Hello again! I didn’t get much historical cooking done this past month, due to a tremendous amount of traveling. Josh and I determined that we spent the equivalent of a weekend in the car driving from state to state (and out of the country), and that my pet hamster is now the most well-traveled hamster in history (since she came with us). And once we got back home, we had a hurricane to contend with. Thanks, Irene.
So on Saturday night we hunkered down for the storm with some new friends, a card game, and pie. Huckleberry pie, to be exact, although I cheated and used blueberries, because Stop & Shop has never heard of huckleberries. Still, Barbara M. Walker writes in her introduction to the recipe that many pioneers also cheated and used blueberries, which are apparently better than huckleberries. So my cheating has historical precedence.
This pie isn’t much different than the modern blueberry pie we’re used to, but it does have a few changes. First, you make the crust with lard instead of shortening. (Since one of our guests was vegetarian, I just used butter.) Then, once you’ve lined the pan with the bottom crust, you layer the blueberries and a mixture of brown sugar, flour, and nutmeg in the pan (instead of mixing everything together in a sugary medley beforehand). I laid the top crust on in stripes, so some of the brown sugar crystallized in the oven instead of soaking into the blueberries.
All in all, a pretty good recipe. The crystallized sugar made for a nice crunch, and the blueberries were tender and not too sweet. But I think I prefer the Joy of Cooking method of mixing the sugar in with the berries beforehand–it makes the filling melt together like jam.
Nevertheless, it was a good pie to snack on while getting to know new friends and swapping predictions about the upcoming storm. And it was even better the next morning for breakfast. I had a big slice with coffee and milk while watching the wind whip branches into the street.
We were incredibly lucky with this hurricane; we lost neither electricity nor property. I know it caused great damage further south, and even in other parts of Rhode Island. I’m thinking about all the people without power, or transportation, or perhaps shelter, and I don’t know what to say. So I wrote about a pie, and about new friends. Good food and companionship–I wish that for anyone who’s been hurt by the hurricane.