Yesterday, I found out a friend from college died. We weren’t super close, but it was a relationship that felt genuine. They were one of those people who always remembered everything you told them and hugged you every time you ran into each other, and they reminded you that you were appreciated. Their smile always brightened your day. Death remains a reminder to never take the people we love for granted, which can be a challenge when we all have a thousand things on our to-do lists.
A different friend helped me prepare for a nerve-wracking job interview a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been trying to think of a way to repay them. My mind immediately went to food.
I first made lemon cardamom cookies, but our oven temp was off and the cookies burned on the bottom. Fine for us to eat, but I wanted to give my friend something more worthy. A few days later, I tried again, this time with a box of brownies. What could go wrong? Apparently the temperature of the oven, again. I thought the brownies were ready, but once I let them cool, I realized they were definitely under baked. I couldn’t serve this to someone who took time out of their day to help me.
It’s been a few days since then, and my desire to cook or bake is minimal at best. But I’m heading back to the kitchen at 7 p.m. now because I feel so grateful for my friends, all of them, especially the ones helping me get through this pandemic and this time in my life. Pouring that love and appreciation into a bowl of brownie batter or cookie dough seems like the best way for me to express that to my friends right now. It’s a recurring theme in this column: make something yummy and give it to someone you love.
We just passed Valentine’s Day, a celebration of love, usually romantic. But, most Valentine’s Days for me have been focused and centered on my friends. My partner and I don’t really celebrate because we think we want to celebrate our love and each other all year long, not just on Feb. 14.
The same should be for friendships, which in my experience, have been some of the most important, and life changing relationships in my life.
I have been thinking about a falling out I had with an old best friend from the past. Seperating from that friend was more heartbreaking than any romantic breakup I experienced. I think society puts a lot of importance on romantic relationships, but arguably, our network of supportive friendships are the people who help us move through this life.
I remember being really young when my grandma told me how important her friendships were to her. It was the family she got to choose. That’s always stuck with me.
With that said, it feels like the right time to make some of my grandma’s blueberry crumble.
If I had a signature recipe, this would be it. It’s one I’ve written extensively about in the past, specifically in college when I was taking a food writing class. I’d say it’s also one of my grandma’s signature recipes. She started making it when she was a young teacher, wife and mother in Anchorage. The recipe is from an Anchorage Women’s Club cookbook my great grandma gifted her. She never changed anything in the recipe, which she says is perfect the way it is.
Every time I make this I think about my grandma, and blueberry picking for my birthday when I was little. Both of which are nice thoughts during cold dark days. It’s also a great recipe to use up some of the frozen berries you have stored. I’ve made this recipe using blueberries, cranberries, raspberries and various mixes of all four. It’s very versatile.
I don’t have much else to say this week, except to hold your loved ones close, tell them you care, show up for them and cherish them.
So this week, I’m making and sharing this crumble, sending cards to friends far away and messaging old pals to let them know I’m here for them.
4 cups blueberries or other berry/fruit
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
For the topping:
1 1⁄2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup rolled oats
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Place the blueberries into a baking dish. Pour in the sugar and flour, and stir with a spatula until the blueberries are evenly coated. Distribute evenly across the bottom of the baking dish.
3. For the topping: in a separate bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, flour and oats. Mix until evenly combined, then spread across the top of the blueberry mixture with a spatula.