LittleJudeonFood

One kid's adventures in gastronomy


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Easy as Pie

Yesterday, Mama and I went blueberry picking.

berry picker/littlejudeonfood.com

We’ve done this many times before, and I told Mama, “I have good memories of picking blueberries with you.”

berry hider/littlejudeonfood.com

I told everyone we met that we were going to make blueberry pie and blueberry jam.

blueberries/littlejudeonfood.com

Soon after Mama stuck a bunch in the freezer (remember to freeze on a tray before putting them into bags!), we set to work on making that pie. We’ve made all kinds of pies before, and I thought we might make a Bluecherry Pie or a crumble, but Mama wanted to show me how to make a pie that’s both fast and doesn’t require an oven.

Here’s what we needed to get started:

Just graham crackers, melted butter, and a bit of brown sugar is all you need to put together a crust.

Just graham crackers, melted butter, and a bit of brown sugar is all you need to put together a crust.

Then Mama let me pound the graham crackers into crumbs:

This is a GREAT activity for a kid like me.

This is a GREAT activity for a kid like me.

Then we added the melted butter and brown sugar:

I got to eat the extra graham cracker.

I got to eat the extra graham cracker.

This is what it should look like when it’s all mixed:

crumb crust/littlejudeonfood.com

It doesn’t look like it will hold together, but trust me: It will. Mama explained that if you use too much butter, your crust will be greasy and not hold its shape. (Too little, and it will fall apart.)

Mama pressed the crumbs into the pie plate. (I didn’t want to touch it.) You should use your hands, but to help press it firmly into the edges and up the sides, use a measuring cup or glass.

edging pie crust/littlejudeonfood.com

From this point, you can chill the crust before filling it, or bake it (cool before using). Either way, you’ve just made yourself a pie crust that will hold together. (Shortcut: Buy a graham cracker, Oreo, or Nilla Wafer crust.)

Scatter blueberries around the set crust. (You may use any kind of berry you like.)

add the berries/littlejudeonfood.com

Use just enough to cover the bottom. (I put a little more in than that, and it was yummy.)

Use just enough to cover the bottom. (I put a little more in than that, and it was extra yummy.)

For the filling, Mama let me whip the cream. (Remember how to make chantilly?) Then she made sort of the same thing, but with cream cheese.

ready to assemble/littlejudeonfood.com

She said to do the whipped cream part first because you can use the same beaters for the cream cheese without having to wash them first. (If you did the cream cheese first, any fat left over from the cream cheese would inhibit the heavy cream from whipping.)

This is my preferred method of cleaning beaters.

This is my preferred method of cleaning beaters.

Fold the two together, add some lemon zest, and you have your filling. Carefully spoon the creamy mixture over the berries, and now you have pie!

blueberry pie/littlejudeonfood.com

I have to say that this is the easiest pie I’ve made. And Mama let me have a small piece for breakfast today…just before we had our blueberry pancakes. I love blueberry season!

Love, Jude

No-Bake Blueberries & Cream Pie

1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 7 1/2 full-size crackers; may also buy pre-crushed)
1/3 cup melted butter (we used salted)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1.5-2 tablespoons + 1/2 cup powdered sugar, divided
2 splashes vanilla
8 oz cream cheese, softened
Zest of 1 organic lemon
About 2 cups organic blueberries

Mix together the crumbs, butter, and brown sugar until uniformly moist. Firmly press into a 9″ pie plate. Chill for 1 hour or bake at 325°F for 10 minutes; cool before proceeding.

Use a hand mixer to beat the heavy cream, 1.5-2 tbsp powdered sugar, and a splash of vanilla until stiff peaks. Taste and adjust flavorings, if desired. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and a healthy splash of vanilla until smooth. Stir in the lemon zest, then fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese.

Scatter the blueberries over the bottom of the chilled or baked-and-cooled crust. Carefully spoon the cream mixture over top. Garnish with berries, lemon curls, mint, etc. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

 


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Lazy Sunday

It used to be that I ate an egg for breakfast every morning. Then it was smoothies. And now it’s oatmeal. Because my oatmeal takes about half an hour to cook, Mama usually makes a big batch one day so that it’s ready for me to eat on the other days. She tried something new today, though: baked oatmeal.

