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WV Culinary Team: Nothing sad about feeling blue

Happy June. Holy cow, it’s June — almost the end of June, actually. We’re already half way through this year. I finished up my first year of nursing school, my daughter turned 10 years old (!!!!!) and completed 4th grade, I’ve had two siblings get married, and endless other wonderful positive life changes have come my way.

All wonderful things!

I recently ran away from home for the weekend to visit my mother’s family in Pennsylvania. Surrounded by love might be an understatement. Those of you who know me on a personal level know that I try to be positive, fun and optimistic as much as possible. I honestly know I get this through good genes.

My cousin’s house is filled with positive and real signs like: “Celebrate Family, Friends and Life,” “You can never have too much happy,” and, one of my favorites, “In this kitchen, we dance.” The encouragement to focus on the good things is the biggest message of all, even when it might be tough to do so.

Kitchen dancing is a must! I almost always have music on, but definitely in the kitchen. Right now, I’m totally hooked on this Pandora station called “Dance Me to the End of Love.” It’s romantic, jazzy and, sometimes, the songs are even in French. It is perfect to go along with the beautiful weather with the windows open and something sweet is in the oven.

Get your positive pants on, open the windows, turn on your favorite music and try this new recipe. It’s a combination of a few different recipes I found.

I was craving fresh blueberries and cheesecake but wanted something I could eat with my hands — ya know, fewer dishes!! Blueberry Cheesecake Crumble bars were created after some smushing of ideas. These are a bit on the sweet side more than I normally go for, but a few small pieces were enough to curb my cravings and have plenty to share!

Be sure when you do this that your ingredients are room temperature. Another note is that I used a 9-by-13 pan, and they were thin. For me, this was good, but if you want a thicker bar use an 8-by-8 pan and cook just a bit longer.

A few other points:

  • I used a whisk to smash the blueberries. Simmer until you can dip a spoon in and the goo covers the back, run your finger through it and the line stays put. In the culinary world this is referred to as “nappe.” Once the desired consistency is reached, set aside to cool. If you don’t want the chunks of blueberries, puree with a stick wand or food processor.
  • For the crust, I purchased ground graham cracker crumbs, mixed with butter and sugar, and then pressed into the pan, evenly. Use the bottom of a glass or your measuring cup to avoid wavy finger lines. Let this cool completely before adding the cheesecake bar filling.
  • While you mix the filling, you should not have any chunks of cream cheese, if it successfully reached room temperature. Scrape your bowl a few times to make sure nothing is stuck at the bottom or around the sides.
  • I wanted some crunch, so I made a pecan crumble topping — it’s optional. You can use all of this, or half, and freeze the other half for another experiment.

Assembly time! When you gently swirl the blueberry through the filling, be very careful to not dig down into the crust, as it will break and mix into the filling. After baking, cool on a rack and place in the fridge for a minimum of four hours to overnight.

Cut and enjoy. Remember to share as much love, as many smiles and all the food you can!

Petra Vasale is a Charleston native and a single mom, a 2002 graduate of Capital High School and a 2004 graduate of Sullivan University’s Culinary Arts, as well as Baking and Pastry Arts programs. Since 2013, she has been the owner of Cakes by Appointment. Her custom work is featured on the Cakes by Appointment LLC Facebook page. She can be contacted at

Funerals for Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Blankenship, Sharon - 2 p.m., Evans Funeral Home & Cremation Services, Chapmanville.

Bourgeois, Cora- 3 p.m., Waybright Funeral Home, Ripley.

Carver, Donald- 1 p.m., O'Dell Funeral Home, Montgomery.

Chestnut, John- 6 p.m., Fidler & Frame Funeral Home, Belle.

Freshour, Dexter- 1 p.m., Casto Funeral Home, Evans.

Mace, Orphia- 11 a.m., Centralia Cemetery, Centralia.

Midkiff, Paul- 1 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Wyatt, Pauline - 11 a.m., St. Anthony Catholic Church, Charleston.