The Detroit Free Press Half Marathon

twelve weeks, twelve days off from training, i completed the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon.  life got in the way again, but i plugged through the training days. well, almost all of them.

this round was a struggle.  i felt i was being tested daily, emotionally and physically, but here i am.

i ran those 13.1 miles, and never gave up just like mom reminded me to.

13.1

The Expo

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always a cheesy photo opp available.

while waiting in line for my bib packet i was looking around at all the other runners.

who was running 26.2 miles tomorrow?  who was running the international half? or the U.S. only portion like me?


and then there was the t-shirt…

which was pretty neat.

that night we took a stroll in the city.

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six miles later (it is all about the mileage) the rain started coming down pretty hard, so we stopped at Angelina Italian Bistro for some carbs.

Mediterranean Linguini

i had the pumpkin carrot cake for dessert. they wouldn’t give me the recipe. the nerve, i tell ya.

13.1

Race Day

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the start time wasn’t until 10:30 am, super late, but i could sleep in.  i just couldn’t find a bagel anywhere in the city to go with my Justin’s almond butter. so i settled on an english muffin instead, and i was at the start line in plenty of time.

rain was in the forecast again, like a 50-70% chance of rain, and i had just bought a new pair of my current fav’ running shoe at fifty bucks off!

but very little rain!  just super high winds. wind is not a runner’s friend.  i felt the wind was pushing my legs sideways at one point, when i was running between two buildings. was crazy.  i could have walked faster.

and a hamstring cramp or two later, i finished.

we walked back to the hotel, i showered and chilled for a bit.  then we walked to Townhouse for my post race burger and fries tradition.

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Townhouse Burger

i ate my burger, my fries and half of my husband’s fries. plus hot chocolate creme brulee for dessert. don’t judge. i was hungry, and they were truffle fries. how can you let truffle fries go to waste?

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first race i completed after the loss of my mom.  no one to tell me how proud she was of me, like only a mother could.  but i like to think she was with me. watching me from the sidelines, smiling, waving and thinking, “So this is what it is like, when she runs a race.  She’s crazy.”

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f.

The “Best” Apple Pie

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autumn is here again! yay!

leaves are changing…. apples are in season…

time for a pie.

i have baked my husband several apple pies (his favorite dessert) over the years, and each one has been “the best” one yet.

mmm… i am pretty sure that first one was not. i remember doubling the pie crust recipe for fear of it being too thin. i remember buying northern spy apples, because they were “the best” apples to use for pies.  the crust was thick.  the apples still had a crunchy texture.  the filling was a little runny. pretty sure it was not the best apple pie.

i have tried a variety of recipes over the years.  and there seems to be a few consistencies between them all.

pie crust recipes are pretty basic. flour, sugar, salt, cold shortening/butter… cold water. i tried a crust with shortening, one with butter. one with a mix of shortening and butter. one mixed in a food processor, one by fork, one with a pastry cutter and one by hand.  some recipes add white vinegar. ok, i tried that.

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the filling, again pretty basic. apples, sugar, flour or cornstarch for thickening, cinnamon, salt. the apples? i tried granny smith, rome beauty, jonathon, winesap, pink lady…some i had to search for and could never find. some recipes added honey, some walnuts.  some topped the filling with dots of butter. some added nutmeg, lemon juice.

and the arch de triumph, the top.  i tried a crumb topping, a crust with leaf cutouts along the edge, the basic crimped edge, small leaf/fall cut outs for the steam to escape and just basic knife cuts, some cuts with a little fanciness.

so here is my recipe for the Best Apple Pie, to date at least, according to apple pie critic, Eden K. (aka husband).


 

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img_1033-4  The (Current) Best Apple Pie

makes one 9 inch double crust apple pie

Warning: Not halved for two.  So run a mile or eight before consuming.

Tip One:  I made an apple pie the night before my husband’s birthday, and it took 4-5 hours. Yikes. So make the pie pastry the day before, divide in half, flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Store in frige until use. Or… you can freeze the disks for 3 months! Just wrap the disks in plastic wrap and place them in a freezer bag.  When ready, place them in the frige overnight to thaw. How neat is that?!

The Pastry

Tip Two:  If you buy the pastry already made, totally ok.  I won’t tell.

