Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Done

As Robert Burns once wrote … ‘The best laid schemes ‘o mice an’ men’ …

As anyone still out there may recall, this past January I took a stand against cyber stalking, pledging to not allow fright and fear of judgment curb my enthusiasm for writing.

AND THEN …

Came the snow! (Imagine that, snow in Maine …) And there was the Dear One, shoveling and shoveling and shoveling. It pained me to watch him do this all alone, so off I went to help. It pained me to watch him and then it pained me the next morning ~ SCIATICA. Crippling sciatica. Off we go to the doctor. Here’s some meds. They will help. Rest. Heat. Cold. Drugs. Repeat.

After a few days, they did help. Helped enough so I was able to get myself out of bed and go downstairs.

At our house in cold and snowy and blowy Maine, it was not easy to keep the outer door closed tight and we would offer awake to inches of snow inside the porch doorway. The solution? Put a log there.

Physically fragile and compromised me goes to walk outside and instead of bending over to move the log, I pushed it aside with the outside of my left foot. No big deal.

HA!

I opened my eyes the next morning in the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. It was blinding. I couldn’t stand or walk or sit. I had one comfortable position and one emotion ~ hysteria.

Dear One and I drive off to the doctor again, this time with me lying across the back seat in the fetal position sobbing. Different drugs. Rest. Heat. Cold. Drugs. Repeat. No better come in and we’ll start running tests.

And really crappy drugs. I needed the mother of all muscle relaxers and I truly felt this medical office was ‘not getting it’. I managed to get flexeril, but I was in pain. I needed relief. It wasn’t happening. I was just stoned out of my head. Not sleeping, just passed out. Not eating (not the worst thing in the world). Sad. Deflated.

A friend or two stepped in and suggested an osteopath. Being the skeptical gal I am, I just didn’t see that working. But at this point – three weeks of being in bed – I would have done nearly anything anyone suggested for relief.

On a ridiculously snowy day, the Dear One and I drive 40 minutes to see the osteopath. I walk in the door and there’s sitar music playing and incense burning and I’m thinking – ‘yeah, right. This ain’t gonna work. $230 down the drain.’

I lay on the table and the doctor placed his hands on my middle and lower back. Then my knee and hip. Light little fluttery touches. Nope, nope, nope, not working, not working … OH MY GOD, the muscles I pulled and twisted and tore RELAXED. No more drugs, slow pace, less bed rest, more sessions with him. And after 6 weeks, I felt like … well, at 80%.

What I didn’t realize at the time was the emotional and mental blow this took on my psyche. I was just unhappy and unmotivated. I did just the bare minimum I needed to do to get by. Quite frankly, I didn’t even realize this was happening. I wasn’t writing or cooking anything new, certainly not taking photos. I felt myself slipping away. Nothing was fun. Nothing was interesting. Get up. Shower. Eat. Work. Sleep. Repeat.

Finally, a dear friend who had been trying to reach out to me over and over again, cornered me. And we started talking … and talking … and talking … it didn’t hurt that she is an incredible neuropsychologist …

Everything had caught up to me after the injury … moving, being away from my family, my friends, being away from my darling son and his new bride, trying to find a place to fit in with the Dear One and his children, making new friends, being seriously injured, feeling isolated and alone. I don’t have those bring you chicken soup at 2:00 am friends here yet. No one who would reach out and come and visit or … It all just came crashing down on my soul at once. I was just paralyzed. My dear friend has known me for many, many years and heard the sadness and desperation creeping into my head. Her answer … let’s talk some more and let’s think about prozac.

I knew what I thought about prozac and I was VERY reluctant. The first pill I took was truly really hard to swallow. I was terrified. And I sat, patiently (well, as patient as I am capable of being) waiting for something to happen. As if there would be a TA-DA! moment. There wasn’t.

But one morning I woke up, just as dear Dr. D.T. said, and it felt as though the haze was gone. I felt happier in my head, my heart and soul felt lighter. I tried a new recipe. I giggled. I’m sleeping.

