Winding our way home from Sand Beach at Acadia National Park last week, my kids and I spied two men beside the road plucking blueberries from bushes into buckets. Nearby, a sign advertised wild blueberries. And a few days later, I discovered two vendors at the Bangor Farmers Market selling baskets of plump, tart berries.
Blueberries across Maine are just about ripe — though I hear some sweet berries in Down East need a little more time. Heck, I think I need a little more time — but for different reasons.
Last week, my son Will turned 10 — or double digits, as he repeatedly told anyone who’d listen.
Every time I think about the fact that I am now mother to a 10-year-old, I have to pause and wonder how that happened. When did my little blueberry-loving boy who could polish off an entire quart of berries in a single walk, become this child who’s quickly nearing my own height? When did the little boy who would build epic railroad track concoctions through the house turn into someone who reads voraciously, and prefers creating intricate ships with Legos?
Moreover, when did I become old enough to have a kid who’s been on this planet for a whole decade?
Time moves slowly and rapidly all at once. In the moment, it feels like those days of toddler snuggles will never end. But then you blink, and that toddler is a tween, and you wonder why you didn’t spend just a little more time appreciating the goodness of their early childhood.
While I can’t slow down time or turn back the clock to have another day with Will as a youngster, I can enjoy every day through his lens — the one that still loves blueberries.
Especially now, as blueberries are beginning to come into season here in Maine — albeit a little later in areas Down East.
According to the Maine Cooperative Extension, there are 44,000 acres of wild blueberries growing here in the Pine Tree State. They’ve been harvested since the 1840s for commercial purposes, but have a deeper history with Native Americans who used them for flavor, nutrition and healing purposes before that.
Whether you head out in search of blueberries for picking (make sure you have permission or go to a Pick-Your-Own farm!) or pick some up at the farmers market, as I did, be sure to save a few for baking. Blueberries are antioxidant-rich fruits that are delicious to snack on raw, but also fantastic baked into everything from muffins and breads to tasty cupcakes like these.
This recipe, which is a favorite of mine since it’s so easy, is mixed in a single bowl. Once the batter is ready, cupcakes are baked to golden, cooled and then frosted with a sweet lemon frosting. Garnish with more blueberries, sprinkles or whatever you like.
Then dig in. Because really, that’s what this is all about, right?
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup olive oil
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup blueberries
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 2 cups confectioner's sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with cupcake liners.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the egg, milk, oil and lemon zest and stir until smooth, about 2 minutes. Stir in the blueberries.
- Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out cleanly. Remove from the oven and let cool thoroughly.
- Once the cupcakes are cooled, combine all ingredients for the buttercream in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until smooth. Decorate the cupcakes with buttercream, blueberries, sprinkles and more as desired.