My life, lately, appears to be revolving around blueberries. This is quite odd because I never grew up with blueberries. I grew up with raspberries – tons of raspberries – and strawberries, and gooseberries, and with the odd blackberry thrown in for good measure. Not one single blueberry was to be had.
The first time I ate a blueberry was in Canada – pretty soon after I ate my first American pancake; which was a few weeks after I ate my first nachos, and a few weeks before I ate soft-serve ice cream that you could take home in a cardboard box. That soft-serve-at-home moment got me way more twitterpated than it really should have, but when you grew up thinking that soft-serve could only come on a cone from the ice cream van, being able to buy it in a waxed carton to take home and eat at your leisure was THE BOMB. Then there was my first view of a 15″ pizza, my very first ever hotdog, and canned pumpkin. Gosh, Canada was quite the food experience now I look back on it.
I like blueberries, but they’re not my favorite. Raspberries will always be my favorite because my father grew raspberry canes, and every summer I would get to go down to the bottom of the garden and pick bowlfuls of huge, juicy, magnificent red berries. Some of them were so huge and heavy I wondered how the slender stems held them up. We always had far more raspberries than my mother knew what to do with. She made a lot of jam, and I regularly ate Raspberry Flan for breakfast. (Note: Flan in England is completely different to flan in America. An English flan is a light sponge cake with raised sides that you fill with fresh fruit and serve with cream. In America, flan is what we Brits would call crème caramel or caramel custard). Americans pronounce flan with a really long ‘a’ which always makes me want to giggle.
My favorite way to eat raspberries was to pop a frozen berry in my mouth and let it thaw onto my tongue. My mother open-froze them before stashing them in the deep freeze, so in summer there was always at least one tray of raspberries balancing on top of everything else in the freezer, waiting for her to pack them into boxes. Mmmmm, frozen raspberries. Like the best popsicle ever but with none of the time or effort.
While blueberries would never be my first berry pick, I am always happy to eat them if they are there. Blueberries are an American institution, though, so I completely understand that I need to make stuff with blueberries in. My current blueberry-itis started with Vanilla Blueberry Pancakes. Actually, that’s not quite true. It started when Fred Meyers had fresh blueberries on sale for $1.88. To give you context, they normally sell – in Seattle anyway – for $3.99; so it was a given that I was taking some of those squidgy blue berries home to my kitchen. Right away.
I started with SANE Vanilla Blueberry Pancakes. “Not a day too soon!” I heard many of you cry. Then I whipped up some Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream, which went down an absolute storm at the first SANE Ice Cream Taste Test I conducted at the office. Then I had a desperate plea on the Marmalade Facebook page from Deb saying that she had just bypassed the most amazing looking Blueberry Scone at Starbucks, and that I needed to make a SANE version. PLEASE!! So when I peered in my ‘fridge and saw blueberries left over from the ice cream and pancake adventures, I knew exactly what to do with them. Blueberry Scones with a twist – because I was still high from Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream success.
I am not sure what else I really need to say here. These scones are stinkin’ awesome, and you should hurry off to your kitchen right now and make a batch. And that’s coming from a non-blueberry lover.
I deliberately made these thick and rustic looking – a little bit rough and ready around the edges. The cooking temperature and time reflect this, so if you choose to make your scones thinner so that you have more, you will need to tweak the cooking time and temp accordingly.
They are a light, buttery scone studded with juicy blueberries that ‘pop’ when you bite into them. Eat them hot out the oven, naked. (I meant the scones, not you – but hey, who am I to tell you how to dress when you eat your SANE Blueberry Cheesecake Scones?). Eat them slathered with butter. Pile on some SANE jam and whipped coconut cream. Or eat them my favorite way – with SANE Lemon Curd. However you decide to do it, just eat them.
PS. Want other SANE scoones and biscuits? Go here.
