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June 2010
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August 2010

July 2010

Sweet fruit of the vine, and of our sandy soil. Hallelujah.

Fruit of the vine, and of the summer soil
Just when my patience with summer heat was about to dry up completely, I walked in to the local market and saw the first of the summer muscadines. Oh yes. Their sweet, cool particularity (they are unlike any other fruit, including other grapes) - combined in a snack with the salty warmth of fresh boiled peanuts - may get me through this near record-breaking heat. 

Here's more on why you, too, should love muscadines, and how you can boil your own peanuts. These are both best eaten from a bowl balanced on your belly while you are floating in an innter tube in a cold spring. 

Happy Dog Days of Summer! 

"Rustic" Blueberry Pie

Lots of blues
This was a great year for blueberries! We harvested some from the new bushes in the front yard garden, and have been buying local ones non-stop since early June. I love them so much raw, I rarely cook with them, preferring mixing them up with chopped watermelon, stirring them into yogurt, or just popping them in my mouth at regular intervals. 

We had a special occasion last night though - welcoming back a friend who had been away - so the time was ripe, so to speak. I love making pies and blueberries lend themselves to the traditional lattice-type. But I was in a hurry so I did the pastry the quick way or, you might say, the "rustic" way - or even the French way - as in gallettes. Regardless, it tasted good. 

It's by no means healthy though - definitely a celebration food! About the time I finally mastered my family's famous pie crust recipe, substituting shortening for lard, it became clear that shortening was no improvement health-wise. So, now I'm using good old butter. You still have to fiddle with the amount of ice water (yes, it must be iced) before rolling it out, and be careful about the dough sticking, but the rest is easy. And, ahhhh, it is good - if a bit on the fat/caloric side.

Blueberry rustic pie-tart
Ingredients for Pastry

  • 1/4 cups white flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold from the fridge
  • 1/8-1/4 cup ice water

Mix and Roll Out the Pastry
Mix together dry ingredients. Grate butter with a cheese grater into the mixture. Cut butter into flour with two knives or a pastry cutter (if you're going to make more than one pie in your life, this tool is essential). When the butter is so well combined with the flour mixture that the whole thing looks like cornmeal or sand, then slowly add the ice water. Mix together with a fork until mixture begins to hold together. Pat together into a ball. Flour your surface (table, counter, board) and gently roll out crust so that it is two inches larger than your pie plate. Gently place in the pie plate. Put the whole thing in the fridge while you mix the filling.

Blueberry (or any berry) Filling

  • Approximately 2 cups of berries (for average pie pan, but more may be needed if you have a larger pan)
  • granulated sugar to taste - most recipe books suggest 1/4-1/2 cup sugar per pint (2 cups) of berries, but taste it first.
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons white flour - to help thicken it; adjust for the amount of berries you have.
  • A squeeze of lemon.

Make it and Bake it
Pour the berry mixture into the crust and fold the crust over it, creasing it as you go (see photo). Moisten the folds to insure it doesn't unfold itself as it bakes, spilling the content. I've suggested baking it in the pie pan to prevent that, but you can still get blueberries swimming around the outside of the crust if you're not careful. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, then check its progress. If the berries are not bubbling, turn it down to 350 and bake for another 15 minutes or so until they are. If you let it cool, you can slip it out of the pan and serve it "rustically" on a pretty plate. Or not. We ate it so fast, no one really noticed the pan. But I thought it was pretty - especially with a little powdered sugar.

Enjoy! It's July and those berries are running out fast!

Blueberry rustic pie-tart 2

St. Francis and the Sow

Spiderwort buds

The bud 

stands for all things,

even for those things that don't flower, 

for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;

though sometimes it is necessary

to reteach a thing its loveliness,

to put a hand on its brow

of the flower

and retell in words and in touch

it is lovely

until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;

as St. Francis 

put his hand on the creased forehead

of the sow, and told her in words and in touch

blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow

began remembering all down her thick length,

from the earthen snout all the way

through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curve of the tail,

from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine

down through the great broken heart

to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering

from the fourteen teats to the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath


the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

- Galway Kinnell

[photo: front garden spiderwort. Some call these "weeds."]