as we move into the second half of 2015 and i continue to be freaked out by how time is passing exponentially faster as i get older (dear old dirty bastard i’m getting older), i have made some self improvement promises to myself.
1. to sew more. caftans, kimonos, muumuus, palazzo pants, ponchos, jumpsuits, rompers. a new wardrobe is severely overdue.
2. to form a rad momma & me co-op situation in our new neighborhood. i need reinforcement to travel smoothly through parenthood. and i need a few hours each week where sebe gets his playtime on with other kiddos and momma can do more of numbers 1, 3 and 4 on this list.
3. to play dress-up more like i did pre-kiddo and less like i have been post-kiddo, which is just a fugly travesty and i won’t stand for it any longer.
4. to cook more. for years, i have been an avid stalker of a few foodie podcasts and blogs. i click on them every couple days, drooling over the gorgeous photography, the recipes and the ability of the women behind the blogs to balance baby daddies, kiddos, housekeeping, a social life, a steady social media presence AND the seemingly luxurious hours necessary to peruse farmers markets for the freshest ingredients out of which they craft decadent meals. these women are either half robot or just simply better human beings than myself, a hard truth i’m willing to accept. for now. until now. so here we go.
my very, very favorite food blog is all vegetarian, which is how heidi swanson first won my heart. she has been cooking and writing about her cooking for a long time and she is damn good at it. her blog, 101 cookbooks, was inspired by all the cookbooks she uses to find her next meal idea, many of which she tweaks to make even better. all her recipes are taste-tested, which is huge when following someone else’s recipe. you know an actual person has made it, eaten it and not spit it out. a new journey starts with a single step, or something like that. i decided mine would begin with pie.
last weekend, sebe woke up from his nap and i thought it would make for a fantastic date if we drove out to sauvie island and picked blueberries. it was going to be his first time and i always get geeked up about first times. they include having dance parties while we pack our outing bag and scream-singing, “whoooooooooohooooooooooooooo” complete with raise-the-roof hand motions the entire drive to wherever we’re going. this summer’s fun caliber is symbiotically affixed to the number of whoohoos being made at any given time. we’re doing pretty okay so far. i’m proud of us. sauvie island, if you’ve never been (insert empathetic facial expression here), is a mega magical place where anything can happen. in my lifetime, these things have most often included but are not subject to; playing on the beach and swimming in the water, driving from farm to farm, picking fresh fruit, veggies and flowers, attending the best pumpkin patch in all the land every year in October (complete with a corn stalk maize/maze, barnyard full of cute animals and another barnyard full of farm fresh edibles and in my more adult years, fashion photo shoots with brianne wills, my photographer partner in crime, who has recently moved to nyc to become famous. the photo above was my attempt to show off the gorgeous sauvie island bridge without getting out of the car because, you know, fast highway cars and toddler in the back seat. anyway, i’m telling you guys, it is an actual island! you get to drive across a beautiful little bridge which (little known portland fact coming up) was constructed as a mini trial version of the golden gate bridge in san francisco. how. rad. is. that. super rad. it’s super rad.
every summer growing up, my parents would take my brother and i to the blueberry house to spend hours plucking the ripest and most delicious blueberries that we got to take home and eat ourselves silly off of. in my childhood memory, it was a gigantic white house with lots of dogs running around and blueberry fields as far as the eye could see. going back with seb last weekend, i had a good giggle about childhood memories and am thankful that at least while not entirely reality-representative, mine were at least overly optimistic. the blueberry fields are there and they still stretch as far as you can see. the house is big but not gigantic nor white and the dogs (i know they had some) were not there to run or roam. but everything else was as if time has stood still the last 30-something years. the same buckets you can borrow to pick, the same scale used to weigh your bounty and the same woman who started the farm way back when is still sitting, chatting with every wide-eyed picker who comes calling. we arrived around 4:30pm and the farm closes at 6pm but for that entire hour and a half, my little boopie, not yet two years old, sat in the hot afternoon sun and picked blueberries with me. okay, he more like pulled the branches and grabbed at the berries and they were less blue, more green but he was a goddamn trooper and i was bursting with momma adoration. every once in a while, he would bring his bucket over to my container and dump his goods in. “oh my gosh seb! look at all the blueberries you picked! you’re doing such an awesome job!” he seriously looked proud and would walk back to another bush and begin his pulling/grabbing again. then i would quickly try to toss all his green berries out of my bucket before he could see. at least i try to find every opportunity for a learning lesson. “see these? these are blue. see these? these are green. just try to pick the blue ones. they’re ripe and you can eat them. don’t eat the green ones. they will make your baby tummy hurt.”
and so it went, with me picking and seb pulling until all three of my containers were full. we had exceeded all my expectations for the amount of fruit we could haul home. we were hot, sweaty, dirt-covered and so, so happy. i can’t remember how much per pound it was but for $22, we walked away with 11 pounds of blueberries, a jar of farm fresh honey and two honey sticks (seb luh-huved his).
we both had blue tee shirts on while picking blueberries. sometimes cute shit like that happens accidentally and i’m totally okay with it. but back to the business of pie. i realized while picking with the utmost joy that blueberries are my dad’s most favorite fruit and father’s day just happened to be the very next day. perf-ect. i would drop off fresh picked blueberries and the card seb and i made for dad. noooooooooo! i will drop off fresh picked blueberries, a hand drawn card and a pie! a pie that i made! game. on. so after putting seb to bed (after we had both eaten way too many blueberries) i hit heidi’s site and searched for berry pie. i found this, my inspiration/fear factor:
crust. riiight. a real pie includes a real crust. not one purchased in the freezer section of a grocery store, rolled out and baked, no fanfare whatsoever. no. i would make the crust from scratch. luckily, in addition to heidi’s fancier rye pie crust she included a link to a simpler crust, one that after reading the recipe over and over, i decided i could do it. i had some sebe-free hours on sunday so i grabbed the few ingredients i didn’t have on hand at new seasons and got to work. the crust would need at least one hour to sit in the fridge before rolling out so i did that first.
i decided to go the cuisinart route for blending up the cold chunks of butter with the flour rather than hand chopping it. 1) it had been sitting in its original box, taunting me, gathering dust, since it was given to us as a wedding present almost two years ago 2) enough was enough (self improvement promises and whatnot) and i would attack this cuisinart business with the same blind gusto that i used teaching myself to sew that first garment – fearlessly and with the clarity that it could all be a huge disaster. that’s where i like to live, right on the edge. and btw, i wore the hell out of that flamenco tube top. i rolled the dough into a ball on a floured surface, wrapped it in plastic and stuck it in the fridge. then i followed heidi’s recipe for the berry filling and it was way less panicky than i thought.
i even got to bust out this vintage lemon juicer i found years ago at a garage sale and realized how fun it is to juice lemons.
dough out of the fridge, it rolled flat so smoothly. i might have done a little private kitchen dance.
put it all together, baked for exactly 45 mins. and holy crap of craps, there was pie. in the last few minutes, the fruit started bubbling over the edge and spilled out onto the oven floor. it’s still sitting there. i have no idea how to clean it. but it was awesome to look at. there were hot, sticky blueberries all over the oven and i didn’t even care because there was pie. the whole apartment smelled like pie. it was glorious.
aside from needing some (a lot of) assistance in the crust presentation department, i was thrilled. that night, my parents and i shared good company, good laughs and some damn good pie. i can’t wait to make another one.
the happiest father and grandfather’s day to you pops! we love you so, so much.