Mondays are not usually the most desired day of the week. It means waking up early, going back to work, and generally looking “forward” to the rest of the week ahead. Right now, every Monday I tend to look forward to getting involved in the crazy unrealistic antics of the Bachelorette on Monday nights, but aside from that, it’s pretty much a dull day. That is, unless you are a teacher (summer’s off), or a Coast Guard pilot (have random days off).
Rob and I had a huge Honey-Do list of tasks for Monday, all of which necessary, but nothing to write home about. You know the things I’m talking about – the “Dos” that pile up – cleaning out the garage, go through the wardrobe, donate to Goodwill, etc. But when Rob got home from work Monday morning (he had overnight duty the night before), we were in no mood for cleaning.
Last week, my mom was visiting us, and we had the best time. We hiked, we ate, we shopped, we ate, we cooked, and yes, we ate some more. There were memorable experiences with snakes, a questionable experience with Sasquatch, a terrifying chipmunk, and a Coast Guard C-130 to start off our time together with a bang. Despite enduring the wonderful Pacific Northwest travel discrepancies, hopefully, my mom left here with a satiated, warm, and comfortable feeling that I hope all my guests feel when then they depart. I know I had that feeling, and still do… I miss her.
Needless to say, after exploring Cape Cod, and then playing around Oregon with my mom, the last thing Rob and I wanted to do was pick up a sponge.
The SUN was out (it was a “Yay Oregon!” day), and we had planned to go blueberry picking at some point this summer. So, agreeing that we would come home and be responsible adults right after picking blueberries, we put on our hats and sunscreen and drove inland to the warm, beautiful farming valley.
When it comes to blueberries, Rob and I differ in our gleaning ways, so to speak. He is diligent, gentle, simply nudging blueberries with his knuckle and letting the ripe ones fall off into his bucket. They make the softest little plop, plop, plop, a sound that is both exciting and humble simultaneously. He finds the biggest berries (like a true man would), and bypasses the ones that aren’t on the verge of bursting. He has a keen eye and being tall, gets the berries on the top of the bush, the ones gathering the most sun until their little juices are almost starting to bubble – those are the sweetest ones.
I, on the other hand, have my own way of gathering the blue loot. Drawn to the clumps of berries hanging beneath the leaves and thin branches for dear life (similar to wine grapes hanging off the vine, which is probably why I’m drawn to them), I softly lift up the branch, find the hidden berries, take the bunch with one hand and carefully massage the berries. The berries that are ripe easily fall out of the clump into my other open hand waiting to catch. While lacking the delicacy that Rob displays leaves me with a few discarded berries, I find the dark hidden gems, and the efficiency leaves me with a full bucket.
We didn’t chat much during our picking. We just stood side by side, tasting a berry off each new bush (each bush produces slightly different tasting berries), and every once in a while looked up and exchanged a simple smile. We were in our own little blueberry world, feeling close to nature (such a clichéd, hippie phrase, but it does explain the feeling), and close to each other. Blueberry picking was one of the first things Rob took me to experience when I first moved to Oregon, which made the experience that much more meaningful.
Twenty-three pounds of blueberries later, we piled back into the car, sweating, wiping off the occasional little spider or silverfish, and smiling from ear to ear. But then, it was back home to be the responsible adults we said we would be. Or so we thought.
By the end of the afternoon, we had walked through one of the most beautiful (and oldest) wineries in Oregon, joined their wine club (after all, who knows where the Coast Guard will send us in two years – we must enjoy as much as we can while we are still living here!), and ate the best house-made gardenburgers I’ve ever had in my life. Stay tuned: I’m going to be experimenting to get this one down perfectly.
The butter on the bread (or the icing on the cake, whatever your taste may be) that ended our spontaneous outing was the nearly empty Costco we visited to pick up some household necessities, like paper towels and yogurt. And a cookbook. And gourmet mushrooms. And a 5-pound bag of trail mix. Se le vie.
We were home just in time to feed the cranky puppy (how dare we have fun without him!), and, you guessed it, watch the Bachelorette.
While Rob and I were picking the juicy berries and tasting the intricate wines, both our minds were flooding with ideas and recipes to make the most fabulous use out of our blueberries. But, with Rob having to go back to the reality called a job, I figured I’d send him off with a comfortable classic, as well as one of his favorites: Blueberry Muffins. With extra blueberries. We ate one together this morning, still way too hot from the oven, and he took two more for the road.
Sig is watching me type… I think I’ll make him jealous and have two more now, as well.
- 2 c fresh, organic blueberries
- 1 3/4 c all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 c sugar (I use organic cane sugar)
- 8 oz. thick greek yogurt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- zest of 1 lemon
- Raw sugar, for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and grease and lightly flour a standard muffin tin.
In a stand mixer (or using a hand mixer), cream together the yogurt and sugar. Once sugar starts to dissolve, add the vanilla extract, and mix until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together, reserving the blueberries and lemon zest. In thirds, add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until just incorporated. Add in the lemon zest, and mix until (once again) just incorporated. Gently fold in the blueberries with a spatula, being careful not to break the berries.
Evenly scoop the batter into the muffin tin, and top the batter with a sprinkle of raw sugar. Bake until golden, and a toothpick comes out clean.
Let cool (or not) and Enjoy!