I have no idea why my mother never made her own Lemon Curd, but she didn’t. I have a vague recollection of her being scared of cooking anything resembling an egg custard, so maybe that was it, although I don’t know why egg custards would scare her. Really they’re just like making cheese sauce or instant custard, and she made those all the time. The downside to her egg custard fear is that I inherited it. Similarly, I still can’t swim because my father never went near water.
Luckily for me, becoming obsessed with making the best ice cream on earth cured me of my egg custard fear in about 73 minutes; because you just cannot make the most fantastic ice cream ever if it doesn’t involve an egg custard. I just wish it hadn’t taken me as many years as it did to discover that egg custards are easy, beautiful, and making them is downright therapeutic – at least for me. I lost count of how many egg custards I had made by the time I was in my 4th month of ice cream production.
Egg custards taught me – once again – that the fear is always worse than the reality. Me and egg custards are best buds now. Egg custards are the best excuse I know to stand by the stove and do nothing except gaze lovingly into a saucepan and stir the contents. These days, when I need a break from doing, I make something that requires an egg custard; just so I can stand still for 12 minutes. Egg custards rock.
I learned very early on in life that lemon anythingthat came out of a packet, was not even in the same ballpark as that same anythingmade from scratch with real, live lemons. Lemons that used to grow on trees, and that you have to grate and squeeze to get the goodies out of them. If my memory serves me correctly I learned that the day my mother made my father a lemon cheesecake from scratch for his birthday one year. Prior to that she had only ever made cheesecake out of a packet. After that we never had packet cheesecake again. With most things the difference between homemade and packet is palpable; with lemon, the difference is nothing short of profound.
I love lemonanything. LOVE. I’ll be using this SANE Lemon Curd as a base for many other recipes down the road, so if you like lemon stuff, I highly recommend that you get this recipe down pat. We’ll be using it a lot – and not just as a brilliant topping for Blueberry Cheesecake Scones (recipe up next!) – although it IS brilliant for that.
Love lemon? This *SANE Lemon Curd will make your taste buds sing.
Whisk the eggs well with a fork and pour into a small pan.
Add the xylitol, lemon juice, lemon zest, coconut oil, and butter.
Whisk ingredients together well.
Place on the stove over a medium heat and STIR CONSTANTLY as the mixture slowly thickens. It takes 12 - 15 minutes to thicken fully. Embrace it. Be patient.
DO NOT ALLOW THE MIXTURE TO BOIL - it will curdle or you will get scrambled eggs.
When the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, quickly remove it from the heat and pour it through a fine mesh sieve into a clean glass lidded container (such as a Pyrex storage bowl). No, you cannot omit this step. It must be sieved!
Stir the mixture in the sieve until you are left with only the zest pulp and a few strands of egg. You can use a second, clean spatula to scrape the underside of the sieve as you go.
Once all the curd has been passed through the sieve, leave uncovered until completely cold, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent a skin from forming.
When cold, put the lid on the container and place in the 'fridge.
Hello! I am writing this on a Saturday. It will be posted on a Sunday. What day of the week is it now that you are reading it? I have no clue. And more to the point, it doesn’t matter in the slightest. Food is not day-specific. We love that. Another thing we love is a Mushroom Tuna Melt.
Tuna Melt is one of those strange American things that I never really understood until I had been stateside for a while. We don’t have Tuna Melts in England. Well maybe we do now (anyone??), but we certainly didn’t when I was living there. Thinking about it, we’re really not huge tuna (pronounced “chew-na”) eaters in England; we’re way more into salmon. Americans, on the other hand, just loooooooove their tuna (pronounced “too-na”). They get all excited about the difference between the albacore and the chunk light; we Brits didn’t even know there was such a thing as albacore. Alba what?? I remember the first time I saw the dizzying array of canned tuna choices in a US grocery store. Heavens to Betsy! I just want a can of tuna, people.
