When I moved into my house 10 years ago the yard was bordered by a tangle of trees and bushes. It created a lush buffer between my neighbors and me so I let it remain wild and untouched. "Let" is probably the most benign spin I can put on my effort. I have a way with plants...a very bad way. So the less I was involved in their care and maintenance, the better off all god's creatures would be.
My youngest child moved out of the house several years ago and after happily living in my well-ordered but very empty nest I eventually decided to get a housemate. David and I are perfect cohabiters; we are both quiet and private and deeply respectful of boundaries and personal space. We also have many complimentary skills.
The talent I most value in this incredibly gifted man is his ability to bend nature to his will. Saying he has a green thumb does not begin to plumb the depths his brilliance when it comes to gardening. My yard is now a place of breathtaking beauty and bounty. It is a riot of flowers, vegetables, herbs, plants, shrubs, bees, and birds. Among his many other horticultural accomplishments, David discovered a covey of raspberry canes in the tangled brush around the house. Without disturbing the wild nature of the border, he cleared out weeds around the plants, wove the canes around each other for mutual support and fed and watered them until they blossomed in the spring.
Berries for breakfast!
And now we have the most gorgeous harvest of berries you could imagine. I eat them for breakfast in my yogurt. I bake them in various desserts. I snack from the bushes after a run. I am berry blessed.
In honor of this season's raspberry harvest, David has given me permission to print his Nana Stacy's Raspberry Buckle recipe. It has been passed down through generations of Mainers -- a dessert that combines fruit and moist cake batter, and is topped with a rich, crunchy streusel topping. Be aware that while this works beautifully with raspberries, it is equally scrumptious with native Maine blueberries.
Nana Stacy's Raspberry Buckle
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup soft shortening
1/2 cup milk
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups raspberries
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup butter
Pre-heat oven to 375º. Cream eggs, sugar, and shortening together. Combine dry ingredients separately. Mix together, then add milk. Gently fold in berries, mixing as little as possible. Pour batter into a greased 9 x 9 baking pan.
To make streusel topping, cut butter into small pieces and mix all ingredients together. (Nana Stacy and David recommend using your hands for this process, ensuring that all the ingredients are evenly combined.) Top cake with streusel mix and cook for 45 - 50 minutes.
But wait! There were still more berries, so next came a very basic raspberry pie. No need for a recipe here, it's just pie crust, berries dusted with flour, with a bit of sugar, and a squeeze of lemon. Easy, elegant, and the essence of summer.
Ready for the oven.
A little too dark, but the phone rang...
Leftover dough cookies.
When I have pie for breakfast, I use my Princess fork.
And thanks to David, The Plant Whisperer, there will be lots more posts from our garden. Stay tuned!