As I write, it’s a humid, mid-August morning. The sun is barely above the treetops and still I can feel the air hug around me as my hair curls into fuzz. August in the South is something I had to get used to. Something I once dreaded, but now understand.
August prepares us for the fall and winter. It welcomes cooler weather and readies our hearts for warm soups, red wine and a fire with friends.
But before I say goodbye to summer, I want to celebrate the last of its light with a trip down memory lane and a simple, lemon blueberry galette that’s to die for.
As a child, my summers were spent outside from sun up to sun down. We chased lightning bugs in circles, ate ice balls until our teeth ached and rode our bikes with reckless abandon (I liked to pretend mine was a motorcycle). We built umbrella forts in the rain, climbed trees until we were covered in sap and stained our clothes with grass and mud.
It was the stuff of dreams, I tell you.
I thank my beloved parents for giving my sister and I such an idyllic childhood and for showing us how beautiful life is when you celebrate its seasons.
You’ll find that my mother is a great many things and often the center of all my best stories. She is the very reason I have such a curious mind and strong connection with food. It was during these summers that she’d pile us in the car and take us to the country to pick blueberries.
My sister and I would shake the branches until the bright blue balls would drip from the tree and fill our pail. Our technique improved with time, but it was in these moments, that we felt a real connection with the Earth and with each other.
In an effort to relive these memories as an adult, I invited my dear friend Jena to come blueberry picking with me at Trace View Farm just outside Nashville. I’d heard rumblings of this farm and the great story of Bernie Ellis, the man behind the berries.
So on an early Saturday morning in late July, we wound our way through the country roads of Leiper’s Fork and found Bernie’s farm just off Natchez Trace Road. Bernie and his “co-directors of hospitality” greeted us like old friends. We laced rope around our waists, tied on our pails and marched straight into the blueberry patch. Bernie grows three varieties of blueberries on his farm, a sweet powder blue varietal perfect for baking, a mild, semi-tart varietal great for munching and a classic, deep blue varietal perfect for sprinkling on just about anything.
As the three of us gently rolled the berries off the limbs, we learned about Bernie’s life as an 8th generation Mississippian. He purchased his Tennessee acreage in the 80’s for a mere $85 an acre and lived off the land with nothing but a tent. “Tent boy,” his neighbors called him, “He’s good people,” they’d say.
Jena and I decided there was no better way to celebrate Bernie and our bounty than by throwing a blueberry themed dinner party, of course (this is why we are best friends).
That night we stuffed our bellies full of grilled pork skewers glazed in a blueberry barbecue sauce, ate blueberry corn salad and finished with the lemon blueberry galette for dessert (just picture Violet from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).
This simple galette works well with peaches or any other summer fruit you can get your hands on - as always, the fresher the better. It goes well in the morning with a cup of black coffee or at night as a simple dessert, topped with scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.
Regardless of when or how you eat it, I hope this galette invites happy memories or perhaps inspires new ones.
Lemon Blueberry Galette Recipe
- 1 cup flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup ice water
- 2 cups blueberries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tbs. Flour
- 2 Tbs. melted butter
- juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1. Place flour, salt and sugar in a food processor bowl and process. Cut butter in 1/2" pieces. Add to mixture and pulse about six times until mixture resembles small peas. Gather mixture into a flat circle, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.
2. Roll out pastry to a 12 inch circle. Toss blueberries with sugar, flour and lemon juice. Pile on blueberries leaving 2 inches of pastry free around the edge. Dot the filling with butter and fold the edges over the berries. Brush the edge with melted butter for a golden crust and sprinkle with raw sugar.
3. Bake in 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, or until pastry is nicely browned.
4. Let cool and sprinkle with lemon zest. Serve with a dollop of ice cream or as is - it's delish either way!