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Some things about our trips to Minnesota are pretty standard.

Uncle Joe takes us to the best fishing spots.

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Levi and I catch fish. (This was a particularly successful day.)

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Aunt Sarah cleans our fishes in anticipation of fish dinner.

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Grandmom leads fish dinner preparations, breading the filets perfectly. My mouth is literally watering just looking at these pictures.

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Levi and I sneak away to the Brookside Tavern (the only bar in Marine-on-St. Croix, next to the only gas station and across from the only general store) for glasses of Farm Girl.

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Sometimes, depending on the time of year, we get to do things that are out-of-the-ordinary. This year we happened to visit in mid-August, right around my cousin Matt’s 19th birthday.

Now, Matt has plenty of his own summertime/cabin rituals. One place he can very predictably found for at least part of every day is on the couch, reading voraciously.

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Matt also has traditions that he plans out in advance and shares with us during our visits; these include bonfires complete with Reese’s S’mores and scary stories (which he retells with much suspenseful inflection and an impressive memory for detail), movie nights, and of course, trips to the (only) ice cream store. He is a remarkably thoughtful host.

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Truth be told, Matt has been a long-time supporter of my pies, whether or not they are specifically referred to as his birthday pie. But this one really WAS a birthday pie. You can tell by the 19 on top.

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Although I have already baked my way through so many of the fruit pies in the Pie cookbook, I was luckily able to find and prepare this lovely new specimen for Matt’s birthday festivities: Deep-Dish Blackberry-Peach Double-Crust Pie.

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There were several fun new pie tricks to try in the making of this recipe. For one, the peaches are called upon for blanching. I hadn’t blanched peaches before. I’m not much of a blancher in general.

Jury’s still out on how useful that was, as I’m pretty handy with a paring knife, and I think I could have peeled the peaches in far less time than it took to boil the water, try to determine when the peaches were actually finished (although Ken does give very good, clear directions on the process) and then scrape off the remaining skin as not all of it really came off nicely. Either way, it was fun to try a different method-and I can definitely see how, when executed properly, blanching could cut back on wasting delicious bits of fruit that might be cut off with a knife.

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Another of the fun new tricks: freshly grated nutmeg. I’m rather ashamed to say that this was new to me. I apologize for dashing your visions of me happily grating whole nutmeg tendrils into every pie filling that had ever called for nutmeg. I usually just shake it out of a jar. But Grandmom had a whole nutmeg and a cute teeny nutmeg grater at her house and once I saw this, I knew it was meant to be. Fresh nutmeg, you smell so good.

Have you ever thought about what a funny word “nutmeg” is?

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Add some freshly grated lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, butter, and cornstarch and you’ve got a pie fit for a 19-year-old.

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We won’t be together for Matt’s 20th birthday this summer, but I look forward to a visit next week that will hopefully include all of our favorite cousin traditions…including pie!

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