Every family has a favorite food. Ours was donuts and berries. When I was a little girl, we had a huge patch of Boysenberries under the walnut trees. In the early years, they had stickers, and it was tricky to pick them without being scratched. As new varieties came out, Dad pulled out the stickery vines and replaced them with Youngberries, a variety of thornless Boysenberries. Picking them was heavenly.
Mom had a one-quart white enamel pot with a black rim and handle. We picked berries into that pot. One quart of berries would make a pie, or a cobbler, or could be eaten without rationing. All summer long we had berries. We were given the assignment to fill that enamel pot to over flowing. It seems like we did that just about every day during berry season. What we didn’t eat, we canned, jar after jar of purple berries.
When ripe, the berries hung, heavy with dark purple juice. They were soft and velvety. When they were the perfect ripeness, they would fall into your hand the moment you touched them. The sweet pungent aroma of warm berries in the hot summer sun is one of my favorite smells in the whole world.
The canned berries were like jars of summer lined up on our shelves. They were opened on very special occasions: for Donuts and Berries, our very favorite of all favorite foods. I suppose this tradition came from Grandma Elsa. They ate their donuts with Neu Jahr Kuchen or with German pancakes called Pfannen Kuchen. Since the German donuts were only made at New Year’s we needed to find a way to enjoy them more often. The Reedley Bakery make fabulous heavy sugar donuts year-round. They came by the dozens in pink bakery boxes. The best way to eat them was with berries.
Whenever we needed a touch of summer, we would bring home a box of donuts and open a jar of berries. You put your donut in a bowl, and scoop the berries over it, with lots of juice. You eat it with a spoon, letting the donut soak up the berry juice. Some summer evenings this would be our entire meal. We would each eat until we could eat no more. If I ever had to request a favorite last meal, no doubt it would be a bowl of donuts and berries. I would already be half way to heaven by then.