Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Literature inspired desserts

Hello, Yankee Belle Cafe! The Fresh Pioneer is back and we've been very busy eating fresh berries here in the Northwest. I'm lucky to live within 10 miles of a U-pick blueberry farm, and they just started selling raspberries and peaches, too. $1.50 a pound can't be beat!!
Of course, you have to brave the spiders and bugs and thunderstorms, but that's okay! These are worth it.
Here are some small people that are 'helping' me wash and sort the bluerries. Huh. Why is his hand near his mouth??
Probably just eating one of these little gals.
The only problem is that after you've made jam,
graham cracker and fruit and vanilla yoghurt parfait (with Rekas, which taste like huckleberries).
and bowl after bowl of giant, sweet Toros (the type we've had recently),

you start to wonder....
What can we do to CORRUPT these healthy, little beauties??

  Usually I try to avoid the whole sugar/fruit/lard crust concotion because it's like cocaine. At least to me. But I was reading Alan Bradley's 'The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie' and had a sudden desire for... PIE. (Which is odd because the pie is a murder weapon in the story but hey, I blame his plucky heroine Flavia De Luce for her bad influence. Here's a little picture of her on her bicycle, Gladys.)
Anyway, how can we have our pie and not eat TOO MUCH OF IT, too??
That is the question.
And here is the answer. Ramekins.
In case any of you are applauding my cleverness, just remember that some people in my family won't eat their pie. That means I get leftovers.
   (This also applies to my husband, who doesn't eat sweets. Isn't that terrible? When we were dating, I thought he was so gallant, offering me his slice of whatever dessert was. No. He just doesn't eat that much sugar. We've learned to forgive each other this small difference of opinion.)

Blueberries. Washed. Picked over. Lady bugs released outside.
Uh, oh. I spy a stem. This isn't the end of the world, but I try to get them out. If not, more fiber, right?

For 8 cups of berries, I used 1/4 cup of lime juice. I like lime better than lemon. And add the sugar. I will not say how much I put in. :) Maybe a cup. Or two.
Some people like blueberry-peach, blueberry-apricot, blueberry-raspberry. I like cinnamon in mine. I think it really brings out a deep flavor in the berries. So, for a 4 cup pie, I'd put in 1/4 tsp of cinnamon. For this batch of 8 cups I put in 1/2 tsp. Mmmmm....  Smelling delicious already.
Adding the thickener is up to you, since it will be confined to a ramekin. I added corn starch because I actually like the flavor.
Pie crust. From a box, or from the freezer section. Or using CRISCO SHORTENING in the old style recipe!! (I'm scared just reading that, but it will be worth it.) Cut into half inch strips.
Pretty. Flavia would be so pleased. The perfect murder weapon.
Or an old-fashioned version if you don't have the time or coordination to make tiny lattice work pies the size of your palm.
Waitaminute. Don't I have six million kids (like Mary Curry so aptly put it)? Ah. Here's one of theirs.
I wasn't very sure how much time these would take so I set it for 15 minutes and checked them every so often. Oh, and put them on a cookie sheet. Your oven will thank you. 
You will regret it and your tastebuds will never forgive you. Hot pie will kill you. Just ask Flavia.
Oh, MERCY. Is it cool yet?????
This is my big hot mess of pie, with a few spoonfulls of homemade apricot ice cream on top.
 Yes, it was good.
No, there was none left.
Stinkin' kids. :)



  1. Mum has a simple recipe for pie dough called her two X five biscuit pastry. (Biscuit I guess as in cookie) but its not really a cookie dough. but its good for pies. mum made both pies and slices with the dough.

  2. Do you have that recipe? I just lvoe easy dough recipes, probably because I can't hardly ever get them right. This one is from the Joy of Cooking cookbook, 1950. But I have a friend who swears by pie crust in a box. She says it's fool prrof!!

    1. virginia here is mums recipe. the sr flour has baking powder in it. and it tastes really good raw.
      Five by Two Biscuit Pastry

      2 eggs
      2 tbspns butter/margarine
      2 tbspns sugar
      2 cups SR flour
      2 tbspns milk

      Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs. Add flour and milk. Mix to soft dough.
      Roll out when warm.
      Rolls out well!!! says Mabel (thats my mum)
      Use for pies and slices

    2. Thanks for this recipe, Jenny! I can see a lot of ways to use it - cookies, pie crust, turnovers...

    3. mum used it for pies with just the pastry on the bottom then a filling and crumbed top, she also made slices with it on the bottom then the filling and a different toppings. also used it the traditional was top and bottom. we dont have alot of her filling recipies or topping recipes. she had them in her head and didn't write them down. The dough really does taste yummy.
      Oh she would glaze the top of the apple pies and others with a bit of milk and some cinamon and sugar.

