Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summertime -

When Grandma was a girl there were not all the convenience foods there are today.  Asparagus was available only in late April and May.  Late June brought strawberries for 2 or 3 weeks. In July & August there would be cherries and plums and of course great buckets of blueberries and blackberries.  Today foodies have a fancy term for people who eat mostly food that is locally available and seasonal:  Locavore.  Who knew that just eating what was available would become so chic!

My parents grew up during the Great Depression.  Dad was a New England boy whose parents owned a small farm.  Grandma had a little neighborhood market and Grandpa worked in one of the big factories.  Dad often told stories about growing up during those years.  Not too far from my grandparents' is a great big hill covered with blueberry bushes, known locally as Blueberry Hill (what else?).  These are big, high bush blueberries.  When I picked there as a child I remember those bushes being far over my head.  An enterprising young man, during blueberry season my dad would take three  big 5-gallon lard pails and head on up Blueberry Hill, picking until he had all of those pails full almost to overflowing.  Grandma would make a pie or two from part of them, can some for winter and the rest Dad would put up in little berry baskets lined with leaves from the grape arbor and take them around to the more well-to-do part of town.  He always sold out just as fast as he could pick the berries.

Blueberries are a wonderful fruit - high in antioxidants, low in calorie, and easily canned or frozen if you have an abundance of them.  It isn't quite "Pick Your Own" season here, but if it is where you are you might remember this trick my Grandma taught me years ago.  Put your blueberries a handful or two at a time into a pie plate.  Tip the pie plate up at about a 45 degree angle, give it a teeny shake and all the blueberries will roll downhill, while the sticks and leaves stay behind to be scooped out and discarded.

These days, of course, most of my blueberries come from the supermarket where you can buy them fresh every day of the year.  Somehow, though, they are never quite as luscious as they were in the days when fresh blueberries could be had for only a couple of weeks a year.

I was appalled a month or so ago to find them put up in the tiny containers that raspberries usually come in at an asking price of $3.99 a  container.  This week, however, the containers are back to the 1 pint/2 cups size and the price is back to $1.99 so I brought a couple of pints home.

Most of the time I simply add a handful of blueberries, a couple of sliced strawberries and a handful of granola to plain yogurt as breakfast.  I've also been known to make a pretty dessert out of it by layering the berries, granola and yogurt in a glass.  Every now and again, however,  I like to bake Blueberry Muffins or a special Blueberry Coffeecake for a weekend brunch.

One of my favorite baking books is Beatrice Ojakangas' Great Holiday Baking Book.  Beatrice Ojakangas is a Finnish-American who grew up in an a community that was heavily Scandinavian.  Over the years, Beatrice has written more than a dozen cookbooks.  I've never had a recipe of her's fail!
This recipe one of my favorites:

Blueberry-Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake, hot from the oven!  

About an half an hour before you want to bake this cake, remove the cream cheese and the butter from the refrigerator and allow it to come up to room temperature.  Note that you do not want your butter to be soft, just pliable.

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks, 6 ounces) butter at room temperature, cut into bits
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large* eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 8-ounce package cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups fresh blueberries, cleaned & washed
1/2 cup slivered almonds

1.  Grease and lightly flour a 9.5 or 10 inch springform pan and set it aside. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2.  Put 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour and 3/4 cup of sugar in a medium-sized bowl and stir to mix.  Cut 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces, 3/4 cup) of room temperature butter into bits and add to the bowl.  Use a  pastry blender or your fingers to rub the mixture together until it resembles coarse crumbs.

3.  Remove 1 cup of the crumb mixture to a smaller bowl, add 1/2 cup slivered almonds (Grandma used sliced today because that is what was handy), mix and set aside.

4.  Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder to the larger portion of crumb mixture.  Stir to mix, then add 1 egg, 1 teaspoon almond extract and 3/4 cup of sour cream.  Mix until a dough forms.

5.  Press the dough over the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the springform pan.

6.  In a small bowl beat together an 8-ounce package of cream cheese, 1/4 cup of sugar  and 1 egg until smooth.  Spoon over the dough in the springform pan.

7.  Arrange 1 pint (2 cups) of blueberries that you've picked over, washed and drained well over the top of the cheese mixture.

8.  Sprinkle the reserved crumb and almond mixture over the blueberries evenly.

9.  Bake at 350F for about 50 minutes until the crust is golden and slightly pulled away from the sides of the pan.  Remove and allow to stand for 15 minutes before removing the side of the springform.

The easy way to get the sides of a springform pan off.  


To get the sides of your springform off without ruining the cake, gently run a knife around the edge, release the clasp and push-pull to start the plate out of the groove in the bottom of the pan.  Place the pan on something heavy that is wide enough to support the base of the pan but not so wide that the ring won't drop over.  Free the side from the base and it drop down to the counter.  Now you can just move the cake to a cooling rack.

