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Recipe: blueberry pie

We watched as two young men played around in the snow, trying to impress their female companions. They were goofing off, acting stupidly. I turned to Cory and said, “So if one of those guys got himself into trouble, would you go rescue him?” Cory squinted under his sunglasses and looked in their direction then looked back at Jeremy who was setting an anchor in the snow, “Yeah, I would.” Cory, our wise Zen Master of the Mountain, taught us crevasse rescue several years ago. More than that, he taught us to be mindful of the mountains and their weather. Most of the time when we are in the backcountry, Jeremy is the most cautious one of the bunch. I think that’s partly his nature, but it’s also because of his training and experience in high-angle search and rescue. Cory is the only person I’ve met who is more careful than Jeremy. Cory is good people.

jeremy on the flanks of mount baker

You might think that if someone were in trouble, it’s a no-brainer to go and help them out, right?

We were hiking Saturday morning on a favorite trail of ours, making good time toward Pawnee Peak. As we neared the last set of switchbacks to the pass, we heard rockfall in the distance and hollering. Rockfall isn’t all that uncommon, but hollering – it sounded like someone was getting mauled. The wind was strong and I stopped, straining to listen. I asked Jeremy if he heard what I heard and he said yes. Then there was a distant shout to the east. Jeremy left the trail walking to the edge of the plateau that looked across a basin to a craggy ridge. I followed and we listened. Calls for help. We scanned the steep, loose slopes below the ridge for signs of a person, but nothing was visible. Jeremy said we needed to head back down the trail to get closer and see if we could locate the person. We returned to the trail and quickly made our way back across the plateau. A woman rounded the corner and we asked her if she had heard anything. Yes, she had. We asked if she had cell reception (we tried the iphone – nada). She said she had a spot transmitter – that it would notify authorities with her GPS location. Jeremy’s face lit up, but she said, “It won’t do any good because they’ll come here to me.” She asked if we were heading down and we said yes, that at least one of us was planning to go to the trailhead to get help and we were going to try and locate the person calling for help. She said, “Oh good, then I won’t bother going if you’re going.” She told us she was going to continue on up. We offered that there was no way to reach the person by going up. She insisted that this was the only way she could help, by maybe spotting him from above and she forged ahead. Really?! REALLY?! We were astonished. Neither of us believed her.

Jeremy was annoyed, but he didn’t want to waste any more time and we continued down. Why wouldn’t she offer to help? She could have handed that spot transmitter to Jeremy and if he located the fellow, could have sent for help right away with coordinates – it’s all about time. We figured she was just a selfish woman (not the word I used) who wanted to finish her hike. Nevermind that a man’s life could be on the line. I paused to listen and shouted back several times on the way down (because as Jeremy says – I’ve got the pipes) and we heard a few more calls for help. When we reached the closest point on the trail to the basin, a woman was there with two packs. Her husband had gone into the basin to try and locate the victim. Jeremy handed me unnecessary stuff that would slow him down. I gave him what little food we carried, and anything first-aid worthy. He said he was going to try and find the guy and maybe stabilize him if he could and that after I contacted authorities, we’d meet at the trailhead. With that, he set off – his sights on the scree slopes above. I took off down the trail and encountered a hasty search team a few miles later. I stopped to give them information. Someone who was climbing with the victim had run out for help ahead of me. That’s whose pack was on the side of the trail at one of the junctions. When I hiked out, the parking lot was full of Sheriff’s, emergency, and mountain rescue vehicles.

