When you set out to make the best blueberry pie in the world, you can’t simply drive to Safeway. No. You need to take a long, afternoon summer’s drive with the top down, winding through the Washington woods, to the base of Mt Si.
There, you pick Pembertons, and Dixies, and Stanleys, because they are the small, tart berries ideal for baking. You sweat in the hot sun. You get scratched by random thorns and walk through several invisible strings of spider web. You worry about tics, and bears. You don’t have to crouch down like your mother said you would, like she did as a girl in Kenora, Ontario. You listen to the couple off in the distance speaking Vietnamese and hundreds of birds, mad with joyful blueberry intoxication. You revel in the handfuls of berries that fall off in your palm with a gentle tug. You taste the range of bright flavors. You think about August 28th, 2017 and mortality.
You feel present, and submerged in the terroir of this Pacific Northwest day. You spend 40 minutes and $5.81 on the big bag of freshly-picked blueberries and drive home, noticing that the sweet, slight scent of the decay of summer’s end is carried on the tips of the breeze.
At home, you enlist the help of your 14 year old daughter to make the pie. You realize while making the pastry that with her inexperienced hands, it’s likely not going to be the best pie in the world. But suddenly, that doesn’t matter. It’s more about sharing the experience, and realizing you only have four precious more summers together until she goes off to college. You announce there is a new annual family tradition: August blueberry picking and pie making. She’s all for it.
The recipe calls for vodka in the crust. And 4 1/2 cups of blueberries. You are in luck because you picked 7 cups. And 5Tbs of cornstarch for the filling, which is going to make it really thick. And it takes 90 minutes to cook. And four hours to cool. Which means you have some pie at breakfast, tasting your labor of love for the first time.
It’s the berries. Those small, now bright indigo capsules of Washington wildness which are sweet and tart, and have melted down into almost a jam-like consistency. You thought the crust would be tough, but it is light, and flaky and crisp-tender enough to hold it’s own. With a scoop of cold and sweet vanilla bean ice cream, melting slightly to create a cream sauce, it offsets the pie just perfectly so all you can manage to say is, “Um yeah…this. This is it.”
That moment, standing with your daughter, a week before high school starts, and the day she became the captain of her new soccer team. Standing in your new, bigger apartment because your business is doing well. That moment, savoring the end of summer by the spoonful, is one that you want to remember forever.
If you would like to give this pie a try, here is the recipe. Bon appetit!https://www.google.com/…/www.…/recipe/best-blueberry-pie/amp