Once in a Blue Moon

Mark and I lived in Maine for 10 years. Literally, it was 10 years to the day.

We moved in with great excitement on a sunny October day in 1995, and exited hastily on a cloudy, rainy October day 10 years later, wind whipping all around as if pushing us southward over the bridge. We headed happily to our sunny new life in Tucson.

As much as we love where we live now, we also loved living in Maine, in our 1806 Cape Cod-style house, with its expansive lawn and beautiful cottage garden.

Just recently, we returned to visit the New England Seacoast over the 4th of July. We were there briefly and remembered how much we enjoyed our years there, how quaint the colonial villages and seaports are, and especially how much we miss our friends.

We got together with several, but missed seeing others - we will need to remedy that soon with another trip.

Similar to our home here in Tucson, it was a place we loved having our friends “from away” come to visit. As you can imagine, I loved to cook for everyone.

It was the kind of home people dream of when envisioning life in a small New England coastal town. Cozy living rooms with welcoming fireplaces, a country kitchen, a candlelit dining room, and comfortable, welcoming beds tucked under the steep roof.

The gardens were quite beautiful in their seasons. On our recent holiday, there was a lot of wistful reminiscing. It’s easy to forget the misery of winter when you visit for a couple of beautiful summer days...

We spoke of several recipes that were inherently tied to the region: lobster and clams and tiny Gulf-of-Maine shrimp, of course. Also, in high summer, anything involving blueberries. Today’s is one such recipe - one I made often for hot sticky summer evenings.

Once in a blue moon, we make this soup, as we like to keep it special. And, speaking of "once in a blue moon," can you believe we are at the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing? I remember watching it with my brothers late at night on a small black and white television.

Back to the soup.... it is good as a starter or a dessert, and it brings together seasonal berries, lavender from the garden, and syrup from the late-winter’s sugaring of the maples.

~ David

Blueberry-Lavender Soup
Adapted from Cooking in the Shaker Spirit, by James Haller

2 pints blueberries
1 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried culinary lavender buds
1 cup light cream
1 cup buttermilk

Wash the berries and combine them with the maple syrup and lemon juice in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer the mixture for 30 minutes. Let cool, then purée in a blender, and strain into a large bowl.

While the blueberries are cooking, place the lavender buds and the cream in a 2-cup, microwave-safe measuring cup. Microwave on high for 1 minute, then let the lavender steep at room temperature for 10 minutes. Add the buttermilk and chill. It will basically become crème fraîche.

When berries are cool, strain the cream mixture into the strained blueberries and mix well.

Chill for at least 4 hours prior to serving. Serves 4-6. 

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