by Danica Waters
Following our coverage of the National Can-It-Forward Day held mid-August out of the world-famous Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA, the Allspice Chronicles traveled up the West Coast just in time for blackberry season. Called “brambles” in the UK, blackberries grow EVERYWHERE in the great Northwest. They line the freeways, small country roads, back yards, you name it.
We were informed early-on that the locals could spot a tourist from 100 yards away simply because they were picking blackberries at the sides of busy roads; old-timers and people in-the-know stay away from these berries because of the contaminants they pick up from car exhaust. While it seemed a terrible waste, there were plenty of walking paths and offbeat hiking trails that rendered BUCKETS of these beauties.
On our first berry picking excursion, less than an hour of picking rendered over three quarts of berries. Because blackberries are extremely perishable, they need to be frozen or cooked quickly. Of course, the first thing that came to mind was to turn the first fruits of the season into a juicy cobbler, so that’s precisely what we did.
My sister-in-law, who is an impeccable housekeeper, a fabulous cook and creative, over-the-top entertainer in her own right, produced what she referred to as the Northwest “Recipe Bible” from her kitchen cabinet. It was a relatively small, thick, pink book called Alice Bay Cookbook: A Savory Sampler from Washington’s Skagit Valley. Inside is a collection of the most delicious heirloom recipes, each a celebration in its own right of the bounty of the land, the rivers, and the oceans that make up the Great Northwest. Originally published in 1985, the Alice Bay Cookbook celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2010. Authored by Julie Wilkinson Rousseau, it was noted by the New York Times Bestseller List as “Paperback Best Seller”, and with good reason. No matter where you live, if you like to cook, this is one book you should have in your collection.
Please note: before you gasp at the thought of using eight whole cups of blackberries for a single cobbler, please understand that this recipe is designed to feed a very large crowd, and is easily scaled down. It is the most delicious cobbler you’ll ever care to taste. Be sure to top it off with vanilla ice cream or some heavy cream – it is simply to die for.
(Alice Bay Cookbook)
1½ cups sugar
½ cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
8 cups blackberries
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups sifted flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup butter
2/3 cup milk
1 egg, slightly beaten
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Mix together sugar, flour, salt, berries, and lemon juice. Pour into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish, and dot with butter. Bake for 15 minutes, until hot and bubbly.
Meanwhile, make biscuit topping: Mix together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add milk and beaten egg, and stir with a fork until blended.
When blackberry mixture is hot and bubbly, spoon biscuit mixture on top in 10 or 12 dollops. Return to oven for 20 minutes, until biscuits are browned and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.