One of the greatest things about living in the Pacific Northwest is the abundance of local berries that arrive in the summer. In my opinion, berries are one of life's little pleasures whose perfection as a food never ceases to amaze me. Thankfully, there are some wonderful cookbooks that have berry recipes for every meal of the day.
A smoothie is a great way to begin your morning, as well as one of the easiest ways to consume your daily dose of fruits and veggies. Pat Crocker's Smoothies Bible has over 300 recipes for healthy and healing smoothies, one of my favorite being the Berry Blast. Chock full of antioxidants, one of these smoothies before heading off to the office will give your day a refreshing start.
Once the early afternoon rolls around and I need a little pick-me-up, a cold soup satiates my summer taste buds. The Mango Raspberry Summer Soup in Janie Hibler's The Berry Bible is a colorful and delicious way to enjoy lunch. Garnished with fresh mint, this soup will have your palate rejoicing for the goodness of summer fruits. It will also have your co-workers envious as they sit munching on yet another dry, unexciting sandwich.
The huckleberry, which can be distinguished from the blueberry by the number and size of seeds (a huckleberry has about 10 large seeds), is a berry that may not be too familiar to people, yet is a versatile fruit with a pleasant and sweet taste. (Plus, it is the state fruit of Idaho.) If you're lucky enough to get your fingers on some huckleberries, Alice Waters's recipe of Grilled Squab with Huckleberry Sauce from Chez Panisse Fruit is a must try. Squab is a tender and moist meat that, when paired with the huckleberry sauce, is a seemingly exotic delicacy that can easily be enjoyed at home.
Hands down, my favorite meal of the day is dessert, and I adore fruit desserts. Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson's new book, Rustic Fruit Desserts, makes my mouth water. Full of cobblers, buckles, crisps, and more, this book is not for the faint of heart. Your first bite of the Cranberry Buckle with Vanilla Crumb will make you ache for this amazing dessert every night of the week. Not only are cranberries mixed into the batter, they are also sprinkled on the top with the crumb mixture, making this treat a florid cranberry explosion.
If this isn't enough for you, stop by the Portland Farmers Market in July for more great ideas about what to do with your berries, including how to make jams and preserves to continue enjoying those berries throughout the year.