I’m getting better. I’m at the edge of the woods about to step into the sun light. Thank you, Dear one for being so patient and for dropping everything to stay home and take care of me. Thank you, D.T., I would have been able to get to this point without you. To my friends and family I’ve hidden from for the last number of months, I’m sorry, I love you all, and I’m back amongst the living.

So, while in bed I saw this recipe for Rhubarb Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping from Melissa Clark in the New York Times Cooking section. It looked like it had to be made. I had rhubarb that had to be cooked.

Tender, sweet, easy, yummy. The true testament is it being gone in a day!

Cake

  • 1 C of sugar
  • ½ C of butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 2 C flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • ½ t nutmeg (optional)
  • 2 C rhubarb, diced

 

Streusel Topping

  • ½ C sugar
  • ½ C walnuts, chopped
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 T butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a nine-by-thirteen pan. Assemble the cake, cream together the sugar and the butter, beat in the egg and buttermilk. Whisk or sift together the flour, soda, and optional nutmeg, and add it to the sugar, butter, egg, buttermilk mixture. Mix all together completely, and then fold in the rhubarb. Spread in the baking pan.

Mix the topping by combining the sugar, walnuts, cinnamon, and melted butter, and distributing it over the top of the cake batter.

Bake for forty-five to fifty minutes. Serve warm.

Makes one nine-by-thirteen cake.

Italian Sausage with Lentils

done

Dear Mother Nature:

ENOUGH!

You’ve had you’re little joke!

IMG_0244

We get it. We live in Maine. Snow is part of the equation … except for, as my friend John Dwyer says, July 18th between 1:00 and 1:15.

We’ve shoveled the walk, and

IMG_0243

and shoveled the walk!

And although it doesn’t look that way, dug the car out! (And, no, Jeannie, that isn’t Jack Nicholson and this isn’t Shiningville)

We’ve spent many a quiet Saturday hanging around the house with no problem. A little puttering here, a little puttering there. But when you CAN’T go out. When your driveway looks like one of the faces of Everest, you’re suddenly bored to tears and pacing the house like a caged cat! Well, at least I am. The Dear one spent the last two days building new cabinets for the kitchen (yay, snow!)

Boredom sets in.

Binge eating is a possible solution, but then when it’s time to go outside, you won’t be able to fit into your clothes or get through the front door.

But cooking, cooking is always an option, and for me a cure to what ails me.

I wanted something warm and filling, simple, yet not too simple. Most importantly, it had to be made with what I had on hand. See, our snow has snow and while we may get a wee reprieve this afternoon, Sunday night we’re getting … what, you may ask? Yes, that’s right SNOW! And then Thursday? SNOW!

Wait, we were talking about what I had on hand … sausage, lentils, red wine? Nigella and Nigella Bites saved me and my frosty Dear One.

  • 3–4 T olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • sprinkling of salt
  • 500g Puy lentils
  • 1 fat clove garlic, squished with the side of a knife, and skin removed
  • 8 Italian sausages
  • 100ml red wine
  • 50ml water
  • flat-leaf parsley for sprinkling

NOTE: THIS IS A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT OF LENTILS! I used slightly less than half and still have some in the freezer for soup!

To cook the lentils, put 2–3 tablespoons of the oil into a good-sized saucepan (and one which has a lid that fits) on the heat and when it’s warm add the chopped onion. Sprinkle with salt (which helps prevents it browning) and cook over a low to medium heat till soft (about 5 minutes).

Add the lentils, stir well and then cover generously with cold water. Bring to the boil, then cover and let simmer gently for half an hour or so until cooked and most, if not all, the liquid’s absorbed. I don’t add salt at this stage since the sauce provided by the sausages later (and which will be poured over the lentils) will be pretty salty itself.

NOTE: You can cook the lentils in advance.

When either the lentils are nearly ready or you’re about to reheat them, put a heavy-based frying pan on the stove, add a little olive oiland add the bruised garlic. Cook for a few minutes then add the sausages and brown. When the sausages are brown on both sides add the wine and water and let bubble up.

