I can’t help it, but I love berries! There is something so wonderful about fresh foods when they are grown locally, and when they are at their seasonal peak, but there is something especially enjoyable about berry season.If I think about it I guess it would probably have something to do with it being the closest thing to candy that I could get my hands on, and hey, they were fruits, so mom couldn’t give me a hard time about it. Picking berries is still probably one of my first memories of the importance of seasonal cooking. One of my fondest memories spent with my mom was heading out to the U-Pick-Em fields and filling the trunk of her car with as many baskets of strawberries as we could fit. The trip was always synonymous with the end of the school year, and the beginning of summer vacation. When I was younger I am sure I was more of a hindrance than a help, as I was definitely a one for the basket and one for me kind of berry picker. As I got older I came to realize that I wasn’t just there to indulge, but to actually help our household. I began to appreciate that as much as those berries were a delicious and indulgent treat for the household while they were fresh, they also helped to provide for us throughout the colder winter months, when fresh berries were otherwise non-existent.Mom would always start by making jam, jars and jars of strawberry jam. Even typing these words brings me back to the memories of cold winter mornings, smearing the sweet sticky goodness over warm slices of toast. Once the jams were jarred and preserved she would take to making pies. Pairing strawberries with rhubarb is a classic. Its natural tartness helped to balance the candy like sweetness of the berries. She would prepare the dough, then the filling, and then build the pies themselves, to be stored in one of our deep freezes until a Sunday dinner or holiday meal warranted us splurging and pulling one out.Once the work of preparing the household for winter was done it was time to make a little something sweet to enjoy in the present. For our household, that meant mom’s strawberry shortcake. It was simple. It was classic. It was delicious. It was not to be messed with. Those summer days between late June and the end of July always meant there were, at the least, a bowl full of sliced berries in the fridge, ever so gently sprinkled with sugar, sometimes finished with a splash of heavy cream, as if they needed it.When the raspberry and blueberry season followed a few week behind the process would repeat. Raspberries were unique in that we seldom bought them. Rather, we would wait until a friend or neighbour would call, tipping us off to a bumper crop somewhere. Often times they were in the bush behind a neighbour’s barn. Other times they were in a wild bush on the side of some dirt road. Mom always seemed to know the hiding spot and we almost always came home with buckets full of berries. Little did I know that we were eating seasonally, we were preserving, we were foraging, not because we were trendy chefs, or hipsters exploring the river valley getting in touch with nature, but because we were country folk of modest means and that’s how we helped to manage the meager budget.When I see these trends return today, and find their way into urban living it makes me smile and think that there is some hope for us to change our ways and step back from our dependence on big box farms from the U.S. and further south to provide us the ingredients we want year round.It’s berry season, but there’s only a few weeks left. Make the most of them fresh and find a way to put some of them in the cellar to provide your family a sweet reminder of summer sunshine in the depths of what will likely be another frigid winter.Simple Blueberry CobblerPrep Time: 20 minutesCooking Time: 35 minutesSpecial Tools: oven proof baking dish or dishes, zesterMakes: enough for a family of 4 This recipe is simple and quick. Feel free to substitute your favourite berries, add some peaches or pitted cherries if you have them too, as it’s just about stone fruit season!For the berries:2 tbsp. butter2 pints fresh blueberries4 tbsp. granulated sugar1 ea. lemon, zest only1 tsp. fine minced fresh ginger For the topping:½ cup flour½ cup sugar3 tbsp. butter1 tsp. baking powderPinch saltPinch cinnamon½ cup milk Preheat the oven to 350F Using an oven proof baking dish, large enough to hold two pints of berries comfortably, place the 2 tbsp. of butter in the bottom and place in the oven to melt Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the berries, sugar, ginger and lemon zest In a separate bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter and mix just until combined Slowly add the milk, salt and cinnamon and stir until just combined Pour the berries into the bottom of the baking dish and then spread the topping mixture over the top, don’t worry about perfect coverage Place in the oven and bake until golden brown on top and cooked through, about 35-40 minutes Remove from the oven and let cool ever so slightly Top with your favourite ice cream, I used maple walnut, and serve to the lucky recipients! Who’s hungry?