    4. Jenny, assuming SR flour means self-rising?

    5. yes although she just used plain flour with baking powder (although I forget the amount.)

  3. that lattice dough looks like the kind my mom used to make on blackberry cobbler! she must've used crisco - the white solid stuff used to be a staple in our house..too bad the cobbler wasn't and I never learned how she did the dough but restaurants around here don't sell cobblers like that - they seem more cakey or spongey and just not the same.

    1. Yup, crisco is nasty... and makes wonderful crust!!

      I'm not a fan of cobbler, but I know what kind you mean. Definitely more fruity.

  4. Um...what's a ramekin? (does it rhyme with lambikin?)Is it the cup you cooked the blueberries in? Oh --- and speaking of blueberries. Your picture of the blueberry eater reminded me of this --

    I was at my local outdoor market one summer and for some silly reason (like getting the walk to the market and the walking of dogs all over in one go), I brought my dogs with me. Back then it was Sandy and Keavy -- also shelties. Anyhow I was making my purchases when I became aware of a crowd gathering. Everyone was laughing and me! I looked down to find Sandy mowing her way through these enormous baskets of blueberries. The minute I snapped the leash she knew she was in trouble and tried putting on her Miss Innocent look but that failed terribly because her white muzzle was blue and there were berry bits sticking off her whiskers.

    I spent $60 on blueberries that day (had to buy every basket she'd sampled) and I swear half of the produce was in my dog's belly. That's how I discovered that dogs love blueberries. :-)

    1. Most of our dogs have loved fruit, too. Connor (who ate anything) loved to sit near me when I was cleaning strawberries. I really had to watch how many strawberry tops he ate, though. I really didn't want to deal with digestive issues!

      Another thing he loved was green beans, fresh out of the garden. If I didn't keep the gate closed, he'd be out there pulling them off the plants!

    2. HAHHAHAHA! Oh man, who would think a dog would eat blueberries???

      We did have a cat who ate fresh corn, though. :O

    3. My dog won't eat much fruit (even now he is staring with a baleful expression at the slice of watermelon I offered), but he adores chasing blueberries and cranberries around the house. Apparently they're just mini-balls - until someone steps on them.

    4. Hey Jan -- cure all for 'digestive issues' in dogs (you are sooooo genteel!!!) -- a dollop of pumpkin in your dog's food -- the kind in the can but just pure pumpkin, nothing else. It's truly a wonder cure.

      Mary -- chasing blueberries? I have this vision of a toy mini mini something playing ball. Maybe a dog the Borrowers would own. LOL.

  5. Oooh, these look good - I even have some large custard cups I could use as ramekins...

    Hmm, my son's girlfriend is coming over for dinner tonight, I have blueberries in the freezer...I think a plan is coming together :)

    The thing that really made my mouth water, though, were the fresh berries! They just don't grow well around here (at least commercially), and I'm still waiting for the infrastructure to get done in our yard so I can plant gardens. Berries are going in, for sure!

    1. I know, we're really so blessed to live where we do. Almost everything grows here... commerically. We've tried blueberries in the yard but the ph issues are just iverwhelming. I let the prrofessionals deal with the soil and I come pick the rest!

  6. So cute. Mini pies!!!! Now I just have to figure out the gluten free version.

    Once again Virginia, you are evil! But running around after 6 million children means you burn off more calories!

    Peace, Julie

    1. Ok, Julie, I wasn't going to tell you but I saw TWO brand new gluten free cookbooks at the library. I'm going to make something you don't ave to fiddle with!!

      There, as Vince would say, the guantlet has been thrown. Let the Fresh Pioneer try g-free cooking and see how hard it is...

  7. Oh, Virginia, the only thing worse than a husband who doesn't love sweets is mine - a husband who devours them and doesn't gain an ounce!

    Of course chasing six million kids entitles you to PIE.

    I've been trying to perfect a recipe for a cold, unbaked pie. You prebake the crust and then the filling is like a solid wall of whole, cold berries. I had one when hubby and I had dinner at The Longfellow Wayside Inn and I've been trying to reproduce it ever since.

    The best I've come up with is a recipe that has you cook some of the blueberries in sugar and water and then pour that over the rest of the berries. It creates sort of a glaze that holds it all together but you really feel like you're eating the cold, fresh fruit.

  8. That sounds like a glazed tart and my daughter made one like that... IT WAS DELICIOUS!!
    We're going blueberry picking again tonight and taking my husband. We don't usually allow him in the fields because he reverts to his migrant ways and thinks he has to PICK THEM ALL.

    We wait around in the shade for a few horus then I lure him out by reminding him he doesn't get paid for picking, that we HAVE TO PAY for all the berries!!