NOTE: You can add some extra chopped garlic here.

Cover the pan, either with a lid or tin foil, and cook for about 15 minutes. Using a fork, mash the now-soft garlic into the sauce and taste for seasoning, adding a little more water if it’s too strong.

Remove the lentils to a shallow bowl or dish then cover with the sausages and their garlicky, winey sauce. Sprinkle over some flat-leaf parsley.

NOTE: OR … takes sausages out, add the lentils, mix, sausages back on top and sprinkle with parsley!

done 2

Artichoke Lemon Spread

Done

Silence is deafening, they say.

And, by the same token, words can be weapons.

I’ve been having a terrible time getting started blogging again. And I really do miss it. I have at least 20 recipes from 2014 that I never blogged. It isn’t that I don’t want to .. or that I don’t think about what I’d like to write about. I have still been cooking up a storm (get it, get it, haha), photographing dishes, getting them ready. I hadn’t been quite able to put a finger on the reason. AND THEN …

… while listening to This American Life one fine (SNOWY) Saturday, there was an entire segment with Lindy West on just the topic of internet trolls. I suddenly realized that a situation that had happened to me beginning in November of 2013 and finally ending at the end of February 2014 had emotionally and artistically crippled me. What had happened to Lindy was slightly different, but the sentiment was the same. At the beginning we agreed on one basic tenet … DON’T FEED THE TROLLS … which is why I never made the hurtful comments public, nor ever responded to them. Linda realized that silence is what best feeds a troll, giving them more power, giving them exactly what they want. Silencing the person at whom they aim their vitriol.

I don’t think … or at least I truly hope … the people leaving snide comments or sending snarky tweets realize the damage they do to the people they campaign against. While cloaked in the perceived comfort of anonymity, perhaps even giggling, the person reading these messages is hurt, cut to the quick, and left wondering WHY. Why me?

Just as an aside, let’s just touch on the illusion of anonymity on the internet. For this is truly an illusion, there’s no such thing as anonymity on the internet. Everything and anything you put out into the universe over the internet really does go out into the universe … FOREVER.

For me, dear readers, this is just food. Nice photos, good recipes (I hope), sharing with a community of like-minded foodies. There’s no political agenda, I’m not skinning cats, and I’m not polluting the world by burning vast amounts of fossil fuels to get my own point across. I write this for me. It’s nice to have readers, but even without a single reader, this would still be something I do for me. A form of expression. Coupling three of my joys in life … cooking, photography and writing.

Sadly, there had certainly been fear and a bad taste left in my mouth regarding blogging, something I really love to do. The thought that my personal words and thoughts could be used against me again, by someone who knew nothing about me had proven to be daunting.

I keep coming back to WHY. Why me? What did I do to cause this and what could I have done to avoid it?

I thought about giving up my blog entirely. I thought about starting a brand new blog. After listening to Lindy, realizing I wasn’t alone in this dilemma, I decided to sit down,w rite this post, get it all off my chest and continue soldiering on. I’m not giving up what I like to do. I’m not changing myself or what I write for acceptance. This is who I am. I have been basically the same person since I popped out of the womb (thanks Mom & Dad). I live my life trying to leave no carnage in my wake, treating people the way I would like to be treated.

While it still smarts, I challenge all internet trolls and stalkers out there … get to know the subject of your attack. You may just find you like them. Think before you push that button … if someone did this to me, how would I feel.

Linda has given me renewed strength where my public, blogging life is concerned. I will not allow someone else to rule my life, I will not live in fear.

I have come too far in my life, given up too much to be where I am right now to be stopped by anyone or anything.

Hello, World, I’m back and hopefully better than ever.

You’ll have to pardon a number of ‘off-season’ posts while I catch up. Thank you.

So with that in mind …

While poking around online for some yummy before dinner nibbles, and being tired of the ones I was using over and over and over again, I came across this recipe for Artichoke Lemon Pesto from Ciao Chow Linda.

It’s fabulous! It’s easy!

