If you love blueberries, you’ll love this cookbook

I love wild Maine blueberries, so of course I loved The Blueberry Cookbook by Sally Pasley  Vargas. Published by Down East Books, this is a treasure trove of recipes for every kind of blueberry treat.

I really only have one complaint about the book: looking through the beautiful photographs made me very very hungry!

Growing up, Sally loved Robert McCloskey’s classic children’s book, Blueberries For Sal. She lives in Boston and loves New England especially Maine. Sally tells a story of standing on a hillside near Brooksville, Maine with her four-year-old son and a couple of blueberry buckets. She says it looked vaguely familiar and then it dawned on her – it was blueberries for Sal!

For years she rented cottages in Maine, always during the time when you could pick wild blueberries. Although you can use either commercial or wild blueberries in all of her recipes, she favors those wild blueberries.

In the introduction Sally writes: This book celebrates blueberries and all the nostalgia of summer they inspire. A cobbler on the picnic table, a skillet cake made with cornmeal and blueberries in a vacation cottage, a tray of scones for late morning coffee will put things right. Blueberries mean sunny days, when time seems to stretch out indefinitely and life is good. A bowl of blueberries may be a bowlful of nostalgia, but it’s no secret that the berries are both good to eat and good for you.

Boy, she got that right. Sally emphasizes that the recipes in her book require only basic skills. I guess that means even I could cook them, although I’m going to leave that up to my wife Linda who’s a fabulous cook.

The problem you’re going to have with this book is choosing what to cook from the many recipes, especially when you see all the beautiful photographs. Maybe you’ll start with the wild blueberry lemon sauce, or those cornmeal-oat blueberry pancakes.

But wait, that Jalousie (Jam Pastry) looks fantastic, and I’m still only in the front of the book. When I turned the page and saw the blueberry yogurt popsicles – boy do I want one of those. Of course, I want all of many different blueberry pies – immediately – until I get to the sweet wine cake with berries. Maybe it’s the glass of wine in that photo with the cake which drew my attention.

The yogurt panna cotta with blueberry sauce looks yummy as does the triple berry skillet cake. And one of the very last pictures, of the blueberry boy bait – well, that bait certainly drew the attention of this boy.

I appreciated the section of the book in which Sally goes into detail about all of the ways to make her recipes from how to whip the cream to the tools you’ll need, including details like testing cakes for doneness and – I think she anticipated my cooking and eating problems with this recommendation – how to remove berry stains!



George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.