Get 'Em While You Can!

There are just 2 days left to take advantage of the June $3.99 or Less Kindle Books.    Here are a couple that were top of Grandma's list:

  Leon Uris has been one of Grandma's favorite authors for many years.  Many consider this his masterpiece.

  Rosie's Bakery Chocolate-Packed, Jam-Filled, Butter-Rich, No-Holds-Barred Cookie Book  has been in Grandma's collection since just about the day it was published.  The layout of this copy isn't quite as pretty, but the recipes are the same and it is missing the batter stains.

  Camping season is here and this Kindle version of Campfire Cookery: Adventuresome Recipes and Other Curiosities for the Great Outdoors will be much easier to pack along!

    Mastering the Grill - right on time for the Fourth  of July!

  The Locavore Way: Discover and Enjoy the Pleasures of Locally Grown Food 


  1. This cake looks wonderful! Thank you for the recipe. My daughters love one that we have made together for many years that is very similar, only it uses raspberries (or raspberry preserves, if one is lucky enough to have ample raspberries to preserve).

    I have a food memory to share with you that I experienced as a child. It is still vivid in my mind to this day: We were camping near a relative's dairy farm in Mattawa, Ontario. We picked blueberries one day and also caught fresh fish (yellow perch). We cooked those fish up immediately in butter over a campfire, and for dessert, we had our precious blueberries and fresh cream from the farm. That memory to this day, I believe, is what inspired me to become a chef! Thank you for continuing to inspire us, Grandma.

    There was an interesting campaign in motion to make blueberries Canada's national fruit ( It doesn't matter where they come from - they sure are good! Cheers and Happy Fourth of July and Happy Canada Day

    1. I was thinking as I put this together that fresh raspberries instead of the blueberries would be fabulous! I may just give it a try.

      Isn't it funny how so very many of our childhood memories revolve around food? I don't remember fresh fish while camping, but I do recall many a trip to Maine. We always stayed at a friend's cabin directly on the beach on an island. High tide came within 30 feet or so of the front door. At least once while we were there we would all go down to the Lobster Pound for a huge mess of lobsters and a couple of bushels of freshly dug clams and have a real old-fashioned clambake on the beach. How good that was!

      I'll have to check out the link. It would be a great candidate for a national fruit.

  2. Grandma

    Here's one of my favorite recipes for cherry season. Surprisingly, the more delicious (raw) Washington State Rainier cherries are not as good in this recipe as Bing or other dark red sweet cherries.


    Cherry clafouti (kla-foo-TEE)—also spelled clafoutis—is a classic dessert that originated in the Limousin region of France. It can best be described as sweet red cherries suspended in a delicious combination of custard and cake.

    But don’t limit this easy-to-prepare dish to after-dinner occasions! It’s also a wonderful breakfast treat, served alongside your morning coffee.

    Traditionally, the cherries are not pitted, the theory being that the pits impart an almond flavor to the clafouti. Methinks this is just laziness on the part of French chefs. I pit the cherries, then add a little almond extract to the batter. Be sure you remove all the pits—you wouldn’t want someone to break a tooth on your clafouti!

    No cherries? Substitute other fruits—blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, plums, peaches, apricots, pears, apples, and more. But then it’s no longer called a clafouti, it’s a flaugnarde. Please don’t ask me how to pronounce that word.

    Unlike revenge, clafouti is a dish best served warm. I accompany it with a dollop of sour cream, finding the contrast in temperatures, textures, tartness, and sweetness to be exquisite. You can also use whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, if you prefer, or just serve it plain.


    2-1/2 cups pitted dark sweet cherries
    3 large eggs
    1 cup whole milk
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon almond extract
    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    Sweet butter
    Powdered sugar (for dusting)


    Preheat oven to 350° F.

    Generously butter a 9- or 10-inch baking dish, such as a 10-inch CorningWare quiche dish.

    Combine the eggs, milk, flour, sugar, extracts, and salt, using an electric mixer, food processor, or whisk, to make a smooth batter.

    Spread the cherries in the baking dish. Pour the batter over the cherries. Bake 50 minutes, or until the clafouti is puffed and golden brown.

    When cool, dust with powdered sugar.

    1. David, thanks so much for the recipe. Cherries are starting to show up at something approaching a reasonable price here, so I'll be giving this a try.

      For those of you who don't know David, he's one of my favorite cookbook authors and author of the book that first turned me on to Kindle - Deli Maven. You'll find several of his books in Grandma's Goodies.

  3. Picked up the Blueberry recipe today - can't wait to make it. Thanks Maleta

    1. You're welcome Maleta - I can't wait to hear how it turns out!


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