Berry, berry good

That old saying "Good things come to those who wait" couldn't be truer for those who have waited for summer's produce to kick in after a lengthy, cool, wet spring. One of those good things is the strawberry crop, which usually ends in the metro area around the July 4th holiday. Not this year. Minnesota growers say this year's holiday weekend was merely the crop's peak, with the berry season ideally continuing for one to two more weeks, and even longer Up North. As always, you should call a farm before visiting to check on the availability of berries and picking conditions. Picking can vary from farm to farm, depending on specific varieties planted, soil type and the number of customers picking.

Blueberries and raspberries also will be ripening one to two weeks later than usual. The 2013 Minnesota Grown Directory includes 87 strawberry farms, 27 blueberry farms and 88 raspberry farms, along with listings for blackberries, currants and elderberries. To find your nearest berry farm and more, visit

One option for all those berries? A shortcake, of course. Here's our Baking Central version:

Arboretum magic

Would our summer parties be as marvelous if we lived where it felt like summer year-round? We think not. Few take their parties al fresco more seriously than the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, whose annual Toast & Taste in the Gardens is July 25 from 6 to 9 p.m. Local farms and producers supply ingredients to some of the Twin Cities' top chefs, with libations from regional wineries and breweries. It's all served against a backdrop of live music and lush gardens. Admission is $125 for early access at 6 p.m. or $75 for entry at 7 p.m. Reservations are tax-deductible; all proceeds benefit the arboretum. Reserve online at or by phone at 612-625-9875.

A.N. from MN likes Creamette

The Creamette Pasta Comfort Food recipe contest is down to the top 10 contestants, and among them is Ann N. from White Bear Township. (No last names until the winner is announced.) Ann adapted her mother's recipe for dilled ranch vegetable pasta salad, which is up against nine other entrees. Online voting is open through July 18, so visit to check the recipes and vote. Grand prize is $10,000.