Food, Recipes

Blueberries Any Way

blueberriesThe season for those sweet little wild Maine blueberries has come and gone, but each year I pick/buy enough to last until the next season.  They freeze beautifully which ensures that we can have all our favorite things made with them.

Blueberry muffins are always on hand as they are oh so good with morning coffee.  

They are especially good topped with lavender blueberry jam which is also a great topping for ice cream or panna cotta.

Scones oozing with blueberries are a special treat for Sunday brunch.

When the kids come to visit, their favorite is blueberry pancakes with GrandP’s secret syrup, better known as maple syrup.

As yummy as other things are our hands down favorite is blueberry crisp.  Sometimes it’s all blueberries, but it’s equally good with peaches or with mixed berries.

I’ve been making this crisp since I was a teenager thanks to the recipe shared by our next door neighbor.  For that reason, I always call it Miss Myrtle’s pie.  Since she was generous enough to share her recipe, I will share it with you and hope it becomes one of your favorite desserts.

Blueberry Crisp

4 c. blueberries, peaches or mixed fruit

1/3 c. sugar

1 heaping T. flour, cornstarch or tapioca

1 t. lemon juice

Mix all ingredients together in a pie pan or baking dish.

For the topping, combine 1 c. flour, 1 c. sugar and 1/2 c. brown sugar.  With a fork, add a slightly beaten egg and mix until the dry ingredients are crumbly.

 Sprinkle on top of the fruit and generously dot with butter.  Bake at 350 until the topping is nicely browned.

There you have it.  At our house we like cinnamon so I often add a teaspoon to either the fruit or the berries.  Of course, the finishing touch is a big scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Hmm, I can taste it now, so I’m going to the kitchen and get started.

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Atop Beech Hill


 Beech Hill is a one of my favorite spots.  It is what I see in the distance when we are returning to Rockport Harbor on the boat, and it is a wonderful place for an easy hike.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the top is Beech Nut, a historical sod cottage built in 1917 as a picnic spot for a summer estate.

img_3391Originally, it was reached by carriage, but these days one hikes a 3/4 mile trail.   Both sides of the trail are surrounded by the Beech Hill Preserve where the Coastal Mountain Land Trust grows those wonderful little Maine blueberries.  If you time the hike when the blueberries are ripe, you just might be able to gather a handful or two along the edge of the trail. 


Fall is a particularly beautiful time of year to hike the trail to the top.  The blueberry fields are ablaze with crimson.


In one direction Penobscot Bay is in full view,


in another a lake glistens in the sun.


Turn away from the water and the Camden Hills provide a different dimension to the landscape.


I take time to enjoy every little thing that is front of me and to give thanks for the beauty and tranquility of this place.

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Wow Us Wednesday

Desserts, Recipes

Blueberry Mania

blueberriesIf I have a favorite season in Maine, this may be it.  For a very few weeks blueberries are in, and there’s nothing like wild Maine blueberries that burst in your mouth with sweetness.  Believe me when I tell you they are a world apart from the ones you buy in the grocery.

blueberriesAnd, when you’ve picked them yourself, they’re even more appreciated!

blueberriesLike with lobster, I try using them in as many ways as possible.  Around here, blueberry crisp topped with a scoop of homemade cinnamon ice cream is a real favorite,


but not far behind are blueberry muffins oozing with goodness.

blueberriesThe kids would tell you GrandP’s pancakes dripping with real Maine maple syrup are the bomb!

blueberriesAs of yesterday, however, there is something new to rave about, blueberry mousse, an easy to make dessert that is a scrumptious blend of lemon curd, cream and blueberries.  Though I’d like to keep it a secret, I’m feeling generous today and will share the recipe.

Blueberry Mousse

For the lemon curd, combine 1 c. sugar, 1-1 1/2 T. lemon zest, 3 eggs and a pinch of salt in a sauce pan.  With heat on medium, add 1 stick of butter and 1/2 c. lemon juice.  When the mixture comes to a boil, lower the heat and stir constantly until it coats the back of a spoon.  This takes about 5-10 minutes.  Remove from the heat, cool to room temperature and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.  Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Whip 1 c. cream until soft peaks form.  Fold 1/2 c. of lemon curd into the whipped cream, then gently fold in remaining lemon curd and 1 1/2 c. fresh blueberries.  Spoon into individual serving dishes and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.  At serving time, top it with mint leaves.

