End-of-Summer Blues

Labor Day is the hard stop of summer, even if the weather stays hot beyond that. There were a lot of blueberry pies this summer and this one was one of my favorite. Mark your summer’s end with something sweet.

This recipe combines both cooked and fresh fruit so the pie isn’t so “soupy.” The crust uses both butter and shortening. Too much flour and water will make the crust tough. Both the butter and shortening mixed with very cold water makes the crust flaky. I’ve experimented with coconut oil, vegetable all, it’s all good, but find the one you like. Making pie crust is an art – sometimes my “art” isn’t so fine, but this one came out like a winner. Just keep practicing.

Blueberry Pie, the Right Way

This recipe was inspired by Ronnie S. Benwick’s deep-dish blueberry pie. I appreciate her brilliance of using both cooked and fresh fruit. I might try the same approach with peaches. 

  • Single pie crust (recipe below), baked
  • 6 cups fresh blueberries, washed, separated into 3 cups to cook and 3 cups to add later
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • Lime zest from 2 limes (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine 3 cups blueberries, lime juice, zest and water in a saucepan. Cook briefly over medium heat until the blueberries have “popped,” about 6 minutes.

Whisk together 5 tablespoons of cornstarch and 1/2 cup sugar. Stir into blueberry mixture and cook over medium heating, stirring constantly, until the consistency is like pudding. Remove from heat, add vanilla and gently stir in remaining 3 cups of blueberries. Pour into baked pie shell and chill for at least 3 hours. You can adjust fruit amount if you like.

Basic Pie Crust for Single-Crust Pie

  • 1-1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 shortening
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold right from fridge
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup of ice cold water

Stir together flour and salt. Cut in chunks of butter and shortening until the shortening/butter are about the size of peas. You can use a fork, your fingers or pastry blender.

Sprinkle one tablespoon of water over part of the flour. tossing with a fork. Continue adding water, I tablespoon at a time, until moist. Gather dough in a ball, kneading gently. Roll crust out on a floured surface into about a 12-inch circle. Put into a 9-inch pie plate, crimp edges. Prick bottom and sides of crust with a fork. Line crust with foil and bake for 8 minutes at 450 degrees. Remove foil and bake for 6-8 minutes more until golden brown. (Foil tip from Better Homes and Gardens.) Cool and fill with filling.

It’s Not the 1960s Anymore

By this time in 1969, I had consumed at least (at least!) 52 Sealtest ® Ice Cream Sandwiches at the local Clarion pool in the college town where I grew up. Clarion was sleepy in the summer because the college kids left and all the happenings were at the pool on Liberty Street or down at the river.

I remember those ice cream sandwiches from the vending machine – thick with ice cream, not like the skimpy ones today. Maybe when you’re a kid everything just seems bigger and better like the little house you grew up in.

I never deviated from that frozen treat, even though the lure of banana popsicles beckoned. I think I only sat out one week that summer when I had what mom called, “sun poisoning.” I looked like a lobster with bumps and the word “poisoning” scared me enough to stay home, but it killed me!

The pool closed down after that for several years on and off for repairs and I never really got back into going. I found books, bicycling and baking instead. Hang on to those good memories as you build new ones.

2016 Ice Cream Sandwiches

Pictured above is my brownie bar filled with Breyers® Salted Caramel Ice Cream. Cut the brownies into squares, freeze them. Take them out of the freezer and slice in half crosswise and top each half with your favorite flavor of ice cream/gelato/frozen yogurt. Make little ice cream sandwiches and wrap each individually with plastic wrap. Make a ton and keep them in the freezer for when the kids come in looking for something good.

Cookies work well too. I used molasses cookies here. And, keep enjoying summer with all those food memories!

Susie-Infused Shrimp

Susie makes a succulent marinated shrimp and avocado salad. I’ve never met Susie but I couldn’t help but think about her yesterday when preparing this dish for a picnic.

Do you ever feel like you know someone just by hearing about her over many years? Susie is Nancy’s sister. I know she makes delicious and creative food. She’s pretty, fun and loves her family. She’s also a youngish grandmother who loves cuddling babies. I can picture the kind of clothes she wears because Nancy will often say, “My sister Susie could get away with wearing that! (And it’s always something stylish.) Susie also talks to the hummingbirds that linger on her feeders, “Hi sweetie…”

Now you know Susie like I know Susie. Enjoy one of her signature recipes.

Marinated Shrimp and Avocado

  • 2 lbs. shrimp, peeled, cooked and deveined
  • 2 small onions sliced (I used one bunch of green scallions)
  • 12 mushrooms, sliced
  • Lemon-Thyme Marinade (recipe below)
  • 2 avocados cut into bite-sized pieces

Combine the shrimp, onions and mushrooms in a bowl. Toss lightly. Pour in the Lemon-Thyme Marinade and toss gently to coat. Chill covered in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours. Add avocado a few hours before serving. Drain the marinade and serve.

