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July 4, 2012 / beatricebunny


My husband and I went blackberry picking on Sunday morning.  It was hot, sticky work.  We are both scratched to hell and, somehow, I have poison on my inside right knee.  I knew, vaguely, that we were planning on going blackberry picking, but, just like every year, I neglected to bring close-toed shoes or long pants, or even a shirt with sleeves.  I resent having to wear more than a minimal amount of clothes in the summer heat, and this year, the heat is breaking records.  We made two runs.  The first trip, we just took a plastic bag, and when we caught it on a thorn, we headed back to my mom’s house.  The second trip, my aunt graciously drove us from locale to locale in her truck.  After heat, thorns, and poison ivy, we still only collected about 5 cups of berries.

Monday, I made pie.  I enjoy baking pies.  Generally, sweets and baking are my husband’s purview, but in the summer, I usually bestir myself long enough to use up berries.  I love the ritual of pie, and pie filling is more like cooking in that it is pretty forgiving, and you can adjust flavors and consistency without worrying about destroying the chemistry.  Most baking doesn’t work like that.  Normally, I make my own pie crust too, but since I also made goat and chard curry from scratch on Monday, I just wasn’t up to any more time in the hot kitchen.  Pillsbury makes pretty good crusts if you’re not in the mood to spend the time and the mess.  They aren’t as good as homemade, but they aren’t terrible.

My pie filling recipe is from my Joy of Cooking, the 1971 edition.  I love The Joy of Cooking.  It’s a strange cookbook to modern readers.  Measuring amounts are all suggestions and most recipes include caveats like, “Add 3/4 – 1 cup of sugar, if you like sweetness.”  It is also randomly full of anecdotes and includes tips such as wrapping a box top in aluminum foil to make it festive for serving cones from.  I seldom use the Joy of Cooking, except once a year or so, to tell me what to do with fresh berries to make pie filling and to remind me what temperature to bake the pie.  When I do make my own crust that recipe also comes from Joy of Cooking.  I love that these recipes are not too sweet, that they let the berries more or less stand on their own in terms of their tartness and that they do not rely on the crust to bring even more sweetness to the pie.  The berries have a chance to shine.

I probably won’t make more pie this summer, but I will keep my copy of the Joy of Cooking for next year, when scratched and hot, I will be satisfied to eat another slice.


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