Vegetarian, filling, slightly tangy.

Everything goes into the food processor and with a whirl is finished!

Try it, you’ll be hooked.

  • 1  14-ounce can of artichoke hearts  in water (unseasoned)
  • 1/4 C parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 C finely chopped parsley
  • a few small sprigs of thyme, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 t lemon peel, finely minced
  • 2 t lemon juice
  • 3 T olive oil
  • salt, pepper

Mince the parsley and thyme roughly with the garlic and lemon peel. Place the artichoke hearts, the parsley and thyme and all the remaining ingredients into a food processor. Pulse or whir until everything is chopped finely and blended. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

NOTE: I roughly chopped the parsley, thyme and garlic. I mean, it’s going in the food processor, after all. As for the lemon peel, I used a zester instead of peeling and didn’t need to mince it further.

 

Bread and Butter Pickles

Done

This falls under the posts I wasn’t able to do during computer-geddon.

So, what should we plant in our garden, says me.

Well, we need to have cucumbers. Ava loves cucumbers, says the Dear One.

Well, okie dokie, thinking to myself … I don’t really like cucumbers. Do we have to plant A LOT of them? Strike that … I like tzatziki. I like pickles. I like to use them in a sauce for salmon. I do like a little bit raw and in a salad. L-I-T-T-L-E bit.

In the cucumber plants go. Off goes the gardener (a/k/a the Dear One) to work in Russia for 3 weeks. And suddenly KA-BOOOOM it’s cucumber hell.

You know that neighbor you have or have heard about? The ones that leave zucchini on your doorstep and run away? Well, that was me! The cucumber monster.

Even with giving them away there were tons around. Now, the Dear One does not eat anything pickled … sigh. But I DO and he was away and I was bored and I needed something to do to entertain myself. (lotso justifying going’ on here)

And then I came across this recipe for Bread & Butter pickles over at Recipe Girl and realized I had this great cookbook Cooking Light’s Cooking Through the Seasons on my bookshelves. Ta da! I was set!

What I did do, though, being the only pickle person on the premises was ‘can’ them. Something I have wanted to try for quite some time, and there will be more of this following. My mother now refers to me as ‘my daughter, Laura Ingalls’.

I was a bit nervous about this canning process at first, but once I started it was off to the races. I didn’t can much this year. I much happier with things in the chest freezer we have. But now I’ve started this there are a host of things I have ready to try for next year!

To very loosely quote Bob Wiley (and if you don’t know the character or the movie … sigh) – I’m canning! I’m canning! I’m canning! I can! I’m a canner! I can!

I was surprised at how easy the pickle part of this project was. For some reason I had an entire saga that went on when you pickle something.

  • 5 1/2 C (1 1/2 pounds) thinly sliced pickling cucumbers
  • 1 1/2 T kosher salt
  • 1 C thinly sliced sweet onion
  • 1 C granulated white sugar
  • 1 C white vinegar
  • 1/2 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 C light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 1/2 t mustard seeds
  • 1/2 t celery seeds
  • 1/8 t ground turmeric

Combine cucumbers and salt in a large, shallow bowl; cover and chill 1 1/2 hours. Move cucumbers into a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Drain well, and return cucumbers to bowl. Add onion to the bowl.

NOTE: When you’re slicing the cucumbers, don’t slice them too thinly. You want them to have a bit of substance to them so they’ll hold up in the pickling liquid.

Add onions

Combine sugar and remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Pour hot vinegar mixture over cucumber mixture; let stand at room temperature 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate 24 hours. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks or give them a hot water bath to seal the jars and they’ll store forever … for a very long time … until you’re ready to use them.

Pecan Pie Bars

Done

AHHH, Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving …

Sometimes I think the Thanksgiving is when it’s over! It’s a lot of work. A lot of cooking. For us, a LOT of driving!

And …

10 MINUTES OF EATING!

What the heck!?

And then … and then … cleaning up! HOLY COW!

