Love, Loss and Blueberries

May 13, 2016






I almost lost it in the grocery store over blueberries this week. You know you’ve hit a rough patch when the sight of fat, plump blueberries makes you feel like someone’s taken a monkey wrench to your insides.

Blueberries were Mama’s favorite fruit, hands-down. She loved blueberries in all forms: pie, coffeecake, shortcake, milkshake, naked by the fistful. Those blueberries in the store would have delighted her, because they were enormous specimens that looked so ripe they were almost full to bursting. Berry season is upon us, and I felt sad that this year, she’s missing it. I wish she’d been around to have one more slice of pie, preferably with a big scoop of ice cream on the side. But that isn’t the way things go, is it? It doesn’t seem fair that we don’t get to choose our last meal on this Earth.

I do find a little bit of solace in the fact that one of the last things I made for Mama did contain her beloved blueberry. I’m grateful for that, even though this dessert is decidedly healthier than pie. In fact, this blueberry panna cotta is downright virtuous–it doesn’t contain cream or tons of sugar or anything remotely bad for you. Of course, I remedied that by serving sweetened whipped cream on top of the whole business, but hey, a girl deserves to live a little.

When I first brought this dessert to the table, we laughed a bit at the sight of it, because it is audaciously purple. This dessert announces itself in bright capital letters: I AM BLUEBERRY. HEAR ME ROAR.

In most instances, I don’t think humans are meant to eat purple food. Think about it. Purple food is usually something hideously synthetic, like circus cotton candy or jawbreakers or puckery grape-flavored bubble gum. Purple food is jarring on the eyeballs and should be treated with a healthy dose of suspicion.

Not in this case, though. This dessert is purple in the most natural of ways, powered merely by fruit and enhanced by the barest amount of sugar.

A word about sugar–you’ll need to tinker with the amount of sugar you add to this recipe. Let the sweetness of your blueberries be your guide. If you get a tart box of blueberries, you’ll need to lean a little heavier on the sugar, so taste and adjust as you go.

Serve this to someone with a healthy sense of humor and a love of all things blueberry. It’s sure to please.

I’m grateful I served it to exactly the right person.


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Blueberry Yogurt Panna Cotta

serves 4

from Cookfresh Summer 2015


2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin

2 pints blueberries, rinsed and dried, divided

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup plain Greek-style yogurt

sweetened whipped cream and fresh blueberries, to serve


Pour 3 tablespoons water into a small cup. Sprinkle gelatin over and let it sit until gelatin plumps up, about 3 minutes.

Pile 1 1/2 pints of the blueberries, the sugar and 3 tablespoons water in a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring, over medium-low heat until the sugar is dissolved and the fruit is soft and juicy, about 3-5 minutes. Pour the warm mixture into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Taste and add more sugar if necessary.

Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing down with a spoon to extract as much as possible. Discard solids. (you should have about 2 1/4 cups of strained mixture).

Add softened gelatin mixture to warm blueberry mixture, stirring well. Set aside to cool slightly, about 5-10 minutes. Whisk in the yogurt until blended.

Pour mixture into 4 small ramekins. Cover and refrigerate until firm. To serve, run a small knife around the edge of the ramekins. Dip the bottoms of the ramekins briefly into hot water and unmold on plates. Serve with remaining fresh blueberries and whipped cream, if desired.



{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy May 13, 2016 at 1:38 pm

Ugh I think I cried daily for at least the first six months following my mom’s death. So, so, so hard. On one occasion, I happened to be at my good friend’s bridal shower. Her mother was there and did a gesture that was 100% what my mom would’ve done (no it was not obscene, it was tender and loving). I lost it. At, like, one of the happiest parties ever. Had to sequester myself to regain composure and join the group. I felt like a real ass for bringing a cloud.


Dana Talusani May 16, 2016 at 8:19 am


I’m sure your friend understood. I think that might have made even the strongest of us feel sad.


Annie May 13, 2016 at 3:44 pm

What a beautiful picture of your mama and a beautiful dessert too. Allow yourself to feel all the feelings and above all be gentle with yourself. Can’t wait to see you in person and give you a big hug. Xoxo


Arnebya May 13, 2016 at 4:28 pm

I can’t wait to try this. My middle and youngest child love blueberries.

I’m glad you’re writing. I hope you are faring well, even amid the blueberries in the grocery store. How is your dad?


Biz May 15, 2016 at 9:15 am

I adore the picture of your Mother – she is beautiful!

For me this weekend it was putting up the gazebo curtains – that was mine and Tony’s favorite place to hang out, and if I closed my eyes, I could smell his cigar. I will tell you it gets easier, and it does to a certain extent. But just like the sight of blueberries remind you of your Mom – it’s just another smack in the face that she’s not here anymore.

Sending you big hugs!!!


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