There are various signposts in the course of a year; New Year's Day, the first day of spring, Fourth of July. Around here one of those signposts is the Ann Arbor Art Fair. Purported to be the largest art fair in America, it draws local, national and international artisans whose booths take over most of the downtown streets.
The fair is actually a combination of three fairs that draws roughly 500,000 people annually to the city of Ann Arbor. For four days the streets are cordoned off and booths are set up selling everything from sculptures to jewelry, from glass works to clothing; a shopping orgy of everything from paintings to macrame, sold by artists you'd actively ignore if their works were in a gallery.
It runs for four days in the middle of July during what is invariably the hottest week of the summer. I hate it. I hate it for a number of reasons, even though I take an evil glee in keeping track of the daily number of visitors taken to the hospital for heat stress. I hate it because it's impossible to go downtown. After having ceded the city to the student population for much of the year, we lose it again to this roving band of Amish, retired, "natural", hey-haven't-you-heard?-the-60's-are-way-over, "craftsmen" who set up shop on the city streets. Parking disappears, forget about going to a restaurant.
The second reason I hate it is that SSSal loves it and I'm always recruited to be the shuttle bus for her and her friends. Every year I'm destined to be making at least one drop-off and pick-up run, (more if they start to buy big items). SSSal tends to only buy small, glass based items. Many of the designer plates you see in my photos are art fair purchases. Thankfully she has the patience and interest to troll the booths for these finds, I don't.
There is one reason I enjoy the Art Fair. It is also the signal of the halfway point of summer. In a very few weeks, the real bounty of the growing season will be coming in. Sweet corn, cucumbers, raspberries, peaches, tomatoes and blueberries. As a kid, blueberries always meant the end of summer vacation. As an adult, blueberries are the harbinger of fall. Soon the heat will break, the students will return and football (the American kind) will be back on TV.
Tomatoes are a celebration of summer, blueberries are a portend of winter. So here's a preemptive recipe. A treat to prepare as the blueberries come to market in your area. Oddly enough, SSSal says this recipe works better if you've frozen the berries. Blueberry Buckle, a morning coffee cake, made better with the use of the Baker's Edge Baking Pan. Enjoy, there's still a long way to go this summer, but fall's acomin'.
by SeaShellSal (handed down from iMogene)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a glass baking dish with Pam, preferably the kind with a bit of flour, especially for baking. Or use the Baker's Edge pan for improved "corners".
Mix together in a medium bowl with a wooden spoon:
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup softened shortening (Crisco - do not substitute butter)
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk (no fat is acceptable)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups drained blueberries (Note: Freeze blueberries overnight. Toss with 2 TBSP flour before adding to the mix. DO NOT THAW)
The batter will be gooey. Spread it in the bottom of your pan. Don't worry about getting it smooth as the cracks and crevices are good to hold the crumble topping.
For the Crumble Topping, stir together:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Mix in with a fork
1/4 cup softened butter (not melted)
Sprinkle the topping over the batter and pop in the oven.
The buckle will take 40 - 45 minutes on regular bake in a glass baking dish. In the Baker's Edge pan, with convection bake, the cooking time will be dramatically shorter (approx 30 minutes). The buckle is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean; I would suggest checking every 5 minutes after the first 25 minutes of baking. You want a nice brown crunchy top.
There you go. I think I'll go downtown for lunch. Until next time, remember, you can do it you can cook.