Photo: Helen Norman

It’s peak season for sweet Southern blueberries and we're eating as many as we can! Virginia Willis shares her favorite ways to cook with blueberries in her column Cooking with Virginia.

There’s something incredibly satisfying about harvesting your own fruits and vegetables. I love blueberries so much that I went to great lengths to grow them in my own backyard—including draping the bushes with netting to prevent birds from enjoying the fruit before I did. Every now and then, a bird would get caught in a net; it was a bit traumatic for everyone involved, even though I was able to free all of the attempted robbers. I love viewing birds from afar but not up close and personal. As if that weren’t terrifying enough, last year’s crop attracted baby garden snakes, which promptly ended my foray into blueberry growing. There are lots of folks who are better at farming than I am—like farmers. From mid-April through August, you can find pints of Southern-grown blueberries at farmers’ markets and grocery stores. (My home state of Georgia is one of the top producers of blueberries in the entire United States.) Or make a day of it by taking advantage of the numerous you-pick farms dotted across the South. Whether “you-pick” or “you-buy,” make sure to have blueberries on your table this summer.

While most people think dessert when they see blueberries; there are plenty of other recipes to include them in for a sweet hint of the season throughout the day.

 Photo: Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Start your blueberry appreciation day off with Blueberry Overnight Oatmeal. With nutrients galore, it will power you through 'til the sun goes down.

Recipe: Blueberry-and-Kale Grain Salad

Trust us—you're going to want to try this crunchy, sweet, and salty combo. Any variety of kale will do, and feel free to sub cooked farro, wild rice, or quinoa for the wheat berries.

 Photo: Jennifer Davick

Sit down at lunch with a nice big bowl of Blueberry-and-Kale Grain Salad. This colorful salad will get you through those long afternoon meetings.

 Photo: Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

In need of a mid-day snack? Cut yourself a slice of this Blueberry-Cornmeal Cake. This moist cake has great texture and the perfect amount of berries.

RecipeGrilled Pork Chops with Blueberry-Peach Salsa

Grilling meat to tender perfection while ensuring it doesn't get tough seems like a challenge, but a few simple steps can help to ensure your meat comes off the grill juicy and ready to devour. Go for bone-in center loin chops or loin chops at least 1½ inches thick. Meatier chops ensure a good char while the inside cooks through. Top these chops with our Blueberry-Peach Salsa, a treat that includes chopped and whole blueberries as well as finely diced peaches. Hot pepper jelly may bring a little heat, so be ready. This salsa goes great with grilled meats, so it may become one of your go-to favorites.

 Photo: Jennifer Davick

Think you can’t eat blueberries at dinner? Think again! These grilled pork chops are topped with a Blueberry-Peach Salsa that drives home the flavor.

 Photo: Alison Miksch; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Now it is time for dessert! Sit down and enjoy these Meringue Pillows with Blueberry-Mint Compote. Light and airy, this dessert will send you to your happy place.

So now that you have your day planned, head out to a you-pick farm or your local farmers' market or farm stand and start enjoying the gems of the season.