Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Picking Blackberries

Picking blackberries.....not I'm not talking about electronic devices here))) I still help out my daughter and son in law with their website businesses, Trendy Tree and Trendy Ornaments and this adorable new Blackberry Christmas ornament just came in the other day and immediately it brought back thoughts of blackberry picking with my grandmother, who we called Mama.

28113 Old World Christmas Blackberry Ornament


Blackberry picking was also done on a hot sunny day and since we would be walking in brambles and bushes, we always had to wear jeans and long sleeved shirts......hot as well.....you know it was hot.

Picking blackberries with Mama always mean she picked in her white water bucket and the rest of us picked and put our berries into a coffee can or syrup bucket, something like that. Only her berries when in the white water bucket. She would always take a hoe.....because there was always a high chance that you might step on a snake. Never did ....but the chance was always there. There was also a high chance that you would get stung by a wasp.....yes, that happened many times.

The worst thing about picking blackberries though.....was the chiggers.... Mama would warn us, wear long pants, socks, long sleeve shirts and if she had her way, we would all have to wear bonnets too. If you've never worn a bonnet in the hot sun, you cannot imagine how suffocating hot they are.....most of the time we tried to get out of the house quick enough to "leave the bonnets behind."

We would walk down through the pasture looking for good berry vines. They would always be flowing over fences or old downed trees having been struck by lightening through the years or just rotted down. If the vines didn't yield many berries, we would hop in my granddaddy's truck and he would drive us to someone else's pasture or fence line. You didn't necessarily stop by someone house and seek permission to go into their fields and pick some berries.....you just did. Unless, they happened to be in the yard and you just wanted to be sociable I guess and stop and say hello. Most of the time we just went directly to where we could find good berries.

Pick only the berries that are nice and black, no red ones.....they aren't ripe. This was the instruction each time.....and don't eat them! Can't eat berries until they have been washed...... They surely looked clean enough to eat though......so we ate them anyway. I'm sure she could tell, but she didn't fuss too much.

The very moment we were finished picking berries and arrived back home....we had to remove all our clothing and get into the bath tub...."to get rid of the chiggers."  This hardly seemed necessary, because our clothes would not be soiled except where we had wiped our berry eating fingers a time or too. But Mama would insist.....and not only that.....she would put some Clorox in the water!

Clorox or Purex was good for killing chiggers she insisted.  Being children, I supposed we protested because of the smell of the water, but it didn't matter we had to do it anyway. Once we were decked out in clean clothes we would help wash the berries over and over and try not to mash them too much.

Fresh blackberries always meant a cobbler would be cooked. The rest of the berries would go into little white freezer boxes or bags and into the "deep freeze" for another day.

Back to the chiggers....you would think you had safely made it that berry picking day without picking up any of the tiny little mites.....but first thing you know.....there would be a little itch at your ankles.....then maybe behind your knee......then maybe around your panty leg......OMG....if you've never had one or more than one chigger embedded into your skin, you cannot image the intense itching and scratching that will result.

Chiggers were a cruel trick that God placed on us all.....I mean really....you think every creature should have a supreme and unique reason for it's creation.....but this one has alluded me. And just as a warning.....I don't care how bad, you think you need to go.......never, never. decide to drop your pants while blackberry picking even though you know you are hidden from the entire world.....you will live to regret it.

http://www.babyboomerblogger.com/2016/04/picking-blackberries.htmlWild blackberries are more tart than the blackberries you purchase at the grocery store. So if you're using an old recipe from your Mom or grandmother....you might want to cut back on the sugar a bit unless you picked those blackberries yourself.

My Mother used her Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook and I'm not sure if this is the recipe that she used for her Blackberry Cobbler but I wanted to share it with you.

My Grandmother's cobbler was always baked in the same round dented pan each time. Mother generally had a flair for making her cobblers pretty as well as tasty, so her's might be baked in a white casserole dish or something like that.....but they both were good)))

Blackberry Cobbler

"Cobble up" means to put together in a hurry according to Betty Crocker.

Mix together in saucepan                 3/4 cup sugar
                                                          1 tbsp, cornstarch
Stir in gradually                                1 cup boiling water 
Boil 1 min, stirring constantly
and then add                                      3 cups of blackberries with any juice they have with them

Dot with                                            1/2 tbsp. butter
Sprinkle with                                     1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Make dough to drop by spoonfuls onto fruit mixture. Mix 1 cup sifted plain flour, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt 3 tbsp shortening (or butter) and 1/2 cup milk.   Note: if you are like me and use self rising flour, just leave off the sugar, baking powder and salt. Apparently self-rising flour wasn't as popular back in the 1950's as it is nowadays....or maybe it didn't exist.

Drop the mixture by spoonfuls onto your fruit mixture and bake in a moderately hot oven 400 degree for 30 min. Yields 6 servings.  *Calorie counts were not required of Betty Crocker in 1950....so just don't even worry about it......enjoy the Cobbler!  Serve with vanilla ice cream if you really want to impress))

So back to the cute little Blackberry Christmas ornament......what a perfect little keepsake for someone you love.

http://www.trendyornaments.com/28113-blackberry-old-world-christmas-ornament.htmlCollecting ornaments is so much more fun when you can associate it with a sweet memory from the past......so, buy an ornament, try making a blackberry cobbler and if you're brave enough......take those kids or grand kids blackberry picking this summer......but surely, surely, there is something now that you can douse the kids in so they won't get chiggers!!

Don't forget your hoe! Be vigilant, be ready.....there could always be a snake.








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