Although I can appreciate things about every season, deep down I am a summer girl. I am never happier than I am on a warm, breezy summer day. When spring turns to summer I wake up giddy everyday. I really love summer. It’s not just the weather, though I do have a large tolerance for heat. I can’t think of a single thing I don’t like about summer. People’s moods seem lighter, the days are so long and there is time for lots of fun. And then there’s the produce. I adore all of the gorgeous summer fruit at the farmer’s market, the berries are some of my favorites.
I have spent all but one summer in my 38 years of life on Cape Cod. When I was nine my family moved to California for my dad’s job. My mom was less than enthusiastic about the move and said we had to be able to travel to see her parents on Cape Cod every summer. While my dad stayed home and worked, my mom took my sister and me on our annual trip to visit our grandparents. It started out as an exciting adventure, became a little bit of a chore during my tween/teen years when I didn’t want to miss out on what my friends were doing back home and has now evolved into something my kids and I look forward to all year long. My grandparents are gone now but my mom and her brother held onto the house they lived in and that is where we stay for the month of July every year.
Fourth of July on the Cape is one of the best celebrations ever. There is nothing more American than Chatham’s July 4th Parade. We always have a big barbecue and always have pie for dessert. There is a great little pie shop in town, but she sells out very early every year. So we make our own pies. A family recipe on my father’s side is used for this blueberry pie. It is rather imprecise, passed down through the family orally, but absolutely delicious, the best you’ll ever have. Seriously. Let me start, though, by admitting something. I do not make my own crust. I am not a baker. I love to cook, it is one of my most favorite activities, but baking is just not my thing. Luckily I have found some really great frozen pie crusts at Whole Foods and Trader Joes. They come in flat rounds so you can put them in your own pretty pie plate and fake it.
Grandma’s Blueberry Pie
For the filling you need at least two pints of blueberries ( if you are using frozen berries, make sure they are thawed and drained ), but more is better. Use as many as you can possibly fit into your crust. The trick to the pie is that you only cook half of your berries. Boil berries in a pot with a bit of sugar (start with a small handful adding more to taste) and the zest of a lemon until they are quite thick and syrupy.
Remove from heat, add the remaining berries and pour immediately into your crust.
Place strips of pie dough on the top of the pie in a lattice pattern.
Bake at 325 until the crust is a deep, golden brown.
This pie is wonderful on its own but even better when served with a little lemon ice cream on top. I have a Meyer Lemon tree in my back yard which produces a TON of fruit. I am always looking for interesting ways to use up my lemons. One day last summer my kids and I came up with this recipe for Lemonade Ice Cream. It is very easy to make and appeals to adults and children.
Lemonade Ice Cream
Juice of 3 lemons (use Meyer if you have them available)
1 C buttermilk
1 C skim milk
2/3 C sugar
dash of salt
Mix all ingredients together until sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour into bowl of your ice cream freezer, or into a metal bowl and into the freezer. If using ice cream maker, churn until thick. If using a bowl, stir every hour or so until it is thick. This can also go into popsicle molds with a few berries in the bottom.
Serve with blueberry pie, or with a few strawberries and some gingersnaps on top.
Kiran Berrien is a mother of three in Northern California. She spends her days chasing, loving and cleaning up after her little sweethearts. She blogs at Wish Beyond Cake and Ice Cream.
Recipe photography by Julia Daby.