These photos are of a Berry Bash we had Sunday, sponsored by Whole Foods in Torrance, CA. Since there are new laws about disclosure, I was contacted a couple weeks ago by a Marketing Supervisor at Whole Foods. I am not entirely sure how they became aware of me, but as I have featured photos of contributions they made to fundraisers I have covered, it is possible that this drew their attention. It could have been because of my social media presence. It is possible that they noticed I spend a lot of time promoting local businesses and non-profits; but for whatever reason I was contacted and asked if I would host an organic berry bash in the month of June. As we were already a week in, I had to make a couple phone calls to try and put this together in the next couple of weeks. My dad belongs to a bereavement group and he called to see if any of them wanted to participate in a berry bash. Even though they had absolutely no idea what was entailed, they arrived enthusiastic and en masse. Got to love it.

As it happens, one of my brothers has been in town and he apparently enjoys cooking, so he was quite eager to join in and he offered several tasty dishes. Tanya had a few sauces in mind as well as a breakfast treat we eat frequently, so we were set. Saturday we headed over to Whole Foods to pick up $50 worth of organic berries. We split them up between blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. One of the local brewpubs sells a blueberry/wheat beer, but they do not offer growlers. I decided to head over to Select Beer Store in Redondo Beach to discuss beer with the owner, Wes. He suggested I try Blue Star Wheat Beer which was a great choice as it did not have a bunch of flavors that would hide the blueberry flavor. It worked great.

Since a picture is worth 1,000 words, I will just tell you what dishes were prepared in the order of the photos. Tanya started off by making three sauces with the blackberries, blueberries and raspberries. Just add a little sugar and water in the crock pot. Very easy. I sliced up some strawberries and added a little artificial sweetener as one of our guests has to watch the sugar. This was used as a topping for pound cake or ice cream. My brother made some oatmeal using steel oats. In the last five minutes he added a mix of blueberries and blackberries. It was great.

One of my dad’s friends brought a traditional German punch called a Bowle. This is made by covering fruit with white wine (German Rhine preferred) and letting it soak over night. The next day, vodka and champagne (or 7-Up) is added. Very tasty and pretty potent. It will sneak up on you. Tanya then demonstrated how to prepare an overnight, no-cook oatmeal dish that we love. Most were intrigued enough that we made copies of the recipe to pass around. As an aside, my dad called this morning and said while he liked the flavor, he was not fond of the texture. I suspect that was due to the chia, but it is good for you, so I guess you can skip it, but I’d leave it in.

Jerry put together a coleslaw that he added blackberries, blueberries and raspberries; everyone loved it and admitted they had never considered adding fruit to a coleslaw. The blueberry wheat bear was simply adding a few blueberries to a good wheat bear. I am sure you have seen oranges and lemons in wheat beer, I think the blueberries were nicer as less overpowering than citrus. We then had crepes, filled with berries and topped with the berry sauces and the homemade whipped cream. The meal concluded with a berry flambe. Surprisingly, there were no leftovers. I think everyone liked it.

Thanks to Whole Foods for the sponsorship and thanks to my dad and his friends for being willing to try our experiments. I am glad you enjoyed it. The one thing I heard over and over again was how they had never considered using fruit the way we presented it. I have a feeling that will change for some of them.

In case you are wondering, the watermark on the photos was donated to the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation, the only charity helping the sufferers of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Rheumatoid Autoimmune Disease.

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