Vanilla Blueberry Pie

Where to live, where to live.

So, now that I have graduated, I have been searching for jobs. It's finally time to answer that question people have asked so often over the last two years: "So what are you going to do with that degree?" I have been applying like crazy. If you are hiring, let me know!

And when I tell people I have been applying, they always ask, "Where?"

On the one hand, I think anybody can learn to live anywhere. It's surprising how you acclimate to places. A few years back I lived in a small town in Iowa while working on a political campaign. People invited me into their homes, made me dinner, let me sleep in their guest bedrooms. They let me camp on their farms and invited me to parties. They donated chairs, desks, and food to our office, let us pass out candy on Halloween on their front porch, and bought me a pork tenderloin and a beer for breakfast.

I'm not talking about clichéd Midwestern friendliness - I'm saying you'll meet nice people anywhere you go, and all of a sudden you start having ties to a place, people and things you'll miss when you'll leave. Before you know it you are comfortable and you have routines. You know waitresses, the nearest library, the road back home, and the annual 4th of July festival. I had this big old apartment, with old everything in it, that had giant ceilings and even a dusty chandelier in my bedroom. It was great and kind of creepy and I only paid $400 a month for it.

Now I'm scared to leave Boston because I'll miss the lobster rolls on the water, camping on the islands, placards everywhere saying, "George Washington did something on this spot a million years ago," and autumn. I'll miss feeling like there is so much to explore only an hour or so away, and New York and D.C. just a few hours more.

Is it back to Chicago? Rents are so much cheaper. In Boston you can have a one bedroom for $1500, in New York you can have a cardboard box in the bathroom of a convenience store for twice that, yet the paychecks aren't two or three times as high. But Chicago hasn't been doing so hot lately.

Of course, no place is perfect. When I lived in Iowa, I would sometimes get so mad it hurt that there wasn't a bookstore for miles. We drove hours to go to a Borders one weekend only to find it had closed when we got there. We banged on the glass, imploring the employees to let us in by saying there were no bookstores in the town we were from, but they looked at us like the crazy people we were. Applebees was the best restaurant in town, the movie theater never played an independent film, and the nicest bar in town, full of gleaming wood and perfectly poured Guinness on tap, was shut down when it was discovered that the owner (who was otherwise a great guy) had paid for it with money he embezzled from an old man.

Sometimes I think New Orleans, which has a feeling like no other in the United States, a strange and rich atmosphere that permeates everything, like it's part of the muggy heat, but then there's the inequality, the justice system, the crime, corruption, and that muggy heat.

I have always wanted to live in a Nordic country, because I love their culture and don't think their food gets enough respect. Maybe Bjork needs a roommate. But the cost of living is insane.

Well, wherever I end up, I better have a kitchen, so I can spend Sunday afternoons cooking things and putting them on this blog, like this blueberry vanilla pie. It's incredibly easy, with an amazing crust (based on a Williams-Sonoma recipe) that doesn't require you to chill it before you roll it out. Enjoy!


Vanilla Blueberry Pie

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

RECIPE FOR THE CRUST

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitting with the paddle attachment, add the 2 1/2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir until just combined. Add the 16 tablespoons of butter and toss with some of the flour mixture. Mix on low-to-medium speed until the mixture is coarse and fluffy, with no pieces of butter larger than peas. Add 6 tablespoons of water and mix on low speed until the dough comes together, adding the extra tablespoon if necessary.

Divide the dough in half. Place one half in a cool place, covered, and immediately transfer the other half to a lightly floured work surface. Pat the dough into a ball and flatten it into a thick disk. Flour the top and rolling pin and roll it out, constantly turning and reflouring as needed, until the dough is a about three inches larger than your pie dish.

Gently roll the dough onto your rolling pin and unroll over the pie dish. Carefully smooth it into the pan, without stretching, pressing it right to the edges and bottom. Use scissors or a sharp knife to trim the dough, leaving a 3/4 inch overhang. Put the prepared dish in the refrigerator.

Press the scraps from the previous disk into the other dough round and form into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll to at least a 12 inch circle. Fold and refrigerate until ready to use.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE CRUST

+ 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

+ 2 tablespoons sugar

+ 1/2 teaspoon salt

+ 16 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

+ 6-7 tablespoons ice water

 

RECIPE FOR THE PIE

In a large bowl, sprinkle the 4 cups of blueberries with the lemon juice and toss to coat. In a small bowl, mix together the 3/4 cups of sugar, 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest, pinch of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, and vanilla bean seeds until combined (make sure the seeds are distributed evenly). Pour the sugar mixture over the prepared blueberries and toss to coat evenly.

Pour the blueberry mixture into the prepared pie dish. Sprinkle with pieces of the tablespoon of unsalted butter.

Unfold the reserved half of the pie dough over the top of the pie dish. Trim to leave 1 inch of overhang (it should hang just a bit past the other piece of dough). Fold the top 1/4 inch of dough overhang under the edge of the bottom crust and crimp to seal. Use a sharp knife to cut an asterisk, star, or other shape into the top of the pie to allow steam to escape. (After rolling the top piece of dough, you can cut the shape of your choice into the center of the dough with a cookie cutter if you like).

Refrigerate the prepared pie for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

When the pie has chilled, brush the top of the pie with an even coating of the egg wash. Sprinkle evenly with the coarse sugar.

Bake the pie until the crust is a deep gold and the filling is thick and gurgly, about 50 to 60 minutes. Cool to room temperature, about 90 minutes. Serve at room temperature.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE FILLING

+ 4 cups blueberries, picked over for stems

+ juice from half a small lemon

+ 3/4 cup sugar

+ 3 tablespoons cornstarch

+ 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

+ pinch of kosher salt

+ 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

+ 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

+ 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

+ 1 egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water

+ coarse sugar for sprinkling over the top