Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Blackberry season is here and a recipe for cobbler!

We have wonderful wild blackberries growing right here on the homestead, and we are so grateful for them. We just have to beat the birds to them!

Well, today we did it. And we picked about a quart and a half of delicious, juicy, ripe blackberries. Purple fingers is only part of the reward for braving the thorns and brambles.

What a treasure! Of course, the first thing I did was make a blackberry cobbler from them. It was so yummy!

Here’s what I did:

After I washed the berries well, I sugared them with about 1 1/2 cups sugar, then covered them and let them macerate for about an hour to bring out all the beautiful juices.

Then I melted some buttery spread in a glass baking dish which is about 9 inches square.

Next, I mixed up my cobbler batter. This is nothing more than 1 1/2 cups self rising flour, about 1/2 cup sugar, and enough milk to make it thick, like pancake batter. I used my Nido powdered whole milk for this step and just put about 3 tablespoons of the powder in with the other dry ingredients. Then I added water and stirred till it was the consistency I wanted.

I poured the batter into the melted butter in the baking dish.

Then I poured in the macerated blackberries, trying to get an even layer to within about an inch of all edges of the pan.

I baked it in my Coleman stove top oven at about 325F (it could be baked at 400F in a conventional oven) until the sides and bottom were golden brown and a knife inserted in the center came out clean. It took about an hour in the Coleman oven.

After letting it cool about 30 minutes (this was the hardest part, just letting it sit there!), I mixed up some whipped topping using 2/3 cup whipped topping powder and 2/3 cup cold milk made from the Nido powdered milk. Dolloped generous portions of the whipped topping onto the cobbler serving in a bowl, and we had fresh homemade blackberry cobbler!

Nothing better in the world!!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Stormy spring 2017

We have wondered if the extra rain, cooler weather, and frequent rain and thunderstorms mean anything bad is happening climate-wise. To be honest, I don’t think so. I’ll explain.

When I was growing up, we didn’t have air conditioning at all at home. We were able to play outside or garden or do any number of things with very little heat stress. We got almost daily rains for most of the spring and well into summer. It wasn’t until August that we really suffered any from the heat, and even then the nights were pleasant.

I can even remember when I was in high school and was in the high school rodeos and other local rodeos and horse shows that the nights in July were cool enough that I could see my breath. Does anyone else remember those days? This would have been in the late 60s and early 70s. I was born in ‘52, so I guess it even includes the 1950s.

Yes, there were tornadoes, hail, and all the things you associate with spring weather across the South. We didn’t attribute it to climate change, global warming, or any of the other catch phrases people use these days. It was simply the cyclical pattern of weather that’s been around for millennia.

We were more concerned about Cuba and Russia (then, the USSR) than we were the regular weather events which occurred year after year. Those were tense times for our nation, and for our family.

Now it seems the weather has cycled back again to what I remember those many years ago. Cooler nights, warm, humid days, and plenty of rain and dew fall to keep plants from expiring.

There’s been a lot of flooding this spring, but there was flooding in the past, as well. In the 1980s, the river near us flooded all the way out into the bean fields and washed away the Corps of Engineers park near the lock and dam. In the 1990s, more floods filled valleys where small towns had sprung up far back in the past. Rivers and streams again overflowed their banks.

I really think these weather patterns do occur in cycles. This year just happens to be a wet cycle. I’m not complaining, though. It’s good for the gardens. It’s good for the pastures. And, it’s good for the aquifer that feeds my well.

I’m not complaining at all. Nope. I welcome this weather. It came on the heels of a particularly mild winter, which is one reason why I love where I live. Our average annual temperature is in the 50s. Right now we’re experiencing daytime highs in the 80s and overnight lows in the 60s. That’s not bad at all. We will get some days of blistering heat in August. Maybe even a few of them in July. Conversely, we may even get a few days of snow or ice storms that knock out power in the winter. But we’ve survived them in the past and I’m sure we’ll survive them again.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Garden to table stir fry

Every few days I have just enough veggies from the garden to create a meal without adding much store bought stuff to it. This time it was used for making our own version of stir fry. 

I picked and prepped some fresh carrots, sugar pod peas, shallots (green onions), and a couple of leaves from my horseradish plant. I cut the center ribs out of the horseradish leaves because it's quite tough and woody. The leaves are very mild once cooked. I matchstick-cut the carrots after scrubbing them. I angle-cut the peas and green onions. And I ribbon-cut the horseradish leaves.

I put a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, since I don't have a wok, and lightly sauteed the veggies.

I added some of my home canned pork along with the broth from it.

I also added a few tablespoons of home canned mango jam and a couple of my farm fresh eggs. I thickened the sauce part with just about a tablespoon of cornstarch.

I added a few splashes of soy sauce then cooked it all together till the eggs were done.

Served the stir fry over rice to round out the meal.

I hope you make this, too, or something similar. If you do, share what you did in comments. I'm always looking for cooking ideas!