lots of commotion

I spoke to an officer who was taking witness accounts. The young man sitting across from the officer was the one who had run out for help. He looked so shaken. The officer took me to the search team and I showed them on the map where we thought the voice was coming from. The gentleman asked if they should approach from Blue Lake. No, no, I said. He’s on the south side of the ridge, approach from Long Lake. I realized that he wasn’t familiar with this part of the backcountry – rescue teams come from a wide area to help. I waited for Jeremy as teams of two and three carrying all manner of emergency equipment: a litter, oxygen tanks, racks of climbing gear, braces, first aid, marched into the forest. Helicopters thumped overhead. A couple of hours later, Jeremy emerged. Two other well-intentioned hikers had wandered about with no progress, but Jeremy got to within a few hundred feet of the victim. Turns out it was a father and his adult son. The father had fallen, the son went to find him and we assume was the one calling for help. Jeremy communicated a little with the son, but couldn’t get up to the rock chute without climbing gear. He heard coughing, some rock movement, but then nothing more. He went down and met with a search and rescue pair. They told him several SAR members were already on the plateau headed for Pawnee Peak. Jeremy said they wouldn’t be able to reach them from Pawnee Peak because of the technical ridge. They didn’t know where the victim was, so Jeremy pointed to the easternmost chute on the ridge and said he located them there. The safest way to reach him was by helicopter.

from an old photo of mine, jeremy showed me where the victim was

We learned via (really poorly reported) news that the man was airlifted out and that he was alive, albeit with severe injuries. We were relieved. Then we were angry because of this report (now defunct). Apparently, the woman we ran into on the trail whose hike was more important than helping someone in trouble was the one in the story. She most certainly didn’t activate her rescue beacon as soon as she heard the rock fall. We heard the accident around 9:05 am and we ran into her around 9:15 when she insisted it would do no good to signal for help. Even better than that, we now know why she wanted to finish her hike so badly… to write up a bloody trip report (also now defunct) published at 5:51 am Sunday morning. Despicable woman. What is wrong with some people?!

Okay, enough about that (I hate wasting energy on jerks). I’ve got quite a bit of travel coming up and I wanted to post this summer recipe before mid-autumn came and smacked me upside the head. You don’t see a lot of pies on urb. I love pie. Love pie. If I make a pie – especially a fruit pie – I will eat it. It beckons. That’s why I don’t make pie. I know, it’s an odd form of self-control, but it works.

summer’s bounty – blueberries

and butter, how apropos

As a I’ve mentioned in the past, my favorite way to eat fruit is straight up and fresh. The most wonderful thing about summer fruit is the (almost) overabundance. That’s when you don’t feel so guilty about using some of that bounty in a dessert… like pie.

add cold, cubed butter to dry ingredients

pulse, add water, gather the dough in a disk (or two)

Pies are dangerously simple. It’s a little scary how simple, because after you make one you think to yourself, “I should do this more often.” I made two of these pies because we dug into the first one so quickly, I never got a photograph. Following Elise’s recipe for blueberry pie, I used flour the first time around. That was excellent, but very oozy.

roll out chilled dough

line the pie plate

The second pie was prompted when I saw Elise’s post on blackberry pie. She used quick cooking instant tapioca instead of flour. I thought that might help the oozing and made a substitution, but kept everything else (the lemon peel, lemon juice, cinnamon, sugar) the same.

grated lemon peel

toss the fruit with everything

There is nothing quite so satisfying as mixing ingredients together in a large bowl and dumping it into a pie dish. In summer, I don’t want to sit around meticulously folding tiny pastries into delicate shapes. Kitchen-time takes a backseat to outdoor-time, you know?

dot the fruit with bits of butter

top with the other pie crust and crimp the edges

Pie is also forgiving in that “it’s rustic” way. My pies never come out perfectly and I’m okay with that *twitch*. It is part of the allure. A poorly shaped, frosted, and decorated cake doesn’t look rustic, it looks abused. But a pie? Charming.

brush the top with egg wash

cut slits in the top to release steam

When I baked the pie, I slid a foil-lined baking sheet onto the rack below the pie per Elise’s suggestion. It caught a few berry oozes, but more than that, it caught some of the butter dripping off the edge of the crust. Good call there.


love the pie

The tapioca version of pie held together better than the flour version, but there was still plenty of oozing. That’s just the nature of the pie, because if you aren’t trying to photograph a proper slice of blueberry pie, no one really cares if the luscious, glistening, deep purple berries spill across the plate. They won’t stay on the plate for very long at all.

just tell yourself it’s a serving of fruit

Blueberry Pie
[print recipe]
slightly modified from Simply Recipes

double all-butter pie crust
2 1/2 cups flour
16 tbsps unsalted butter, very cold and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar (3 tsps sugar for a sweet recipe)
4-8 tbsps ice water