Fortunately, the Dear One and I do most of the cooking, so I sit back and let others clean it up. I am GREAT at making the mess but not so great at cleaning it up!

I wanted to bring a dessert, but it had to be something that traveled well. 8 hours in a car can be brutal on a cake or pie. I love pecan pie. From what I had gathered there were at least two pies and a cake coming. So pie was out.

I had come across this recipe from an old issue of Gourmet Magazine … pardon me whilst I dry the tears from my eyes … oh, how I miss you Gourmet! Okay … so I had found this in Gourmet and it was in a megapile of recipes I had torn from magazines (never to be seen again). Fortunately someone had the good sense to make it and pin in on Pinterest! To whomever it was, thank you!

This really goes together in a snap. Tastes just like pecan pie. I am sure with the same calorie count, BUT cutting them into squares gives you a little pecan pie taste without indulging in a whole slice. (YEAH, RIGHT, let me see you eat just one! Well, all the you out there except my mother, Madam Willpower!)

Careful not to over bake them. Careful not to leave them out in a FREEZING cold solarium. They.Become.Rocks! If that happens, a very quick, very short zap in the microwave will help.

Oh, and a scoop of ice cream goes a long way!

Who was it I head saying something about these being less fattening? Oh, me! Well, in the immortal words of Gilda Radner … Never Mind …

For crust:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 C packed brown sugar
  • 2 2/3 C all-purpose flour
  • ½ t salt

For topping:

  • 1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 C packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 C honey
  • 2 T heavy cream
  • 2 C chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a 9×13-inch pan with foil, leaving enough for a 2-inch overhang on all sides.

NOTE: Not parchment. Not any thought of I don’t need to line it. No cooking spray. FOIL! You’ll thank me later!

First make the crust by creaming together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add in the flour and salt and mix until crumbly.

Press the crust into the foil-lined pan and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

While the crust bakes, prepare the filling by combining the butter, brown sugar, honey and heavy cream in a saucepan and stirring it over medium heat. Simmer the mixture for 1 minute, then stir in the chopped pecans.

Remove the crust from the oven and immediately pour the pecan filling over the hot crust spreading it to cover the entire surface.

Return the pan to the oven and bake an additional 20 minutes.

Remove the pan and allow the bars to fully cool in the pan.

Use the foil overhang to lift out the bars and transfer them to a cutting board. Peel off the foil, slice into bars and serve.

Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting

Done

At times it’s hard to believe that just one year ago, I was living in New York City, working as a paralegal and not always happy.

Here I am a year later, living in Bar Harbor, Maine, reinventing myself work-wise, and very happy.

Work had been a struggle. I knew I didn’t wish to be a paralegal any longer. I wanted time to do many things, mostly revolving around cooking.

I give cooking lessons. I work as a prep cook in a friend’s restaurant.

I also work for my friends Chris and Lisa at their fabulous movie theater, Reel Pizza. What a concept! Watch a movie, eat pizza, drink wine … does it get better than that?

By day, I am mild mannered office staff – pay bills, enter info into box office and sales reports, payroll, giggle with Lisa.

By night, though, and just a few nights, mind you, I am sassy box office girl.

The questions, oh, the questions by customers. It takes everything at times not to just burst into laughter! This is particularly difficult when my boss is standing behind these folk laughing!

Let’s see …

To a couple on a busy night – “I’m sorry, folks, there are only singles left.” The woman looks at me, then her husband, and then at me again and says, “But we’re married.”

To a particularly grumpy senior citizen – “Tickets are $6 each.” “No, senior citizen discount?” “Ma’am, the tickets are $6!” “But, I’m a senior. I should get a discount!” “Ma’am, where are you from?” “New York. Why?” “You pay at least $13 for a full price ticket. Seniors don’t get half price, but a discount. So $6 is less.”

Then there was another grumpy senior (imagine!?), arguing about the $6 admission, and no senior discount – “I want a senior discount!” “Okay. Today, seniors pay $12 with a 50% discount. So, $6.”

