Life on Regal-Hill: August 20, 2008

Life on Regal-Hill has not been very exciting lately. We have had the same old rainy weather, or prediction of rain, so you had to plan your workday around it. Frankly I am tired of it. It has been going on way too long. The vegetation still needs sunlight even if it is getting sufficient rain. Why can’t the weather understand that?
Japanese beetles have heavily attacked the pole beans, nasturtiums and, as always, bother the zinnias. This year they even attacked the blackberry briars leaving big holes in the leaves of the respective plants.
I thought for sure August, or at least the Walton Fair, would bring us drier weather but so far it hasn’t. Now with the cooler weather you can’t help but think of fall and I really don’t want to yet.
At least the temperature hasn’t gotten down so that there was a danger of frost. However, I still have a feeling there will be an early frost this year. The reasons are: the flowers have blossomed earlier than usual. Zinnias and cornflowers were budding the first of August; the blackberries are ripening earlier, at least two weeks sooner than normal; the apples also seem to be ripening sooner than in other years. Usually early transparent apples are ready by the third week of August and this year they were ready nearer to the first week. Maybe the other apples like Gravensteins, Russets and Pound Sweets that we have had for many years will be ripe sooner than usual, which is usually in September or October. Time will tell.
Anyway, I guess it makes life more interesting to never know when blackberries and apples will be ripe or a frost will come.
Blackberries are my favorite fruit for pie. I find it difficult to find many recipes for just blackberries. Now that it is the season for blackberries and the supply seems to be good, it is time to cook with blackberries. Try these recipes and see if you don’t agree.

Lattice Blackberry Bars
6 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups sugar
1-1/2 cups shortening
1-1/4 cups sour cream
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
8 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened blackberries
1/4 cup butter, cubed
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
In a bowl, combine the flour and sugar. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Combine sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla until smooth; add to crumb mixture. Toss with a fork until dough forms a ball. Divide dough in half; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
For filling, combine 2 cups sugar and flour in a large saucepan; add blackberries. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture begins to boil; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat; stir in butter and cinnamon. Cool slightly.
On a lightly floured surface, roll one portion of dough into a 17-in. x 12-in. rectangle; transfer to a greased 15-in. x 10-in. rectangle; cut into 1/2-in. strips. Make a lattice crust over filling; seal and flute edges.
Brush egg over pastry. Sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack. Slice into bars.
Yield: 20 servings
2006 Taste of Home Annual Recipes

Blackberry Cobbler
6 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon grated lime peel
Sour Cream Pastry:
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar, divided
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
7 tablespoons cold butter, divided
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Place the blackberries in a large bowl. Combine the sugar, corn starch and lime peel; sprinkle over berries and gently toss to coat. Pour into a greased 9-in. square baking dish.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda; cut in 5 tablespoons butter until crumbly. Combine sour cream and heavy cream; gradually add to crumb mixture, tossing with a fork until mixture forms a ball. Roll out to fit top of baking dish; place pastry over filling. Trim and seal edges; cut slits in top. Melt remaining butter; brush over pastry. Sprinkle with remaining sugar.
Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Cover and bake 15-20 minutes longer or until filling is bubbly and crust is golden brown. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Yield: 6-8 servings
2006 Taste of Home Annual Recipes
Editor’s Note: If using frozen blackberries, do not thaw before assembling cobbler.