thorny plants in my grandmother’s back yard. It seemed like a lot of effort for very little result. Every time a bush scratched an arm or a hand, a raspberry was eaten to ease the discomfort. As a result, it seemed like very few berries made it into the bucket.
Flash forward some thirty years – my job took me to the Southern Tier of New York state – a little town just outside of Binghamton. The rural setting was an adjustment for a suburban Philly gal. We moved to our new home in February. I had never experienced such cold. But when it snowed, I finally understood why songs and poems sometimes referred to glittering snow. As the moonlight shown on the newly fallen snow, it sparkled like diamonds in the sunlight. The inhalation of delight at seeing each newly dusted wintry landscape helped me to remain patient in anticipation of warmer weather. In July, when summer finally arrived, one of my friends announced that I needed to experience berry picking.
Memories of scratched arms and hands had me turning up my nose. “Oh you’ll love blueberry picking!” She exclaimed. “For one thing, there are no thorns. You’ll just love the farm.” So one sunny July afternoon, we headed off to what is now Apple Hills Farm (then known to me as Green Brothers). We parked. Purchased some buckets to stash our harvest and were directed to rows and rows of blueberry bushes. I had never seen so many berry bushes. My friend gave me a brief instruction on how to pick – “Look for some big, plump blue berries. Place your hand under them. The ripest will fall into your hand with very little effort.”
I was a quick learner. The quiet, fresh air was very healing as I became one with ripe berries. In what seemed like no time at all, my bucket was full with several pounds of berries. Blueberries became a staple on the summertime menu. They complemented breakfast of cereal or yoghurt. Summer smells of blueberry baked goods wafted through the house. These berries were so fresh and sweet. They were a treat on their own.
It’s been about a decade since I went berry picking. Every summer, I remember the July and August afternoons where NY berry picking filled me with bliss. So, last summer when I found a recipe for a berry pie in the August 2015 Yoga Journal (page 66). I had to try it. This year, I made it again but added some slight variations to the recipe.
Gluten Free Hazelnut Berry Pie
(Original recipe by Kerri-Ann Jennings, RD)
1.5 Cup hazelnuts (I purchased a little less than a lb of loose hazelnuts from Whole Foods for a 10.5- inch pie pan. Original recipe calls for a 9-inch pan.)
2 T sugar
3 T unsalted butter melted
2 T ground cinnamon (My addition)
Heat oven to 350 F. In a food processor, grind hazelnuts and sugar until a course meal forms. Add butter and pulse until the mixture starts to bind together. Press mixture into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round pie pan to form a crust. Bake until golden brown and nuts are fragrant, 18 minutes; cool.
1/8 t salt
2 cups blueberries*
1.5 cups raspberries*
1.5 cups blackberries*
1 T sugar
1 T arrowroot
1.5 T freshly squeeze orange juice
(* Original recipe calls for 1 lb mixed fresh or frozen berries. I used the above mix of fresh organic berries.)
In medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine and cook above ingredients until the mixture bubbles, thickens and starts to gel, and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and pour into crust. Let cool to room temperature (refrigerate to speed cooling). Serve chilled or at room temperature in wedges topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream, if desired.
Lightly Whipped Cream Topping
1.5 cup heavy whipping cream
2 T confectioners sugar (sifted)
1 t vanilla extract
Place cream clean into a metal bowl. Whip until cream forms peaks. Gradually add sifted confectioners sugar to taste. Slowly stir in vanilla and blend gentle. Chill and top each pie slice with a dollop of cream.