I’ve really been enjoying the bounty of the Pacific Northwest summer lately.
Jennifer and I went raspberry picking a couple weeks ago. We’ve done this every summer for the last 8 or 10 years. It’s a great chance to visit with a friend for a relaxing hour or two– and be productive at the same time.
There was also a U-pick vegetable garden, so we dug potatoes, pulled green onions, cut broccoli and red cabbage. I’ll write more on vegetables soon in another post, but I just have to say, boiled new potatoes with just a dab of butter, a little salt and pepper (and maybe some fresh chopped mint) are a delicious treat. We ate them for a snack just after I got home from the picking.
A couple days later, I flew up to Sitka, Alaska, with my dear friend Cathy, and I ate more fish in four days than I usually eat in a couple months!
There was salmon kabob with brown rice from Two Chicks and A Stick.
Cathy’s daughter Lily was working as an intern at the Sitka NPR station, Raven Radio, for the summer — and she made sure we had plenty of great food and lots of fresh fish!
Then we had dinner at her friends’ house and had a most incredible fish pie.
It was impressive and delicious. I didn’t ask for the recipe, however, because: 1) I figured I would never have that abundance of salmon 2) I rarely make anything that has a lot of steps or is otherwise complicated.
Still, I really enjoyed looking at it and eating it! The meal also included some wonderful sweet potatoes with lime and honey (I’m going to make that one of these days), followed by a huckleberry crisp.
As my dad often said: Wow!
The day after I got back from Sitka, Steve and I headed over the mountains to the 48th annual Peshastin ice cream social. This is a wonderful summer event in a little orchard town in Central Washington–and I go every year.
People of all ages turn out to eat sweets, listen to music, chat with their neighbors, buy used books, and maybe win a cake in a raffle. There’s games, rides in a miniature fire truck and a pinata for the kids.
Pie, cake, cookies, ice cream, lemonade, coffee — and all the proceeds go to benefit the town library. What could be better?
The setting is beautiful –lots of tables set up on the library’s grounds, a big lawn edged with trees by the banks of the Wenatchee River. A thunder and lightening storm produced a deluge in the afternoon, but fortunately it was cleared up by evening. In 48 years, the event has always been outside.
I donated some oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies since they’d hold up well with the travel, but for my own choice of what to eat, I always look for the most enticing piece of fruit pie.
I never heard of a popcorn cake before but I bet this is a uniquely American treat — especially with colored popcorn!
Though I do think a pie is the premier choice for summer fruit, there are times when you don’t have enough berries or fruit for a pie, or when you just want the kind of cake you could eat for breakfast as well as dessert.
That’s when I make my favorite cake with blueberries — Blueberry Boy Bait.
A couple years ago, Cooks Illustrated had a revised recipe for this cake, which was a 1954 second-prize winner in the junior division of a Pillsbury baking contest, contributed by a 15-year-old girl.
I made my own changes to the Cooks Illustrated recipe, cutting down on the sugar, adding lemon zest and more blueberries.
I often make just half a recipe as I did in the photo above, and bake it in a square pan or pie pan, checking to see how it’s doing after 30 minutes or so. It should be a nice golden brown and spring back a little when you touch it.
Blueberry Boy Bait
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly butter a 13 x 9″ pan or two square pans or pie pans.
- 2 cups flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 10 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, separated
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1. Cut the butter into the flour and sugar with your fingers until crumbly, with some pieces the size of peas. Reserve 1/c cup of this mixture.
2. Add baking powder, lemon zest, salt, egg yolks and milk to the remaining flour-sugar-butter mixture and beat with a mixer or whisk until well blended.
3. Whip egg whites until they hold 2-inch peaks. Fold them carefully into the batter, and spread the batter into the prepared baking pan.
4. Sprinkle the blueberries on top of the batter so they cover much of the surface; then sprinkle with the reserved crumb mixture.
5. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, until the cake bounces back. Place cake pan on a cooling rack for 20 or 30 minutes; serve warm or cool.
The blueberries on the top of the batter get kind of jammy so you really have more fruit than the typical coffee cake.
I think this would be great with blackberries too–and they’re beautifully ripe and sweet just now, free for the picking all over this part of the country. Here’s to summer!