February is in the bag

I picked blackberries today.

My friend Keri and I each filled up two half-gallon yogurt containers, enough for two pies or two cobblers. At least one of those will be made in February, when it is cold and raining and I can remember the hot, hot sun and the sweet berry-juice smell of the place down by the river where we pick. Al and I will probably go again before they’re over, and then we’ll have a cobbler immediately for our trouble and there will be three more half-gallons in the freezer for those winter blahs.

Wild blackberries are the blessing and the curse of the Pacific Northwest. Blackberries grow everywhere, and they are impossible to eradicate from your garden, mostly because they are tip-rooters. This means that the thorny canes grow long, bend over, and where the tips touch the ground, will root, and now you’ve got twice the problem. Blackberry thickets are world renown for being impregnable–in fact, isn’t that what surrounded Sleeping Beauty’s castle?

But there’s another side to the blackberries, and that is that they grow along the rivers, and the berries are big, fat, sweet and taste like the heaven-sent fruit that they are. The most delicious thing in the world, for me, is blackberry cobbler with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

Herewith then–even if you have to buy blackberries where you live–is my recipe:

In a bowl, gently mix: a half gallon of berries, 6 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 cups sugar. Let sit.

In another bowl, mix: 1-1/2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup butter, 1/2 cup milk.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Put the berries into an ungreased casserole. I use a 9×12 square pyrex dish. Let stand. Mix the topping and then drop it on top of the berries by the spoonful.  Bake for 30 minutes and let cool before serving.


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