That’s all there is to it.  Should you want to make the recipe even simpler, use bought lemon curd.  Stonewall Kitchen has a very good one.  I think the mousse would also be wonderful with raspberries or strawberries or maybe a combination of berries.  Now, that’s got me thinking about what’s next!


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Baking, Food

Have a Pavlova

PavlovaThanks to my friend Gray, Pavlova, or meringue shells, has become one of my favorite go to desserts.  It is easy to prepare and can be served with any number of fillings. Fresh fruits, which this time of year are plentiful and delicious, are always a great choice.

I am sure there are many ways of making a meringue shell, but  I am sharing that of my friend as I know it’s a good one.


4 large egg whites at room temperature

1 c. sugar

1 t. white vinegar (I’ve been known to use balsamic!)

1/2 T. cornstarch

1/2 t. vanilla

In a metal bowl, beat the egg whites with  a whisk or mixer until they form soft peaks.  Gradually sprinkle the sugar into the egg whites, beating after each addition, until all sugar is used and glossy stiff peaks have formed.  Sprinkle cornstarch and vinegar on the meringue and fold in gently with a plastic spatula.  Add the vanilla, folding gently into the mixture.

PavlovaOn a baking sheet lined with foil or a Silpat baking sheet, spread the meringue in  circles.  Indent the center with the back of a spoon so you have a slight well in the center.

Bake in a preheated 275 degree oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until it goes a pale eggshell color.  Turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven for an additional hour.

Just before serving, remove the meringues from the oven and place them on serving dishes.  Fill the center with your choice of filling and top with whipped cream.


This time around I filled the Pavlova with homemade lemon curd and blueberry lavender jam.  I found an incredibly easy recipe for lemon curd made in the microwave here, and it was yummy!

The jam was perfect with the lemon curd, but a blueberry compote made with 2 c. blueberries, 3 T. water and 1/4 c. sugar  stirred over medium heat until thickened would have worked just as well as would just plain blueberries.  Love the flexibility of this dessert.

PavlovaAn added bonus to making Pavlova is that it can involve kids who love to help in the kitchen and get a big kick out of presenting their creations.  That can’t be beat!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind


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Sicilian Inspired

Having been to cooking classes presented by Nancy Harmon Jenkins and loving her cookbooks (there are many more than these 2), how could I resist being high bidder on a dinner for six at her home in Camden, Maine?

What a treat it turned out to be with Nancy making us feel like we were old friends.  The evening began in the yard with prosecco and appetizers.  While everything was quite tasty, her cheese biscuits had the hubby begging for the recipe which she is kind enough to let me share with you.  If I remember correctly, it is one she inherited from an old friend.

Inside, the real work was taking place and surprise, the Sicilian inspired dinner was being prepared not by Nancy but by her daughter Sara who owns two Manhattan restaurants, Porchetta and Porsena.  Soon to open is Porsena Sinistra, a wine bar that will serve goodies like the ones we enjoyed in the garden.  

 Sara has also coauthored a beautiful cookbook, Olives and Oranges.  I would say this is quite a busy gal!

Now, back to the dinner which was served on a long table covered with a cheery blue flower patterned cloth and set with simple white dishes with a blue border.  The overall effect was warm and friendly just like the women responsible for the dinner.

First course was for me a new taste treat, cantalope gazpacho topped with crostini spread with cantalope butter.  It was absolutely delicious on a summer night.

The gazpacho was followed by pasta with a mushroom sauce….sensational!

The main course was swordfish cooked with onions, tomatoes and herbs in parchment paper.  It was so moist it practically melted in your mouth.  Accompanying the fish were a simple green salad, roasted potatoes and steamed wax and green beans.  There wasn’t a whole lot of conversation during dinner as we were all moaning our pleasure.

To finish the meal, we were served a blueberry tart made from those wonderful wild Maine blueberries that I have written about several times.  What was especially good about this one was the crust which Nancy said was made with oatmeal and patted into the pan rather than rolled.  That is a recipe I must remember to request from her.

 Oh, and let’s not forget the wine, a white and red from Sicily which we were happy to find at our favorite local wine shop and a perfect accompaniment for this Sicilian menu.

Totally satiated with good food and company, this was a night to remember.

Now for the cheese biscuits.

