Last week I made an exciting discovery in our very own backyard. Not buried treasure mind you, but close…Blackberries!
Our backyard butts up to a bit of open space that serves as the storm water drainage for the neighborhood. Besides the cacophony of frogs that took up residence there earlier this spring in the midst of a very rainy season (trust me, it may sound idyllic to fall asleep to the sounds of frogs in the creek and running water, but those bullfrog’s mating calls get down right obnoxious outside your bedroom window all night!) or the welcome privacy it provides for our yard, nothing too noteworthy has come from that strip of land. Until now.
As I played with Ike in the backyard last week, I noticed that there were blackberry bushes growing in the open space, just on the other side of the chain link fence. A handful of the bushes had begun sending berry-laden shooters through the fence into our yard, grasping for a spot to land and continue their takeover, but for the most part the best of the berries were out of reach. I bemoaned the fact that there was no way to get through the fence to the bounty on the other side. You see, there’s a double-wide gate into the open space on the edge of our yard, but having never taken a closer look, I simply assumed it was locked up by the city. But when I mentioned it to my husband, he nonchalantly walked out to the gate to give it a try and pulled it wide open with a grin. Guess not!
I donned some grungy but protective clothing and a cap, grabbed a tupperware container and forging my way through the undergrowth, got right to work picking every ripe berry I could find. Even if it meant climbing into the middle of the larger blackberry bushes, thorns and all. Which I did. Repeatedly…
That first time, I came away with just about 3 quarts of fresh blackberries! My fingers were stained red with berry juice, and I bore far more than my fair share of thorns and scratches, but I was thrilled to be able to gather fresh fruit for free. I promptly set aside half to freeze for later, and made the rest of the fresh berries into a blackberry cobbler for Hubby and me.
Last night, I ventured out again, this time coaxing Hubby to join in the harvest. We walked away with even more fresh berries this time, and it cut the time in half to have a helper. Hubby joked that I must enjoy berry picking so much because it awoke my woman’s “gatherer nature.” I think it has much more to do with fond memories of picking summer blackberries with my grandma as a kid, and the excitement of uncovering the next hidden clump of sweet berries. But whatever the reason, I’m already itchin’ to go picking again!
Last night, I whipped up a fresh blackberry cobbler for the second time in as many weeks, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Clearly I’ve been on a baking kick lately, so I’m going to have to get on a working out kick as well if I don’t want it to start catching up to me! Here’s the cobbler recipe I’ve used if you care to do a little baking of your own!
- 5 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. butter, cubed
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for topping, optional
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine blackberries, 1 cup sugar, and cinnamon in large saucepan and bring to a low boil. In a separate bowl, add cornstarch to water and whisk together until smooth; stir into berry mixture. Return berry mixture to a boil and cook for 2 mins. or until thickened. Pour into a greased Corningware baking dish and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. cubed butter.
- In small mixing bowl, combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add remaining cubed butter and work mixture with the back of a spoon until course crumbs begin to form. Add milk and stir into flour mixture until dough is just moistened. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto berry mixture allowing them to sink slightly into the berries.
- Sprinkle the dough with 1 Tbsp. sugar and bake for 30 minutes or until tops of the dough are golden brown. Best served hot with ice cream or whipped topping.