Monday, June 23, 2008

Skye Blue Berries

Berry season is in full swing in The Berry Patch. We started eating berries off the blueberry bushes around June 14th; Skye started picking in earnest on June 20th. By now, we've put up 6 jars of blueberry jam, made a Blueberry Brunch Cake, have eaten berries at breakfast, lunch, and supper (Skye and I are eating bowls of blueberries for breakfast), and we have a gallon or so in the frig reserved for the firt person on our sales list. Plans call for blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes, experiments with new blueberry recipes, frozen blueberries, dried blueberries and more blueberry sales.
So why is the picture of blackberries? The blackberries have arrived as well! This is our first year to have more than a few blackberries to eat. Pearl, our octagenarian next-door neighbor and gardening sage, gave me the plants 2 years ago in the heat of the summer. She didn't tell me the variety, but I'm guessing they are Apache, a thornless variety developed right down the road at the University of Arkansas, the leader in development of blackberry varieties for the United States. I lost several to the heat that summer, got a handful of berries last year, and now the plants are going full force. I had to sacrifice a couple of plants this spring that showed early signs of orange rust, but all signs are gone and the berries are beautiful.
Yesterday, I made my first blackberry cobbler, from my mother's recipe and in the cobbler pan she gave me last summer. She undoubtedly baked thousands of cobblers in the pan during the 34 years that she was raising kids. Here's the recipe:
Mother's Cobbler
1 quart fruit
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup cold water (colder than cold tap)
1/2 tsp baking powder
(cinnamon for apples)
sugar & butter
1. Cook fruit with sugar until softened.
2. Mix flour, shortening, water, and baking powder. Might take more crust.
3. Put cobbler pan on fire. Layer fruit, dumplings, fruit, dumplings, dabbing dumpling layers with sugar and butter, (sprinkling apple layers with cinnamon) and ending with fruit layer. Top with solid crust, split crust with knife, dab with butter, and sprinkle with sugar.
4. Bake at 350F until crust is brown (40 minutes).
We've harvested a few strawberries along for nibbling, but the spring has really been too wet for strawberry production without resorting to using lots of antifungal agents.
We've also picked a handful of raspberries from the floricanes of our oldest raspberry variety shared with us by friend Wisty years ago. The new Heritage plantings are just beginning to show small green berries.

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