What better way to celebrate America's greatness than to get outside and enjoy nature's bounty-- especially at a place where the colors of the day are red, white and blueberry.
At Gulf Coast Blueberry Orchard, they're serving up Tom Avant's red, white and blueberry pie. People come to pick blueberries from far and wide. Explains Ramona, "Pick your own or already picked."
For one thing, Ramona explains, they're good for you. "They are number one on the list for antioxidants, vitamins and blueberries are excellent for digestion."
For a military family in the orchard this Fourt of July, picking blueberries is a tradition being passed from the parents, to adult children. This is the first time picking blueberries for soldier Lieutenant Jake Erwin here with his wife and her parents. "My mother in law used to pick blueberries when she was a kid. So, we thought this would be a fun thing to do. My wife wants to take them home and make pies."
His in laws have come from Lake Jackson, Texas. "You try to pick around the green ones and the red ones and leave them in there to ripen for the next group, " explains Gary McNamee, a Viet Nam Veteran. He says Fourth of July is a good time to reflect on what it means to be free. "We've got so much to be thankful for, so many blessings and such a rich tradition of history of this country that if we don't think about that we're short changing ourselves and our families."
For his wife Noel, Fourth of July is a day to feel especially proud of her husband and son in law. "I am very proud to be the wife of a Viet Nam veteran and very proud to have my son in law in the service serving America and taking good care of us. It's a day to wave your flag and be proud of America and from where we've come and all the things that our forefathers have done to make this country as great as it is."
And what better way to spend the Fourth than enjoying America's bounty. Ramona can tell you it's therapeutic to pick blueberries early in the morning. "It's quiet in the morning when we start. You can just commune with nature and the Lord in this work."
Of course the best part about picking all the blueberries is when it's all over, you can make and eat desserts like the red, white and blueberry pie prepared by Thomas on this Fourth of July...all the while celebrating what it means to be an American.
The blueberry picking season wraps up within the next couple of weeks. For more on visiting the orchard call 337-462-6501 or come by as early as 7 a.m. There's blueberry picking at the orchard Monday-Saturday until noon. They are closed on Sunday. Gulf Coast Blueberries is located at 3612 Highway 112 in DeRidder. As you are heading north to DeRidder you turn east on 112 and drive about six miles. Highway 112 is just as you are getting into DeRidder.
As promised here is the recipe for Tom Avants "Red, White and Blueberry Pie"
4 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice, bourbon or praline liquor
A dash of cinnamon or more if desired
2 tablespoons corn starch dissolved in water
1 nine inch graham cracker crust
To make the pie, place one cup of fresh blueberries in the pie crust. Place other three cups and all the other ingredients except the corn starch in a sauce pan and heat on medium high until it comes to a boil. Then add corn starch stirring constantly until it thickens. Remove it from the fire and pour it over the fresh berries in the pie crust. (This may be made more low calorie by replacing the sugar with "equal" after it is thickened and taken off the fire.) Cool the pie completely and add the topping.
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Dissolve the sugar in the cream and whip it until it makes firm peaks. Add the vanilla and top the pie.
Theresa's editorial comment: Yum, yum! Tom puts red sprinkles on top for Fourth of July, but I think a few sliced strawberries would also be a nice way to carry the theme through. This pie is to die for and I think the reason it's so good is because they make it with real whipped cream.