Sally Vargas, a freelance writer, photographer, and author of four cookbooks, grew up spending summers on the New Jersey shore, but always heard nostalgic stories of her mom’s childhood vacations in Maine. Before long, these stories became Sally’s reality as her mom packed up the family car and headed North to spend some beautiful summer days in Vacationland. This first trip to Maine was Sally’s introduction to the delicious taste of Wild Blueberries.
Fast forward a few decades and Sally continues to share the natural wonders of Maine with her own family through her greatest love: baking. That’s why when she was approached by Down East Books to write a cookbook dedicated to blueberries, it was a no brainer. Sally set out to create a cookbook with year-round, farm-to-table dishes that incorporate fresh and frozen Wild Blueberries. From reading Blueberries for Sal, to picking Wild Blueberries with her own son when he was young, the love of Maine, her own nostalgia, and the great taste of this flavorful berry is palpable in each of Sally’s recipes.
“As I say in the opening letter to my cookbook, eating a bowl of Wild Blueberries is like eating a bowl of nostalgia,” said Sally. Although we were on the phone, you could almost see her memories come to life before you as she told a story of driving down an old dirt road on her way to Hiram Blake Camp in Brooksville, Maine, passing sun covered Wild Blueberry fields in late July.
Sally continued, “I tried to make a range of recipes that would appeal to serious bakers, but also those that wanted to learn. What I love about Wild Blueberries is that they have a little tartness to them that tastes great in baked goods, on ice cream, in pancakes, or as jam.”
In her cookbook, Sally details the tremendous health benefits of Wild Blueberries noting that they have the highest antioxidant capacity of any berry – even over ordinary, cultivated blueberries. She also suggests that families keep frozen Wild Blueberries as a “pantry” staple all year round. We might be biased, but we agree when she says that “Wild blueberries make mornings better.”
Although it was hard to pinpoint a favorite recipe, Sally shared one that stands out among the dozens – Wild Blueberry and Apple Pie on page 64:
“Wild blueberries remind me of Maine, sunny days, homemade dishes, and happy moments. I hope to share that with others who read my cookbook,” concluded Sally.
The Blueberry Cookbook is available for purchase at local retailers or online. Grab a copy to taste a little piece of Maine summer.