Place butter cubes in freezer for at least 15 minutes to firm up and ensure they are cold. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor and pulse together. Add the butter and pulse until it resembles coarse meal with pea-sized bits of butter. Drizzle the water a tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition until it all starts to clump together. Empty the dough onto a clean surface and gently press together to form two disks. Try not to knead or work the dough too much, it will make the crust tough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. Remove from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. I like to place the dough on a large piece of plastic wrap on my work surface, then place another piece of plastic wrap on top and roll the dough out between the plastic. It makes it easier to handle the pastry when I want to transfer it to the pie dish. Roll it out to about a 12-inch circle and 1/8-inch thickness. Remove the top sheet of plastic and invert onto the pie dish. When the dough is arranged where you want it, peel off the second sheet of plastic (definitely don’t leave that on!). Chill in refrigerator for about a half hour.

6 cups fresh blueberries, rinsed, de-stemmed (if using frozen, defrost and drain)
1 lemon, grated zest of
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsps quick cooking instant tapioca (or 1/4 cup flour)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsps butter (unsalted), cut into small pieces

for egg wash
1 egg
1 tbsp milk

In a large bowl, gently toss the blueberries with the lemon zest, lemon juice, tapioca or flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Pour the blueberries into the pastry-lined pie dish and distribute butter cubes on top of the blueberries. Roll out the second half of the dough (use same technique as listed above) and set it on top of the berries. Fold the top edges of the dough under the bottom dough and crimp. Chill the pie in the refrigerator for another 30 minutes or until dough is firm. Heat the oven to 425°F. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and milk together. When the pie is ready, take it out of the refrigerator and brush the top with the egg wash. Make four incisions in the top of the pie to release steam while baking. Bake 20 minutes then reduce heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes (40 for me at 8500 ft.) or until the juices are bubbling and thick. Cool on a wire rack and serve at room temperature.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

apple huckleberry pie custard apple pie peach pie sour cherry pie

37 nibbles at “rescue”

  1. Ruth Ann says:

    Wow, I can’t believe that woman in your post on the search for the lost climber. Some people are so self-centered. It boggles my mind.
    Your blueberry pie looks lovely, much prettier than the cherry pie I made this weekend. Mine was still tasty thanks to the good fruit although I couldn’t have take a good pic of it. Do you ever use corn starch instead of tapioca to thicken?

  2. Diane and Todd says:

    What comes around goes around and if that selfish woman ever finds herself in an emergency situation, I hope she looks back on this and realizes what a stupid human being she is. Ugh! People like this just irk us to no end!
    Glad to know that you were there to help save the day, as always! You both ROCK. It was karma that you were both there that day. Happy that the father is alive.
    This is stressful just thinking about it. Thank goodness for this gorgeous pie, now give us a slice!!! ;)

  3. Tawnia says:

    Wow–I am speechless. However, I do feel much better knowing you and Jeremy are out there in this world. You. Rock.
    And the pie–looks maauuvalous!

  4. Susan @ SGCC says:

    I am always amazed at what utter jerks some people can be! Although, I shouldn’t be as there are so many of them around. Thank heaven that you and Jeremy came along when you did! That is why I’m a little afraid of the mountains. Things like this don’t happen in Florida! I’m so glad that the man survived!

    After your ordeal, pie was definitely in order. And, what a lovely pie it is!

    Look forward to seeing you this weekend. Safe travels. :)

  5. Wei-Wei says:

    What a selfish woman. Ugh. I’m glad to know you and Jeremy are decent human beings who bring us blueberry pie and other goodness. :)

  6. My Kitchen in the Rockies says:

    My husband and son hike a lot in our beautiful Colorado mountains. The stories they come back with are often unbelievable. Most people have no business whatsoever being up there in the first place. Good to know there are people like you out there with them who “think” and help. Thanks.
    Great pie recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Bri says:

    Some people just suck. Plain and simple. Kudos to you two for doing everything you could to help.

