who's the ECL?

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Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm not BAD evil, more like devil's food cake evil.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

11. make a pie from berries I've picked that morning

Berry season is in full force here with the blueberries, marionberries, and boysenberries in peak season. Blackberries and huckleberries are just around the corner and raspberries are finishing up. This is a good time to be an Oregonian.

This is also a good time to bake a pie from berries I've picked that morning.

A couple of years ago I made RLB's fresh blueberry pie and it was soo good, and pretty easy. I am having a blueberry moment these days, trying to eat as many of them as I can, so I thought I oughta try baking that pie again.

Thursday I drove myself out to Sauvie Island, which is a 20-30 min trip to the Northwest of Portland. The drive out was pleasant and exciting, as the weather was beautiful and my hands were eager. I wanted to U-pick as many blueberries as I could stand, as I can't seem to get enough of those little blue guys right now.

Sauvie Island is a little island nestled in the Columbia River just outside of Portland, however it couldn't be more different. The island is primarily farm and wildlife refuges. There is no gas station on the island, and only a tiny little market for food. Houseboats line the Multnomah Channel that separates the island from the Oregon mainland. Eagles and hawks soar overhead every now and then, and heron fish on the shores of the lakes and river. It is an idyllic, bucolic retreat from city life.

To be sure, Portland is surrounded by farms and bucolic ideations no matter which direction you go, but there's something special about Sauvie Island. I'm not sure what it is, maybe it is the fact that it is an island. I sure do like islands.

My favorite farm to visit when I'm on Sauvie Island is Kruger's Farm. They have lots of U-pick berries and, in the fall, pumpkins. They host summer concerts every Thursday night complete with hayrides, food and drink, and beautiful scenery. In October they put on one heck of a hoe-down, when you can take a nighttime hayride out to the pumpkin patch, run around their corn maze in the dark, warm up by their huge blazing bonfire, and dance with your friends and sweeties inside the barn-like store.

At Kruger's Farm I took my ambitious load of empty tubs out to the blueberry patch. The patch this year is located on the other side of the bank of trees behind the store; a nice little walk past the gazebo lawn where the summer concerts are held, and just down a ways from their gorgeous old oak trees where people get married.

The blueberry bushes were well berried; there were still plenty of unripe berries for those of you who still want to go. Blueberries are so easy to pick--if they aren't ripe they aren't coming off the bush. All I needed to do was hold my tub under a cluster of berries and sort of roll them around in my hand; the ripe and juicy berries would fall off and roll down my palm into my waiting bucket. I was able to pick almost 3 pounds in about an hour. Nice!

By that time, I was sweaty and hungry, and quite satisfied with my day's pickings. So I walked back to the store, where I bought some green beans (grown on the farm) and an ice cream sandwich (not grown on the farm). As I ate my treat I eyed their sunflowers, which were available for u-pick, and decided to leave them be. Then I drove myself back into town to make pie.

The pie took a little bit of drama to come together, which you can read about on the other blog. I look forward to the day when pie making becomes as easy for me as cake baking. I know there is a real art and intuitive feel to pie dough that comes with practice, patience, and time. I am willing to keep trying, as the reward can be so sweet.

I had a good deal of leftover berries after the pie was made. I ate handfuls of them at a time, every time I was in the kitchen. I swirled them into my morning oatmeal. I snacked on them with chocolate chips. I sure do love them blue little berries.

Last night, four friends (including myself) converged in my living room for an evening of catching up on news and happenings, disco dancing, wine drinking, and berry eating. We polished off the last of the blueberries with Gloria Gaynor and a perfumed Sauternes. It was a delicious feeling, sharing the berries I had picked with my friends as we toasted our friendship and shaped our future dreams.

Sweet fruit indeed.

fresh blueberry pile