Ah, the couple when told there were only single seats left. He, “Well, that’s okay. We want to see this movie. And who talks through the movies anyway?” She, glances at him sideways, “Well, I’ll be able to watch the movie in peace! You never STOP talking through the movies!”

The time goes by REALLY quickly with this entertainment!

Well, the entertainment and the GREAT gals I work with! Justine and Grace make getting through 5 hours a pleasure! It doesn’t hurt that Justine makes the BEST nachos and snacks for us!

So, long way around to why I made these cupcakes …

Justine showed me the ropes when I started in the box office. She explained everything in an uncomplicated way, held my hand, made me laugh and fed me. When I found out she had a birthday coming up AND had to work on her birthday (!) I decided we needed to have a little celebration at work.

What to make? What to make? Something with chocolate! Nope. She doesn’t like chocolate. Oh, stop gasping out there! Not liking chocolate is not a deal breaker in life!

I started searching for something fun and festive, omitting chocolate. That’s when I stumbled up these great Lemon Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting over at Sally’s Baking Addiction. I knew this was the recipe for me!

They were fabulous!

LEMON CUPCAKES

  • 1/2 C unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 C granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature preferred
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 C  milk
  • zest + fresh juice of two medium lemons

RASPBERRY FROSTING

  • 3/4 C unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 and 1/2 C confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 T heavy cream
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 1/4 t salt, to taste
  • 1/2 C thick raspberry preserves or jam
  • fresh raspberries and lemon slices to decorate, optional

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 12-count muffin pan with paper liners. Set aside.

Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until creamed. About 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until everything is combined, about 2 full minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Set aside.

Ready t0 Bake

In a medium bowl, toss together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 3 additions, beating on low speed after each addition. Batter will be thick. Beat in the milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice on low speed until just combined. Do not overmix this batter at any point. Spoon batter evenly into 12 cupcake liners. Bake for about 20 minutes. Check at 18 minutes, then again at 20. A toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean when done.

Baked

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat softened butter on medium speed for about 3-4 minutes until completely smooth and creamy. Add the confectioners’ sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running. Increase to high speed and beat for 1 minute. Add the raspberry preserves and beat until thick and creamy, about 2 full minutes. Add more powdered sugar if frosting is too thin, is separating (due to the fruity jam) or looks too wet. And then add more salt to offset added sweetness.

FIlling

Before frosting I filled a few of the cupcakes with some frosting before frosting. To fill the cupcakes: use a sharp knife, cut a circle/hole into the center of the cupcake to create a little pocket about 3/4 inch deep. Place about 1 teaspoon of raspberry frosting inside and top with the piece of cupcake you removed to seal. Then frost the entire cupcake.

Frosted

I couldn’t find my piping bag, so I put all the frosting in a zip-lock bag, cut a corner and frosted away!

I toped each with a fresh raspberry (from my freezer stash) and a lemon slice.

Blueberry Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate and Chocolate Sauce #SundaySupper

Done

It’s been far, far too long since I have felt technologically suited for a Sunday Supper posting. Now that my computer is back, I am thrilled to be able to participate again!

This week’s challenge hosted by Stacy of Food Lust People Love and Tara of Noshing With the Nolands? Share recipes with ingredients that are hunted or foraged.

Now, I know, many of you won’t think of blueberries as being foraged. But, follow along …

Beautiful summer day. The Dear One and I are tired of being in the garden every day (and, trust me, the garden nightmare dream hadn’t yet begun).

Let’s do something fun, says I.

Hey, great idea, says the Dear One. I have just the thing. Blueberry picking!

Now, I’m not quite sure what sort of romantic notion I had in my head about blueberry picking, but, trust me, after this that notion was dispelled!

We get in the car and we drive. And drive. And drive. Long, winding rural (what is more rural than rural?) Maine roads. We’re either headed for something that will be a lot of fun … or he’s taking me out into the woods to kill me!

We turn off a main(ish) road and onto a dirt road. Now we’re going deeper and deeper into the woods. I realize I am a simple city girl, but even I know blueberries don’t grow in the woods! The theme from Deliverance is dancing through my head.

