Once upon a time, my path crossed with a woman named Patry Francis. She was a writer and I was a writer, and she told a story about a long-ago time when she had been served a blueberry pie at the home of Marilynne Robinson, where Patry had the good fortune of being a dinner guest. The pie was not your usual blueberry pie--it had a layer of whipped cream and a layer of blueberries--and Patry remembered it fondly all those years, hoping to someday encounter it again. In stepped I, who was certain that I had the recipe for this very pie--from an old issue of Gourmet magazine. I sent her a copy (she lived on Cape Cod, whereas I live in Illinois), and we vowed to make this pie to honor the serendipity of our friendship and this pie-discovery and our writing muses (who always need honoring in whatever form they happen to take).
We have made this pie for multiple years now--she on the East Coast, me in the Midwest. Patry has written about it on her blog. I have written about it on my blog. Others have baked the pie and written about it on their blogs. One year, Patry was very sick, and I wasn't sure she would be able to make the pie, but she did nonetheless. One year, my muse was the little tomboy-girl Sal, from Blueberries for Sal. One year, I shared the pie with my book group. One year I shared it with my neighbors at our block party. Every year, I worry (but every year a little less) about whether the blueberries will cook down during their session in the pot with the sugar and corn starch (they seem so dry; it seems so impossible that they could transform).This year I was practically serene during this phase.
This year, I made the pie in phases--the crust on Sunday, then into the freezer with it; the cooked blueberry part before dinner last night, so it had time to come to room temperature then sit in the refrigerator for its allotted time before pie-construction would be permissible. Whipping the cream came after dinner, then assembly, then back to the refrigerator for another prescribed spell before eating.
My daughter is home for a visit, and I waited to make it so that she would be here to enjoy it with me. I have done this other years as well. We have what we call a pie party well after dinner each night. She eats very slowly to make it last.
My daughter pointed out that my pie is a little different this year, and I do agree. The crust is a little crustier (in an excellent way, I think), and there seems to be something a little different too about the way the blueberries settled onto the cream. And why shouldn't things be a little different from year to year over all these years? Below is the photo of this year's pie, which I placed next to an image from my desk calendar. I chose this calendar because its theme is magic, and for every week, it has a vintage poster or photo depicting magic in some form.
My new novel has circus and magic and illusion as one of its themes, and so I chose the calendar for inspiration. And now to the pie.