published Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Braly: Postal service food drive Saturday has special needs

I love my mail carrier. Even during the snowstorms last winter, she managed to get down our little dead-end country lane in Soddy-Daisy when I couldn’t even get down our driveway.

So now, I want to do something in return, and I’m urging you readers to do the same. This Saturday, leave a bag of canned and other nonperishable foods in a bag attached to your mailbox to help area mail carriers with their annual food drive, Stamp Out Hunger.

Now in its 19th year, the food drive has become the nation’s largest single-day food drive, according to the event website, stampouthunger.info. In 2010, nearly 1,500 U.S. post offices collected a record-setting 77.1 million pounds of food donations. For that, officials at the Chattanooga Area Food Bank are quite thankful, said food bank president Claire Sawyer.

“It’s extremely important to us,” she said of the food drive. “We get a lot of food in at Christmas, but around March, it starts to dwindle. So, by May, we’re in a world of hurt. The 70,000 to 80,000 pounds we get from Stamp Out Hunger keeps us going through the summer, which can also be a dry time for us.”

All you have to do to contribute is load up a bag of food — boxes of macaroni and cheese, oatmeal, Hamburger Helper, cereal, canned goods and other such foods that won’t perish over time. Attach the bag to your mailbox Saturday morning, and your carrier will pick it up and do the rest. It’s not too much to ask on your part, but it means the world to the folks served by the food bank.

I’m excited to have blueberry bushes in my yard for the first time in my life. For years, I’d go blueberry picking in the woods around North Carolina. But never before have I been able to gather them right outside my door.

When they are ripe and ready, I’ll be making this recipe I found in Cook’s Country’s new cookbook, “Blue Ribbon Desserts.” It’s filled with all things sweet to savor breakfast through dinner and the midnight snacking hour.

This old-fashioned recipe for Blueberry Boy Bait is perfect any time of day. And if you don’t have fresh berries, frozen will do. Just be sure to keep them frozen. If they thaw, the flavor won’t be affected, but the batter will turn bluish green.

Blueberry Boy Bait

Cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 teaspoon

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon table salt

16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1 cup whole milk, divided

1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

Topping:

1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

Whisk 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt together in medium bowl. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated. Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk. Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally remaining flour mixture. Toss blueberries with remaining 1 teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries.

Spread batter into prepared pan.

For the topping: Scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together in small bowl and sprinkle over batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter (topping side up). Serve warm or at room temperature. (Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.) Makes 12 servings.

Email Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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