Sunday, August 21, 2016

Barbara Ankrum: The Joys of Blueberries!

I usually write about books and writing here, but it’s August. Summer is winding down. I’m on a crazy deadline and my brain is not all there. So let’s talk about blueberries instead!

Summer is all about the fresh fruit and veggies for me. For years, I lived in California where the growing season is long and the weather is sweet. I always had a vegetable garden there, growing tomatoes and zucchini, peppers, onions and basil. My husband and I recently moved to Kansas to be closer to our daughter and her family, and adjusting to a new climate after living in California forever is…well…interesting. Let me just say, um, it’s not a dry heat.

I love all the green here though. With the drought in California, it’s been a good long time since I’ve seen so much lovely green and I’ve managed to uncover some hidden gems here, too. Like the blueberry fields outside of town where you can pick your own, fill buckets to your heart’s content. Picking your own fruit reminds me of the days when we actually understood that our food didn’t magically grow on grocery store shelves. As I went with my grandkids to harvest our little share of blueberries, I remembered doing that as a kid up in the Adirondacks, where berry bushes meandered wildly across hillsides, under pine trees and near foraging black bears. Those memories I hope to recreate with my own grandkids. Maybe you can find your own berry patch or vegetable garden to share with your kids or grandkids.

So today, I thought I’d share with you a recipe for Blueberry Pie that my family loves.  I made this one with my granddaughter after our berry picking adventure. Here it is.

2 Crust Pie Crust:

One of my secrets is to keep everything COLD. Flour in the freezer, butter or shortening COLD. Ice water to mix everything with. This helps make a flaky crust. And you definitely want a flaky crust! And mix as LITTLE as POSSIBLE. Just until your dough can be formed into a ball to roll out. (To make a one crust pie, simply cut these ingredients in half.)

2 Cups Flour + enough to roll it out on the board (maybe an extra ¼ cup.)
1 Tsp Kosher Salt
2/3 cup + 2 Tbsp. Crisco or some combo of Crisco and Butter (Crisco is awesome!)
½ (or a little more) Cup of Ice Water
(I fill a cup measure with ice to chill, then water and that’s usually just right.)

Mix together salt and flour. Add shortening and cut in with a pastry blender or two knives until pea sized. (Up to this point, you can mess as much as you want with the flour, but once you add the water, hurry up!)

Add ice water, a little at a time, (fluff with a fork) until you can form it into a ball. Not a perfect ball. It will look flaky. And don’t squeeze too hard. Just hard enough to get it to stick together. No seriously, this is critical!

Make two balls and roll out to fit your pie plate plus a little extra to flute the edges.


5-6 Cups of Fresh Blueberries (Frozen will work, too.)
1TBSP Freshly grated Lemon rind
Juice of ½ lemon
Combine and mix with blueberries:
¾- 1 cup sugar depending on tartness of berries (I like it a bit on the tart side)
¼ C of flour (or cornstarch- I use flour)
1 Tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp of freshly grated nutmeg

¼ cup of butter, cut into small pieces.

Mix together all ingredients and pour into bottom pie crust.  Dot with Butter chunks. Cover with top pie crust (or a lattice crust is fun, too.) Make sure you cut a vent in the top crust. Bake at 400* for 40-45 minutes, or until crust begins to brown and blueberry juice bubbles up. Keep an eye on it, don’t over bake.

Voila! Blueberry Pie!  Hope you enjoy it! And while you’re indulging, pick up my latest book, RECKLESS IN LAGUNA for just $1.99. It’s a vacation in Laguna Beach and a love story all in one!

Here’s a little taste of RECKLESS IN LAGUNA:

Nio swallowed hard as he bent his head closer. “What about your fiancé?” His lips brushed the side of her mouth and his breath whispered against her skin. 
She blinked. “Ex. Let’s not talk about him. Pretend he doesn’t exist.” 
“Done.” He threaded his fingers into her hair at the back of her head. His kiss was soft at first, testing…tasting, even. As if he didn’t want to scare her. But then he deepened it, finding her tongue with his, slanting his mouth against hers.
His arms curled around her and he pulled her closer against those hard chest muscles she’d only glimpsed through the lens of her camera, stunning her with a stab of heat. She’d forgotten what it felt like to lose herself in a kiss like this. How a kiss could pull her under like a wave and spin her upside down. If Steven’s kisses had been a watermark she’d settled for, Nio’s was a riptide. 
She wrapped her arms around him to anchor herself because she thought she might fall if she didn’t. His back was strong and she remembered it now—the corded muscles along his spine, the slender dip of his back where it met his waist—though all of him was bigger now, more manly. She felt his hardness press up against her like an electrical charge. All the while, his tongue explored her mouth as if he were reacquainting himself with the very essence of her. And she, with him. He tasted of beer and salty air and something indefinably Nio. And she wanted more.
Even as that thought evolved, another warned her that kissing him was a mistake. Allowing herself to feel like this again, for him, was a mistake. 
With her head spinning, she pulled back from the kiss. Her breath came in shaky gulps. He let her go reluctantly, seeming equally shaken by their kiss.
“Whoa,” she murmured, pushing her hair from her eyes. “That…that was…”
“Yes. Good. But now that I think of it, we probably shouldn’t have.”
With his hand brushing her shoulder, he said, “Maybe you should think less and feel more.”
“Is that what you do?” She looked up at him through her lashes.
“No. But I’ll make an exception for you.”
She nodded. “I’m supposed to hate you, you know. I would, if you’d give me half the chance.”
“But you don’t.” 
“Oh, I did. Maybe I got over that,” she said. “Or maybe I just want to.”
 “I’m counting on it.” 
Above them, the clouds cleared a space in the black velvet, revealing a smattering of stars and moonlight that cast shadows around them, and the nearby ocean beat a rhythm as steady as a pulse.
“Did you ever think about me?” he asked. “All those years?”
Did she ever? Only every time she looked at another man and thought what her life might have looked like if he’d stayed and given her a chance. Only every night in the dark when she wished it was him holding her and not any other man. And only now—now that she’d tasted his kiss again and felt the things she’d felt in his arms—did she realize that she never had stopped thinking of him, comparing him to every other man she’d ever known. It was damned unfair, really, that one man could hold such power over her. She should resent him even now, but all she could do was wonder how she’d been without him for so long.

1 comment:

dstoutholcomb said...

sounds delicious!