31 July 2006

Grandma Annie's Blueberry Pudding

It happens without fail.

A while back I said we’d been having a moderate summer in Wisconsin. That, of course, precipitated a heat wave.

We had a break yesterday. It was gray and much cooler than the swelter predicted for today.

It was a blueberry pudding day.

August is prime time for blueberries here in Wisconsin. Most years there is a three-to-five-day stretch of cooler weather in the first part of the month — a great time to satisfy the need to bake without overheating.

The August cool spell always sent Grandma Annie into the kitchen. Scrumptious blueberry pudding replaced the Lady Baltimore cake that was her specialty.

Annie’s kitchen was always redolent of vanilla. When she worked with blueberries that calming aroma was accented with a faintly tart scent.

Her kitchen was, as many kitchens are, a haven from the world. Here was a loving grandmother and good food. Comfort food.

Annie’s cake-y blueberry pudding is best eaten chilled when its subtle flavors have married. It was always hard for me to wait for it to cool.

Blueberry pudding has an old-fashioned, country kitchen flavor. Enjoy!

Annie’s Blueberry Pudding

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. In smaller bowl, mix egg, butter or margarine, milk, and vanilla. Add to dry mixture; blend. Batter will be thin. Pour batter into greased casserole or large soufflé dish. Add blueberries; do not stir. Berries should remain in the center of the casserole dish. Sprinkle with sugar. Drizzle remaining batter along inner sides of casserole, leaving some fruit exposed in center of dish. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until the top is a golden brown and the middle is somewhat firm. Sold warm or cold. Great with ice cream, whipped cream, or by itself.

27 July 2006

Crickets in the Kitchen

Being in a kitchen on a summer afternoon enjoying the sound of crickets is one of life’s most relaxing experiences for me.

Usually I am chopping or slicing vegetables or preparing a marinade for our evening meal. In winter, I may be listening to music while I do these tasks. But as summer winds down I love to listen to crickets.

Although crickets are a harbinger of summer’s end, they are a welcome sound for me. They signal the most glorious phase of summer, when often-unpredictable August gradually moves into golden sun-drenched September.

Cricket song relaxes me. Who needs a white noise machine when nature produces such lovely sounds?

Most years, we have crickets by the tail end of July. This year, everything is a week early as we had a very pleasant spring.

Crickets take me back to childhood. I recall sipping ice tea or soda in Grandma Annie’s kitchen on late-summer afternoons to the chirping of crickets.

I keep a cast-iron cricket in my kitchen year-round. It is a hearth cricket, a good luck omen and gift from my mother from one of her trips. I’d always wanted my own cricket, having spotted one in an illustration in a childhood book. It doubles as a doorstop.

Crickets are a wonderful seasonal experience. They begin their song as summer’s gardens are reaching their peak. And they provide a wonderful accompaniment to food preparation, further enhancing the experience.

For me they are part and parcel of my kitchen at this wonderful time of year. My French kitchen in America.