BluesFreeBerries

Now that the Pandemic is/may be almost over (wishfully, possibly, hopefully), we can go back in our thoughts to Christmas 2020. At that time I couldn’t even mention the word “blue” – because it just brought tears. I know I certainly didn’t waltz around the house, belting out “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you” along with Elvis Presley on our Sonos.

In fact, I don’t think I did much holiday singing – period. Andy and I and our daughter, Sara – just the three of us – celebrated the holiday together, trying awfully hard to act as if we were tough and didn’t mind how crazy and sad and lonely the day seemed. And how do you plan and cook and serve a festive holiday meal for three, when there should have been eight?

But now we are SO ready for some singing and dancing and cooking – and DINNER PARTIES!. Our son, Travis – who didn’t make it out here in December (our first Christmas in 47 years that we were not with him) – was just here, working from home/mom and dad’s for 2 weeks. It was delightful. And there was lots of singing to Willie Nelson’s Blue Skies. “Blue skies, smilin’ at me; nothin’ but blue skies do I see.”

Lots of blue sky as Andy and Travis bicycled together in Sonoma

While I was thinking about “blue” and thinking about our 1+ year of isolation, I remembered this photo our grandson Moss took of a tile mural on the Harvey Milk elementary school near their SF home. When Moss originally showed me the photo I was moved by the 2 different-colored hands, firmly shaking. Today I’m even more moved by the circle of folks of all colors, holding hands. The emotional impact of holding hands and being close together in a diverse (mask-free) group means more now than I could have ever imagined.

Tile on an outside wall at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy on 19th St in San Francisco

When you’re retired and have free time and love to cook (well, at least love to cook 90% of the time), it’s a joy to have someone new – and appreciative – to cook for. Travis’s visit gave me that chance.

And though I huffed and puffed about Ina Garten when she released her cookbook, Cooking for Jeffrey – thinking that it’s so wrong for women to relish “cooking for their men,” I found myself thrilled to have created a teeny little, personal cookbook entitled Cooking for Travis. I relied on some of our favorite BigLittleMeals dishes – and cooked up a storm. So if you’re looking to celebrate vaccines and maskless faces, any of these will be a great recipe for your first dinner party. Maybe you can even hold hands before eating – and say (deep breathing), “THANKS.”

Pictures above show a few of our Cooking for Travis meals – the links below are for these recipes and several more that we fixed.

Turkey Chili
Sopa de Lima with Corn Salsa
Roasted Chicken Thighs with New Potatoes
Sweet and Sour Fish
Mediterranean Grilled Chops
Albondigas (Mexican Meatballs)
Greek Pastitsio
Zucchini and Mint Turkey Burgers with Sumac Sauce
Grilled Tri-Tip Steak with Ginger and Soy
Easy Carnitas

Andy, too, helped contribute to the cookbook for Travis. It’s impressive when a father can talk about what he cooks for his children. In addition to Andy’s 5:30 am prep work – Deb’s Granola put out, blueberries dished up and strawberries cut up, yogurt on the table – Andy did some tasty grilling and made some impressive breakfast dishes – biscuits, breakfast burritos, plattar and sour dough waffles, to name a few. The one thing Andy didn’t get around to making is Oyster Stew. He’s big on oysters at the moment, as you’ll see in today’s Andy’s Corner. And an Oyster Stew recipe is sure to be forthcoming.

As for BluesFreeBerries – or Blueberries, if you’re not just coming out of a pandemic – here are two new recipes to try. You need to seek out the best organic blueberries you can find – and not get discouraged if you bring home a few boxes that don’t live up to your expectations. In fact, I recommend keeping your best berries to eat fresh and unsugared with your granola, since blueberries are considered a “superfood”- good for your heart, your skin, your bones, you name it. Then use your not-amazing-but-still-good blueberries for baking.

Blueberry and Nectarine Galette

Blackberry and Nectarine Galette

Adapted from the NYTimes

Blueberry and Nectarine Galette

  • 4-6 T sugar, depending on the sweetness of the fruit
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1 T flour
  •  Pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 medium nectarines, pitted and sliced into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 1/4 c blueberries
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 recipe all butter pie crust, chilled (see the NYTimes and Melissa Clark’s recipe)
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 3/4 tsp sugar

Heat oven to 400 degrees, and position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine sugar, lemon zest and vanilla in a large bowl.  Add the flour and salt and stir well to combine. Add the nectarines, blueberries and lemon juice.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12-inch round just under 1/4-inch thick. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet.

Stir the filling to combine, then pile all the fruit in the center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Press the fruit gently to make sure there are no large open pockets. Fold the edges of the dough up and over the fruit and press gently to seal the folds.

Put the whole baking sheet into the refrigerator, and chill the formed galette until the dough is very firm, about 30 minutes. Brush dough with the beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until deep golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.

Recipe brought to you by BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

Blueberry Breakfast Kuchen

Blueberry Breakfast Kuchen

Thanks to our friend Toby for this recipe.  Go LSU!

  • 2 c blueberries (or a combination of blueberries and raspberries)
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp Diamond kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 c sugar, divided
  • 1/4 c milk
  • 1/4 c butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp grated lemon peel
  • whipped cream for serving (optional)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9″ round cake pan with butter.

ln a small bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder, blending well.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg until fluffy, then add 3/4 c of the sugar, the butter, and milk; beat again.  Add the vanilla and almond and lemon peel and beat in.

Mix the flour mixture into the egg mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed. Pour that batter into the greased cake pan and smooth the top.

Add the remaining 1/4 c sugar to the blueberries. Mix well, then spread the sugared berries over the top of the batter.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 50-60 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.  Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

Recipe brought to you by Toby and BigLittleMeals.com and Andy and Ann.

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