Monday, August 1, 2011

Blueberry Days

The first day back from seeing my folks was a continuation of the pleasant weather enjoyed with them. The visit had been relaxed days of time together and plenty of swimming and fishing for the kids and playing with their cousins who lived nearby.

When you return home after a period of being away, and there are children with hollow legs in the midst of growing spurts, the first thing is almost always a big run to the grocery store.

You're essentially out of staples - the items you use every day and sometimes often through the day. The refrigerator is allowed to go bare as you plan your time away. You come back to shelves without milk. Gaps in the cupboard indicate where favorite cereals should be. You've forgotten what an excellent job was done of using things up before you left.

This is how it was for me that August forenoon several years ago. A trip to the grocery store (possibly even before tackling the vacation laundry) was mandatory.

My two kids walked alongside the grocery cart, or took turns pushing it, as I worked off a lengthy list. There were only minor heel scrapes if I happened to get ahead of the cart as they trundled it generally beside me.

Our usual track led from the produce section to meat and dairy and so on, but the first stop was always a foray into the bright and healthy rainbow of colors of beautifully presented fruits and vegetables.

The Michigan blueberries in their section looked so good. The deep blue color was a refreshing sight after the hot walk across the store parking lot. You could feel the cool waters of Lake Michigan in these Midwest blueberries stacked within range of the carts trawling the berry displays.

As I put my selection of blueberries in our cart a light went on in me. Prior to vacation I clipped a recipe for blueberry pie. The name of the pie hooked me. Five minute blueberry pie - it sounded a miracle.

To make blueberry pie this speedily was a dream come true for this gal who seldom makes pies and doesn't touch the oven dial in the warm season at all.

The recipe was from some magazine. It didn't call for much more than blueberries, sugar and cinnamon. The pie is made in the microwave and takes exactly five minutes.

As we moved along, a slow procession past the grapes, peaches and bananas and lettuce, carrots and avocados, my mind was on the pie to come. It hardly gets better than August and blueberry pie.

We ran down a prepared graham cracker crust for the pie in the baking aisle. Plans for the pie made pleasant visual images as we pulled into our cul de sac with bags of groceries to unload.

Getting right down to business the blueberries went into the colander to rinse under running water. Water, meanwhile, was put on to boil. This was for the Kraft dinner which was going to be our lunch. It was getting to be that time.

The big mixing bowl came out of its Pyrex nest (I still have the set but the handy smaller bowl has been broken). The bowl, with its Spring Blossom Green pattern, was the workhorse of the kitchen. On top of its practical size, so good for making chocolate chip cookies and beating cake batter, it was microwave safe which doubled its usability.

I remembered to step to the stove and add the packaged elbow macaroni to the now-boiling water. Juggling a dozen things was so easy. I managed to turn out a pie and call the kids to the table almost simultaneously. It was my five minute scheduling masterpiece.

The blueberry pie has been made many times since then. It's almost always made in August as a sort of commemorating the month it got its start with us.

A wisp of recall is served up with each appearance of the family-famous blueberry pie. Windows are open to August breezes. Nicer even than that, two barefoot kids in shorts and t-shirts, treated to a taste of the cooled blueberry pie, flash me their blueberry grins.

The day and year are noted at the top of the pie recipe. I hardly have to consult the recipe anymore except for the friendly sense of reuniting with this earlier time. Dating something makes it somewhat a time capsule. It's fun to think how long we have some things.

Five Minute Blueberry Pie

In large bowl combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon and 1/2 cup water. Cook on HIGH 2 minutes or until mixture boils 1 minute. Mixture should be thick; stir.

Stir in 2 pints fresh rinsed blueberries. Cook on HIGH 3 minutes, stirring once. Pour into 9" prepared graham cracker crust.

Ro Giencke - August 1, 2011

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