  8. Lisa says:


    I always know that Jeremy is a wonderful young man, and he and you are a good match in every way. I hope that self-centered woman do not encounter a situation like that herself in the future. She might not have time to look back what she did that day. Glad that the father is alive and it makes his family happy.

  9. ursula says:

    hi Jen — i just clicked on the link for the stupid “bloody trip report”, and couldn’t help noticing the writer keeps saying “take a moment” to enjoy this, that and the other view – i think i counted four repetitions. notably and ironically absent: “take a moment and help if you find someone in big trouble”. at risk of sounding judgmental — i just DETEST people like that. ughh!!!

    on the other hand, your pie sounds really great, especially with the lemon zest!

  10. TheKitchenWitch says:

    What an incredible story–I’m so glad you and Jer were there to do the right thing. It’s amazing what kind of assholery goes on in the world.

    Blueberry pie is my Mama’s favorite–yours looks perfect.

  11. Alta says:

    What a heart-pounding story! And annoying that this lady was a jerk. Anyway. On to the pie. Wow…yum…and I’m droooooling. How I can go from OMG-heart-pounding to what-a-jerk-annoyance to drooling-pie-love in one post? Amazing.

  12. D says:

    You and Jeremy should be proud of yourselves for having the proper response to another human in trouble (what a man!). Also, the pie looks absolutely perfect!!! I’ve made many pies and my crust never looks that great after being baked! I’ve got to try your recipe.

  13. Fiona says:

    You guys are truly inspirational. Thanks for restoring my faith that there are more good people out there than the jackhole you encountered.

  14. Lisa is Bossy says:

    Screw Deb Stanley. Thank goodness for you good people, Jen.

  15. Joy says:

    That looks so good. I don’t believe she wanted to continue. What is wrong with people.

  16. Michelle says:

    Wow. You and others acted with your hearts. Good for you.

    (And the pie looks perfect, by the way!)

  17. Kristi says:

    That’s it…I’m off to buy some blueberries! I also use tapioca in my blueberry pie to help the oozing. I also add a grated, peeled Granny Smith apple (squeeze the juice out, first.) You don’t taste the apple and it really helps the pie filling have a great consistency.
    Thanks for the rescue story. I’m glad the climber is recovering.

  18. Fiona says:

    What an incredible story. I guess I’m not surprised, though. When I broke my leg hiking Devil’s Canyon, I chose to hike out (tib/fib, so that was possible). On the way up, we met two couples. One offered help and made sure we had what we needed.

    The other skirted past me, obviously irritated because they worried that the dogs would lick them or bark or bite or god only knows what. In order for them to pass, I had to lower myself to the trail and hold the dogs because the nerves coming off this couple was making them jumpy. So I lower my broken-legged self down and…they just stomp on past, never asking whether I would be ok, if they could help, nada. How dare I be injured on the trail!

    Some people use the wilderness the way they use everything else. And other people don’t. Hooray for you and Jeremy – more pie for you!

  19. Pearl Lee says:

    Your pie looks delicious.

    I’m frustrated, taken aback, and annoyed at the woman. How can a life even compare to a report?

  20. Elizabeth says:

    Please REMOVE the link to that horrid woman’s Examiner article. She gets paid each time we click through and view her page. Fractions of cents, but let’s not add to her “fortune.” She’s done that enough herself.

    Love your blog. All of it. Thanks for writing it and photographing everything.

  21. John says:

    I too am really bothered by that woman’s inactions. I do want to say though; let’s not get urb inadvertantly involved in deb stanley’s mess-someone had posted a link to jen’s article with good intentions, but let’s make our comments anonymous for the sake of our dear jen.

  22. Gab* says:

    Wow! What a horrible person, who does something like that? I don’t know how people like that live with themselves.

    The pie looks fabulous! I have never tasted any kind of berry pie. Berries are too expensive here for people to consider baking with them!

  23. The Italian Dish says:

    Incredible story, Jen. At least the fellow survived.

    Your pie is a classic.

  24. Adelina says:

    That’s one beautiful slice of blueberry pie!!! I love the look of your unbaked dough….it has a large amount of butter still visible to the eyes!!!