A friend of Mama’s told her about a delicious oatmeal she made with bananas and blueberries and she shared the recipe. Because I was still sleeping when Mama made it, I can only report on how delicious it is. But Mama said it was supereasy. It was sweet from maple syrup and the fruit, and very hearty. We agree that we might try it without walnuts next time, and this morning Mama dolloped some banana yogurt on it for me. What a treat!

Mama says if you want to make this the night before, you can pull together the wet ingredients in one bowl and the dry in another, but don’t mix them, or the oats will absorb all the liquid before it has a chance to bake in the morning. Sorry, not much of a shortcut here, but just think of how yummy the house smelled as it baked while Mama was wrangling yours truly. And I can eat it for breakfast tomorrow, and the next day, and the next…

I really REALLY like oatmeal, and this one is fantastic.

I really REALLY like oatmeal, and this one is fantastic.

Then for lunch, we made an old standby: egg salad. I helped Mama crack and peel the boiled eggs, then I mashed them with a fork. After we mixed together the mayo, mustard, vinegar (which I tasted straight from the bottle), dill, salt, and capers, we did something very important: we tasted it to see whether it needed anything. “More capers!” I said. (It’s true. I really did.) So Mama obliged, and we ate the egg salad on toasted English muffins. Well, I ate most of mine. But I picked out all the capers.

Yes, I'm still in my jammies. The title of this post is "Lazy Sunday" for a reason.

Yes, I’m still in my jammies. The title of this post is “Lazy Sunday” for a reason.

Love, Jude


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It’s my birthday!!

Last year, when I turned 1, Mama made me banana muffins. She made them again this year, but she also made some of her zucchini muffins with all the fresh zucchini we picked up at the farm stand. And she added our bluebies to them!

9 dozen muffins later….

Look at all the blueberries! They burst in my mouth. So yummy.

I like the mini-muffins because I can shove just about the whole thing in my mouth (even though Mama and Papa say, “Don’t stuff!”). I opened my presents and got to blow out candles, all before breakfast.

My new birthday trucks didn’t get in the way of my blowing out the candles on the first try.

Some may speculate now whether I should change the name of my blog, as I’m technically no longer a baby. “Toddler Jude” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. What do you think?

Love, Jude (who’s 2!)

Blueberry-Zucchini Muffins (Dairy-Free)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
2 large farm-fresh eggs
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups freshly grated zucchini, drained
2/3 cup canola oil
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup frozen organic blueberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin tins with paper liners or spray/butter the tins.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla. Stir in the zucchini. Add the oil, soda, and salt, and stir to combine.

Add to the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until just combined, and all the flour is moistened. Gently stir in the blueberries.

Scoop the batter into prepared muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes (about 19 for regular muffins, 15 for minis). The muffins should be firm to the touch, and a pick inserted in the center should come out clean. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 1 dozen regular muffins & 1 dozen minis, or 18 regular muffins

Note: Mama advises grating your zucchini first and putting it in a collander set over a bowl while you gather the rest of your ingredients. And she says these muffins freeze really well!


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Any time is pie time

Well, we went and picked more blueberries. Mama, drawn by an end-of-season panic that our freezer wouldn’t be stocked with as much summer goodness as possible, decided we needed another go at the bushes.

Later, as the berries soaked to remove the grass clippings and errant bugs, I reached in and grabbed handfuls, gobbling them like Cookie Monster. Mama said she was not amused, but I wasn’t buying it.

So while I slept, Mama felt like making a tart. She happened to have leftover dough in the freezer from the tomato pie, so she just used that. And she swapped a cup of the blueberries for a cup of pitted sour cherries, and omitted the lemon juice in favor of the cherry juice.

With just 2 tablespoons of sugar in the WHOLE tart, Mama didn’t feel too guilty about letting me have a piece after breakfast. And I didn’t feel guilty eating it.

After I ate a pretty good breakfast, Mama decided I could try a piece of the tart (as she was having a piece for breakfast herself). She showed me how pretty the bluebies looked, and I was ready to start picking them off. While I was disappointed that I couldn’t stuff them in my mouth, Cookie Monster–style, I liked eating them with my fork. The cherries were still a bit plump, too, and all the fruit was pleasantly tart. The pastry was still flaky and soft.

Maybe I can have pie for lunch too?