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 heaping tsp sugar
  • 2 sticks (16 tbsp.) cold unsalted butter, cut into about 1/2 inch pieces
  • a glass of ice water

 

The Filling

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I used Braeburn, from a local orchard, for this pie.
  • 4 lbs of baking apples peeled, cored and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices: jonathon, granny smith, pink lady, honey crisp, rome beauty, winesap, golden delicious or gala (Whatever is available.  You can mix them up.)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 heaping cup of sugar
  • 1/2 heaping tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 heaping tsp nutmeg
  • 4 heaping tsp cornstarch
  • Couple dashes of lemon juice

 

The Finale

  • 2 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • egg wash – 1 egg white, beaten with 1 tsp water
  • 2 tsp sugar (I use course/raw sugar for fanciness.)

 

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In a food processor pulse the pastry dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar) until combined, about 5 pulses.

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Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (tiny clumps), about 10 pulses.  You want bits of butter in your crust.

Note:  I have seen some recipes use grated cold butter.   I tried grating butter, not fun.

Add 3 tbsp of cold water and pulse 2 to 3 times.  The dough should hold together, when squeezed with your fingers, but not dry, crumbly or sticky.  if needed, add 1 tsp of cold water at a time, pulsing twice after each addition.

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Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide in half.  Shape each into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.

 

Remove one pastry disk from frige.  Let sit at room temp for a couple of minutes.  Want dough to remain cold, but manageable when using the rolling pin.

On a lightly floured work surface (or a lightly floured pastry mat), roll the dough into a 12-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick (thin enough, but not too transparent).  You may need to throw a bit of flour on the rolling pin to prevent sticking.  When ready transfer dough to pie plate, wrap the dough around the rolling pin to ease transfer.  (If you used a pastry mat, just invert it onto the plate). Gently press the dough into bottom and sides of plate. Refrigerate.

Tip Three:  Don’t stress if it rips on transfer or does not overlap pie plate edge. Just piece ripped areas back together with your fingers.  And I always have enough of the rolled out top dough to make up for any bottom shortage. It will still be pretty after baking. 

On a large sheet of lightly floured parchment paper (or a pastry mat), roll out the remaining dough  into a 12-inch round, about 1/8 inch thick.  Here is where you can use leaf pie cutters to cut out vents for the steam to escape or use a knife to create your own design. Place in frige until use.

Tip Four:  Your design will alter, when baking.  See examples below.  Don’t sweat it.  Just have fun.

 

 

 

 

 

Tip Five:  While the prepared dough is chillin’ peel, core and slice the apples for the pie filling. Grab a helper. Music optional.

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Place the sliced apples in a dutch oven or a 5 quart pot.  Add the brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and cornstarch. Stir until blended. Over medium heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes.  Uncover and cook until the liquid has thickened and becomes glossy, 5-7 minutes more.  Remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice and let cool to room temp.  About 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the lower third of oven, place a sheet of foil on the rack (to catch bubbly drips). Preheat oven to 400.

Whisk the egg wash (egg white and water) in a small bowl.  Set aside.

Transfer cooled filling to shell.  Scatter butter pieces on top.

Remove top dough from frige and place on top of the filled pie shell.  Tuck, trim, seal as needed.  Crimp edges.  Do your fanciness.

If using decorative cutouts, brush the underside with egg wash and press into pie top slightly.  If not and you haven’t cut into the top crust yet, use a knife to cut slits for venting.

Brush entire top with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar.

Place pie on baking sheet.  Bake until golden and bubbly, about 55 min to 1 hour.  Check pie crust in 3o minutes, if too dark cover edges with aluminum foil or use a pie crust shield (I use the shield).

Transfer pie to a wire rack and allow to cool for a couple hours.

Tip Six:  This is where my husband’s patience is tested. He likes to cut the pie warm, but the pie ends up being oozy.  Kind of like lasagna, needs a resting period.

Serve with vanilla ice cream, optional, but yummy.

 


 

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– f.