We pass a ramshackle house with at least a dozen kids outside and dogs and cats and cars in all array of decay. Thinking to myself, this isn’t going to end well for me! I had lines from Eddie Izzard and his wonderful bit about the Druids and Stonehenge running through my head, “I don’t even know where I live now!” The children asked if we needed blueberry rakes or boxes (ah, we’re in the right place) and to just keep going … and going … and the road is becoming more and more narrow … and going. And SUDDENLY this tiny narrow “road” opened up into acres upon acres of blueberry fields.

Blueberries

WOW!

Shirtless, shoeless, (dirty) bearded man ambles over to the car explaining where to pick and points further down the road.

Pull over, hop out of the truck (yes, I said truck), grab some buckets, the blueberry rake (of which we have just one) and take off.

Blueberry rake

For those of you that don’t know … and, really, unless you live in rural Maine or New Jersey, why would you know? .. this photo is of a blueberry rake. It looks like a dustpan with a comb attached to it. You bend over, scrape it through the low blueberry bushes and pull up. You pick dozens of blueberries at a time. It’s fantastic.

Drawback. We have one. Apparently, it’s one of those tools that fall under the ‘MAN’ category. Much too much for you to handle, little lady … HARRUMPH! I’ve decided to go with the Dear One being chivalrous. Yes, that must be it. I walked around taking pictures. Picking blueberries by hand. And just looking around.

I think it’s better to pick them by hand. A lot of them get smushed with the rake and a many more leaves and twigs end up in your buckets.

Now, a little blueberry trivia (bet you didn’t know there was such a thing) … those big fat blueberries you find in the supermarkets, mostly from New Jersey, are high bush blueberries. The tiny ones, often the ones you find frozen, referred to as wild blueberries, and mostly from Maine, are low bush blueberries. These were low bush blueberries.

Blueberry fieldThat’s the Dear One out in the middle of the field raking away. I believe I was sent back to the car to fetch water.

Completely exhausting, back breaking. Messy. You’re turning violet, Violet, colored fingers. Even with the down side, we now have 10 1-gallon freezer bags filled with wild blueberries in our freezer downstairs. There were more, but Smoothy Girl breaks into it, I’ve made this ice cream, muffins, drinks, etc.

Would I do this again? Oh, hells yeah!

This ice cream is great to make … NO EGGS. It’s very easy to put together. A little cooking of the blueberries, a bit of blitzing in the blender, mix, cool, voila! The color is fantastic. The taste amazing. Next time, at the suggestion of my pal Lisa, I may add some sort of crumble to the top before serving. I suppose making it a deconstructed blueberry pie! Even the picky people have been digging into it!

I do think the chocolate sauce is unnecessary, but it don’t hurt!

Try this with a scoop of blueberry ice cream, a scoop of chocolate ice cream, some of the chocolate sauce and frozen blueberries!

Ice Cream

  • 1 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 C Maine wild blueberries (like Driscoll’s)
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1/8 t salt
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 3 ounces bar dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks (or 1/2 cup of mini semi-sweet morsels)

Dark Chocolate Sauce

  • 2 C heavy cream
  • 2/3 pounds (11 ounces) dark chocolate chips or bar chopped into small pieces
  • 2 1/2 T light corn syrup

Ice Cream

Mix blueberries, sugar, and salt in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool 20 minutes. Puree in a blender. Stir puree together with heavy cream, milk and lemon juice. Chill in refrigerator overnight. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. Swirl in dark chocolate by pouring small chunks into machine during last 5 minutes of freezing.

Dark Chocolate Sauce

Bring cream to a boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate and corn syrup. Let sit until chocolate melts, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir until smooth. For warm ice cream topping, allow sauce to cool 10 minutes before serving. Otherwise, allow sauce to cool to room temperature.

 

Check out these recipes from this week’s Sunday Supper Movement … On the Hunt!

Spread it on Thick

Nibbles and Sides

The Main Event

Sweet Treats

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