Peg Shea’s Cheese Biscuits
1/2 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt if needed
Cream together butter and cheese with a wooden spoon or hands. Add flour and mix well with fingertips. Add cayenne. Form mixture into a log 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrape in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (Can be frozen.) Cut into 1/4 inch slices and bake on cookie sheet 5 to 10 minutes at 350.

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Tis the Season

You gotta love Maine this time of year when the wild Maine blueberries are waiting to be picked.  This year there seems to be a bumper crop, and I’m out there gathering.  The challenge is not to eat as many as you pick!

These berries are smaller than what you see in the grocery and when you put one in your mouth, it bursts with juicy flavor.

 I see many a salad, cobbler and muffin in the near future.

Speaking of muffins, there are many different recipes for blueberry muffins.  As you might guess, they have similar ingredients—flour, sugar, eggs—but in different proportions and combinations.  I’ve never had one I didn’t like, but this is one of my favorites, an accidental happening when I didn’t have enough granulated sugar.

Blueberry Muffins

2 c. flour

1/3 c. sugar

1/4 c. brown sugar, packed

3 t. baking powder

1/4 t. salt

3/4 c. milk

2 eggs

5 t. melted butter, unsalted

1 c. blueberries

Combine flour, sugars, salt and baking powder.  Mix together eggs, milk and butter.  Add to dry ingredients and mix until moistened.  Be careful not to overmix.  Spoon into greased muffin pans and bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes.  Makes 12 muffins.

Now make yourself a good cup of coffee or latte, find a comfortable place to sit with a book or magazine and enjoy a luscious few minutes all your own.


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A Taste of Texas

Now, you wouldn’t think of Texas being known for peaches, but for about 6 weeks in May and June that changes.  That’s when Fredericksburg peaches are in season.  From the Texas hill country, some make it to grocery stores, but more often than not they are sold on the side of the road or at farmers markets.

ImageFredericksburg peaches are not big and perfectly shaped like the ones most often found in the grocery, but their juicy sweetness leaves you wanting more and wishing the season were longer.

Every year when I return from Maine to Texas, I take some of those wonderful wild Maine blueberries that, like the peaches, have a short season and are the best when it comes to taste.  So, if Maine can go to Texas, why can’t Texas come to Maine?

There were no special plans for the peaches other than to enjoy them, however, the June issue of Southern Living featured recipes made with peaches which was a very good place to start.  While the chicken and pork chops were real tasty, the hands down favorite was the peach upside down cake.  Why is it that anything made with sugar is always the best?

ImageWhat is different about this cake from the traditional upside down one is that you caramelize the white sugar before adding butter and brown sugar.  The result is simply scrumptious, but, hey, let me not just describe the cake, try it for yourself.  The recipe is quite simple and could I think work with any number of fruits.  In case you don’t have the magazine, here’s the recipe.

Peach Upside Down Cake

4 medium peaches cut into 1/3″ slices

2 T. lemon juice

1 c. cake flour

3/ t. baking powder

1/4 t. baking soda

1 1/4 c. sugar

3/4 c. unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 c. light brown sugar

1 t. vanilla

2 large eggs

1/2 c. sour cream

Preheat oven to 350.  Toss peaches with lemon juice. Sift together flour, baking powder and soda.

Cook 1/2 c. sugar in a 10″ cast iron skillet* over medium heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until sugar melts and turns a deep amber color.  Remove from heat; add 1/4 c. butter, stirring vigorously.  Spread caramelized sugar to coat bottom of skillet and sprinkle with brown sugar.  Arrange peach wedges in concentric circles over sugar.

Beat vanilla, remaining 3/4 c. sugar and 1/2 c. butter at medium speed until smooth.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until well blended.  Add sour cream, blend.  Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed  until blended.  Spoon batter over peaches and spread to cover.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean.  Cool in skillet on a wire rack 10 minutes.  Run a knife around edge to loosen.  Invert cake onto a serving plate.

Serve with whipped cream if desired.  It’s just as good all by itself.

*I didn’t have my cast iron skillet, and these substitutions worked fine. The sugar was caramelized in a 10″ skillet and the cake was baked in a pie pan.  Be sure to mix the butter with the caramelized sugar before transferring to the pie pan otherwise the sugar will harden and not spread over the bottom.

ImageThis cake was so good, I made a second one a few days later, this time adding blueberries to the peaches.  Next I’m going to try pears, maybe combined with raspberries.  Oh yum!

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