If it’s September then it must be…Blackberries

Featured

I know it is no longer September but I’ve been having technological issues – beside the blackberries round us were very late this year. In Reading where I work they were starting to appear in mid July but in Warwickshire they weren’t worth eating until mid September…

Which is when a neighbour (I guess I should call him Flapjack King since he is the Flapjack Queen’s other half) challenged myself and the rest of the road to a “Hedgerow Bake Off”…after that is he had picked all the blackberries within immediate reach. This gave him a significant time advantage…not that it helped as Fate took a hand and evened the playing field for the rest of us.. FJK misread his recipe, failed to add enough gelatine and ended up with a blackberry flavoured sauce instead of the Pana Cota he’d been hoping for !

The entrants to the Itchy Bishop Hedgerow Challenge included:

– Pumpkin Pie,

-Pecan Pie (yes I know they don’t grow in Warwickshire, but they were selling them in the local tesco so I guess it counts !)

-Blackberry and Raspberry Roulade

-Blackberry Syllabub,

-a liquid Pana Cota and his back up Bakewell Tart

– a moist chocolate cake with a blackberry compote filling (Chocolate Ganache icing)…

and my contribution which was a blackberry bread and butter pudding (Nigel Slater Tender II) as by the time I’d finished my gardening and gone out and found some blackberries I only had an hour left…and to be frank wasn’t in the mood to do the Madeleines I’d planned (Madeleines…far too much effort for such small cakes !)

Unfortunately we forgot to pace ourselves with the sampling, by the time they got to mine no one could manage more than a small spoonful…maybe we made a mistake in combining the bake off with the last barbecue of the summer…

I forgot to get pics but O Mighty Tim snapped the one above…which I’ve had to pinch from his facebook as he is  also having a week where technology is biting him on the bottom…

The winner was unanimously declared to be 9 year old Flapjack Princess’ chocolate cake

My Bread and Butter pudding unfortunately became my breakfast and lunch the next day as it turned out that neither Spider or OMT eat it…wish they’d mentioned that before I’d made it  😦

So there you go, a new memory to go along with the hundred I already have of fun in the sun and blackberries including

Memory  2006 – We are in the process of buying our current house and we take a sneaky peak of the road from the “country” bit of the lane…the hedges are full of sloes and blackberries and an 18 month old Spider keeps leaning from my arms, pointing stuttering out the words  “Black-Black, Black-Black”…

Memory  1993 – It is September, students are not yet back at university but postgraduate and masters students haven’t stopped. I go to visit a friend who is doing a masters in psychology of something or other…her household is the welcoming sort where a friend of one is a friend of all. We go for a walk in the countryside round Cardiff before heading back for a house family Sunday dinner of  roast chicken. The walk is one of glorious autumn sunshine, climbing trees and kicking through the first fallen leaves. As we reach the car we spot blackberries and after a quick search of pockets for a plastic bag forage enough to take back for crumble and custard.

Memory July-ish  1980 or 81 Malvern Railway station, we are waiting for someone after school, it may be Dad or Mum can’t remember who but there was only 1 of my parents there and my brother…bored we roam the car park until we fall on some amazingly early blackberries rambling over a wall…but then the summers of your childhood are always warm enough for early blackberries to appear…

This weekend we managed to rustle up enough blackberries to go in a crumble to follow our roast…which I am sorry to say is the usual fate for my foraging other than the occasional jam, compote or simply scoffing them straight off the bush…but then I love the wonderful jammy perfume of a crumble filling the kitchen

Maybe next year I might manage something more ambitions…but I doubt it…

Advertisements

I’ve never been to Durham

I have been pretty low recently, so low that a number of friends expressed stated that they had been worried about me. Things have been getting me down, but it is thanks to these friends (and family) that I am not sinking. I owe a lot to my friends and weirdly it’s been my “new” friends who have been there for me when I’ve needed them.

The weekend was full of lovely hi points. It was Teenager’s birthday and we had made a cake. I say “we” as Spider was helping with the icing, primarily by eating the cola bottles bought for decorationjuly 2009 002. The cake was Nigella’s Coca Cola Cake (How to be  Domestic Goddess) – which was very very nice and incredibly easy to make…it is however quite a flat low cake, and it stuck to the foil which lines the tin to stop the mixture seeping out and all over the oven…so I iced it on a plate and used the icing to hide the fact that the cake was in several pieces!

We were visited by the Fairy Gothmother, who is always happy to talk cake and has now a page on Facebook called “Cake District” she was bearing lovely gifts, late birthday presents for me and presents for her goth son…she also waved her fairy gothmother’s wand in the direction of Amazon, sprinkled fairy dust and lo and behold they delivered a copy of Economy Gastronomy to our address…or at least they will do as soon as it gets released!

On Sunday we invaded Flapjack Queen’s house to ask them to come for a walk and ended up spending most of the day there – when we did finally get out we discovered a hedge of “wild” plums in the allotments out back and introduced the children to the delights of pick your own fruit grinning conspiratorially at each other as the sticky juices ran down our chins and on our fingers.

Back at FQ’s palace we made plum crumble (plum and pecan (HtbaDG), a big one for the family and a small one for a lady up the road who no doubt picked the plums in the 1930’s when she was a teenager…I love the continuation of  history you get in a village. FQ made a banana and blueberry muffin cake and sent me away with half of it in return for my plum crumble.

So thank you friends, and in particular Fairy Gothmother, Flapjack Queen and Wingnut (who introduced me to geocaching which gets me out of the house) – all of whom it turns out are graduates of Durham university…