 

 

 

 

p.s. if you are ambitious, how about these decorative apple pies! or this for a blueberry pie!

p.s.s. so out of curiosity i checked the number of words in the lower right hand corner of my screen, while writing this post.  over 1200.  wow. a lot goes into making an apple pie from scratch.  like over 3 times the amount of words than some of my other “treat” posts. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The S Cookie

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since my mom passed away, i feel like everyday has been a blur.  i wake up, try to get things in order for my dad before i go back to work, write out the thank you cards from the funeral, mow the grass, do the laundry… and try not to let the utter sadness take over, when i see something that reminds me of her. which is everything.

nothing seems the same. and i guess life will never be the same, which i know i have to accept and move on, right? everybody goes through this, dealing with the death of someone close to them at some point in their life.

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but it still sucks.

my husband lost his mother and father in three months.  i lost a cousin and mother in nine.

holiday traditions will change, but new traditions will emerge.

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so in honor of my mom, i decided to try to make a batch of her famous S cookies. i have a recipe. i think i made them once. i really don’t remember.

my Nonna made S cookies.  her cookies were sprinkled with sugar.  my mom’s S cookies were softer and glazed with a powdered sugar icing flavored with a touch of anise. and i could taste the love in every bite.

i hope my S cookies will be as good as hers someday.


 

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S cookie

img_1033-4   Dough:

  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 (1 cup) Crisco Baking Stick, All-Vegetable Shortening cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 3 large eggs (beaten)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, sugar and baking powder.


Tip:  When using the dough hook attachment set the speed according to the instruction booklet for your mixer.  My Kitchen Aid mixer states to set speed at two.

Add one Crisco slice at a time to mixer, mixing until crisco is incorporated. May need to scrape down sides.


Make a well in center of dough.

Add beaten eggs and orange juice. Mix until dough is incorporated.  Let dough hook knead dough until dough pulls away from the sides of bowl, about 2 – 5 minutes.


On a floured surface roll out dough to about 12 – 14 inches in length and about 3/4 inch diameter.Cut rolled dough into 5 inch logs and shape into a S.

Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.


Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until bottom is golden brown. Tops of cookies will have a cracked appearance.

img_1033-4  Icing:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp and 1 tsp hazelnut coffee cream
  • 1/8 tsp anise extract

Tip: Anise can be overpowering. Think black licorice. You can adjust the amount to taste.  Use less or more or none at all.  

Mix ingredients in a small bowl using a spoon or whisk.  Spread icing onto each S cookie and place on a wire rack.

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Tip:  The icing will run off the cookie a bit, so place a lint free towel or sheet underneath the wire rack. Otherwise you will have a sticky counter to clean up afterwards.

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Allow icing to harden at least 8 hours. I frosted the cookies the night before and by the next morning the S cookies were ready for delivery to my father’s house.


and some cookies i saved for us for the cookie jar later.

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so i am suprising my father with these S cookies, waiting for him to critique. eek. my husband loved them. yay!

but the best thing about making these S cookies was it made me the happiest i have been in weeks. and i truly believe my mom was with me, when i made this batch.

so here’s to you mom, my little green eyed angel.

– f.

p.s.  if you Google S cookies you will find a slew of recipes. just discovered this recently,  and the recipes vary. my mom always said different regions in Italy have their own version of the S cookie. kind of neat.

A Stroll in the Big City


ten years ago my husband and i headed to New York to see the Detroit Tigers play one of their final games at old Yankee Stadium.

two became four then six and so on. to commemorate that trip we all decided to fly in for a ten year reunion and see the Detroit Tigers play at the new Yankee Stadium.

and since i planned on logging a whole lot of steps on this trip (aka cross training for my half marathon), i needed to invest in a good pair of sandals.  it was summer after all.

so two days before we were scheduled to fly out i purchased these. the last pair i owned lasted ten years before i had to retire them.

and our last trip to NYC we walked about thirty miles. so this trip i wanted to make sure there was no chance of blisters and lots of comfort for those long strolls around the city.

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this trip we logged fourty miles in four days, shouting out how many miles we walked so far that day. our goal was to beat the previous day’s record.

how did we walk that many miles?

well let me tell ya.


The Brooklyn Bridge

we started on the Brooklyn side.

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The High Line

we decided to walk it from beginning to end.


Intrepid Museum

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for my husband, a veteran, the admission was free of charge.  that was nice.

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Central Park

we walked through Central Park on a Sunday.  people were lounging on the grass, walking, running, cycling… perfect day of the week to walk around the park. very relaxed atmosphere.


