Monday, May 21, 2012

If You're Picking Berries...

Berry picking here in Louisiana is waning, but what a rewarding pie pan of purplish-black "gold nuggets" we've "panned" up. :-)
We did not do the family communal garden this year. It's a lot of work and the family farm is more mobile than our forefathers' farms were. So we're giving the land a rest this year. But there is a furrow of mulched berry bushes along my brother-in-law's fence which flourished in due season this May.

When one grows fruit and vegetables (and has chickens), one realizes how generous God's hand is in providing for us. We tend to be the lazy ones.
My brother-in-law's three children are all married. Between our families, we gathered our fill and there are now crisp, clear bags of tart iced-candy taking naps on freezer shelves.
If you look on pages 176-177 of A Picture-Perfect Childhood you'll see a list of berry-delightful books to enjoy with your children. :-)
Two on our permanent bookshelf are:
Jamberry by Bruce Degen, a hands-down favorite with a rhyme that turns into a song. At Amazon you can click on the book cover and enjoy the lively colors and fun.
Mother Raspberry by Maurice Careme has beautiful folkart pictures and begins with a hidden threat to the town and secret possibilities found inside Mother Raspberry's home.
{Because our family is Catholic, we quickly noticed the little glass globe over the cooking mantle with our Blessed Mother and Christ Child enshrined within it. Little treasure finds such as this one are the many things seductive of picture books.}
I was anticipating a wonderful ending as we read it the other night but our reading adventure and hopes of a finger-tapping finis fell flat. This book could have been so much more than it was. The berry ink left sticky stains on our fingers. Still, we plucked some goodness from its pictures.
Lively folkart pictures of children picking berries in the woods and a baking scene in Mother Raspberry's kitchen made up for the unbaked finish. 
It is still a berry "sweet" book.
Friends came to our house last week and harvested the last of the harvest. My friend arrived yesterday with one of the sweet dough blackberry pies she had baked.
{It's already gone but above is the pictue I took this morning with Instagram.}
And here is the recipe my friend shared with her side notes included.  :-)
(If you have recipe book "Pots and Pans and Pioneers II" it's on pg. 440)
4 eggs                                         1 and 1/2 c. shortening
2 c. sugar                                   1 c. milk
6 c. flour                                    5 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. vanilla flavoring             1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Cream shortening, eggs, and sugar until mixture has turned very light yellow. (I used good, fresh Gibson eggs)
Add milk and mix well. Add flour and baking powder along with vanilla and spices. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Cool in refrigerator; the colder the dough, the easier it is to roll. Roll or pat dough into 9-inch pie plates. Add your favorite fruit filling and either strip or cover completely with more dough. Bake at 350 degrees until top is brown. This amount of dough makes 5 or 6 pies or make 2 pies and tea cakes with remainder of dough. Bake tea cakes only until light brown or they will be too dry.              
Beverly Foret, Evangeline Council, Opelousas, La.
(It made 5 pies for me but didn't have enough for last top of pie--don't know if this is same recipe my mom used to use but she says she would cut recipe in half if you don't want to make that much)
 (from "Sharing Our Best"-- Court Eunice No. 208, Catholic Daughters of America)

2 c. blackberries                           1 c. water
1 c. sugar                                       3 Tbsp. cornstarch

Place berries, sugar, and water in pot, bring to a boil. Add cornstarch, dissolved in little water. Remove from heat, stir until thickens. Makes 2 pies.

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