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Well it’s National Milk Chocolate with Almonds Day… *yawn*. Why would I write about that, when I can blog about a SUPERFOOD!!

Yes, it’s not everyday that one of nature’s little miracles happens along on this blog. Let’s face it, we’re more likely to be eating something that will shorten your lifespan (Della, I’m looking at you and your hot-dog-mac-and-cheese feast!) than lengthen it! So lets celebrate the super-duper healthy, when we have a chance, yes?

Blueberries are high in vitamin C, a strong antioxidant offering support for the immune system. Blueberries also contain fibre, folate, iron, manganese, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, copper, B vitamins, and vitamin E.

The main reason blueberries have been getting so much press lately is because the ongoing research on phytochemicals reveals blueberries top the list in antioxidant rich foods. Research is showing blueberries to be good for the brain, too. Animal research using blueberry extract found it improved balance, coordination and memory – even in cases of Alzheimer’s. Further studies have shown that “blueberries have a rejuvenating affect on memory-related nerve function, including the stimulation of new memory cells to form.” I could go on – studies have found found that blueberries have preventative effects on prostate cancer and liver cancer; they contain compounds that stop UTI’s and there are claims they help with treating hypoglycemia, tinnitus, intestinal upset, eye disorders and varicose veins.

Impressive, no? But I haven’t even mentioned what makes blueberries truly truly miraculous: they taste good!! Usually if you want all your vitamins and cancer fighting chemicals, you’re in the culinary neighbourhood of kale, brussel sprouts, ground flax or oil of oregano. But with blueberries, you get to be virtuous and healthy AND YOU ACTUALLY WANT TO EAT THEM. It’s a gosh darn miracle.

Putting blueberries on my cereal wasn’t going to impress any of you, so I opted to make this buttermilk blueberry pie from Epicurious. WIth the help of my pastry guru friend Ian we opted to just bake the pie in the raw crust, but for about 40 minutes. We also just used frozen blueberries with no issues.

While the pie looked a little pallid going into the oven, in the end this was a really nice pie – the tart of the berries, a little lemon and the slightly sour buttermilk all really complimented each other. I reminded me a lot of a custard rhubarb pie. Next time I might add a little nutmeg, but otherwise this recipe is a keeper!

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~Deanna

ps – Blueberries are also patriotic! Blueberries are one of the few edible berries native to North America (along with cherries and conchord grapes). 🙂

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Pumpkin Pie, Christmas Tree & lots of presents!

It’s Christmas Eve and I just finished making Dea and J’s fabulous knock your socks off egg nog recipe. It’s chilling on the front porch.  Yes, it IS that cold in Victoria – no Saskatchewan, but still cold enough to chill some ‘Nog.

Almost didn’t get the pie made today.  A bit epic really.  My usual pastry genius was failing me and I actually threw out two, count ’em, TWO batches of pastry before I was able to produce something that I considered satisfactory.

My original plan was to make true “from scratch” pumpkin pie.  Unfortunately, it has been a really crazy busy month at work (so busy, in fact, that I did my Christmas shopping mostly vicariously through my husband and then a little scramble last night after work) and the first opportunity I got to go shopping for sugar pumpkins was last Sunday.  That’s when I got the bad news that they were all sold out – everywhere.  So I didn’t do anything special this time.  I just made my usual pumpkin pie recipe – which is the one I posted on National Pumpkin Day.  It’s from the Silver Palate Cookbook and I really believe that it is the BEST pumpkin pie recipe ever.

I doubled the recipe to fill my 10″ deep dish pie plate and cooked it for 8 minutes at 450 and then for almost 1 1/2 hours at 325.  Haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve made this one so many times, I don’t need to try it to know that it’s amazing 🙂

This year's Christmas Pumpkin Pie

Merry Christmas!

xoxo B

Oh, I’ve been given the most Canadian of ingredients. I have to say that I was pleased to see it here, on this most American list of foods. I consider it a little nod our way from our neighborhoods to the south.

I’ve got one Old Happy Memory and one New Happy Memory to share with you, with respect to maple syrup.

The Old Happy Memory:

My parents took J. and I to Quebec and the Maritimes on a summer road trip when I was about 10. My dad, who grew up francophone, was on the hunt for his happy childhood memory: sucre a la creme pie (think of a butter tart made without the nuts or raisins,  with maple syrup rather than brown sugar, and some cream).

My dad was persistent on his quest. As we drove along the Gaspe, my dad sampled as we went. None of the pies were “like my mother’s”. He kept trying. It wasn’t until the family road trip was well out of Quebec that lightening struck: at a Shell station outside of Fredericton, my dad found his sucre a la creme nirvana. I’d have to hazard that the woman at the gas station was surprised to sell the entire pie to a tourista.

My dad tucked away his prize in the trunk of the car.

And then promptly took pie breaks at 50 min intervals for the rest of the day.

Needless to say, that pie didn’t see sunset.

New Happy Memory

This winter B. invited me along to Salt Spring Island to see our very own cabane à sucre in action. A local SSI businessman has planted sugar maples and was tapping the trees and boiling the sap down to sugar. With no snow to pour the syrup on, it wasn’t the traditional experience, but nonetheless, it was fun, and it was great to see this tradition much closer to home.

(The enjoyment of the day was also given a boost by our pit-stop at the SSI Cheese Company (so yummy!), some very cute goats, our cameras, and a mostly well behaved baby!)

For today’s blog, I thought I would make a twist on the classic apple crisp – this time I thought pears would be nice, and having been inspired by a desert a year ago at B.’s Birthday Dinner Extravaganza, added asian flavors of candied ginger and chinese 5 spice.

Pear and Maple Crisp with Ginger and Spice

(note: this is not exactly what I did, but what I would do next time…things can always be improved, no? Also as you will see in the photo, I only made a 1/3 recipe)

For topping
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For pears
3 1/2 pounds firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons chinease 5 spice
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F.

Combine all of the topping ingredients in food processor or cut them together until small moist clumps form.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Toss all the filling ingredients in large bowl to blend. Let stand 15 minutes. Transfer pear mixture to 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish. Sprinkle topping over pears. Cover with foil and bake 20 min. Remove foil and bake another ~ 20 min, until pears are tender, juices bubble thickly and topping is golden and crisp. Let stand at least 10 minutes, it’s pretty juicy when hot but when it cools there’s a nice sauce.  I would suggest serving it over ice cream…

Delish!

Deanna