Easy Pickins’ Orchard and Me
by Debra Kozikowski
Finally, the politics of food has given way to the actual harvest of great tasting locally grown produce. From the White House to my house, cooking the bounty from our gardens is a daily occupation this time of year.
As much as we love our daily haul of yellow beans, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and raspberries soon to give way to peppers, tomatoes, butternut squash, pears and apples, nobody in my family can resist a sign that says, “Pick your own” when it comes to crops we don’t grow in the little plot of fertile ground we call our garden.
It’s sweet corn and blueberry season here in New England. A drive to our favorite farm stand in Whately, Massachusetts was our first stop last Saturday. A dozen ears later and it was onto Route 91 South to visit Easy Pickins’ Orchard where the blueberries are so plentiful it took less than an hour to fill six quarts with plump sweet-tart berries.
Wondering how to find a great pick your own farm near you? It’s as easy as pie, blueberry, peach or apple. And as tasty as my own recipe for Spicy Blueberry BBQ Sauce, pictured here on boneless chicken thighs, accompanied by that sweet corn from Whately and a generous scoop of really good potato salad.
Spicy Blueberry BBQ Sauce
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
½ cup cider vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
3/4 cup ketchup
1 tbsp molasses
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ cup water
3 lbs. baby back ribs (approx. 1½ rack) or one 4-5 lb. chicken cut into pieces.
Bring all the ingredients to a low boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until slightly thickened and chunky. Remove from heat and allow the sauce to cool. If a smooth sauce is desired, pulse in food processor for a few seconds after it cools. Reserve half the sauce. Pour remaining sauce over meat in a shallow pan. Cover and refrigerate, turning occasionally: 4-6 hours for ribs, 1 hour for chicken.
Preheat grill to 350 degrees using indirect heat method.
Grill the chicken pieces over indirect heat until cooked, 10-12 minutes per side. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Top the chicken with the BBQ sauce and serve.
For ribs, stack the three half rack rib pieces, one half slab on top of the other, grill on indirect heat 30 minutes then restack, placing the bottom piece on top. Grill 30 minutes, restack again, moving bottom to top. Grill another 30 minutes. Unstack ribs and grill another 30 minutes, basting with reserved sauce until well cooked.