I'm discovering that THE EARTH CULTIVATES LIFE, WHETHER WE PLANT it INTENTIONALLY OR stumble across IT IN THE WILD.
I've always admired my mother in law and her green thumb. Earlier this summer, she taught me how to plant tomatoes and lettuce. Since then, I've been fascinated with the growing process. Last week, I wandered through her garden, nibbling on raspberries picked from the bush right next to me. I passed swarms of mint, a few tomato plants, and blueberry bushes. At the end of her garden, I came across a patch of rhubarb, and was inspired to use it somehow. So I got down on my knees and started pulling, not knowing what I would make, but amazed by the red, leafy stalks in my hands that once were seeds.
Later that week, we drove to the top of Mt. Battie to show my parents a breathtaking view of Camden harbor. Minutes later, children with fists full of berries came running up the mountain. I overheard their mom tell them that blueberry picking was her favorite thing to do as a kid in the summer. When I realized that wild blueberries were growing on the side of the mountain, I was blown away. Growing up in suburban Wisconsin, I had never seen blueberries grown in a garden, let alone in the wild. I'd only seen them packaged in plastic containers at the grocery store or at the farmers market. There was a disconnect between how I had seen them and the reality that they can grow in the wild. Finding those blueberries felt like finding a gold mine that only a few people knew about. Danny ran to the car to grab some paper bags, and we spent the next half hour eating, picking, and filling up our bags with the juicy treasure.
Those two experiences inspired me to make a dessert combining the two ingredients. If you're a fan of blueberries and rhubarb, give this a try!
Vanilla Shortcakes, Blueberry Rhubarb Topping, and Ginger Whipped Cream
**Serves 4 people
- 1 cup of unbleached flour
- 1 and 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup of heavy cream
- 2 T milk
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- sugar for sprinkling
Blueberry Rhubarb Topping
- 1 cup of blueberries
- 5-6 stalks of trimmed and diced rhubarb
- 5-6 T of sugar
- 1/4 cup water
Ginger Whipped Cream
- 1/4 tsp of grated or finely chopped ginger
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 3 T confectioners sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Grease or lay parchment paper on a baking sheet. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt until thoroughly combined. Create a hole in middle of dry mixture. Pour heavy cream, milk and vanilla into the hole. Carefully fold the dry mixture into the wet mixture until dough is moist throughout. The dough won't be completely smooth. It's okay if it's lumpy. Spoon 3 inch dollops of dough onto baking sheet, leaving a few inches in between each shortcake. Liberally sprinkle each shortcake with sugar before baking. Put shortcakes in oven for 15-17 minutes.
While shortcakes are baking, place topping mixture into a saucepan over medium heat. Gently stir mixture until sugar is dissolved. Let fruit mixture cook for 30 min or until fruit is soft, and a sauce has developed.
Combine whipped cream ingredients in bowl and mix on low until soft peaks form. Taste and add more ginger or vanilla as desired.
The next step is to assemble your shortcake. Spoon a generous amount of blueberry rhubarb topping over your warm shortcake, dollop with ginger whipped cream, and enjoy!