The MET

one my favorite places to visit and plus a little culture doesn’t hurt.


and all those miles and steps allowed me to eat stuff like this.

The Emmy Burger
The Emmy Burger

and this without eater’s remorse.

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The Munchies for me and Pistachio Squared for my hub.

tip one: once you get your bearings in the city, getting around is much easier. i prefer my two feet, but sometimes that is not the best option. there is the subway (cheap) and a taxi cab (not so cheap), but it’s a big city. so when you are chowing on a super yummy burger deluxe and fries and suddenly realize you should be in line for the Harbor Lights Cruise in 30 minutes and are too far away to walk and the subway would take too long, you hail a cab.

tip two:  get in line for the Harbor Lights Cruise 30 minutes beforehand and sit on top for the best views and photo ops.  otherwise you may not be able to sit together or find a seat.

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so if you are heading on a vacation get those legs and feet moving! that burger, pizza… ice cream or beer you ate will be well deserved after all those miles you logged on your trip.

our last morning in the city we walked a mile for breakfast round trip and didn’t even notice.

i like that.

 

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f.


 

this post was written at a time in my life i contemplated giving up my blog. life decided to take a turn. my mom became ill.  my focus shifted from running and my blog to trying to balance work, making sure my father was taken care of and she wasn’t alone dealing with this sudden diagnosis of cancer, a surgery and complications after.  i started to take days off from training.  some runs or cross days i just couldn’t squeeze in and other days i just didn’t want to.  luckily my job allowed me the time off so i could be with her. so i decided to spend my days and nights with her at the hospital while she remained with us.  one of the best decisions i ever made.

the weeks leading up to her diagnosis she started to tell me to never give up. and since she passed away, i try to remember what she said to me, never give up.

so here i am, still blogging and training for my half marathon in october.

 

 

 

 

i miss her.

 

 

 

 


 

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this year i decided to pass on another marathon. i am not ready to commit to the intense training involved.  the early morning runs, the long distance runs on the weekends that left me exhausted most of the day. the having to explain why i was late or could not do something because of the training. felt it was easier to lie in the end, sadly.

so this year on Jan 1st i signed up for the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon. the race offers a huge discount for signing up early. i couldn’t pass it up.

and today is Day 1 of another round of half marathon training.  roughly three months after my last training ended, so not too bad really.

last year while waiting for the Chicago Marathon lottery results, i was checking out the Detroit Free Press Marathon as a backup.  i researched hotels, their distance to the race, best place for burgers, brunch, etc… the important stuff.  and even though i won’t be tackling a marathon this year, i will still be running my favorite distance, 13.1.

and i am already planning the race weekend of course. that is how i roll.

this is what i found so far…

things to do:

  • a little culture: DIA.  one of my favorite places to zone out, get lost and wander.

fall is my absolute favorite.  so i am super excited to run a race, hang in Detroit for a couple of days and then head out on a little adventure… destination to be announced.

f.

The Kal – Haven Trail

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when the weather is too perfect to stay home, we try to head out on a little adventure.

so we locked our bikes onto the suv and headed west to the Kal – Haven Trail, a 34 mile limestone trail between Kalamazoo and South Haven, Michigan, formily a rail trail.

within two hours we arrived at the trailhead in Kalamazoo, Michigan. we grabbed a water bottle, packed some snacks and headed west.  no plan on how far or how long we were going to ride.  we just peddled away.

tip one:  check your tire air pressure and bring cash, including a few quarters, before you park at the trailhead and head out. once you start on the trail you are 13 miles away from a gas station to fill your tires.  

nine miles in we stopped in Kendall.  there was a convenience store to refuel and hydrate.

tip two:  if there is a spot to stop and purchase food or drink, stop. the ride is a long one with only a few towns in between to grab something right off the trail. 

we needed to fill my husband’s back tire with air, so we stopped in the town of Gobles. his tire was low for 13 miles, yikes. this was where that cash came in handy.

once our tires were filled and checked, we headed west again to the town of Blomingdale, the midway point of the trail.

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there was a gas station, a grocery store and a museum.  the museum was free and we received a tour a from a volunteer.  she asked if we wanted to sit in an antique electric chair that was from an institution, “helps with blood circulation.” we did and it still worked.

sit in it if you get a chance. not sure if it helped my blood circulate, but my whole body vibrated including my eyeballs.

