The Less Noticeable Differences

The noticeable differences come first. The pace, the landscape, the fact that everything from your previous life has happened already, three hours earlier. Then you notice the subtler things, like the types of birds, variety of flowers, the vernacular (‘awesome’, rather than ‘what the F…?’). Easing into a new land and its associated new life requires the observance of and adaptation to change. So last Sunday, while standing in line at a very lively coffee shop at 8:30AM and wondering why all these people were UP at 8:30AM on a Sunday, I began to jot down the inevitable comparisons. First, and most obvious to me on that particular day, was the fact that I was standing on a line at 8:30 AM on a Sunday. I mean this place was buzzing, and not just because it was a main line to caffeine. Not only was the spot crowded, but everyone in it, from 3 to 83, were very much awake, chatty, smiling, lively. This may not seem like such a big deal to you, but where I come from you could shoot off a howitzer in the middle of 9th Avenue at that time on a Sunday and not hit a thing….not even a pigeon. I come from the land of night people. Nary a soul rises and dips toe into Sunday before 11. I know this because I’ve never been a night person. I’m usually the lone soul on the street, and always treasured that time of the day when I had the city all to myself. So as I strolled down the hill to get my copy of the Sunday Times, I was relishing the fact that I could get a quiet lay of the land in my Sunday solitude. Maybe get my cappuccino to stay, languishing in the paper and a view of the new world around me slowly waking up. But there they all were…people. Friendly, smiling, wide awake people! And not only that, but patient people. No toe tapping or harrumphing while waiting for caffeine orders. In HR people are patient. In NYC? Yeah, no.

With a newly expanded knowledge of the circadian rhythms of the natives, I ventured next to the DMV. Since people here are inherently more patient, I figured at least the wait wouldn’t be filled with the potential for a line-cutting melee breaking out between the surly form-bearing masses. As I strolled into the office, something seemed not quite right. At first I thought I must have walked into the wrong place. Where were all the people? Where were the lines? I was prepared to be here. I had my kindle, I had my iTunes, I had my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and apple slices. I even had a box of juice. I could have waited 6, maybe 8 hours. But there were no people! I was in, and out, new registration and plates in hand, IN FIVE MINUTES! There are people who entered the DMV in NYC in 1987 and their number hasn’t been called yet. If this augurs my new world, oh Toto….I think we’re going to like it here…



If you’ve been reading for a while you know I like to walk in the mornings. Moving here hasn’t changed that, and the other day I found a wonderful trail just steps from my front door (more on that in an upcoming post.) As an added perk to some stunning scenery, the trail is lined with wild blackberry bushes. Being a practical gal on a budget and someone who lives and loves to bake, free sweet wild blackberries are just too good to pass up. So this week’s recipe features the berries I picked along my walk, wrapped up tastily in a Wild Blackberry with Hazelnut Crumb Tart. It makes a perfect dessert after an evening hike, and is pretty great for breakfast on the trail too!

Wild Blackberry Tart with Hazelnut Crumb

Makes one 10” round tart, or one 8 x 11 ½ “ square

Approximately 10-12 servings

The perfect combination of local ingredients – Oregon Hazelnuts and fresh picked Wild Blackberries.

For the fruit:

  • 3 cups blackberries
  • 2-3 TBSP sugar (depending on how sweet the berries or how sweet your taste)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP Cassis (you could leave out if you don’t have it, or use Frambois or Blackberry Brandy)
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp minute tapioca

Toss the berries with everything but the tapioca and let sit for an hour.

For the pastry dough:

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP lemon zest
  • 4 oz (1 stick) cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1-2 tsp vodka or limoncello
  • ½ cup of cookie crumbs or bread crumbs. (I like to use cardamom biscuits I find in Ikea- 2 biscuits ground up is the perfect amount.)

Add the flour, sugar, salt and zest into food processor. Pulse a few times to mix. Add in the butter cubes, then pulse until the butter is broken up into the size of baby peas. With the mixer on, add in beaten egg, lemon juice and vodka. Process until the dough just starts to come together.  Butter tart pan lightly. Dump dough into pan, and with your fingers, press out to fill, making sure to go up the sides of the pan. Sprinkle the cookie crumbs over the dough and set aside.

For the crumb topping:

  • ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 2 oz. (4 TBSP) cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • ¼ cup old-fashioned oats
  • ¼ tsp salt

Add all the ingredients except the butter into the processor (you don’t have to clean it from the pastry dough…yay!). Pulse until combined. Add in the butter and pulse 3 or 4 times just to break it up a little. Pour mixture into a bowl and with your fingers, squish butter into the crumb mixture until you get a combination of big and little clumps.

To Assemble the tart:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour off the juices from the berries into a small microwaveable bowl. Add the tapioca to the juices, stir, and microwave for about a minute to heat. Let sit for about 5 minutes.

Spoon the berries into the tart pan to fill, squashing a few here and there if there are bare spaces. Add any additional juices that accumulated from the berries into the tapioca mixture and stir well. Spoon the mixture over the berries, filling every spot where you see dough peaking though. Sprinkle the crumbs over the tart, covering the berries.

Place tart pan on a cookie sheet (easier to move in and out of oven) and bake for 30 minutes, turning tart once.

Let cool for 20 minutes before serving. This keeps well covered on the counter for 2-3 days (if it lasts that long), and freezes well too. Calories: Well, you’ll be burning these off on the hike to pick the berries, but here you go anyway: approximately 370 for 10 servings, 310 for 12 servings.

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6 thoughts on “The Less Noticeable Differences

  1. We, too, notice those amazing difference between the Southwest and East Coast. And we are happy for them. It didn’t take long for us to get used to it and, in fact, expect it. When we go back East (as opposed to out West), we are shocked that strangers in lines don’t talk with one another.. and not complaining about lines… about good food, nice weather, pleasantries… Oh, and the tart? Sounds fantabulous! A “must make soon” recipe!

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