My mom loved blueberries. She loved all fruit and vegetables (besides cooked carrots and sweet potatoes, which she refused to eat), but she treated blueberries like gold; something to be savored and slowly enjoyed. In the summer we got them by the flat and ate them fresh, usually plain in big bowls as a snack. She would reminisce about flaky Russian blueberry pies that I’m pretty sure my grandma didn’t make and beg me to make them, and sometimes I would attempt to recreate them. We even went blueberry picking a couple times, which by the way I highly recommend because it is the least sticky, prickly berry picking of all.
During the other months of the year when fresh blueberries were nowhere to be found, she would maintain a stash of frozen blueberries in the freezer. Each night she would pour some into a cup, maybe topped with a little yogurt and crunchy bran cereal, but more often than not just plain. She’d be as happy as a clam as she popped them one by one into her mouth while she watched some TV before bedtime. Her entire mouth, including lips, tongue and teeth would become colored a dark blue purple stain but to her it was worth it.
My mom passed away unexpectedly a little over a year ago, which rocked my somewhat stable and predictable existence to the core. The grieving process (and it is certainly a process, one that takes a long, long time) is something that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. It is debilitating, in that you never know when a memory or a smell, a picture or a song, a food or a place will bring forth the stark realization that your loved one isn’t here and isn’t coming back. I actually started this blog to help center myself again, which has helped me to push myself along the path towards normalcy.
I hadn’t realized what a huge, HUGE part of my life she had been until she was gone. But what I have come to realize is that in a way, she is still very much here because I find myself thinking about her all the time. How much she would love the way the garden looks, how happy she would be that we found a great tenant for our apartment downstairs, how proud she would be of my new job.
Blueberry Granola Tart
Serve with vanilla ice cream, plain or vanilla yogurt, or frozen yogurt. It's also quite delicous as a special breakfast or brunch treat.
For the crust:
1 cup oats (not quick-cooking)½ cup chopped nuts such as almonds, walnuts or pecans
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon clover honey
1 stick butter, softened
For the filling:
3 cups blueberries, washed and picked over½ cup sugar (or less if your blueberries are especially sweet)
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tbsp tapioca flour (or quick cooking tapioca ground in a coffee grinder)
Toast the oats and nuts. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spread the oats out onto a baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes, until they are toasted to a light golden brown. Pour onto a plate to cool and set aside. Spread the nuts out onto a baking sheet and roast for 7-11 minutes until they are fragrant and light golden brown. Pour onto a plate to cool and set aside, but leave the oven on.
Make the granola crust. In a food processor, pulse the flours, sugars and salt together until combined. Add the butter, honey, toasted oats and nuts and pulse until the mixture just clumps together. Reserving ½ cup for later, press the remaining mixture into a 13.75” x 4.25” x 1” rectangular tart pan or a 9” round tart pan (a 9” springform pan would work great too) and freeze for 15 minutes.
Bake the crust. Prick the crust all over with the tines of a fork, then slide the tart pan onto a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until it is set and light golden brown. Meanwhile…
Make the blueberry filling. In a medium saucepan, combine the blueberries, sugar, lemon zest, juice, and tapioca. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes until the berries have burst and the mixture has substantially thickened.
Assemble the tart. Pour the blueberry filling into the pre-baked crust, then sprinkle the reserved granola crust mixture evenly over the top. Bake the tart for 15-20 minutes, until the top is browned and the filling is bubbly. Cool completely on a wire rack, then store refrigerated for up to 4 days.