Do you ever take time to tour your own city, town, side of the mountain? You’ve got to start. Right away. ASAP. It’s one way to take back some of that excitement that might have dwindled once we’ve passed the honeymoon phase of living somewhere. There are so many things waiting to be seen, felt, smelled afresh:
I had forgotten what it’s like to see a place with fresh eyes, until a friend from Paris, came to town to visit. She was eager to experience all of the things and places that I spend so much time avoiding. Wandering around with this foreign friend, with no destination but the pleasure of our senses, in a city that can make one mad with the rawness of its loud, zoo of honking horns, reminded me just how important this can be:
It can reawaken us, all at once.
I hope that if you’re reading this in New York, you’ll indulge some of my shamelessly touristic stabs at the city this summer. Even having grown up here myself, after just a few spins around my city’s old magic, I’ve been struck out of my numbness toward the Empire State. With that said, I also hope that you do get to take that Venetian vacation out of your ordinary this August (because don’t you deserve it?)
But even if you do disappear for a dip into a vacation trip far away, and especially if you don’t: walk that extra block home, stop for an ice cream, take in something old rendered new in a relentlessly bright summer sun. I can almost promise that you won’t be disappointed. And if you are (disappointed), at least you’ll have an ice cream. It licks the heat.
Last, when you get home from your walk, if you’re not too tired, whip up this bread. Although blueberries are infinitely juicy when fresh, something deeply indigo and worth tasting happens when they’ve broken open while baking, don’t you think? Almond streusel takes the crunch.
For the blueberry bread:
- 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for blueberries (~1 tablespoon)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup sugar
- zest of one lemon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1 egg
For the toasted almond streusel:
- 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
To make the blueberry bread:
Grease and flour a 9X4″ loaf pan and preheat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda. In a small bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest, rubbing lemon zest and sugar together between your fingers until sugar is moist and lemony-fragrant. Stir sugar to dry ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk egg, milk and vanilla together, with melted butter. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and stir until just combined. Toss blueberries with 1 tablespoon of flour and then fold blueberries into batter. Pour batter evenly into prepared pan.
To make the toasted almond streusel:
Combine butter, sugar, flour and cinnamon in a small bowl, mashing butter into sugar and flour with a fork. Toss with toasted almonds. Texture should be course and slightly damp. Sprinkle almond streusel evenly over batter in prepared pan.
Bake bread for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center of the bread comes out dry. Allow to cool fifteen minutes on a wire rack, before removing from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.