Life’s just better with blueberries


Sunday, Aug. 20 I accompanied my granddaughter Jacqueline (aka the 2017 Madison County Junior Fair Rabbit Ambassador) to Lexington, Ohio for one day of the 2017 Blueberry Festival.

The festival organizers put on a delicious luncheon for the visiting royalty (queens, princesses, kings and ambassadors of all varieties) and the adults accompanying them. For their first annual luncheon, they rose to the occasion when they received reservations for 160, when they’d expected to hear from about 75 people. Those folks knew their way around preparing for a crowd.

While we were seated for lunch, I struck up a conversation with two moms who had come with their daughters, each of whom was royalty from afar.

McKenzie, Queen of the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival, is a tall, regal 18-year-old blonde. She was dressed in a butter-yellow formal gown — every inch a queen.

Mary Faith, Little Miss Blueberry Festival, is an engaging, outgoing 9-year-old with the poise of a young adult. She’d chosen a blueberry blue gown.

Both moms said their daughters were enjoying the experience of pageant competition and touring Ohio, taking part in festivals across the state.

Jacqui and the Madison County Fair Queen, Emily Davis, the Fair Princess, Lilly Marriott, and her runner-up, Sidney Howard, and Sara Stonerock, the Poultry Ambassador, rode in the parade representing Madison County. The “royals” looked beautiful and cool (not an easy thing to do on a 90 degree day) as they waved to the crowd from the back of a pick-up truck.

The parade route was two miles long. Thankfully, there was a nice little breeze blowing. The entire route was downhill all the way, lined with cheering spectators.

I read an article not long ago written by a food critic whose premise was that fresh blueberries have no taste — no flavor of their own. I don’t know where he or she gets blueberries, but I don’t find that to be the case at all. I never met a blueberry I didn’t like and they’re loaded with antioxidants (super good for you). Try this week’s recipe and see if you don’t agree — scrumptious. It’ll use every bowl in the kitchen, but it’s worth it.

BLUEBERRY CHEESE CHARLOTTE

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

2 tablespoons cold water

1 cup pineapple juice, heated

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 egg whites

1/2 cup sugar

2 3-ounce packages cream cheese

2-4 tablespoons light rum

1 pint blueberries

1 package (16) ladyfingers

1 cup heavy cream, whipped

In a medium bowl mix gelatin and water. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Add hot pineapple juice; stir until dissolved. Add lemon juice and chill until syrupy (about 1 hour).

In a large chilled bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff. Gradually add sugar.

In another medium bowl, whip cream cheese and rum until fluffy.

Remove gelatin mixture from the refrigerator and whip until somewhat spongy; fold in egg whites and then the cheese mixture. Add half the blueberries.

Line a 6 cup fluted mold or jelly roll pan with lady fingers; turn cheese mixture into it. Chill several hours or overnight.

To serve, unmold onto a serving plate; garnish with whipped cream and remaining blueberries. If you used the flat pan, cut the Charlotte into squares to serve.

Serves eight to 10.

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Linda Conway Eriksson

Contributing Columnist

Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at lindaconwayeriksson@gmail.com.