Another thing that was a mystery to me when I arrived on this side of the pond was Portobello mushrooms. I don’t remember ever having heard of them in England. Portobello is the name of the world’s largest antiques market, and it’s in London. That’s all I know. Once I got to the good ol’ USA, however, I started seeing the word “Portobello” on menus and hearing people talk about it; to be honest I could never quite figure out what they were on about. Then one day I saw some ginormous Portobello mushrooms at the grocery store, and I knew I had to introduce myself.
I decided, in a random moment of “Let’s do something different!”, to marry a Portobello mushroom with a tuna melt, which after some cruising around the internet I discovered is essentially a tuna salad with melted cheese sandwich. Or something very close to that.
I grilled (broiled) a huge old Portobello mushroom, melted some cheese on it, and then, when it came bubbling and sizzling out of the oven, heaped tuna salad on top. It was fun, fast and fabulous. It was also delicious. I’ll be doing it again.
Jonathan will love this one: fish, Greek yogurt and tons of veggies – and really more assembly than cooking. Hurrah! He does love meals that don’t require more than assembly. That’s JB’s perfect kinda dish. Another thing that would make The Bailornator happy is that you can make a large batch of the tuna salad in advance and then just grill (broil) up your Portobello and cheese in 5 minutes when you get home for a super-fast, super-sane supper. I took the rest of the tuna salad as lunch the next day, along with a Romaine lettuce. Lunch splendidness right there waiting in the ‘fridge as I headed out the door in the morning. Love that.
I love how all the textures work in this Mushroom Tuna Melt – creamy dressing, silky melted cheese and crisp, crunchy veggies; all topping a sturdy, substantial super-‘shroom. I ate mine out on the terrace in the dwindling Spring sunshine. It was quite lovely.
I have now completely embraced both Tuna Salad and Portobello mushrooms. Twelve years late, but I got there eventually.
Please don’t wait that long before you try this Mushroom Tuna Melt!
I think pancakes must be the most requested thing on my SANE recipe to-do list. I experimented with pancakes over the holidays in December, but didn’t get anywhere close to successful. I blame being British. In England, pancakes are only eaten once a year – funnily enough on Pancake Day – and they are what an American would call a crêpe. We don’t do the thick, spongy pancakes that are a rite of passage for any good American’s weekend brunch plate. The closet thing we have to those would be Scotch pancakes, and no one makes those. And on the rare occurrence that someone does make Scotch pancakes, they eat them with butter and jam spread on them, just like toast. They are not smothered in melting butter and syrup. Neither are they eaten for breakfast with bacon, eggs, and hash browns. They’re eaten at tea time.
Anyway, my point was, I grew up eating crêpes once a year. Until I took my first trip to Canada – many moons ago – I had never eaten an American pancake. And let me tell you, when I did, I thought it was extremely peculiar. I was sitting in the revolving restaurant on the top of the Calgary Tower. That’s how memorable this whole pancake affair was. I mean, who remembers exactly where they were when they ate their first pancake? I do – because it was such an extraordinary experience. They brought me a plate with pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage and hash browns on it. Plus a dish of butter and a jug of golden maple syrup. I was clueless as to what I was supposed to do, and I was aghast that there were pancakes on the same plate as my bacon and eggs. What were they thinking?? So I snuck a peek over at the next table and watched what they did. I stared in horror as they poured lashings of sweet maple syrup over their pancakes and bacon. What in the world???
I admit, I never really got over that first strange pancake experience. There are a lot of new things I have become acquainted with since I moved stateside, and many of them I embrace wholeheartedly. American pancakes are not one of them. And while I am neither an American pancake lover nor an American pancake-making expert, I totally respect that they are a beloved breakfast staple in a lot of households. So here you are: SANE Vanilla Blueberry Pancakes. Hurrah!
They are more fragile and less flexible than pancakes made from regular flour, but those fabulous blueberries – bursting with juices – keep them moist and delicious. I am going to play with another idea to make them less fragile and more flexible, but I thought these would tide you over in the meantime. Given that I am really not a fan of regular American pancakes, I was surprised – and a little bit giddy – that I really enjoyed eating these.
