How Phyllis Grant Turns Blueberry Jam into Lunch

March 20, 2015

If you like reading what Amanda feeds her kids, you'll love taking a look into what other people -- both in the food world and the world at large -- prepare for their own children (and occasionally their signifcant others and maybe even their pets). Prepare to be either resentful or appreciative of your own parents.

Today's lunch comes from Phyllis Grant, who cooks, writes, and does yoga in her kitchen.

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My daughter slowly scoops out her vanilla yogurt, crowning the surface with raspberries, scattering it all with granola, stepping back, enjoying her stellar plating. With his own breakfast bowl, my son follows her every decorative move. They are moving so slowly I could scream. 

It is 7:45 A.M. We need to leave the house by 8 A.M. Do the toothbrushing, library-book-finding, math. It’s an impossible situation.

Add this to the fifteen minute mix: 

One towering pile of dishes from the previous night’s garlicky pasta dinner.
One missing lunch box.
One broken toilet.
Two rotten cucumbers.
One questionable red pepper.
One daughter helplessly cramming the definitions of avuncular, taut, assailant into her brain.
One son yelling you never stop micromanaging, mom, and it stresses me out.
One broken water glass.
One chunk of glass in now crying (still yelling) son’s foot, requiring tweezers, vodka (we’re out of rubbing alcohol), Band-Aid.
One bounce bounce bounce splash of the milk carton.
One epic freezer adventure -- searching for anything resembling breakfast, lunch, coffee -- yielding every kind of gluten you can imagine: whole wheat bread, gooey cinnamon swirl challah, chocolate croissants, cheese-packed danishes, sticky buns, orange cranberry scones, bread sticks, bagels, tortillas.

But no coffee.

I don’t know how to do any of this without coffee.

I perform the open-the-fridge-and-stare move. The thing that elicits from me, on a daily basis, the Are you kidding me, Dash? Close the fridge door. You’re wasting electricity. What is wrong with you?

In my under-caffeinated state, I start to understand the little dude who lives with me. Maybe the cool air helps him wake up. Sometimes it takes a minute to find your center. You see everything. And you see nothing. It’s meditative. And then I know why I’m here. The blueberry sauce. I made it over the weekend when we had nowhere to go, nothing to do, only the potential for hours of Stratego and Laura Ingalls Wilder and sock sorting.

We were running low on maple syrup, so I covered the berries in a snowpile of sugar. I added a pinch of salt, a splash of water, some lemon zest. It all simmered for half an hour, popping, thickening , intensifying in color and flavor. We poured the steaming hot neon reduction over our buttery buttermilk waffles.

By Monday morning, the cold purple compote has thickened into a spreadable jam.

The kids add it to their bowls of yogurt. I assemble some PB&Js. I dream about blueberry cheesecake. Then, I sit down and take a big sticky bite of the summery blueberry mess, bringing some Saturday morning bliss to our Monday morning shitstorm.


Find the recipe for Phyllis's quick blueberry jam here. 

Photos by Phyllis Grant

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Phyllis Grant is an IACP finalist for Personal Essays/Memoir Writing and a three-time Saveur Food Blog Awards finalist for her blog, Dash and Bella. Her essays and recipes have been published in a dozen anthologies and cookbooks including Best Food Writing 2015 and 2016. Her work has been featured both in print and online for various outlets, including Oprah, The New York Times, Food52, Saveur, The Huffington Post, Time Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, Tasting Table and Salon. Her memoir with recipes, Everything Is Out of Control, is coming out April 2020 from Farrar Straus & Giroux. She lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and two children.


Melina H. March 23, 2015
gahhhhhhhh!! you had my eyes popping at that list. holy hey. and then giggling and clapping at the coffee part. *me too*…. you are so good and i miss you. xo
Kimberly I. March 22, 2015
Your week day morning could be a page out of my own book. I'm going to try this blueberry recipe today.
Millie |. March 22, 2015
Blueberry jam with nut butter sounds like heaven!!
Sarah J. March 20, 2015
Your kids are very, very luck. I'm going to myself a peanut butter and blueberry jam sandwich for dinner tonight.