Blueberries: Rustic Mini-Pies, Muffins and Ponderings on Perfectionism






Blueberry season has been a fun one in our household.  We love them.  We eat them like candy.  Mostly because they have been tasting like candy! This summer we had the chance to go berry picking a couple of times and it was such fun!  I didn’t freeze any of them, because between eating them by the handful, on yogurt and granola in the morning, in fruit salad at dinner; and baking these rustic mini pies, blueberry muffins and cake, they have been gobbled up!  
There has been this internal dialogue happening for me surrounding blueberries and perfectionism.  I have a child who is quite the perfectionist (in certain areas of her life).  And when it comes to blueberries, which she adores, she is extremely selective.  When I buy them from the store, I find her eyeing carefully before reaching in to pick one to eat.  Even when we buy frozen berries, she is careful to find the dark blue ones and reject the pinkish purple ones.  She prefers dark, plump berries – and the biggest, roundest of all.  This annoys me and her brother! We see it as selfish! “How dare you pick out the “good ones” and leave the less than great ones for all of us!?”, we say.  I have tried to help her see this.
The interesting thing that happened when we were blueberry picking in July was that she was the VERY BEST picker.  Her discernment in selecting the very best berries makes her an excellent picker.  If you have ever gone picking, you know it is a little tricky because the same branch will most likely contain berries across the spectrum of ripeness, and you have to carefully move about, plucking the very darkest, plumpest, best berries and leaving the green and pink ones for a later week.  I realized that this quality of hers, that in one sense is a selfish quality – one that needs to be reformed, in another situation, is the quality of discernment, carefulness, skillful selectivity.  In this action, rather than plucking the best for herself out of the bowl at home, she was gathering the best for our collective basket for all of our benefit.
Isn’t this true. Don’t we all know that our strengths turned around can potentially be our greatest weaknesses?  It’s hard to see this in others sometimes.  And it makes parenting a tricky, and skillful journey of trying to guide and shape the character of these humans under our care!  I would imagine  you would hope your surgeon is a perfectionist.  I sure do! And however, I want my friends to love me with my imperfections and all.
I think there is great value in having high standards, being an achiever, discerning and striving for excellence!  And yet we can become enslaved to it, or defined by it, or run down from trying to maintain perfection, or becoming self-absorbed with our perfectionism.  One of my favorite truth-tellers is Brene´ Brown and in her book,  The Gifts of Imperfection, she dismantles this dangerous pursuit and gives antidotes which include Gratitude, Authenticity, Self-Compassion, and more.
So, back to berries.
I decided to make some pie out of the blueberries we picked.
When thinking about it, I decided individual pies would be easier to serve and would be fun to make.

I looked up a filling recipe from my standard, The Joy of Cooking, and used a frozen roll-out pie crust from Trader Joe’s.  (You can, of course, make a from scratch crust.  I just didn’t have the time or oomph. The Joy of Cooking recommends a couple of crusts, if you’re looking for a crust recipe.)

I really like rustic pies.  I like that they are free-form, not all alike, and can be made on a baking sheet.  I think I like the freedom of imperfection in them!  They are more artistic, less tidy, and somehow European-cool.  Some cookbooks call this kind of pie a Galette or in Italian, a Crostata. Maybe that’s why they seem European.

For these Galettes, here’s what to do:

Thaw the frozen crust according to the package.

Make the filling:
[Combine and let stand 15 minutes]:
5 cups blueberries
3/4 cup sugar (more or less depending on the sweetness of your batch of berries)
3 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/8 tsp. salt

Divide dough into 8 balls.  Lightly flour the dough and roll out between sheets of parchment paper.  Peel off the top sheet of paper.
Place rounds on parchment lined baking sheets. Spoon berry mixture in center of dough.  Gently wrap the dough around to form an edge, pinching and squeezing as you need to to create a pouch.  Sprinkle with Turbinado sugar.

Bake in 375˚ oven for 15 minutes or until crust is golden and berries are bubbly.  Serve immediately with vanilla ice cream!

I have been working daily on my school prep – selecting articles, designing syllabi, and course assignments and getting kids back to school.  In all of this I have had very little time to blog and very little time to play around online.  But I let myself do some pinteresting one day and saw a friend had posted these “very best blueberry muffins” and when I clicked the link, it was In Praise of Leftovers, one of my favorite blogs.  So, I knew I had to try them.  And I will say, they are delightful! They are certainly more of a cake-for-breakfast-muffin, than these BRAN MUFFINS or these CORNMEAL MUFFINS but man are they good.  So, hop on over to her BLOG and check out these muffins, if you are more in a muffin-making than pie-making mood.

The “Best” Blueberry Muffins via In Praise of Leftovers

For batter:
6 Tb. unsalted butter
1/3 c. whole milk
1 egg
1 egg yolk
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
2 c. blueberries

For topping:3 Tb. cold unsalted butter, cut into little cubes
1/2 c. flour
3 1/2 Tb. sugar
Preheat oven to 375 and butter a 12-cup muffin pan.
Melt butter in a small saucepan over moderately low heat; remove from heat. Whisk in milk, egg, yolk, and vanilla until well combined.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add milk mixture and stir until just combined. Gently but thoroughly fold in blueberries. Divide batter among muffin cups and spread evenly.
Combine all ingredients for topping in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over batter in each cup.
Bake until golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 15-20 minutes. Cool in pan for at least 5 minutes (10 would be better), then run a knife around edges of muffin tops and carefully remove from cups. Serve warm or at room temperature.
If your area still has blueberries to pick, I hope you can do it.  If not, I hope you can find some at the store and make something yummy with them before the calendar turns September…and consider how your perfectionism could be best utilized!

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