posts may contain Amazon affiliate links, which earn me a small commission when you buy (but doesn't cost you anything extra). Occasionally I receive free products and/or run sponsored posts—this will always be stated clearly in the post. Thank you for supporting this blog.

This website contains some quotations, excerpts, and screen clips from copyrighted material. These uses fall well within the copyright doctrine of "Fair Use".
Monday, March 21, 2016

Blueberry Thyme Pie inspired by North of Here

Blueberry Thyme Pie
Today I'm hosting a book tour stop for the novel North of Here by Laurel Saville. The story centers around 4 characters and is divided into sections, each of which contain a period of interaction between 2 of them that trickle outwards and affect all of them. And while I did enjoy the way it was broken up, and the eloquent writing, I wasn't as fond of the book itself.

I don't know what it is, but lately I've found myself choosing books that are a bit unsettling. I'm very much an escapist reader by choice and want to be transported away from the dismal and despressive. But this book lays both on heavy. Plus, the main characters are an entirely unlikable bunch, with Dix being the only port in the storm.

First we've got Miranda, who has grown up privileged (rich). She loses her brother, father, and mother in quick succession and succumbs to the weight of everything that entails. In the beginning of the story I think I'm going to like her...that she is going to overcome obstacles and find her strength. Let's just say that I was disappointed to say the least. She basically disgusted me.

Next we meet Dix, a smart, rugged, handy lead man sort who winds up being much more than meets the eye...and maybe the only truly good person in the bunch.
Blueberry Thyme Pie
Speaking of disgust, I can't really talk about the repulsive Darius aka David. Supposedly a slight but great looking trust fund baby who leaves the next and turns into a self-proclaimed guru for lost souls. He's described as charming, but there wasn't a single word in the book that ever made me see that side of him.

Lastly there is Sally, a gruff social worker who doesn't give the best first impression. I'll admit that she grew on me and proved that she had heart and compassion by the end of the book, but I thought the way her character character was written to be in contrast with itself.

While not a fun read, I did want to make it through to the end, to see if things resolved themselves. They do, but not in the way I expected them to. While there was a bit of a "happy" ending, too much icky negativity pervaded the story to mean anything.
Blueberry Thyme Pie
It wasn't a "foodie read", which can sometimes help to redeem books in my eyes, but there was some mention of food and booze throughout. Miranda's mother drank gin by the gallon, while her father favored whiskey. Most, if not all, of the food references centered around the few positive moments in the book...and the characters who were better people. Much of it around Dix, since he very much lived off of hunting, fishing, and locally sourced food. His memories of his parents showing "their love with food, not money".

Food mentioned in conjunction with Dix was always the most appealing: a bag of spring greens, homemade containers of goat's milk yogurt, thermoses of soup and sandwiches on thick slabs of homemade bread, a leftover meatloaf sandwich and a beer. Heck, even the rice and ground venison he cooked up for a dog.

Poorly canned jars of preserves and rotten vegetables are what represent Darius. Pizza and beer represent Sally. And before Miranda was completely lost and still seemed to hold hope and the future in her heart, she produced some good food, as well...namely beautiful and delicious pies.
Blueberry Thyme Pie
The next weekend, Miranda arrived at the farmers' market with a pie in hand. She had made two—both blueberry, Dix's favorite. One for him, and one to give to the stranger who had given her a ring. The pies had used up a large portion of the fruit she had collected, on her knees, from the wild, low bushes full of small, sweet berries. (p.102)

I decided that making Dix's favorite type of pie was the way to go with this book. To put a bit of a unique spin on that I think Dix would approve of...I blitzed some fresh thyme leaves with the sugar first, adding another level of flavor to the filling. I have to say, it was a pretty amazing idea (toot! toot!).

Blueberry Thyme Pie
Homemade blueberry pie infused with fresh thyme.
Print Friendly and PDF
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 15 minutes (+ 60 minutes for dough to chill)
Cook Time: 45-55 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert blueberries herbs pie American

Ingredients (1 (8-inch) pie)
    for the crust:
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 4 ounces (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, diced
    • 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
    • 1 tablespoon cold gin (or vodka)
    for the blueberry thyme filling:
    • 5 cups fresh blueberries
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves + more to garnish (optional)
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • pinch of kosher salt
    to finish:
    • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
    make the crust:
    Mix the flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Add the butter and work it in with a pastry blender or your finger tips until mixture resembles wet sand. Lightly beat the egg and yolk together. Add the eggs and the gin to the dough until it just holds together when pinched. Form into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

    Roll out half of the dough on a lightly floured surface to an 1/8-inch thickness. Wrap the dough around the rolling pin, and lay across an 8-inch pie plate. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

    make the filling:
    Put the blueberries into a large bowl. Combine sugar and thyme in a mini food processor and pulse until they are well combined. Pour over the blueberries, then add flour, salt, and lemon juice. Use a spoon or your hands to toss until combined.

    Heat oven to 400°F.

    finish the pie:
    Pour filling into refrigerated crust and set it on a foil-lined baking sheet (to catch any drips). Roll out the second half of the dough, leaving it whole or making a pattern as you wish, and drape over the top. Trim excess dough, then crimp the edges to seal. Dot the exposed filling with butter.
    Blueberry Thyme Pie ready for oven
    Slide the tray into the preheated oven and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until crust is golden and juices are bubbling through. Be sure to check halfway through baking, and if outer edge is getting too dark, cover with a pie crust shield or foil.

    Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool before slicing. I like mine heated back up and served with a scoop of buttermilk or vanilla ice cream.

    Store completely cooled pie at covered at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the fridge for up to 5 days (crust will get wetter the longer it sits, though).

    North of Here by Laurel Saville

    North of Here

    author: Laurel Saville
    publisher: Lake Union Publishing (March 1, 2016)
    source: TLC Book Tours
    hard cover: 258 pages

    "foodie" read: No, but there are a few good food-centered passages.

    random excerpt: Then one day there was the pie. It was a thing of beauty, with a delicate latticework of golden rust. The buttery pastry dissolved against his tongue and melded with the warm and syrupy apples that made up its filling. For this he had to thank her. In person. He cut two fresh pieces, scooped some vanilla ice cream he had in the basement freezer, and with a flashlight in his teeth to illuminate the way, walked toward the small patch of light that was her cottage. (p 113)

    teaser (from book jacket): The sounds of unexpected tragedies—aroll of thunder, the crack of metal on metal—leave Miranda in shock amid the ruins of her broken family.

    As she searches for new meaning in her life, Miranda finds quiet refuge with her family's handyman, Dix, in his cabin in the dark forests of the Adirondack Mountains. Dix is kind, dependable, and good wit an ax—the right man to help the sheltered Miranda heal—but ultimately, her sadness creates a void even Dix can't fill.

    When a man from her distant past turns up, the handsome idealist now known as Darius, he offers Miranda a chance to do meaningful work at The Source, a secluded property filled with his nature worshipers. Miranda feels this charismatic guru is the key to remaking her life, but her grief and desire for love also create an opportunity for his deception. And in her desperate quest to find herself after losing almost everything, Miranda and Dix could pay a higher price than they ever imagined.

    about the author: Laurel Saville is the award-winning author of the memoir Unraveling Anne, the novel Henry and Rachel, and the four-part short story “How Much Living Can You Buy,” as well as numerous essays, short stories, and articles. She has an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from the Writing Seminars at Bennington College.
    author Laurel Saville

    connect with the author: website | facebook | twitter

    recipe inspired by the book: Blueberry Thyme Pie


    I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.