I wrote previously of my visit to my grandpa's camp this past weekend for his 90th birthday - a day he stubbornly refuses to acknowledge, though we do our best to spoil him in spite of his complaints. My grandpa is the most resilient and resolutely independent person I know, and as far as I can remember, he's always disliked anybody making a fuss over him. If he had his own way, he'd live with one plate, one spoon, one fork, one knife, and one cup. Most family visits end with us leaving with more than we came with - at least a third of my dad's wardrobe is made up of "donations" from my grandpa's closet (although to say that my grandpa "donated" the clothes is something of a misrepresentation, as my grandpa's method of "donating" items of any kind is to thrust them at you and say, "Take it! Take it!"). He's determined to get rid of all his worldly goods before his death, but so far my mother's been able to convince him to keep all the dishes and cups in the cupboard.
But for all his efforts to rid himself of all his possessions before dying, my grandpa has never been able to sit in the back seat of life. He can't not have something to do - if he runs out of projects, he invents one. A few summers ago, we arrived at his house (he still lives on his own) to find he had dug up half his front yard. "Levelling" he said.
He's also been a jack-of-all-trades his whole life, so if he doesn't have something to fix or tinker with, I wouldn't be surprised if he broke something just to give himself something to do. Several years ago, my parents' washing machine broke, and my mother called my grandpa to ask his advice - he got so excited that he nearly threatened to drive down just to take a look at it. In the past, my parents have seriously considered making use of his free labour in order to do all the household repairs my dad's never gotten around to doing.
This penchant of my grandpa's for fixing things, however, is something of a mixed blessing. He's like a basset hound when it comes to sniffing out broken or slightly malfunctioning appliances, but sometimes this creates more problems than it fixes. He once decided to use a lawn trimmer to strip paint off a deck. Apparently it worked. At first.
And even when his age does actually catch up to him, he still refuses to give into it. About a month ago, he had a horrible attack of gout, and his feet swelled about four times their size. He was in enormous pain and could barely walk and definitely couldn't drive. So he called a taxi and used a golf club as a cane to walk out to it. I believe my parents have managed to convince him that, in future situations such as these, he should call an ambulance.
But however much my grandpa dislikes us making a fuss over him or giving him presents, he always appreciated gifts and fussing in the form of food - especially sweets. On just about every visit to my grandpa must involve the baking of at least one batch of his favourite peanut butter cookies, and in addition to his usual gift of cookies this year, I was determined to bake a pie. It is summer, after all, and fruit is in abundance - it would have been a crime not to make a pie.
And so I made a blueberry peach pie, which my grandpa happily consumed for dessert with a scoop of freshly whipped cream, and again the next day. For lunch.
So here it is for you to go bake and devour. For dessert, or even lunch, if you so desire.
Blueberry Peach Pie
A sumptuous summer pie, bursting with fruit, this is best served with a bit of freshly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. If you don't have blueberries, raspberries would make a delightful substitute.
All Butter, Flaky Pie Dough
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
This is the best pie dough recipe I have ever used, and will ever use. The secret is cold, cold butter - trust me, the it makes all the difference!
2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1 tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 cup (8 ounces) Unsalted Butter (cold!)
Makes enough for dough for one double- or two single-crust pies.
1. Cut the butter into small cubes, then place on a plate and store in the freezer.
2. Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl.
3. In a beaker filled with ice cubes, pour in cold water and set aside.
4. Add butter cubes to the flour mixture, straight from the freezer, and use a pastry blender to work them into the mixture, using it to scoop and redistribute butter and flour to ensure an even distribution. When the butter pieces are all roughly pea-sized, stop - they will be uneven, and this is okay, as you don't want the butter to be mixed in too well. The secret to flaky pie dough is visible flecks of butter in the dough - trust me!
5. Starting with about a 1/2 cup of ice water (don't include the ice cubes!), drizzle it over the butter and flour mixture and mix in with a spatula by using a "pulling" motion. Continue to drizzle in ice-water, one tablespoon at a time, until you're pulling large clumps of dough with the spatula. Once you've reached this stage, use your hands to gather all the clumps together, drizzling in a little extra water if you need it, kneading it gently. The dough will likely still be a bit shaggy, and this is perfectly okay - you don't want it to be too sticky or wet.
6. Once you've formed a large ball of dough, break it into two (roughly) even pieces, and wrap each half in plastic wrap tightly, forming them into disk shapes.
7. Store the dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour before rolling out. The dough will keep well in the fridge for up to a week, so it's easy to make a night or two ahead of time. It can also be stored in the freezer for up to two months, just be sure that if you're storing the dough in the fridge or freezer for more than a day to double-wrap it in plastic to protect it from fridge/freezer smells. If using dough stored in the freezer, transfer it to the fridge a day ahead of time to defrost before using.
3 cups Sliced Ripe Peaches (about 4 large or 6 small)
2 cups Blueberries
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
1/4 cup Sugar
3 tbsp All-Purpose Flour or Cornstarch
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/8 tsp Nutmeg (optional)
1/8 tsp Salt
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then gently add the peaches to the boiling water and leave them for about 30 seconds. Remove the peaches, rinse them under cold water, then peel skins using your hands - they should slip right off. Halve and pit the peaches, then slice into bite-size pieces and place in a large bowl.
3. Wash the blueberries and sort through them to make sure all the stems are removed before adding them to the peaches with the lemon juice, then mix together. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour or cornstarch, spices and salt until well mixed, then add to the fruit mixture and mix until evenly coated.
4. On a well-floured surface, place one disk of dough, making sure to lightly flour its surface, and roll out with a lightly-floured rolling pin into a 12 to 13-inch wide circle (it should be at least two inches wider than your pie plate). Make sure to rotate and flip the dough over while rolling. For tips on rolling and crimping pie dough, see this awesome post by Smitten Kitchen.
5. Transfer the rolled out dough to your pie plate, either by folding it gently into quarters and placing it in the corner of the pie plate and unfolding, or by rolling it up around your rolling pin (like a poster) and unrolling it into the pie plate. Trim the overhang to one inch.
6. Scoop all of the filling into the dough-lined pie plate.
7. Roll out the other half of the dough using the same previous procedure, until about 12 or 13-inches in diameter. Using either one of the methods for placing the crust dough in the pie plate, cover the filling with the dough. Crimp the edges with your fingers, then cut several vent-slits in the lid with a sharp knife. If you have any extra pie dough left over after all the trimmings, you can use it to make decorative additions to the lid of the pie, or bake up separately, brushed with a bit of milk and sprinkled with sugar.
8. Lightly brush the pie lid with milk, and feel free to sprinkle it with sugar if you're so inclined.
9. Bake the pie at 425 for 15 - 20 minutes, until the crust is set and beginning to brown, then turn the heat down to 375 and bake for another 30 - 40 minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the crust is a golden brown.
10. Once the pie is baked, let cool at room temperature for at least 3 hours. You can of course serve it sooner than that, but the filling will likely be extra runny (which may or may not be a problem for you). You can store the pie at room temperature or in the fridge for several days - if it manages to last that long.