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Sunday, August 5, 2012

when the going gets tough, make pie

Many things heal my soul: being deep on the woods atop a mountain, sitting by the ocean, a squeezy hug, the belly laugh of one of my girls, dipping my paddle in water, curling up in Sandi's arms, flying down a hill on my bike.

Turns out I can add pie making to the list.

It's my favorite time of year again...blueberry season.  Blueberries (Maine) are one of my top ten favorite foods and I show little to no restraint when I have a 20 lb box stowed in the fridge. I eat a giant bowl for breakfast and often another for a snack before bed.  This year I placed an order with our CSA for 60 lbs of organic berries which are twice (gulp) the cost as those that are sprayed.  I handed over a check for berries that would make my mortgage check gasp and went home for a colossal bowl.

Blueberry season also means blueberry glaze pie. 

Now I am not a big pie fan. I am more a cake girl.  But not when it comes to blueberry glaze pie. BGP beats the pants off all other pies without even trying.  It is the naturally more beautiful, smarter, more talented sister of all other pies. 

And, because I love you and I feel the world would be a better place if more people could enjoy the delights of BGP, I am going to teach you how to make it just as my amazing mother-in-love taught me.

The only hard parts are: 1.) dealing with finicky pie crust and 2.) not eating all the berries before they get in the pie.  And okay, 3.) not eating all the glaze before it goes into the pie. So some patience and self-restraint, my two most lacking qualities, are all you need.

Because I also appreciate a good challenge, I felt it necessary to make the crust from scratch instead of Pillsburying it.  Sandi came in to the kitchen (where it was a mere 84 degrees and sweat was running down my spine and the ridge of my nose) and said, "Babe, why didn't you just buy crust?"

I was wondering if she had ever met me. Obviously she forgot that I had graduated from the adult ed pie making class last fall and (should) have the requisite skill for the job.  (The other factor here is that I really, seriously suck at the rolling and shaping of the dough so I need a lot of extra dough to make anything resembling decent and Pillsbury doesn't allow for such wiggle room.)

So the first step in making BGP is to make bake a pie crust in a standard pie plate. 

I used this recipe from my pie class.  I love it because you don't have to worry about the cold water and the stone cold butter and the chilled dough.  It makes a soft, pliable dough that gets along well with my Kitchenaide mixer.  However, since I was making it in a kitchen hotter than the arm pit of hell, it was a tad too sticky on the table and transferring it to the pie plate could not be done without some choice expletives and a fair amount of pastry patching.

Extra pie crust calls for extra creativity:

Cook and cool the pie shell and then smooth a bunch of softened cream cheese to cover the bottom (somewhere between 4-8 oz depending on your love of cream cheese). 

Add two cups fresh berries.

For the blueberry glaze combine the following in a saucepan:

2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup sugar
3 heaping TBSP flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 TBSP butter
1/2 to 1/3 cup water

Cook over low heat like pudding until bubbling and thickened.  Pour into pie shell.  Sprinkle fresh blueberries over the top and chill pie for a couple of hours. 

If you can get cute people to help you do this job it is all the better.

A few pieces of advice:  make extra glaze to keep in the fridge because it is so ridiculously good, you might just need a spoonful in the middle of the day or a dollop on your pancakes (thinner glaze makes for an awesome pancake sauce).  Also, if you use frozen berries, use less water and more flour or the glaze will be too runny (but still delicious).  I generally use more berries and less sugar when I make the glaze (and more flour) because I don't need it to be so sugary.  And if you don't have fresh berries, you can skip the fresh berries on the bottom of the pie shell and just make extra glaze to replace them.

I figured if I was going to go to the trouble to make one (to take to Emilie's for girls' night supper), I would just make three.

My other advice: make extra so you can share with your friends. It makes them really, really happy.

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