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when we were ready to get back on the bikes, i was positive my husband was going to ask me if i wanted to head back, but instead he asked me, “Are you ready to go?”  i said i was, and we were off again.

almost five hours after the start of our ride we made it to the end point, South Haven.  we were hungry and ready for some food, so we continued riding into town for another mile.

we had no idea it was such a happening place.  people were out and about.  the town was packed with people.  we grabbed a lemonade and burger at Captain Lou’s, relaxed for about an hour and reluctantly headed back.

tip three:  we found biking from Kalamazoo to South Haven was a good choice.  we had to ride our bikes for an additional mile at the end of the trail, but ended up in a town with a few restaurants, people walking about, sort of a tourist area due to the beach and port. only disadvantage was we didn’t want to leave.

we took advantage of a store nearby to grab more water and headed back to Kalamazoo.

​but the ride back was rough.  we stopped in Bloomingdale again for a bit to hydrate and rest.

warning:  there is a bit of an elevation heading east.  not bad for a few miles, but after biking for 35 miles it was a bit rough on the quads.

by the time we arrived back at the trailhead parking lot in Kalamazoo and locked in the bikes, it was 8:30pm.  70 miles logged and 10 hours after we headed out.  yikes.

i was dizzy and i wanted to laugh and cry at how far and how long we rode.  my quads ached. and i hadn’t felt that much pain in my muscles since i ran the Chicago Marathon last October.

tip four: don’t underestimate the workout intensity of a long bike ride.  you should work yourself up to 70 miles, not go from 20 or 30 miles to 70 like i did.  think of it as training for a half or full marathon.  you build up the mileage.

we stopped at Chipotle to chow down on some grub, downed a couple of Advil and headed back home.

and i slept the entire way.

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f.

A Blueberry Buckle

July’s Treat of the Month:   A Blueberry BuckleDessert for Two

 

when i worked afternoons and midnights years ago, i watched Martha Stewart Living in the morning.  i became crafty.  i baked, embroidered, sewed and hosted parties… the show inspired me quite a bit over the years.

and now that summer is here and blueberries are in season, i decided to make Martha Stewart’s Blueberry Buckle.

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i halved the recipe for two and tweaked it just a smidgeon.


 

img_1033-4   A Blueberry Buckle for Two

Batter:

  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 large egg*
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 cups blueberries

* Whisk one large egg in a glass measuring cup and use half.  It works, trust me.

Streusel Topping:

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 cup flour
  • 3 tbsp buter, room temp

Prepare streusal topping:

In a small bowl, whisk dry ingredients.

Cut in butter using a fork until crumbs form. Squeeze the mixture together to form medium sized clumps. Refrigerate until use.


Heat oven to 350.

Spray a 6-inch springform pan with a baking no-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle pan with flour, coating sides and bottom. Tap out extra flour.

In a small bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

Tip One:  I use a fine mesh sieve to sift dry ingredients.

In a medium bowl using an electric mixer, mix butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1-3 minutes.  Reduce to low, add egg and vanilla.

Add the reserved flour mixture and milk, alternating, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Gently fold in blueberries.

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There are lots of blueberries in the batter. It’s ok to squish a blueberry or two.  It happens.

Pour batter into prepared pan.

Batter will be thick. Use a knife or tap pan on counter to smooth out batter, if needed.

Sprinkle streusel topping over cake.

Bake 60-70 minutes or until cake tester/toothpick comes out clean.

Tip Two:  If buckle is not baked completely after 60 minutes, set timer for 5-10 minute intervals and recheck.  I found my buckle baked for about 70 minutes.

Remove from oven.  Leave in pan 10 minutes on a cooling rack.

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Release springform latch and let cool before serving.

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enjoy!


 

 

then brew a cup of joe and grab a plate from that set you only reserve for special occasions. settle into your favorite spot… be it on the porch, in the breakfast nook or on the balcony, and enjoy a slice or two of blueberry buckle.

and with crumbs on plate and cup empty, i am pretty sure you will be ready to tackle that day ahead.

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guess that No-Bake French Silk Pie i made last august started a trend for me, desserts for two. fun, super cute and less food in my belly.

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– f.