Love, Jude


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It’s all about the bluebies

The other day, Mama took me blueberry picking. By now you realize that she keeps a pretty close eye on what I eat, and I think you know she tries to purchase foods that are local and organic—when they make sense. Blueberries are consistently among the Environmental Working Group’s “dirty dozen” of fruits and veggies with the most pesticides, but because Mama doesn’t always want to pay $6 for a pint of organic berries, we often skip them. For this reason, she was overjoyed to find the organic fruit farm just a short drive from our house. And it turned out to be a fun afternoon activity with yours truly.

I enjoyed picking the bluebies…

I couldn’t believe how little the bushes were! I walked right up to them, bucket in hand, and just started picking (and eating). It was like when we picked the wild raspberries: from the bush and into my mouth.

…almost as much as I enjoyed eating them.

The berries were warm from the sun. Mama reminded me, often, to pick just the blue ones—not the purple ones, and not the green ones. We saw all kinds of big caterpillars on the leaves. The farmer, when he came over to snack from a bush, told us they sure love blueberries. Much like Sal in that famed story, I did wander off from time to time, and Mama had to chase me up and down the rows. But we managed to fill her bucket (for some reason, mine remained empty), and I played with the two farm dogs roaming the property. We picked nearly 5 pounds (but they didn’t weigh me!), all for $12.

Er, this is my bucket. That’s Mama’s in the background.

When we got home, Mama spent a lot of time washing the berries and fending me off from eating them by the handfuls. They had a lot of grass clippings—and bugs!—on them. I helped her de-stem them, too. (That’s a very good task to give someone my age…until said someone starts snacking on them, stems and all.) Because most of our haul was intended for the freezer, Mama spread the berries on a towel-lined cookie sheet so they could dry. (This is why you can buy frozen berries that are separate and perfect, rather than in clumps—they’re individually quick frozen.) You spread them out on a sheet, make sure they’re relatively dry, then pop the sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, you can put them in storage bags or containers. We got 3 sheets of bluebies.

This is how you dry the washed bluebies before freezing them.

As they were drying, Mama asked what we should make, and I agreed that muffins sounded good. I’ve never made a recipe quite like this one before. Mama melted the butter in a saucepan and added the other wet ingredients to it before adding them to the dry. Weird, huh? Usually, you’d use oil in a two-stage recipe, she told me, but we like butter! It’s been a while since I’ve baked anything, and Mama was impressed with how far I’ve come. I poured all the dry ingredients into the bowl without spilling—the mess came later when I whisked it like a dervish.

You can’t see it here, but my belly is COVERED in flour!

Once everything was combined, I added the bluebies to the batter, then helped Mama fold them in. She explained that if we stirred them too vigorously, they would crush and stain the batter blue. Not that it would affect the taste any, but we wouldn’t have those lovely whole berries to sink our teeth into later on.

This was my last chance to eat bluebies before they were mixed in.

She showed me how quickly you can make a crumb topping, and I helped sprinkle it on top of each muffin. Into the oven they went, and off I went to play. I was experiencing some sort of natural berry high and had a lot of energy.

Check me out!

But not too much to keep Mama from giving me half a muffin once it cooled a bit. (She thinks I didn’t notice she ate the other half.)

YOU try eating just half of one.

Regardless, there were so many bluebies in it! The muffin itself wasn’t very sweet, but the bluebies made up for that. And they were good and crumbly in my hand.

After a long day of picking the bluebies and washing the bluebies and making the bluebie muffins, I finally get to eat one!

Mama said she wants to go picking again next weekend to stock up for the winter. I hope we do!

Love, Jude

Bursting Bluebie Muffins with Crumb Topping

6 Tbsp unsalted butter (or canola oil, then skip the saucepan direction)
1/3 cup buttermilk (or milk)
2 eggs (or 4–5 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (or 1 1/2 cups all-purpose total)
1/2 cup sugar (or brown)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup blueberries

For topping:

handful of whole-wheat flour
spoonful of brown sugar
spoonful of finely chopped walnuts (optional)
a few pats of butter

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter or spray 12 muffin cups (or use paper liners, if that’s your thing). Melt the butter over low heat, then whisk in the milk, eggs, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients (minus the blueberries), whisking to incorporate. Add the wet to the dry, stir until just combined, then gently fold in the blueberries. Top with the topping ingredients, mashed to combine. Bake for 17-20 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in the center of one muffin comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then, if you didn’t use papers, run a knife around the edges to loosen. Transfer to a rack to cool or eat!