Happy June! And happy belated Memorial Day. In Emily Land, this means that summer has officially started. HOORAY! Bring on the watermelon.
Our Memorial weekend was not just a drink beer/eat bratworst/munch-corn-on-the-cob-while-waving-a-flag, kind of a day (although it was that, too). But rather an enjoy-birthday-cake/laugh-with-the-family/watch-your-older-cousin-do-a-belly-flop-into-the-pool, kind of a day. And it was simply splendid.
The family united in memorial merriment at our cousins’ house. All 19 of us. But who’s counting. My cousins Steve and She-She always do a wonderful job hosting us. I have unofficially given them Hosts of the
Year Lifetime Award. And not just because I know they are reading this.
The spread is always A+ at their house (not to pack on the pressure for next time or anything). Tons of veggies; hummus; cheeses; wine; a large salad (or 3); and above all, delicious chocolate cake with Breyers ice cream (we are big Breyers fans). Additional food from outside caterers like myself is unnecessary. Almost rare. It isn’t like those potluck situations where hostess Jane forces Betty’s family to bring deviled eggs. “Thanks Betty! I like extra paprika on mine!” No. She-She is a kitchen wizard. So when she told me that I could bring a cake alternative, I was honored. And I also had no idea what to make.
I thought about bringing a Pineapple Upside-Down cake. Which is good, but a bit risky. Especially since I live with a man (my dad) who would probably rather eat brussel sprouts bathed in ketchup than a pineapple (but that’s gross, so don’t quote me on that). He spent a summer before college peeling pineapples at a factory in Hawaii and I think the fruit has taunted him ever since. Blueberries seemed fool-proof. And because I have no knowledge of blueberry factories in our family’s history, I decided to roll with it and make a blueberry pie. I even made the crust myself this time. How berry brave of me!
The recipe I used was from a Betty Crocker cookbook, dated 1949. Okay I lied. 1986. Either way, that is still significant amounts of old. Especially considering that a recipe from a cookbook the color of ancient red is now on the blogosphere. World wide what? I find it hilarious that, in 1994, they didn’t know what the internet was. But I digress. I like this recipe, whether it be digital or vintage. It’s simple to follow and these baked berries were just the right amount of sweet–perfect for a Memorial/birthday bash out by the pool. And totally worthy of sharing a scoop of vanilla ice-cream with a piece of chocolate cousin-cake.
(Makes two 9-inch crusts)
2/3 cup + 2 tbs. shortening
2 cups all purpose flour (if using self-rising flour, omit salt. SR flour differs in taste and texture)
1 tsp. salt
4-5 tsp. COLD water (important that it’s cold)
Cut shortening into flour and salt until particles are the size of small peas. To do so you may use a pastry blender, though I use 2 knifes held closely together in one hand and cut the shortening that way. Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of the bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons can be added if necessary).
Gather pastry into 2 balls; shape into flattened rounds on slight flour board. Roll pastry 2 inches larger than an inverted pie plate. This will take some time. Start from the center and work your way out, slowly. Keep pastry circular by occasionally pushing edge in gently with sides of hands. Fold pastry into fourths; unfold and ease into plate, pressing firmly against bottom and side.
(makes 6 large servings)
Pastry for 9-inch two crust pie
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1 tbs. lemon juice
2. tbs. margarine or butter
Heat oven to 425. Prepare pastry. Mix sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Stir in blueberries. Turn into pastry-lined plate; sprinkle with lemon juice. Dot with margarine. Cover with top crust that has slits in it (lattice is also beautiful, or, use a cookie cutter to make shapes). Seal and flute (if necessary). Cover edge with aluminum foil (this is called a collar) to prevent excessive browning and to catch drips. Remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking.
Bake until crust is brown and juice begins to bubble, 35 to 45 minutes. Mine baked about 50. Serve with vanilla ice-cream and good company!