One of my favorite summers spent between college semesters was on Michigan's Mackinaw Island. I don't know if it has changed, but at the time it was a favorite destination for both college students and tourists.

Tourists because the historic island had fabulous turn-of-the-century architecture, did not allow motorized vehicles, beautiful ferry rides from the mainland to the island made a great day trip (day trippers were called fudgies, and there were a lot of fudge shops) and the fabulous old hotels provided unparalleled ambiance. The highlight of all activities was the Chicago and Detroit (sad how that once great city has changed) yacht club races to the island. Absolutely beautiful.

College students worked the summer as restaurant and hotel workers, partied on the beach with great bonfires and made enough tips to help with school. (My first job away from Northwest Missouri.) I flew up with a friend, a one-way ticket, no job, not much money and no real experience in restaurant work. Luckily, I was hired as a waitress in a small restaurant called Little Bob’s. I told him I had extremely limited experience (meaning I had set the table at home). It worked out. I had a great summer, got a speeding ticket on a horse (walk, not canter through town), met some great people and acquired some recipes using berries in most delicious ways.

Summer Berry Pudding

  • 4 pints strawberries, rinsed, hulled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 pints raspberries
  • 5 pints blackberries
  • 1/4 cup cassis liqueur (You can use any berry-flavored liqueur or skip the liqueur and add some vanilla to taste)
  • 1 loaf Pepperidge sliced white bread
  • Whipped cream for garnish

Combine strawberries, lemon juice and sugar in a large saucepan. Place over medium heat, cook for 10 minutes. Add the raspberries and blackberries, cook until they begin to break up. Stir in cassis, remove from heat and let cool. Taste for a balance of sweet and sour, adding more sugar or lemon juice if needed.

Cut crusts off bread and cut each slice in half. Transfer cooked berries to shallow pan. Dip enough half slices of bread in the berry juices to line a mixing bowl. Using a slotted spoon, add some berries to the bowl. Continue layering dipped bread and then berries until the pudding comes 2 inches from the rim. Place plastic wrap directly on top of the pudding, then set a flat plate on top, place a 3-pound weight on top of the plate (large heavy can of food or plastic container filled with water) Place bowl in baking dish to catch any dripping and refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours, until set. By weighting the pudding in its bowl, the bread becomes saturated with berry juice and the flavors deepen and meld.

Unmold or spoon into individual bowls, serve with soft whipped cream.

Berry Pudding Cake

  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In 9x13-inch baking dish mix blueberries and raspberries with 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Spread level.

In a bowl whisk eggs, olive oil, orange peel, vanilla and remaining 1 cup granulated sugar. Then stir in flour, baking powder and salt until just combined. Pour batter evenly over berry mixture and gently spread to cover berries.

Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes until the top springs back slightly when gently pressed in the middle. Let cool at least 10 minutes, serve warm or cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar just before serving.