By Kathryn Zahn
It was 8 o’clock in the morning and my next door neighbor Kelly and I were looking at our rambunctious children, brainstorming ideas for a fun outdoor activity when it dawned on us… “Let’s go blueberry picking!” The children all squealed with delight, we loaded up in the car, and headed over to our local “You pick blueberry farm.”
Prices range from farm to farm, but we always tend to end up at Church Lake Farm off of Racetrack Rd. in Westchase, where the blueberries are currently $3.00 a pound.
There are an abundance of farms to pick fruits and vegetables in the Tampa Bay area and one of the best websites that I have seen to help you find a place near your home is www.pickyourown.org. Keep in mind that blueberries are officially in season here in Florida and blackberries are not too far behind…so the trick each weekend is to make sure you plan ahead and get out early, otherwise the best ones are picked over and gone before you get there.
Now, if you are like my mother you may be asking, ”What did you do with three pounds of blueberries?” And the answer is: we ate them fresh, we made pancakes and muffins, tossed them into a salad, and made Blueberry Crumb Cheesecake Bars! Yum Yum!!! This delicious recipe comes from Capture the Coast and delights anyone who tries it!.
Blueberry Crumble Cheesecake Bars
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
3 tablespoons water
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup fresh blueberries
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup quick-cooking oats
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix 2 cups flour and ½ cup brown sugar in a medium bowl. Cut in 1 cup butter with a pastry blender until crumbly. Press evenly in a 9×13 inch baking pan lined with foil. Bake for 15 minutes until light brown.
Combine 1 cup blueberries, the water, ¼ cup granulated sugar and the lemon juice in a small saucepan and mix well. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add 1 cup blueberries. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Keep warm.
Beat cream cheese and ½ cup granulated sugar at medium speed in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Pour over the warm crust.
Spoon blueberry mixture evenly over the cream cheese mixture.
Mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup brown sugar, the oats and ½ cup butter in a bowl until crumbly. Sprinkle over the blueberry layer. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the filling is set. Cut into bars. Serve warm or cold.