34.7º N 92.2º W. Little Rock, in Central Arkansas, in the United States
6/4/17 – 6/10/17
The Berries are Ripening Here!
Do you like blueberries? Blackberries? Both? In Enchanted Habitat you can be very happy soon. My Good Gardener Friend keeps me informed of her blueberries’ progress from green-ness through peachy-ness to indigo-ness. This sketch was their state two days ago. I love looking at them better than eating them: my true love is The Wild Blackberry, and those are getting ripe too.
It’s hard for me to write about wild blackberries without getting excessive.
The best way to eat blackberries begins with picking them yourself. Find a wild patch on your own, or ask people until you find someone who knows. Folk who know are the kind likely to share the treasure map with you. (No one is likely to give you actual berries they’ve picked; we are mere mortals after all.) Prepare against chiggers and snakes, put on long pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and a straw hat for sheer effect, hang a bucket in the crook of your arm, and wade into the thorny brambles to where the best ones are. If you have scouted out a good patch, when you finish your fingers will be punctured and sore to the bone, your skin ripped in several places along with the so-called protective clothing, you will itch in unscratchable places, and you will take home a third to a half bucketful of berries. Wash them gently to get the occasional bugs out. Put a handful of the berries in a single-size bowl. Pour a little genuine heavy cream over them. Sprinkle a little powdered sugar on, and stir to dissolve it. Dive in. If you are of my spiritual clan the pain in your fingers will transpose into a set of wondrous sensations at the back of your tongue and also you will forget every other trouble you ever had.
Your brain will recognize the distilled flavor of the cosmos itself, from the moment of The Big Bang until now.
If I’ve made Wild Blackberry Eating sound like the quest and finding of the holy grail, it just about is.
Commercially grown blackberries are a step down, and it’s an exponential step, but if I can’t get the real thing I’m not too proud to eat bought ones. They don’t cause me to rhapsodize though.
While you’re at the roadsides looking for blackberries you may notice that the crimson clover is out of season now and gone, replaced largely by Queen Anne’s lace and black-eyed Susans. Thanks to the U. of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service for this photo of the prolific Queen Anne’s lace, with elegant flowers that actually do look like exquisite handmade lace and are sometimes the size of saucers.
The black-eyed Susans are the perfect visual complement to the Queen Anne’s lace, in color and in shape. I will leave you to look below and imagine that their petals are yellow-orange and their centers are black-brown, and that they are contraposed against their companion “weeds”.
The first of the homegrown tomatoes are coming in at the farmers’ market! If I made it sound like wild blackberries are my favorite food–they are, and so are homegrown tomatoes. One way I like to eat good tomatoes is: bruschetta on homemade bread.
We didn’t have bruschetta here when I grew up. It’s an import. I discovered it well into my middle-age, and an old dog can teach herself a new trick. I first tasted it at the local Olive Garden. Their servings of it are sparing, which is what my grandmother taught me to say instead of chinchy or stingy. Also they drain the juice out of it, the best part. Like any born-and-bred woman of Enchanted Habitat, my initial thought was, “Hmm. This is pretty good but I could make it better–and enough of it.” Here is the resulting recipe. Click to enlarge.
Now as to the bread– not that all I can think about is food–here is my favorite to go with hillbilly bruschetta. I got this simple, superb recipe when a friend of 60 years re-posted it on Facebook. I don’t think I ever had the name of the woman who originally shared it; my hat is off to her. Below is my lift of the recipe. She didn’t name it, so I gave it a title.
Crusty Bread Baked in Cast Iron Pot
From The Creatures Gazette
Among our faerie folk here is a strain who masquerade as man-made objects. They are usually motionless when mortals are around. One of them lives close to the door of El Porton restaurant in Little Rock, and the other day I may have seen him move.
Copyright 2017 Ruth Byrn