June 15 is just around the corner and that can only mean one thing here in Central Pennsylvania: Blueberries! Oh, and my mom’s blueberry buckle, of course.
Well, technically, it’s Mrs. Tancredi’s blueberry buckle. Her husband and my dad worked together at Hershey Foods many, many years ago, and the two couples often socialized outside of the office. Sometime in the 1970s, the buckle made its way to a social, and soon after that, the recipe made its way to my mom’s kitchen.
As life moves forward, oftentimes friends lose touch, which is what happened in this case … but strangely, just a few weeks ago — when I already had blueberries on the brain — Mom and I ran into Mrs. Tancredi and her daughter at Church. When my mom introduced me, she said: “This is where the blueberry buckle recipe came from.” Then she turned to Mrs. Tancredi and said, “Do you know, I still have the original recipe you gave me, in your handwriting?” When I think of the recipe, I think of it as Mom’s … but it’s only fair to give credit where credit is due.
Here’s a little buckle story you may enjoy. I hesitate to bring it up, but even I admit, it is humorous all these years later.
I was generally a helpful child. I am a bit of a worker bee, as I’ve mentioned before, and I’m fairly good at taking direction. So, at a very early age, I felt very comfortable in my mom’s kitchen just doing little chores to help. One thing I learned from my mom is to transfer my bulk sugar and flour into large plastic containers as soon as I open the bags, to keep the sugar and flour fresh and bug-free.
One day, when I was — best guess — 10 years old, I noticed Mom’s bulk sugar container wasn’t quite full. In an effort to help out a bit and please her, I took the liberty of adding to the container. Mom then proceeded to make a blueberry buckle — I forget if it was for friends or family. Later in the day, when she served the dessert, something was obviously off! It just didn’t taste right … what was missing, what was wrong?
Yup, you guessed it: helpful little me — I had topped off the container with … salt. It certainly wasn’t intentional, but it was embarrassing nonetheless for Mom when she had to take back all the pieces of blueberry buckle and forage the cabinets for some Pepperidge Farm cookies. I think that was the last time I tried to take the lead in her kitchen; after that, I definitely waited for her direction!
As much as I love chocolate and ice cream, cakes and pies are something I generally can live without. Don’t get me wrong — there are a few really good ones. I rarely pass up a piece of key lime pie, for instance. And for years, German chocolate cake was my favorite, something about the coconut and chocolate combination. (That’s what makes Almond Joy so good, after all.) But I seem to have outgrown that phase. Now, just give me a good grapefruit sorbet or a nice coffee milkshake.
But blueberry buckle is seasonally good … and there is just something satisfying in that. It’s the one cake every year I can count on Mom to make. And sometime, early in June, I start getting anxious for a big old piece of this summer comfort food!
I just recently learned that a friend of mine married into an orchard family. Along the Mason Dixon line lies Shaw Orchards, which offers, according to its website, “some of the best quality fruit you'll find anywhere in the country, as well as local produce, jams, jellies, flowers, and canned goods. The orchard is open for pick-your-own strawberries, cherries, blueberries, and apples.” Here is a picture of my friend, Jana, from the orchard’s website:
How lucky is she, surrounded by all those blueberries?! She tells me the picking is exceptional, especially since the blueberries grow at waist level and you don’t have to get on your hands and knees for the chore. They sure look tasty, wouldn’t you agree?
I just can’t wait to take the kids down to Shaw Orchards during summer vacation. Jana’s daughter is in my daughter’s class at school, so I know it will be fun to be picking-our-own at my daughter’s friend’s grandparents’ orchard. And if I time it right, we may also be able to bring home some peaches for my homemade peach marmalade. But that’s another post.
This summer, if you are near the Pennsylvania/Maryland border, I would encourage you to check out Shaw Orchards on the Mason Dixon Line. Feel free to tell them Maria sent you! And once you have your fresh-picked blueberries home — and especially if you’ve never had blueberry buckle — I encourage you to try Mrs. Tancredi’s recipe. There’s nothing quite as fresh or comforting as the first buckle of the season. Just be sure to check for salt in your sugar bowl first! Buona cottura!
(Click here to view
and print recipe)