Lemon-Thyme Marinade

  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (I added some fresh thyme from my garden to the dried)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard

Whisk ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined.

Still Trending — Sprodkas

No, A Sprodka is not a Russian spacecraft.

Actually, Sprodkas have been trending for about 15 years now in the Kelley household and in select zip codes across the country. It started one day when my husband Bill mixed me a summertime cooler and dubbed it the “Sprodka.”

I’m putting it out — right here, right now. When it becomes a worldwide sensation recorded in mixology manuals, I want you to know it started in the Kelley house.

Wherever we go, coast to coast, people see us and say, “Sprodka time!”

Recipe for Sprodka

  • Vodka to taste
  • Sprite Zero*
  • Lime, squeezed with fruit left in the glass (plus any other fruit to make it pretty)
  • Ice

Serve it in a highball glass or anything that strikes your fancy.

*Bill’s variation, depending on the audience, is equal part Sprite Zero and diet tonic.

It’s a Rickey (not a Lucy!)

There’s lots of summer left so try a fruity twist on a traditional Gin Rickey. I used frozen cherries here but you can also use fresh peaches for a summer treat. How about tonight?

  • 2 tablespoons sugar dissolved in 3 tablespoons of warm water (or substitute one tablespoon of Stevia)
  • 1 cup frozen, pitted cherries
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 2 cups club soda (or seltzer)
  • 1/2 cup gin
  • 10 drops of Angostura bitters
  • Ice cubes

Puree frozen cherries and lime juice in a blender. Add the sugar water, club soda, gin and bitters. Blend until smooth.

Serves about 4 in rocks glasses over ice. Garnish with a lime and a cherry.

That Blanche, She’s a Peach!

Every time I run across the term “blanche” in a recipe I think of Blanche DuBois, the southern femme fatale from the Tennessee William’s play, A Streetcar Named Desire.”  I can’t help it, I guess English majors just think this way.

The biggest hassle about making peach pie or cobbler is removing that fuzzy skin. Blanching is the best way. Here’s how: score a small X at the base of each peach. Put the peaches into boiling water and simmer for about a minute or less. Remove the peaches and place immediately into a bowl of ice water and let stand for one minute. Remove and peel.

After the Blanching, a Fresh Peach Crisp

Here’s a quick and easy dessert for fresh peaches. You can adjust the sugar content to your taste. If you have dietary concerns, use something like Stevia.

  • 6 cups of fresh, sliced peaches (about 6 peaches)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (or desired amount or alternate sweetener)
  • 3 tablespoons of flour (to thicken the peaches)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup flour (for the topping)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened butter
  • 1/4 cups nuts, if desired
  • 1/4 cup coconut, if desired

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine peaches, sugar and flour. Put in greased 1-1/2 to 2-quart casserole dish.

For topping, mix oats, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the butter until you have coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts and/or coconut. Sprinkle topping over peaches in baking dish.

Bake for 35 minutes or until peaches are tender and topping is browned.

P.S.: If you ask me, Blanche DuBois could have used a little dip in the ice water.

Where the Cookie Meets the Tea Towel

Jennifer was a few years older and worldlier than my tender age of 12, but there was some kind of powerful lure that had me walking to Jennifer’s house every day that summer. Jennifer, her mom and the other sister baked. It didn’t matter if it was 90 degrees outside with no central air conditioning, that oven went on in the morning and produced chewy gooey cookies and shortcakes.

I was fascinated with the hundreds of oven-fresh cookies lined up on tea towels. I visited, I ate, and I collected recipes and duplicated them at home – all summer long. Whoopie pies, Ranger Joe cookies, chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, gingersnaps, and so forth and so on.

This summer, I’ve been baking cookies just like I remembered. I line them up on tea towels, just like Jennifer’s mom did, and our son and his friends grab and go. I hope the summer cookie experience goes into their “great-memories-of summer-growing-up” memory bank. Even if they don’t, they’re enjoying the regular treats. For me, it’s all about the memories.

Molasses Cookies
These soft, chewy cookies are from the Silver Palate Cookbook. Don’t expect them to be crisp, they are not gingersnaps. I took them to another level by sandwiching them with vanilla ice cream.

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks), melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 1-3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter, add sugar and molasses and mix thoroughly. Lightly beat the egg and add to butter mixture; blend well.

Sift flour with spices, salt and baking soda, and add to the first mixture. Batter will be wet.
Lay a sheet of foil on a cookie sheet. Drop tablespoons of cookie batter on foil, leaved three inches between the cookies. These will spread during baking.

Bake until cookies start to darken, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely on foil. Carefully peel off the foil.