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Good reason to be blue

Duck breast w/ blueberry sauce Downtown Farmst66 E. Randolph. Wednesday June 13 2012 | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

Duck breast w/ blueberry sauce at the Downtown Farmstand 66 E. Randolph. Wednesday, June 13, 2012 | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

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The year-round Chicago’s Downtown Farmstand, 66 E. Randolph, offers Midwest-grown foods and other locally produced edibles, including those used in this recipe. Cooking classes are offered through the World Kitchen program ( Reach the Farmstand at (312) 742-8419, or go to

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Updated: July 21, 2012 6:04AM

It’s a blue season around the area for local fruit farmers. Reports of crop failure due to spring frosts after buds were set on vines, bushes and trees vary among farmers from 30 percent to “it’s going to be a washout.”

As always, we waited impatiently during the winter for the season of summer berries, looking forward to pies, preserves and just snacking out of hand. So these reports make us anxious to enjoy to the utmost whatever nature provides this year.

This week some blueberries are appearing and I went to my neighborhood farmers market in search of a supply. That’s where I met Janet Viverito. Perhaps you’ve met her too. She’s the lady handing out tiny cups of frozen blueberries to refresh and sustain you while you shop.

The Roedger Brothers farms near South Haven, Mich., grow some of the largest and sweetest berries, which they flash freeze and sell year-round at markets and via the Internet.

You can order (, or pick up a box at a number of markets all around the Chicago area.

Nutritionists claim blueberries are one of the superfoods with twice as many health-giving antioxidants as spinach, more than three times as many as oranges, red grapes and cherries and more than four times as many as grapefruit, white grapes, bananas and apples. And they have the longest shelf life of the fresh berries — up to 14 days in the refrigerator.

With all of this in mind, I scooped up a big supply. A stack of recipes was waiting for my kitchen experiments as well as the return of old favorites. And the hot weather was begging for some grilling and chilling.

This duck breast recipe can be prepared inside year-round, but try it now when the grill is fired up. And mix up a batch of the Blue Cool for a refreshing beginning to any porch party.

My summer may be blue, but that’s not such a bad thing after all.

Judith Dunbar Hines is the director of culinary arts and events for the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, which operates Chicago’s Downtown Farmstand

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