Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A March Tradition

J's birthday is in March. Every year we do the same thing. And it is something I have to start preparing for in August of the previous year.

All J ever wants for his birthday is one of my special home-made pesto/mushroom pizzas for dinner and a huckleberry pie for dessert. No problem on the pizza. But the huckleberries? They don't exactly sell them in the freezer section! So each August, I go out and pick at least enough for one huckleberry pie (if it is a bumper crop, I can get enough for multiple pies, a batch of jam, and a random bag for doing syrups or scones or pancakes). Last year with my field season, I was only able to get out to pick just enough for a pie (an average crop year takes about 2-4 hours to pick enough for a pie). Which I then froze in anticipation of this past weekend.

For years I struggled to find the perfect recipe. I started with blueberry pie recipes but huckleberries are a slightly different beast. Don't get me wrong...the pies were good. But they just weren't 'right'. Finally I found this recipe and haven't looked back since. My only modifications are to not add the cinnamon, I do 4 heaping tablespoons of tapioca, and for the top, I brush with milk and sprinkle on raw sugar. Also, huckleberries burst upon cooking and the first few attempts made an excellent, but very runny/soggy pie. The solution I finally figured out? Let it cool completely before cutting (I'm finding this applies to most pies!). We like warm pie so popping it in the microwave for a few seconds before serving is the way to go.

I use a pie crust recipe passed on from my mom (crisco based...I've tried the butter ones and went back to the crisco one for fruit pies...too rich and buttery for my taste...it washes out the flavor of the fruit...now for savory pies, the butter ones are the way to go!). You'll notice I don't do fancy crusts. I'm all about taste...not presentation!

Sadly, this may be the last one of these for a few years. There is a chance I'll be back in NE Oregon this year during harvest time, but I'm not sure. After that, I won't be here for a number of years. Not to say I won't be places that have huckleberries but 1) no offense to you west-side folks but most of your huckleberry varieties are not the same and when the area supports the one we have over here on the east side, in my opinion the berries just aren't as good (they are watery or something...not near the flavor) and 2) even if I could pick them while in the field, I have no place to store them!

The verdict? J may have uttered some profanities regarding his love of huckleberry pie after the first bite. So yes...it was as good as it looks!

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Now playing: soundtrack from 'Cowboys and Aliens'...trust me on this one and take a listen to the link. the music is excellent.


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13 comments:

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

You have been very good to J. As for your not being about presentation, well, you must be a tough critic. This pie looks quite lovely to me.

cauchy09 said...

that's a sweet tradition in a million ways!

aknitter said...

I know it's dangerous for me to put this in writing, but we might be able to work out a deal for huckleberries if you aren't around to pick them. That pie just looks scrumptious. Nice to have an appreciative audience for your wonderful cooking.

kate said...

Well now I want pie!

I'm curious to know the difference now between our huckleberries and your huckleberries. My favourite memory of them was one summer in Bamfield, when my two friends and I picked a massive bowl of huckleberries out of the forest, whipped up some whipping cream, added sugar and mixed it all together. Then ate the whole bowl!!

Ann said...

The pie looks so delicious. I have never eaten huckleberries. All we have are blue berries.

Sarah said...

What a lovely tradition, glad it was as goods it looks, so pretty.

Jane said...

oh this makes me hungry. I haven't had breakfast yet! I wish I could crimp a pie like that. Mine usually turns out a crumpled mess.

melissa said...

oh man that pie looks perfect!!
what a perfect birthday pie!

Bubblesknits said...

I've never had huckleberry pie. Do they taste like blueberries? Now I'm curious. lol

Oh, and why are you going to be gone for several years?

Jodi said...

Mmmm... this looks terrific! I love huckleberries. On a camping trip to Glacier National Park a few years ago I was in heaven. Hike a little, have some huckleberry pie/ice cream... *repeat*

elizabeth said...

I love it! I know J did too! Thanks for the letting it cool tip, while I don't mind runny pie, if all the filling runs out, that's no good.

Jacey said...

Sounds delicious! I think I already confessed this to you, but I've never had a huckleberry. J must be a pretty special fella to deserve such treatment! I know he is. You are so sweet to continue this tradition when you can.

lauren said...

Oh WOW that is a beautiful pie. Yummm.