Summer is right around the corner. I can feel it! And when I think about what’s to come, I smell freshly baked blueberry cake! I know that seems really silly, but it brings me to my favorite summer activity: vacationing in Maine with my family and eating blueberry cake.
When I was a little girl, I would visit my grandfather in Maine every summer. We always spent a week as a family, but sometimes I would go up for an extra week or two to spend time with him or babysit other family member’s children. The drive to his house in Maine is eight long hours, but once you get there, you fully escape into the salt air, warm sun, ocean waves and fresh blueberries! It’s an escape from reality, one that I have come to crave over the years!
So, back to the blueberries. Sometimes we would pick the blueberries in the wild and sometimes we would just buy them at the local general store. Either way, we used them for the blueberry cake that was always sitting on the kitchen counter. When I was really young, my grandfather would make the cake with me; it was a special thing we did together. As I got older, he would stand close by and oversee the process. Towards the end of his life, he would sit in his “spot” at the kitchen table watching me make it for him.
This cake recipe evolved into so much more than flour, sugar and eggs. It is a family tradition that runs deep. The ingredients and directions are written in chicken scratch on a tattered sheet of faded paper that has been kept safe in a cookbook since my great-great-grandmother (and maybe even older relatives) made it. My aunts, uncles and cousins have re-written it and posted it all around the kitchen for easy access. This cake has become a universal language between us all.
When we are all stuffed with lobster and Cape Cod potato chips, we still have room to dig into the cake after the meal together! When we’ve had one too many Rumbly Rocks (a delicious summer drink), we lean around the center island in the kitchen (multiple forks at a time) and use the cake to sober us up. And in the morning, over coffee, as we hear the lobster boats coming in from their mornings work, we indulge in what is left from the night before (which usually is not much)!
When I think about summer, I think about blueberry cake. Then I think about my grandfather and I smile. I also felt it was fitting to reflect on family food traditions as May is National Barbecue Month, National Hamburger Month, National Strawberry Month and National Salad Month.