Culture

The Hipster’s Cookbook: Blueberries

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Looking for some cooking ideas? Meghan Bongartz has you covered with The Hipster’s Cookbook every Tuesday, in which you’ll always find a recipe and a humorous anecdote or two. This week, Meghan teaches you about blueberries and how to make your own custard pie.

As a society, we’re pretty spoiled by the miracles of modern food preservation and transportation. The fact that I am a citizen of Chicago–a place where the seasons are winter, more winter and construction–does not prevent me from having year-round access to almost any food I might imagine. Some of these foods grow here some of the year (strawberries, corn, tomatoes), but I am not subject to their fleeting growing seasons. There are other foods that I shouldn’t have access to at all: bananas, citrus fruits, truffles (the mushroom, not the candy). I’m not complaining; I love the variety that this allows me. I do think, though, that this makes us lose some appreciation for local produce in the peak of its season. When you can buy apples any time you feel like it, you forget how wonderful they are when you eat them straight off the tree in October.

Right now, it’s blueberry season, which is exciting because they are one of the few fruits that are truly native to America. They have a longer growing season than strawberries and blackberries, so there’s not quite as much urgency associated with getting them while they’re here, but that doesn’t make them any less delicious. While I’m a big proponent of canning, freezing and drying fruits and vegetables so that they don’t go to waste, the best way to enjoy them is always fresh. I spent this past Sunday at a blueberry patch in Michigan, and only came home with any berries because I bought a gigantic box of the pre-picked ones. The larger half of what I picked there went straight into my mouth. That being said, I do now possess 10 pounds of blueberries, so they will be in all of my meals for a while. I made this pie immediately upon return from the blueberry patch.

When you make this (or anything else using blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries), try to avoid washing the fruit. I know this goes against everything you’ve been taught about the food you buy at the grocery store, but berries (and raspberries especially) do not dry well and will therefore become mushy quickly upon washing. If you feel like you absolutely have to wash your berries because you don’t know where they’ve been, lay them out on a paper towel and pat very gently with another paper towel to absorb the extra moisture. The better option is to lay the berries out on a baking pan and pick out any debris by hand. You should also avoid refrigerating your berries if you can, as this causes them to lose flavor. If you have more than you can use before they start to go bad, make jam or put them in Ziploc bags in the freezer.

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Blueberry Custard Pie

2 ½  cups blueberries

1 deep dish 9 inch pie shell

1 tbs flour

2/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp cinnamon

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place blueberries in pie crust and set aside.

2) In a medium bowl, mix together flour and sugar.  Add the evaporated milk and whisk until smooth.

3) Add eggs, vanilla, and cinnamon until well blended. Pour the custard mixture over the blueberries in the pie crust.

4) Bake for 15 minutes, then cover the pie with aluminum foil, reduce heat to 350 degrees, and bake for 30 minutes longer.

5) Allow to cool (if you can wait that long!) and serve with whipping cream if desired.