I was too absorbed to take any photos of the blueberry fields last week, but it was summer personified. Warm, the soft "plop" of fat blueberries falling into buckets, Loretta stuffing her face under the shade of the bushes, and my Mom rattling off all the things she'd make when she got home – pies, crisps, galettes, and blueberry jalapeno corn muffins. (Clearly, the apple does not fall far from the tree. Or the blueberry from the bush. I come by this obsession honestly.)
Every summer, my gratitude for farmers reaches a fever pitch. I was telling the kids as we picked how hard it is for farmers to take vacations. And how they put everything into their crops, hoping the weather is right, the insects stay away, and the birds don't steal everything. Thank you, hardworking farmers, especially those of you doing it the hard way, without pesticides, insecticides, and other shortcuts. I owe you a lot.
We stocked the freezer with bags of berries. They'll make the winter more tolerable. Wyatt and Loretta love to eat frozen blueberries out-of-hand. I know the popular way to freeze berries these days is to lay them all out individually on a cookie sheet. That takes forever! And takes up so much space! I wash them, spread them out on towels and lightly pat them dry, then freeze them in large ziplocs in a shallow layer, stacking the bags on top of one another so the berries freeze not individually but almost. You'll use more bags this way, but it's much quicker. I figured out long ago that speed in the kitchen is much more important to me than perfection.
So I'm grateful for farmers, and sitting here writing is always an invitation to be grateful for lots of other things. Among them, I'm grateful for:
John Kabat-Zinn, my virtual meditation teacher. He's patient, authentic, and onto something. I am doing it very imperfectly, but I really needed his guidance in my life right now.
"On Being" podcasts, my spiritual director in the summer when I can't seem to darken a church door.
My husband Yancey who's been working tirelessly the last two months to get our house ready for painting in a week. New siding, framing in a garage and a front porch, making our house look less abandoned by the minute. We have a good laugh when I say, "Some people buy houses that look good right away!"
Making friends in Bellingham and a neighborhood BBQ. Gift after gift.
Many dear Seattle friends who descended on our house for Labor Day Weekend.
My sister Naomi, who inspired me by working all year to raise money for a trip to El Salvador where she helped dig a well for a village that had been waiting for years. When her team left, the villagers said, "Thank you for coming. We know now that God has not forgotten us."
I followed Saveur's recipe exactly. Almost. The first time I used my 8-inch cast iron skillet, and you can see from the photo that I had an avalanche of spillover. Good thing I put a cookie sheet underneath. The next time I actually read the directions and pulled out a 12-inch All Clad skillet, and it worked much better. As you're boiling the berries and sugar on the stove top, don't worry about it looking liquid-y. Blueberries have enough pectin to thicken up, and you'll get such a pure taste – no flour, cornstarch, fillers. And these biscuits are really dumplings – more milk than butter, which makes them wet and perfectly tender once cooked up. We had this for dessert the first time and breakfast the next.