blueberry pie

50 Shades of Food

Midnight snack

"Everyone has his little quirks, my friend," Meadows said as he lifted his sandwich. "Some people chase other people's wives. Some lose themselves in whiskey. I find my solace in nature's own nourishment...Food may well kill me, but it's also what has made life such a pleasure." - JAWS by Peter Benchley

It's summer all right. I had the strange and sudden urge to read JAWS for the first time--maybe because it's set at the beach, and we're headed there with the in-laws next week. The book has stood up well over the years (especially the shark bits), but the newspaperman's quote above stuck in my head particularly. Probably because I'm all about the solace and pleasure of food and really think other people's wives and whiskey can't begin to compare.

Seriously. Can your neighbor's wife do this?

Carrot Sutra

Those babies, actually found at our Market last Thursday by personal friends, way outdid the contortionists grown by my neighbor, which I've featured here before:

Pretty tame, by comparison

And could whiskey ever roll around on your tongue and palate like the hummuses (hummi?) of Market newcomer Uncle Eyal's?

By now you've figured out that hummus and its cousins are the perfect partners to chips, pitas, and vegetables, and Uncle Eyal's livens things up with their different flavors and shades:

Not sherbet, but a sure bet

Take the beet hummus on the left--yum! Your only problem will be keeping your kids from digging into it because they think it's raspberry sorbet.

But really, nothing says pure sensual pleasure like a blueberry pie. Mr. Meadows from JAWS would have given up a front-page scoop for the blueberry pies we eat in our house. Even better, I decided to retire from pie-making a few years ago ("Easy as pie," my eye!), and, rather than giving up homemade pie, my husband decided to learn to make them. His pies are f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s! He makes them four at a time, and we freeze them to bring out during the months when summer is a fading memory.

If you've suffered through a storebought pie, you know they have two main problems: (1) the crust is kinda blah, and (2) there isn't enough filling!!!

My first bit of advice is to make your own crust. Pillsbury won't help your cause. Our family sticks with "Joyce's No-Fail Pie Crust" recipe, featured in the BELLEVUE FARMERS MARKET COOKBOOK alongside the peach pie recipe we use.

Add to your homemade crust:

= 12 cups of blueberries = 2.4 pies' worth

Blueberry pie is absolutely the easiest fruit pie you will ever make (unlike peach or apple), but a good one requires 5 cups of blueberries per pie. This flat above will net you two+ pies, or just two pies, plus blueberries to eat out of hand. Use your favorite filling recipe. They're all basically some fruit, some flour, some sugar, and some lemon rind.

If you're going to freeze your pie, don't bother slashing the top crust. Just wrap it securely with plastic wrap and then foil, mark it, and pop it in the freezer for that special occasion. The cookbooks will tell you to eat within six months, but we've gone up to eleven with no problems whatsoever. When it's time to bake, we unwrap, thaw on the counter, and then bake like a fresh pie, with maybe ten extra minutes added to the time.

So up the sensual pleasure in your life and hit the Market this Thursday or Saturday. As Meadows says in JAWS, as he stuffs his face, "I'd rather go my way than end up in the belly of a shark." Amen.

Putting Pie By

From SimplyRecipes. YMMV, but not much.

Remember that huge windstorm some years ago? We lost power for six days and kept both the gas fireplace and the wood-burning going all day long just to maintain an indoor temperature of 54F. It was fuh-reezing--unless you were a frozen pie. Yes, it was just warm enough for everything in the freezer to thaw, including the six frozen fruit pies I'd made in the summer. All this time later, the thought of those pies can still bring a grrrr to my lips. Why didn't I take the pies to our friends' freezer in Seattle? Why, why, why? I would've had to pay them with a pie, but I still would've have had five left. Believe me, when I see all those "3 Days, 3 Ways" emergency-preparedness ads, I think of how, next time around, I will protect my frozen pies.

I bring all this up because, at long last, it is pie-making time. Time to spend half a day in hard labor in order to reap benefits clear through to next summer. Our family's favorites are blueberry and peach. And good thing, because they freeze beautifully and you can even convince yourself that they make healthy breakfast foods. Blueberry pies are the absolute easiest, but peach is a favorite close-second, and now that the freestone peaches are in, it's time.

What you'll need:

  • Decide which flavor of pie you mean to tackle.
  • several 9" pie pans
  • a half-flat of blueberries  --OR--
  • a box of peaches (ask our peach farmers if there are deals on a whole box. Or, better yet, if they have bruises and rejects they're willing to sell at a discount. Your pie won't know the difference. FREESTONE!)

The Crust. (This recipe appears in the Bellevue Farmers Market Cookbook, where it was a contribution of longtime First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue choir member Joyce Blomquist. We make no other pie crust in our home since we had Joyce's.)

Joyce's "Never-Fail" Pie Crust
(Makes 4 single crusts or 2 2-crust pies. For a half-flat of blueberries, you may want to double this recipe. If you're making both blueberry and peach, you make want to quadruple it! Don't worry about ending up with too many crusts. I freeze extra lumps of it, roll them out when wanted, and--voila!--cobbler topping!)
3 c. flour
1 tsp salt
1-1/4 c shortening (I have successfully substituted lard)

Cut the above ingredients together until the shortening is evenly distributed and in "pebbles."

1 egg
1 Tbsp vinegar
5 Tbsp water
Add to flour-shortening mixture, 2 Tbsp at a time.

Divide dough into four portions, approximately 7 ozs per crust. Roll out when needed.

For the blueberry pie filling, I use the recipe from The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook (this recipe is per pie):
2 pts blueberries (about 5 cups)
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 to 2/3 cup flour (use the larger amount if you intend to freeze the pie)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh grated lemon peel
1/8 tsp salt

For the peach pie filling, use the recipe from the BFM cookbook or Good Housekeeping (recipe is per pie):
8 medium-size peaches (about 2 lbs). Score a shallow X on the bottom of each peach. Heat a large pot of water to boiling. Dunk the peaches in for about 15 seconds each, until you see the skin loosen up or peel back. Remove from water and slip skins off when cool enough to handle. (That's the pain in the neck with peach pie!) Slice thickly.
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 - 2/3 c flour (use larger amount if you intend to freeze the pie)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp grated fresh lemon peel

To finish either pie:
Combine in a bowl. Put the bottom crust in the pie pan, dump in the filling, cover with top crust. Pinch edges to seal. Bake 40-50 minutes at 425F OR cover tightly with plastic wrap and foil and FREEZE. Later, when you want to bake it, let it thaw on the counter most of the way, then bake at 425F for 50-65 minutes.

Put in the work, and reap the benefits!