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The last fruit of the Spirit is self-control. And why do I bring that up now? Well, if you’ve been reading my blog lately, you know that I have been doing a series of posts that involve some thoughts on the fruit of the Spirit. And self-control, the last quality listed in Galatians 5:23, might have been the topic you expected to be covered in this entry. I hope today’s offering will not disappoint, and, if you make the recipes that I am about to share with you, some self-control might be just the ticket, so really, I think TECHNICALLY, I’m staying with the theme. Sort of.
This past Sunday was the fourth of July, and every year for 10 years, we have been going out to our friends’ house who live on the other side of the Boonies. Our creek flows into their river: truly. They live in a beautiful log home up on top of a bluff, and our tradition is to go wade in our water shoes across the river that flows at the bottom of that bluff out to the little island in the middle of the river. The parents sit on lawn chairs that we carry over to the island, and the kids swim, and jump into the river. The older our kids have gotten, the more relaxing it has become (because now we’re not constantly worrying about them drowning).
Long about suppertime, we wade back across to the riverbank, carrying our chairs, up to an area our hosts mow off for picnicking, we eat fried chicken and whatever summer salads that this year’s pot luck offers up, and at dark, we do our very best to set their field on fire, by shooting off fireworks. They set off $60 fireworks called, “One Bad Mother” and “The Angry Mother-in-Law”. (Holy Cow, fireworks are expensive!) I think we might as well just take dollar bills and hold them up and light them. Now you might think that legal tender burning might not make quite as spectacular a show, but I contend that my pulse WOULD be racing watching my husband stand there and incinerate our income. But it would be very Ebenezer Scroogelike (if you’ll pardon my mixing of holiday metaphors) NOT to enjoy fireworks, and I actually quite love them. My friend Laura and I were sitting there together in the dark on the riverbank watching the fireworks together, our hands and arms in constant motion as we scraped these little swarming black bugs off of us, non-stop, for the half hour we sat there. (And this, after several liberal applications of bug spray.) You know it’s bad when the crowd sees a bat flying by, and begins calling out competitively, “Here, battie bat!!!Come HERE, little bat, and eat MY bugs!!!” Our host and a bunch of the older kids were down on the island, setting off the fireworks, and my husband was trying to get some photographs of the fireworks. So Laura and I dug bugs out of our swimsuit tops, and cheered, and swatted, and laughed, and really, what a grand 4th of July it was!
So, since it IS blueberry season, all throughout the month of July, I thought my readers might enjoy a lovely blueberry cheesecake recipe, guaranteed to cause you to give thanks for the bounties of summer. One of the guests at the party, a large man of Egyptian descent named Habib, (who was perhaps slightly given to hyperbole) after tasting this cheesecake exclaimed, “Ohmygoodness, Susan, I would give five years of my life for this cheesecake. Don’t you have a sister or something that I could marry? No really, don’t you have a sister who could marry me and make this for me?” (I :heart: Habib).
Well, the fruit of the Spirit ain’t blueberries, but this cheesecake is pretty darn close to a spiritual experience, as Habib would be the first to tell you. Here’s the cheesecake recipe. Hope you enjoy it! And don’t forget to ask the Holy Spirit for an extra helping of self-control, because you just might be needing it.
To make your own almost spiritual culinary experience, you’ll need a couple of recipes. This takes me a few days to make. It’s worth it.
In the beginning, Sooze created the cheesecake and the crust.
Now the refrigerator was without dessert and void. Hunger rumbled within the tummies of the inhabitants.
On the first day, Sooze and the Bison took their family and went to a blueberry farm to pick a whole bunch of blueberries. (This step is unnecessary, due to the modern advent of Costco, which can provide you with delicious blueberries at a reasonable price, and with the loss of a whole lot less sweat. But your cheesecake devourers may be all the more overwhelmed by your loving dedication to culinary excellence if you pick your own. Just sayin’.)
And Sooze saw that it was good.
On the second day, Sooze made some shortbread for the cookie crumbs for the crust. Do not skip this step. This crust is sublime. The recipe, Scottish Shortbread, is from the Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook.
1 lb. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. sugar
2 t. vanilla
4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 c. cornstarch
1/4 t. salt
Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well. Stir in vanilla.
Combine flour, cornstarch, and salt, gradually add to butter mixture, beating at low speed after each addition. Mixture will be stiff. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 8 to 10 times.
Press dough into an ungreased 15×10 inch jellyroll pan. Prick dough at 1-inch intervals with a fork and score into 2 1/2 x 1 inch bars. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.
Bake at 325 degrees for 35 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack 5 minutes; cut shortbread into bars. Cool completely before removing from pan. Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week, or freeze up to 3 months. Yield: 5 dozen.
On the third day, Sooze created the cheesecake itself.
She refrigerated the cheesecake overnight.
And Sooze saw that it was good.
2 1/2 c. of homemade Scottish shortbread cookie crumbs
1 T. sugar
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all purpose flour
5 large eggs
1 16-ounce container sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Wrap outside of 10-inch-diameter springform pan with heavy-duty foil. Combine ingredients in processor. Blend using on/off turns just until sugar is distributed Press crumb mixture firmly onto bottom and 2 inches up sides of prepared pan. Bake until crust begins to brown, about 6 – 8 minutes. (Keep an eye on it.) Transfer crust to rack and cool. Maintain oven temperature.
Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until will blended.
Beat in flour. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until combined. Beat in sour cream, milk and vanilla. Pour filling into crust. Place springform pan in large roasting pan.
Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come 1 inch up sides of pan. Bake cheesecake until just set in center and top is slightly puffed and golden brown, about 1 hour. Turn off oven; keep door closed. Let cheesecake stand in oven 1 hour. Remove cheesecake from roasting pan. Refrigerate until cold, at least 6 hours. Cover; refrigerate overnight.
On the fourth day, the day of the party, Sooze made the topping.
3/4 c. sugar
3 T. cornstarch
1/8 t. salt
1/4 c. water
1 T. butter
1 T. lemon juice
4 c. blueberries
Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in saucepan. Add water and 2c. blueberries, cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and is thickened. Mixture will be quite thick. Remove from heat and stir in butter and lemon juice. Stir in remaining blueberries. Let cool a bit. Spoon blueberry mixture over top of cake, spreading evenly. Chill until cold, at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours. Run small sharp knife around sides of cake to loosen.
Release pan sides. Transfer cake to platter. Cut into wedges.
And the inhabitants of the party did eat thereof, and behold, it was very good.
And there was rejoicing and gladness of heart.
And self-control. Yea, verily.