A few weeks ago, we all took a much-needed staycation. Normally we travel somewhere for a week in the summer; one year we did Door County, last year we stayed in Michigan. However, with everything that’s been happening this year so far (good and bad), what we really needed was a break without the stress of planning a vacation and paying the hefty price tag that often goes along with it.
Plus, we want to do a bigger trip later in the year anyway, so this way we can save up and (hopefully) go all out. Adulting…it’s happening, folks!
As part of our staycation, we went to a local beach, took the train into the city and explored, and for our last day we decided to go to Michigan and pick blueberries.
It was a first for all of us – we’ve picked strawberries (lots of bending in the hot, hot sun) and raspberries right in our own backyard (lots of avoiding buzzing bees and thorny branches under some semblance of shade). A former boss of mine used to bring back a giant box full of blueberries that she would pick annually with her family in northern Michigan, and those blueberries were some of the best that I had ever had – sweet, slightly tart with a delicious tang. Ever since tasting those blueberries, I’ve been hankering to mosey on over to Michigan to pick some of my own.
This year, we finally got our chance. Instead of Northern Michigan, we went to the Southwest corner of the state and went to an orchard near the lake, hidden behind thicks of luminescent forested vegetation. We were all given white buckets to hang from our necks to hold the berries as we picked. The bushes were large – many bigger than me – practically dripping with plump, sweet berries begging to be plucked off.
In all, we picked four pounds(!) of blueberries, measured out and handed to us in a clear bag to taunt us on the long drive home. Mile-wise it actually wasn’t too long to our house, but getting through Indiana was a huge pain in the rear due to a very poorly planned highway system that caused impressively awful traffic snarls.
I was slightly vexed by how to use all of those berries. Sure, we could have easily eaten all of them right out of the bag (which we did with many of them), but I wanted an excuse to bake with them because the quality of ingredients really matters to me. There’s a huge taste difference in baking with store-bought berries and with those that you get straight from the orchard.
In my search for recipes, I came across a Nordic one for a blueberry tart with a rye crust. Honestly, I’m normally not a huge fan of rye bread, but since rye flour is used a lot in Nordic cuisine I figured I’d give it a shot. Many Nordic breads trend toward the rye variety, resulting in a dense, dark brick with lots of nuts and seeds dispersed throughout. In this case, however, the crust was meant to have more of a more graham-cracker like texture, with the rye flour providing a nice complement to the sweetly tart almond and blueberry filling.
I made two batches – one did not turn out so well since I overfilled them…whoops. After learning from this rookie mistake, the next batch turned out much, much better. The recipe itself was not too difficult to execute, nor were the ingredients terribly hard to procure, which was a nice change of pace from the last few I have made for the blog.
The tarts tasted delicious – the rye, almond and blueberry flavors synced quite nicely together, providing a subtly rich, sweet and tart tasting experience.
All in all, a pretty good way to use up some of those blueberries!
*This recipe was made and adapted from the blog Outside Oslo, by way of the Nordic Bakery Cookbook. Outside Oslo is written by a journalist turned food writer / blogger, and is an absolutely fantastic source of Nordic cuisine. Highly recommend you check it out!