“But what about the syrup??!” I hear you cry. That, dear readers, is a particularly good question. I am still brainstorming that predicament. This time I simply poured a little Torani’s Sugar-free Vanilla Syrup over the top. It doesn’t have the deep, amber color, or the thick, glossiness of maple syrup, but it adds moistness and flavor that finished these babies off rather nicely. You could also just slide some butter over the top and call it good. Or eat them naked. Just don’t use the maple! Or honey. Or agave.
Now I must warn you – these SANE pancakes are super filling. If you’re used to being able to eat an entire stack of regular pancakes, you might find yourself running out of steam at two, especially if you add some scrambled eggs and the odd piece of bacon to your plate. I, for one, would not want to miss out on that piece of bacon.
And just a couple of cooking notes before you race off to fire up your griddle – the flip side of these SANE pancakes cooks much quicker than the first side, so don’t flip them and walk away thinking you have time. Side two goes real fast. As you can see, mine were a little on the dark side. Just sayin’.
When I was a nipper growing up in the Garden of England – aka the county of Kent (although technically I was never a nipper since I am a girl) – I was regularly served up sardines on toast for supper, as I suspect a significant number of British kids were. I’m not sure it’s as popular nowadays, but back then – YUM. I loved when sardines on toast popped up on the menu. Oftentimes the sardines were in tomato sauce. I think I loved those times even more, which is a little odd because I am not really a tomato sauce kinda gal. Except ketchup on my eggs, but that’s another tale.
Of course, these days I don’t eat the toast, but I do down sardines like they’re going out of fashion. Except, in the US I don’t think sardines have ever been infashion. Whenever I mention sardines, noses wrinkle and a chorus of “Ewwws!” can be heard. Sardines do not seem to have much of a following stateside.
It seemed perfectly natural to me that Mr. Bailor would at some point mention the outstanding virtues of a humble can of sardines on our podcast. After all – they are one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Have you noticed how I always leave the geeky science stuff to Bailor? I chimed in with enthusiastic stories of how a tin of sardines is perfect road-trip fodder, and how you can keep a couple stashed in the glove box of your car in case of emergency. I joyfully explained how to fashion an eating implement out of the tin lid, if you were ever caught without a fork when you were about to down a tasty sardine snack.
I guess it was bound to happen once the sardine podcast aired that there’d be some sardine Q & A coming down the pike. So it was no surprise when the other week, Lorrie posted on the Marmalade HQ Facebook page asking for ways to eat sardines. Lorrie is a faithful SSoS’er who, with her friend Dawn, run a Downsizers Group over in Oberlin, Ohio. They meet every week to share success, tips, tricks, and recipes. They also have a lot of fun. I know this because they invited me to join them one evening and I Skyped into their get-together. SO. MUCH. FUN! Turns out Lorrie was taking sardines along to the next Downsizers meeting, and never having eaten them before, needed some sardine assistance. Having been raised on the things it never occurred to me that Sardine Virgins may appreciate knowing what they might do with them, other than rip off the lid and eat them straight out of the tin. It’s like I never remember to explain to people how to open doors, because like sardine-eating, it’s just something I assume we all know how to do. You know what they say about assuming.
When I am on road trips I eat sardines a lot. They are just so portable. In the evening when I get back from driving and shooting for 14 hours, I toss sardines, halved cherry tomatoes and quartered hard-boiled eggs on a plate, sprinkle with salt and call it dinner. When I am at home I make a rather prettier and greener version. This is another one of those very simple “what Carrie Brown really eats at home” dishes. It takes 5 minutes to throw together and makes you a perfectly balanced SANE meal. When I get home too late and too tired for thought, this is one of my go-to’s.
If you’re new to sardines, try this salad first. I really think you’ll like it. And Jonathan and I will be so very happy to get some more of you on the sardine trail with us.