    We've already picked 45 lbs and they're gone. We share a lot. But it's hard to stock up for winter...

  9. Oh, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE blueberries!! And I love pie. Also love the idea of limiting myself to one ramekin. LOL

    Thanks for sharing, Virginia! Great photos. I can't imagine the joy of blueberries in such a large quantity. I usually get a pint at the grocery when they're $2.98. Will even pay $3.98 sometimes. But once they go up to $4.98 a pint, I forget about them until next season.

    Do you freeze them? Any recommendations?

    BTW, my husband isn't a dessert eater either. He saves all the calories to eat a giant bowl of frozen yogurt every night. :)

    1. Missy, blueberries are the EASIEST easy-peasy thing to do in the world.

      I mean that!

      Take your blueberries. Wash and sort them - remove stems, etc. Spread them out to dry (I put down a few layers of newspaper on the counter, cover them with a clean towel, and spread the blueberries out on that).

      When they're dry, put them into freezer containers or freezer bags.

      Because they're dry when you freeze them, they stay loose in the container, and you can take out as many as you want at a time.

      Like a half dozen for a quick summertime snack :)

    2. We just wash and freeze them, but the issue is keepign them 'safe'. I have one daughter who will eat frozen blueberries all day, and they actually are a very nice refresher. But then they're all gone. So, I try to store them in tupperware and in the way back of the freezer.
      It's funny how when you have 'too much;' of something it loses its appeal. We have friends who have an apricot tree and they're sick of apricots by now. They've given us about 20 pounds worth. AWESOME!!!

      I want to meet someone who has too many peaches, hahaha!

    3. We freeze blueberries, too. Great to have on hand for so many things. And Jan, I do them like you do. I use the cookie sheets and then pour them into a bag once frozen.

      I buy my cherries, though. Sour and sweet. I don't have time to sit and pit them.

      They sell them frozen in big bags and I divide them into smaller bags. AWESOME!

  10. Oh, we love blueberries. Lots of organic ones here.

    Can't wait to see what you can do with GF!!!!

    I am ignorant. What do fresh apricots taste like?

    1. WHAT?? really?? Fresh apricots are 100X better than anything you can make with a cooked one. They smell very peachy... Infact, think sweet, fresh peaches vs. anything cooked. Totally different. You need to go find youself a ripe apricot, split it open and INHALE... MMMM.

      And one of the cookbooks is E. Hasselbeck's. Looks good! Pretty pictures, haha!

  11. Thanks, Jan, on the info! I thought I'd heard you just wash and freeze. But I'm glad you mentioned letting them dry. If not, they'd get icy!

    Virginia, popping in frozen ones as a snack sounds good! You have a smart daughter.

    1. Actually, I just learned soemthing ebcause I always wash them and stick them in. Then it takes a couple of minutes for them to thaw enough for my daughter to scrap a few into a bowl. Otherwise, they're one solid block!

      So, tonight, when we go back, I'll remember DRY before freezing! :D

  12. where do apricots grow? I never see them on sale and seldom see any in the grocery store here (Houston). I'm with MIssy on the blueberries - there comes a time I have to forget the fresh ones exist and raspberries are already on their last legs when they're at the store. :-(

  13. We never buy raspberries at the store because they're almost rotten by the time we get to them. But the blueberries CAN be good, but they're flown in from Canada, which means it's probably too far (and expensive) for my 'local' diet.
    Apricots have a very short growing season and I see them usually... here. Hm. They don't ship well, but I've heard they're trying to produce a variety that might ship better than the usual variety, which tends to bruise really easily.

  14. Oh my stars, late to this party, but I'm lovin' the idea of using the ramekins for pie plates! I love mini pies (and yes, I use the famous Country Tea Room recipe for pie crust with CRISCO and love it, love it, love it.... And then I sometimes FRY THE PIE, so even better, LOL!)

    I love fruit blends and I love pie. I will never be skinny.

    That part is sad, but I love food and Virginia, this is chock full of wonderful ideas!!!! Love it! And now I'm hungry, yet again.

    1. Ruthy, who wants to be skinny? I'll setlle for weighing less than my husband, haha!

  15. Oh, and we used to grow apricots, plums and apples, but it's tough to grow them without spraying them constantly... I'd rather NOT know what's on my fruit than know how often I had to pull the sprayer out and load it with poison.

    Raspberries and blueberries are easy to grow with almost no intervention. Easily done organically. And so yummy!!!

    1. Exactly. This place doesn't spray at all but the berries are still great. Now, apricots are a different story. Our friend doesn't spray and you don't want to know what we find in the apricots. yuck. Lots of earwigs. We have to split and clean them very throughly.