Sweet as Pie

Blueberry Pie

Blueberries. Sweet on my tongue. Nectarines. Just a touch of tartness. Pie crust. Buttery, crumbly. Breakfast, yes. No, I don't usually eat pie in the morning.

This pie is the first from my older daughter's hands. And it is good.

Growing, she is. Sweet, this is, even as it softly pierces my heart with a little sorrow because it signals a childhood just now beginning to recede.

Still, this may be the best darn blueberry pie I've ever eaten. Certainly that I've ever eaten for breakfast. Knowing that it is from her hands too... well, this is sweet as pie.

(Note: the little cookie-like thing in the center of the pie is Sonia's creation, using some leftover dough. Filled with a slice of nectarine and chocolate chips.)

Sara's Blueberry Pie


• 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (we ground ours fresh from soft-wheat berries)
• 1 stick salted butter
• bit of water, as needed

Work butter into flour with fingers until crumbly. Add water as needed, one TB at a time, to make moist enough to form a ball. Roll out on well-floured surface. Don't worry if the crust falls apart when you put it in the plate. Sara just pieced hers together and remolded it. Still delicious, I assure you.

Make little slits in the bottom of the crust with the tip of a knife and pre-cook the crust at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Then fill with...


• 2 bags Cascadian Farm organic frozen blueberries (or equivalent fresh)
• a little less than 1/2 tsp cinnamon
• few pinches salt
• a little less than 1/2 cup raw cane sugar
• a few pours of orange juice
• 2 generous TB organic cornstarch

Heat all on low until it begins to thicken. Pour into pre-cooked pie crust. Garnish with sliced nectarines and leftover crust strips. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Eat. For dessert, or breakfast. : )

Blueberry Pie photo, by L.L. Barkat.

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Loving a Potato

Potatoes with Rosemary

Standing over the cutting board, I hold the red potato firmly with my left hand. I feel its roundness, the smooth coolness of its skin.


The flesh is firm.

Slice, slice, slice.

I pour all my love into slicing this potato.

Something is happening to me. I can't even slice a potato anymore without oozing love.

So when I begin reading The Supper of the Lamb, I am relieved. Comforted. I feel understood. Capon says this...

Turn a statue over to a boor, and his boredom will break it to bits— witness the ruined monuments of antiquity. On the other hand, turn a shack over to a lover; for all its poverty, its lights and shadows warm a little and its numbed surfaces prickle with feeling.

Or... peel an orange. Do it lovingly— in perfect quarters like little boats, or in staggered exfoliations like a flat map of the round world, or in one long spiral, as my grandfather used to do.

So I am not alone in loving a potato. Even old men know the mystery that is just now in my heart.

Potatoes with Rosemary

I love to cook with ingredients that are fresh from the farmer's market. These potatoes have spring onions, sweet beyond imagining. And rosemary from my garden.

Saute in oil until golden and set aside:

• 2 medium sized spring onions, sliced chunky, including some of green stalks

Saute until tender, about 15-20 minutes...

• 4 or 5 potatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes

Add and saute 5 more minutes...

• the pre-cooked onions
• canned or diced fresh tomatoes, about 1 cup
• sprig of rosemary about two inches long, minced


• salt and pepper to taste
• few pours olive oil

Serve with crusty whole grain buttered bread, fresh green beans, and lentil salad.

Potatoes with Rosemary photo, by L.L. Barkat.

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Designing with Biophilia in Mind

Green Wall Building Paris

One of my all-time favorite books on eco-conscious design is Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.

In this book, McDonough and Braungart tell about a factory they designed. A factory you and I might actually want to work in. They designed it with "biophilia" in mind— people's love of the outdoors. Here's the marvelous description of this place that increased worker's productivity. And we should not be surprised, according to recent research that suggests nature's healing, focusing power...

We wanted to give workers the feeling that they'd spent the day outdoors, unlike workers in the conventional factory of the Industrial Revolution, who might not see the daylight until the weekend. The offices and manufacturing space that we designed for Herman Miller were built for only 10 percent more money than it would have cost to erect a standard prefabricated metal factory building. We designed the factory around a tree-lined interior conceived as a brightly daylit "street" that ran the entire length of the building. There are rooftop skylights everywhere the workers are stationed, and the manufacturing space offers views of both the internal street and the outdoors, so that even as they work indoors, employees get to participate in the cycles of the days and seasons....The factory was designed to celebrate the local landscape and to invite indigenous species back to the site instead of scaring them away. Storm water and waste water are channeled through a series of connected wetlands that clean them, in the process of lightening the load on the local river... p.75

If you click over to the Herman Miller page, you can see some of the company's beautiful buildings. And maybe be inspired to include more green space and daylight in your own places of work, community, and even public schools. Now wouldn't that be a beautiful thing?

Green-Walled Building in Paris, photo by J Barkat.

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Deliver Us From Me-Ville

Deliver Us From Me-Ville

Every few years or so (sometimes every five), I make myself do it. Shop for new clothes.

Within minutes of reaching the mall, it is woefully obvious that I have not kept up with the task of clothing myself, putting shoes on my feet. I feel dizzy. Overstimulated. Confused. Even depressed. How will I ever find the few things I need, in the midst of plenty?

I come with simple lists. Brown sandals I could wear with a skirt. A skirt I could wear with a brown linen blouse. A white top and maybe a black one. White and black go with everything— even the skirt I am just now looking for.

Every ten years or so, I go over the top. I buy jewelry as well.

This week and last week, I made my trek to the malls. I found some things I will keep. I found some things I have already taken back and others that still need to be returned. I found, too, that shopping makes me think of a book I was recently given...

In Deliver Us From Me-Ville, author David Zimmerman says this: "Society doesn't consider high self-esteem merely healthy; it considers it noble. If you don't see yourself as important, yo, you're seen as upsetting the natural order." (p.30)

I felt this keenly when I picked up a pair of $500 sandals (and quickly put them down again!); how important would I be if I bothered to adorn my less-than-noble feet with shoes of such noble price? It felt almost laughable, yet not. The salesman had all the right words to say, to try to convince me that this was the natural order of things and that I should accept my place in this order.

At the jewelry and accessories store, it was more of the same. When the saleswoman asked if the necklace, earrings and bracelet were a gift, I said, "Well, not really. They're for me." She responded, without missing a beat, "That's even better. You're the most important person."

I felt something within me twist when I heard these words. "No, I'm not, really," I replied. She would have none of that. "Yes you are! You deserve this."

Should I walk out of the store? I thought briefly of leaving my purchase at the counter, but remembered it could be years before I would come back to such a place.

It took me two days to clothe myself, put shoes on my feet. It will take me a few more days to return some of the things I now realize I don't need. I hope it takes less than a few years to shake off the "me-messages" that are yet trying to crawl into my heart.

Oh, Lord, deliver us from me-ville.

Deliver Us From Me-Ville photo, by L.L. Barkat.


Butterfly Mama's Oh Me

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