  25. Susan says:

    I’m honestly shocked by her behavior, shocked. I’ve met her before (she led some charity hikes I was involved with last summer) and she’s a very experienced hiker who leads trips and was very safety oriented. Horrible that she’d leave the area knowing someone was hurt and possibly alone.

  26. Debbie says:

    My favorite fruit pie and it looks delicious. You are right…pies can always turn out well looking rustic but not a cake! You and Jeremy seem like very decent people…and I believe in karma…what goes around, comes around – ten fold!!!!

  27. Liz says:

    Deb did activate her beacon, after she had left Jen and Jeremy and continued on her hike. Perhaps there’s a misunderstanding, and she did indeed press it without their knowledge.

  28. Jeremy says:

    Jen was very careful to say in her post that she had not activated her beacon by the time we crossed paths — we don’t know whether or not she activated it later. The point is that (1) if she activated it, she did so after hiking for quite some time _away_ from the fall area, (2) she walked _away_ from the scene of an accident when she had the means to immediately signal for help, (3) she did not attempt to assist with locating or stabilizing the fallen climber, and (4) she did not hike down-trail to get help or to provide information on the fall (which she heard) to SAR. In fact, if she activated her beacon after hiking some distance away from the accident site, then she misdirected the searchers to the wrong location. In these situations, time is critical.

  29. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand says:

    I have the most profound respect for skill. In small things, like the making of pie (and it’s no coincidence we all turn to Elise!), but particularly in larger. There are times when the difference between life and death comes down to the skill of a stranger. That you and Jeremy know your mountains, and your safety precautions, and your rescue techniques. That he was able to get close to them and you and he were able to tell the rescue team where to go. That you take a dangerous activity seriously enough to make sure you know what you’re about. That you know exactly what to do in an emergency. It’s inspiring. Really inspiring.

  30. KatieZ says:

    Thank YOU for being good people and for being indignant about said situation. Some people just make me want to scream “don’t you CARE?” …but yes. enough about that. (Although really, it pleases me to no end that you and Jeremy are so caring!)

    That blueberry pie looks absolutely mouth watering. I usually make deb (smitten kitchen)’s blueberry bars (crust! it scares me) but I think this might have to be a special labor day weekend treat! If you ever need anything from Trader Joe’s feel free to shoot me an email. Good people like you deserve all the salsa you want! (:

  31. LizzieBee says:

    Oh, yum. I was *just* dreaming about picking some blueberries in a few months time @ a local berry farm (dreaming, because they were closed last year, but their sign has gone back up, so I’m desperately hopeful) and wondering what on earth I could do with them.

  32. Hope says:

    My blueberry pie is in the oven right now!

  33. Pei Lin says:

    I think I will make mini ones considering how little blueberries I have on hand!!!

  34. Charlie says:

    New to this site and love the post! Adding the recipe for the deliciously decadent pie at the end of that sickeningly frustrating hiker story is like the perfect comfort food after a tough day.

    Blueberry pie is my absolute favorite! Thanks!

  35. Mia says:

    I was wondering if you meant to write the zest of one whole lemon in the pie recipe? It seems like quite a lot of lemon! Does the pie taste very lemony?

  36. jenyu says:

    It looks as if both pages I linked to have been removed for whatever reason. Curious.

    Ruth Ann – I’ve never tried cornstarch before, but I know that a friend who makes pies doesn’t like the texture of it.

    Fiona – yeah, some people are just assholes.

    Elizabeth – appears that she (or they) did that themselves.

    John – you’re incredibly sweet, thank you. I’m okay with the linkback. Not afraid to stand by my post calling her out on her horrid behavior.

    Susan – that’s a shame. Perhaps she would have thought to act differently had she known I’d write about our encounter? A person’s actions in crisis is most telling about their true nature.

    Liz – no, there’s no misunderstanding. The article said she activated it as soon as she heard the telltale signs of an accident. She did not.

    Tamar – I think the credit goes to Jeremy who not only has training and a good head on his shoulders, but a good heart :) xo

    KatieZ – that’s so generous of you. Thanks for the offer – we’re still stocked on salsa :)

    Mia – yes, zest of a whole lemon. It’s not that much and the flavor is just right. I loved it.

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