Thursday, September 2, 2010

Traditions shared: Blackberry Pie Summers and Macedonian Spanakopita

September's arrival threw me into a mini panic, summer weather hasn't quite arrived yet, so summer can't be over. But it is September and Labor Day is coming.  Yikes, fall and winter must be lined up right  behind that coastal fog bank that has blanketed us so consistently.  I knew I had to beat back these concerns so I set out to gather blackberries to make a  pie. Blackberries were the wild free fruit of my childhood summers in Mill Valley and then later a big part of our children's summer day's in Sebastopol. It's family tradition to pick and eat almost just as many berries fresh off the bush as we'd  bring home for jam and pie.  As one of our girl's often said, "I don't really need a bucket, I have my own little bucket right here..." and she'd pop a big purple-blue-black-juicy- berry still warm from the sun into her mouth.

As there are no blackberries ripening in my current neighborhood I set out for the  farmer's market.  You've heard that scarcity and demand can control price?  The organic berry farmer from warmer than Carmel Watsonville was charging more this week than he had all summer for the same amount of blackberries because, he explained, these were the last of the crop, he didn't have any more berries to sell.
I paid the price,  reminding myself that he had not only grown and tended them, he had picked them and boxed them and driven them to market and he would pay tax on the sale and tax on the land and what, after all  was $30 for all that work?  Yes, I  was seeing just how serious I was about having some semblance of summer as I have always thought of it... and that includes a blackberry pie.
 However, before I could get things any further along than mixing in sugar and lemon juice and corn starch to thicken the berries ( and take the picture above), our friend Blagojce arrived with sacks of groceries.  He had been promising to make spanakopita like they do "back home" in Macedonia.  Of course for such an offer I was willing to get out of the way.  As the berries need to sit a bit in their thickening sweetening state.... and as we have a one derriere kitchen in the cottage, I took refuge behind my camera.

Before I knew what hit me...there was butter melting

Leeks were sauteed
and spinach and chard had been cooked...apples had been cut...and simmered

 I mean things were cooking...or I should say men were cooking...

Layers of filo dough are brushed with butter and then feta and cooked spinach an chard and arranged...

rolling it up

When Mark's assistance wasn't required...we had live music

curled up like a snail...

These are oven- ready having been basted with butter and sprinkled with sesame seeds....

One batch baked receiving more butter and another ready to go in the oven...some are leek, some are greens and feta and some are apple...
they all were good.

             And now there was room and time for me to mix up my dough and roll out the crust for my               pie...before dinner was served.

Oh, and corn on the cob was steamed...that's pretty summertime, isn't it?

By the time we had our Macedonian spanakopita, eaten with big bowls of yogurt, the pie was cooling.
How about pie for breakfast?  Now that sounds like summertime.

No men were injured in the making of this dinner.




This is an awesome post, Jeannette. You had me right from the great title. And all that good food. I love when the men cook dinner and all I have to do is dessert. Blackberry pie ~ yum!

We have a small, what we call "one butt kitchen", as well. I told some little boys (4 and 6) once that were visiting us (after I asked their mom if they could say butt.)

Later as we were enjoying a meal, one of the wee guys said, "Glenda, is you have little butts like us, your kitchen is a 'two butt kitchen.' " Cuties.

Hope the sun pops through and you get a few more days of summer.


Sarah Beth said...


GretchenJoanna said...

Now I'm inspired to make spanikopita...must read this post again when the inspiration flags, as I know it will. But the pictures make it look easy....well, easy enough to be worth the eating. mmm-mmm You've reminded me that I never did have a straight-up blackberry pie this (non)summer. May God grant me another one someday....