If you've been reading along this summer, you already know that one of the things I love doing most in the world is picking berries. For me, it's one of the most dreamy and relaxing things I could ever be doing other than lying in a shady patch on a warm, sunny day relaxing with my eyes closed and perhaps actually dreaming.
When the opportunity came up recently to head to Bow Hill Blueberries for some U-Pick, I got Kingston dressed, stuffed him into the car seat and jumped in after him.
Bow Hill Blueberries is located about thirty miles south of us at the end of a narrow, winding Chuckanut Drive, with its spectacular cliff drop offs and the Pacific Ocean alongside. Here, you land in Bow-Edison and its alluvial plains stretching out toward the ocean. It's one of my favorite spots.
Berry picking, especially at a U-Pick farm is always better when in the company of friends who equally love the activity. On this particular day, we were with Jet, who is a month older than my Kingston, and his mom, Vicky. Armed with our all-day grazing passes (refunded if you pick at least 10 pounds, which we wisely did), we made our way slowly through rows of Rubels toward the smaller heirloom Stanleys with their pure, blueberry flavor.
Kingston and I first met Jet and Vicky in gymnastics class when the boys were about a year old. They seemed to have similar temperaments -- more on the cautious side, two little observers while the rest of the tiny humans in class veered toward wildness, scampering across balance beams and fearlessly practicing forward somersaults down padded pretend hills. Vicky and I always chatted in class and eventually, we began to meet up with each other for outside activities.
It's never been easy for me to make friends. I seem to fall into the category of an introvert who appears to others to be an extrovert. This is sometimes a strange line to walk. It's easy enough to start up a conversation with someone, but to venture further is often daunting, mostly when it's a complete stranger. When it's happening it can feel like my insides are being scrubbed by a very rough scouring pad. It's not at all that I am wary of people. I am fascinated by other humans -- what motivates them, the experiences that shape how they see the world. Hence, my former occupation as a therapist.
I suppose in the end, we are just wired to lean a little this way or that. Or to sit somewhere in the middle.
I think Vicky is a bit like me, except maybe actually more extroverted. And she's always curious. She's the one who will always want to go beyond the small patch of the park or beach that we're sitting on to see what's "over there." We usually end up discovering something.
It's good to have a friend like that. Meanwhile, I'm the one who is always thinking and reflecting and wondering about life and what it all means (I know, boring!) and this is happening in my head while we are just walking along, sitting, or watching the boys flick stones across the water together on a Friday afternoon.
Summer is for spending time outside. Sauntering along trails, watching the blue jays flit around the cottonwoods, and yes, picking berries. Summer is for the days when the sun is high for what seems to be stretches of days, weeks at a time. Summer is for chatting with a friend while baking pie. This pie.
Enjoy it while it lasts.
Black-and-Blueberry Spelt Crust Pie
This is a beautiful, juicy pie full of purple jewels of fruit. The spelt flour gives it a slightly nutty flavor and makes for a somewhat more sturdy but still flakey crust. I bake crusts made with 100% all-purpose flour at high heat first then turn it down to 350°, but this crust seems to come out better when baked at one temperature as directed below. The process might seem long and the effort level fairly high, but I promise it's really, really worth making and sharing with friends, or anyone else you like -- perhaps even a stranger.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup spelt flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 stick plus 6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cubed
10 tablespoons ice water
1 3/4 pounds blueberries (5 1/2 cups)
6 oz. blackberries (1/2 dry pint), gently mashed with a fork
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 large egg, beaten with 2 tablespoons of water
Turbinado or demerara sugar for sprinkling
For the crust:
Whisk together both flours and salt. Toss butter into the flour mixture, so that all pieces are coated. Putting hands into an offering gesture, place some of the flour and butter into your open-palmed hands. Using your fingers and thumbs, press down on the butter, smearing it into the flour. Allow bits of the mixture to fall back through your fingertips and into the bowl. Repeat until you have worked the butter through most of the flour. You will notice that you can really start smelling the butter, which means that it is warming up and getting worked in.
Drizzle ice water over the flour-butter mixture in a spiral working from the outside in. Toss the mixture with your fingers or a fork. Press together a bit of the dough. If it holds together, it is ready. Press the mixture together into a dough. Turn out onto a work surface, divide in two and pat each portion into a chubby disk. Wrap disks separately in plastic and refrigerate for an hour
When the dough is well chilled, remove one disk from the refrigerator and roll out. The best way to do this is to unwrap the dough, placing it onto a lightly floured work surface. Take your rolling pin and wack it a few times on each side. Roll out from the center, sprinkling with a bit of flour as needed, until the dough is a 12-inch round. Fold into quarters and transfer it to a 9-inch pie pan, easing it in gently. Unfold. Trim overhang to 1 inch. Place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, get the filling ready.
For the filling:
Place granulated sugar in a bowl. Add berries, flour, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice and nutmeg. Toss well to combine. Place filling into the prepared bottom crust.
For completing the pie:
Roll out the second disk of dough to a 12-inch round. Lay the dough over the filling and trim the overhang to 1 inch. Cut vents into top crust. Press the overhang together and crimp or create decorative edge of your choice. Alternatively, you can make a lattice top as I did by cutting the second rolled-out crust into even strips and laying them on top of the filling in a weave pattern. Then, fold the edge of the bottom crust over the lattice edges to seal. Place pie in freezer for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375°. Brush pie with egg wash and sprinkle generously with turbinado or demerara sugar. Bake for about 1 hour 15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. If the edges get dark too quickly, cover them with foil. Cool the pie completely before serving. Several hours to overnight is best.