A few posts back, I wrote the following:
Appreciate the randomness and the ordinary in everyday living.You just never know how that day, that moment, that “non-event-occasion” may hold a memory; one that, when visited years later, brings joy just in it’s randomness and its ordinariness.
And this post is about just that, living the ordinary.
So, once upon a time, there was a lady (a lovely lady, some may say…ok, I made that part up)..
And this (lovely) Lady lived in a beautiful part of the country. Some call it God’s Country, some call it OR-E-Gone, but we call it Home.
One of the best parts of livin’ in these parts is berry season! The (lovely) Lady had a husband who knew about berry pickin’, but his experience was somewhat limited to the wild blackberries that grow along the golf courses.
One day, the (lovely) Lady called up her family members (at least those who lived in the nearby vicinity) and asked if they would like to go on an adventure; a Berry Pickin’ Adventure!
“I’m not sure EXACTLY where this place is, but “they” (switching back to first person here…my husband always cringes when I quote “they”) say it’s on the way to Eagle Point, and then you turn left at HWY 234 and about, oh, I don’t know, five or ten minutes (keep in mind, ten is twice five, there is a bit of leeway here), you know, past Dodge bridge but before you get to the dam…’you can’t miss it’ they say…” The (lovely) Lady even offered to fix a picnic lunch, complete with homemade brownies.
Well, the (lovely) Lady thought for sure this was going to be a modern day version of the Little Red Hen…You know the story, the Little Red Hen (i.e. “Lovely Lady”), wants her friends and family to help her plant, cut and mill the corn and then bake the bread…and those lazy good for nothin’s want to sit around and play video games…except when it comes time to eating the bread…
Well, the (lovely) Lady was pleasantly surprised when her family members agreed to her (hair-brained) idea of Berry Pickin’…
And so, she gathered her crew…look how happy they all are!
And out they went on their Berry Pickin’ Adventure! And, lo and behold, they FOUND the Berry Pickin’ Place!
And so, the (lovely) Lady went into the barn to talk to the proprietors about how one goes about picking berries. The (lovely) Lady had minimal experience with picking raspberries, but no experience with picking blueberries, and wanted to make sure she got it right (the (lovely) Lady is a bit of a perfectionist, some might say).
Of course, the (lovely) Lady struck up a (lengthy) conversation with the Berry Lady about how one goes about pickin’ berries. And before you know it, one of the crew members came in to track down the (lovely) Lady, only to find out that the (lovely) Lady was chatting it up with the someone he had known since about circa 1992. Yes, lo and behold, Berry Lady was none other then the mother of one of his nearest and dearest elementary, junior high, high school, college and beyond friends (sorry, family photo op here)
And so, to document this chance encounter, the (lovely)Lady had to get a picture of crew member with his long-lost mother friend.
Ok, back to work (good help is so hard to find these days).
Anyway, the berries (blueberries on one side of the field, raspberries on the other) were incredible! This spring was long and damp, and, apparently, berries LOVE long, damp springs. We could stand in one spot and pick to our hearts’ content!
Some say that there were even prize-winning berries picked that day, but one will never know, as the prize-winners never quite made it out of the field.
And for some of the crew members? Well, the Berry Pickin’ was just exhaustin’ !
Our friend, the Berry Lady, gave us a tip for freezing the fruits of our labors. She suggests placing the berries in a single layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and flash freezing them. DO NOT WASH THEM. The raspberries are very fragile and the best way to preserve them, intact, is to put the frozen berries in glass jars and store in the freezer. When ready to use, just “shake out” what you need, wash, and use in your recipe of choice. The blueberries are not quite as fragile and, in the interest of saving space, I used my vacuum sealer to store and preserve these.
All in all, it was a wonderful day, here in God’s Country. The (lovely) Lady and her crew picked over 20 pounds of a combination of blueberries and raspberries! But more important then the bounty they gathered were the precious memories.
As you know, from reading last week’s post, some of this harvest was used as the filling for Razzle Dazzle pie. The verdict is in, and, this year’s harvest is a good one, a very, very good one. We can’t wait to return next year! Maybe the (lovely) Lady will gather even MORE crew members to help her pick the berries!
And, below, is the brownie recipe (courtesy of King Arthur) that lured the crew out into the fields.
1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp espresso powder
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (of course, you know by now, I only use King Arthur Flour)
2 cups chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 9 x 13 pan. In a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over low heat, melt the butter, then add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat (or microwave) briefly, just until it’s hot but not bubbling; it’ll become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating this mixture a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.
While the sugar heats a second time, crack the 4 eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, espresso powder, and vanilla until smooth.
Add the hot butter/sugar mixture, stirring until smooth
Add the flour and chips, again stirring until smooth. Note: If you want the chips to remain intact in the baked brownies, rather then melting in, let the batter cool in the bowl for about 20 minutes before stirring in the chips.
Spoon the batter into a lightly greased 9″x 13″ pan.
Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove them from the oven and cool on a rack before cutting and serving. Makes 2 dozen 2″ square brownies.