Thursday, August 28, 2014

Easy as (Blueberry) Pie

I am not a terribly skilled baker -- too much precision for me, and baking is too occasional an activity for me to really get better at it. But I do love the idea of baking: I dream of turning out the perfect, frosted cake -- the kind without cake crumbs scumbled through the icing -- or of baking a pie with a flaky crust that doesn't ooze out into nothingness when you lift a wedge out of the pan.

Neither of these things is much more than a dream for me. Except, as is turns out, for blueberry pie. This is a recipe that I make so consistently well that I feel no embarrassment -- me, the mediocre-at-best-baker -- passing it along to you. If I can do it, it must mean it's foolproof. Let's call it a confidence builder.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Idiot-Proof Blueberry Jam That I Finally Got Right

Every year for the past three years I have tried to make blueberry jam. In part because living in a place where blueberries grow so freely is a novelty to me, so when I take my kid and her friends picking I always end up coming back with way more than is reasonable. I freeze some, make baked stuff out of others, and try to make jam out of the rest.

They say -- the "theys" that know -- that blueberry jam is the easiest jam to make, because blueberries are so rich in pectin (the thing that makes jam gel) that you don't have to add anything to them except for sugar to end up with jam.

I begin every year with the assumption that blueberry jam is foolproof, and every year I mess up.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ratatouille

Every August as I contemplate the bounty at my CSA farm I am struck with the entirely unoriginal thought: "I should make ratatouille."

Originality is overrated, in my opinion, so I am happy to offer you my recipe today.

This is why you make it in August: because eggplants, zucchini, and red peppers are all ripe. Because parsley and thyme are abundant in your garden. Because you make it and then leave it on your counter and eat it at room temperature for every meal, whenever or however it strikes your fancy.

Because it tastes like the south of France, even if you've never been there.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Soft Landing

I'm back from almost six weeks in Montana, almost constantly with my parents. It's hard -- maybe this is universal, or maybe this is a sign that I failed to launch -- but it's hard not to feel dragged back into adolescence, or at least into some version of childhood that struggles with one's adultness when I'm there. I did some work, I did some writing, I hiked a lot and I went to the gym. I ate less than usual, because even though my parents are excellent cooks it was not the food I would normally eat -- it was excellent but different than my habits. Eating less was not a bad thing at all, I should say.