I walked into the boarding house late in the afternoon just in time for tea. Eighteen, a liar who told my parents I was spending spring break down the New Jersey shore with girlfriends instead of in Nova Scotia with a boy I barely knew, registered as man and wife for one night at a boarding house on the Bay of Fundy. We’d just come in from a long walk around the small town and along the stony beach, ravenous, grateful for hot tea. The landlady placed before us faded rosebud-patterned porcelain bowls of blueberries hidden under peaks of clotted cream.
I liked the boy–at least five years older than me, a Marine veteran. I better loved his car and immediate enthusiasm for my idea to drive to Canada for no other reason than I thought it’d be fun. Virginal when I left. Virginal when I returned, a little offended when Dad asked if I still was when I called from a border town jail, arrested on our way home for the forgotten joint in the boy’s glove compartment. A portion of the salary I received from the department store job I beg for to pay back the bail money went to buying all the blueberries I could find to bake pies and cobblers, usually made soggy by ice cream. Later than summer, I finally lost my virginity to a friend of the boy. But that’s another story,
Blueberries where the big revelation of that get-away, anyway. I loved their tartness and the way they popped in my mouth with each bite. Memory often distorts what really occurs in our past, our recollections charged by emotions and the environment. The blueberries in Nova Scotia could have been flavored by the sea walk, the adventure, the illicitness of being taken as husband and wife, perhaps on their honeymoon. Or perhaps because the blueberries were my first.
In my small market yesterday I found wild Maine blueberries stacked in cardboard boxes. Small and tangy and, because of the trade war, very expensive. I broke the dwindling bank account and bought six boxes. The handful I ate on my way home to the husband aroused a more innocent, virginal time than the one we’re gamely treading through now.
Three Blueberry Recipes
Butter and Lard Pie Crust
This crust offers the best of two worlds–the flavor of butter and the strength of lard needed to hold a juicy filling. If you really don’t want to use lard, substitute shortening of your choice. It makes enough for either a double crust or 2 single crusts. The first pie requires an unbaked crust, the second a baked crust.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, chilled and cut into 8 pieces
1/3 cup (shortening), chilled and cut into 8 pieces
6 to 8 tablespoons iced water
Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor fuitted with the metal blade. Sprinkle the butter and lard over the dry ingredients. Re-cover and pluse a few times until small clumps form (DO NOT OVER PROCESS!). Begin to add the iced water through the feed tube a little at a time, pulsing quickly until the dough just begins to form into a ball. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Divide into two equal size pieces and form into a disk as you wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or while to make the filling.
Note: The first two recipes come from the 1960 edition of the Farm Journal’s Complete Pie Cookbook: 700 Best Desserts and Main-Dish Pies in the Country. Love this book.
4 cups blueberries
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon grated meon peel
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter
Roll out one of the dough disks and carefully place in a 9-inch pie pan.
Preheat over 425 degrees
Mix together in a bowl all the ingredients except the butter.
Pour the filling into the crust, crimp the edges and dot with butter.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes or until the edges are brown and the juices bubble.
Blueberry Sponge Pie
9″ baked pie shell
2 cups blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablepoons flour
pinch of salt
2 egg yolks, beaten
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoon flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup cold water
1 egg yolk, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
3 egg whites
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Heat berries in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Blend dry ingredients and add to egg yolks. Add orange juice and beat until smooth. Pour over berries and cook over low heat until thick, stirring constaintly. Pour into prepared pie shell.
In a small sauce pan, blend together 1/4 cup sugar, flour, salt, cold water and egg yolk. Cook over low heat until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add orange peel.
Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar gradually, beating until mixture is stiff and glossy. Fold cooked orange mixture into meringue. Pile onto blueberry layer, making sure it touches all around.
Bake for 35 minutes, or until lightly browned.
Blueberry Puff Pastry
All credit due to Julie at dinnerwithjulie.com. Bookmark her!
1/2 package frozen puff pastry
3 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemond juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
In a small bowl, stir together the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon and salr.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry (it should still be cold) into a 10 inch square. Cut into four quarters and place each on a parchment-lined sheet
Divide the blueberry mixture between the pastry, dot each with a bit of butter, and pinched edges of the pastry up to contain the berries. (I put a fresh berry in the middle of each.) Brush the pastry with the egg and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and golden. Serve warm, with whipped cream sweetened with maple syrup.