Berries and Ivy

OMG, where did the time go.   A month has gone by and I’m still stuck on Memorial Day.  Please bear with me while I catch up.

Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer and hot weather. With the extreme temperatures comes a plethora of fresh produce from the garden and market.  The onions and potatoes are ready for harvest, the beans are producing steadily, and the tomato vines are loaded down with green fruit.   Along fence lines and wooded areas, mingled in with the grass, briars, and brambles you will find the dark green vines of dewberries & blackberries.  It is always a great surprise to stumble onto a patch of plump berries.    Oh but the temptation to pick them can be a very reckless decision and lead to weeks of misery and discomfort.

The summer the hubby and I were married there was a bumper crop of blackberries.    He took me to his special place to pick wild blackberries. We spent the afternoon picking two gallons of the largest, plumpest berries I’ve ever seen.  We had enough for a cobbler, ice cream sauce, & jam.  Now to put this into perspective you must remember we are in Texas, by the end of May the temperatures are frequently in the upper 80s and 90s with a humidity of 60% +.  By the time we arrived home the countless small scratches and pricks from the thorny vines were burning and stinging. Before morning I had large red running areas on both arms which soon spread to my chest and anywhere else my arms touched.  The honeymoon was OVER!  I scratched, rubbed, wiggled, and whined continuously.  One month, many Benadryl, one Medrol dose pack, and many sleepless nights later I recovered from the poison ivy that was woven among the berry vines.  How our marriage survived those weeks I will never understand.

I no longer pick berries but Mel does.  She has scores of wild berry bushes scattered over her property.  On Saturday she brought me a bowl of berries, they would be perfect for a blackberry pineapple upside-down cake. This is a wonderful ending to a Memorial Day dinner of barbecued ribs, fresh green beans cooked with new potatoes and onions, and grilled corn on the cob.

This was one of mother’s favorite recipes, Blackberry Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  You must use a cast-iron skillet that measures 9 inches across the bottom.   Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

¼ cup butter

2/3 cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar

1 (20-oz) can crushed pineapple, undrained

1 cup blackberries

2 large eggs, separated

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup all-purpose flour

1/8 tsp salt

½ tsp baking powder

Place butter in iron skillet and slowly melt butter, spread brown sugar over bottom of skillet.  Drain pineapple saving ¼ cup of juice.  Place pineapple over brown sugar.  Turn heat to low keeping skillet warm.

Beat egg yolks on medium speed until thick and lemon colored, slowly add sugar beating well.

Heat pineapple juice warm but not boiling.   Slowly add to yolk mixture and beat until blended.

Combine flour, salt, and baking powder, add to yolk mixture beating at low speed.

Beat egg whites until stiff, fold into batter, fold in blackberries.  Spoon batter into pan.   Bake 45 to 50 minutes.  Cool cake in skillet 30 minutes, turn onto large plate.  Serve warm or cold.  

A scoop of ice cream or a dab of whipping cream, on top, can almost make you forget about the dangers in picking blackberries

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