Mushy Bottom Blueberry Crumble

blueberry crumble

A new recipe is always an adven­ture. I’ve recent­ly exper­i­ment­ed with low car­bo­hy­drate, low sug­ar recipes. Hav­ing nev­er baked with almond flour, this is a quest I hope to con­quer. The recent blue­ber­ry crum­ble that I attempt­ed was one of those, “per­haps I should just throw the whole thing out,” exper­i­ments. The crum­ble wasn’t crumbly, and the blue­ber­ries, well they dis­in­te­grat­ed, becom­ing a mushy mess.

Start­ing a new writ­ing project is just as much an exper­i­ment. Each book requires a dif­fer­ent look at research, and I build on what I’ve learned with oth­er projects. My list might include biog­ra­phy, his­to­ry, first-per­son accounts such as diaries and let­ters, news­pa­pers, pho­tos, and inter­views. Learn­ing to exper­i­ment with research ingre­di­ents is key, just as I do in baking.

Bold Women of MedicineBold Women of Med­i­cine: 21 Sto­ries of Astound­ing Dis­cov­er­ies, Dar­ing Surg­eries, and Heal­ing Break­throughs, (Chica­go Review Press 2017) is a com­pi­la­tion biog­ra­phy telling the sto­ries of twen­ty-one coura­geous women from the 1800s to the present focused on find­ing cures, tend­ing the sick and wound­ed, and heal­ing with sci­ence and com­pas­sion. My research for that book includ­ed read­ing biogra­phies, diaries, med­ical books, and for the liv­ing women com­plet­ing phone inter­views. I searched for what the women had in com­mon, what moti­vat­ed them, and what chal­lenges they faced and con­tin­ue to face. The facts helped to tie the women together.

In the case of anoth­er writ­ing project, Pheas­ant Sand­wich­es and Turkey Egg Cake: How One Small Town Opened Its Heart, I relied heav­i­ly on news­pa­per research. This sto­ry takes place in America’s heart­land dur­ing World War II and tells the sto­ry of vol­un­teers who met every troop train with home­made treats and kind­ness. News­pa­per research is fas­ci­nat­ing because you learn the strug­gles and joys of peo­ple from a dif­fer­ent era. Oth­er than the fact that it is very hard on the eyes (tiny print on a screen), the lan­guage and facts of the many arti­cles I read placed me in the cen­ter of the action.

My research for my Hike On! The Call of the Trail pro­pos­al has been a bit dif­fer­ent. This mid­dle grade non­fic­tion project about America’s trails, explores the ori­gin sto­ries of the trails, our con­nec­tion to nature, and preser­va­tion of the trails.

Birds call­ing, the wind through the tall pines, and the light as the sun sets near a churn­ing riv­er are exam­ples of set­ting details I will research to help the read­er know where the trail is going and who is lead­ing them. And since I won’t be able to hike every trail, pho­to research will play an impor­tant role. 

As in all non­fic­tion projects pri­ma­ry research sources are impor­tant. Let­ters and diaries of the ear­ly hik­ers are espe­cial­ly help­ful. What were the hiker’s moti­va­tions to forge a new trail? There were many. Hike On! won’t be a biog­ra­phy per se, but it will tell the sto­ry of the trail’s life.

So, is the research dif­fer­ent from one book to anoth­er? Yes, but the basic prin­ci­ples are the same. I use ingre­di­ents mixed in fresh ways and ask dif­fer­ent ques­tions to uncov­er the sto­ry. The same goes for new recipes. The ingre­di­ents dif­fer each time, and results are often unex­pect­ed. That is the fun part. Next time I hope to avoid mushy bot­tom blue­ber­ry crum­ble. Wish me luck!

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1 year ago

It is won­der­ful that you high­light con­tri­bu­tions women have made to sci­ence. Thank you.

Doreen Robinson
Doreen Robinson
1 year ago

So inter­est­ing to read about your research process! I love how you com­pare it to try­ing a new recipe.