Blackberry recipes don't have to include chiggers

September 01, 2004|SHIRLEY WOODS

The last time I went blackberry pickin' was in 1965 when I was in my seventh month of my first pregnancy. I came home with a gallon bucket of the sweetest, juiciest blackberries that I could find. I also came home with an equal amount of chiggers.

I had done as I was told and wore long sleeves with a button-up collar, long pants, socks and tennis shoes. I topped my outfit off with coal oil smeared around my neck, wrists and ankles. This was supposed to be a sure-fire method to stay free from chigger bites.

Well, it didn't work for me. By the time the berries were rinsed, cleaned and put away that night, I began to itch. And scratch. And itch and scratch some more. You know what I'm talking about. It seems the little beasts like to gather in tight spots so everywhere there was elastic or a tight fit, there they were biting away. They must have especially been attracted to my swollen belly. There was a solid ring around where my waistline used to be. The doctor was amazed when he saw my belly at my next prenatal checkup, stating he had never seen that many chigger bites on anybody before. The pink nail polish I had applied to help with the itching made it appear even more comical. I didn't have any clear polish.


Needless to say, that ended my blackberry pickin' career although it didn't stop my love of blackberry jam and blackberry cobbler.

It was a rare occasion to hear about anyone who had them for sale. But I got really lucky a few years ago when we moved to a new location. Our neighbor lived alone and didn't cook much for himself, so he appreciated a good home-cooked meal. He also loved to go blackberry pickin' and claimed that chiggers never bothered him. So he'd pick and I'd cook.

In the past I made those easy blackberry cobblers until three summers ago when I used a recipe that my cousin had put in our family cookbook. I haven't made a cobbler since I discovered blackberry dumplings. Topped with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, you think you have died and gone to heaven.

I like to share good things so I am including the recipe. Frozen blackberries can be found at most large supermarkets if you don't have a neighbor like mine or have any in your freezer. Happy eating.

Blackberry Dumplings

1 quart or more of blackberries, add sugar to taste, at least 1 cup or more

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tablespoons shortening

About 2/3 cup of milk (enough to make biscuit dough consistency)

1/4 cup sugar

Add water to cover blackberries at least an inch above and cook on medium heat in a heavy pan for about 20 minutes adding a little more sugar as they cook if not sweet enough. Turn down to simmer while you make the dumplings. You can add more water to thin mixture if needed. They need to be soupy enough to cook the dumplings.

Cut shortening into flour, using a fork. Add 1 cup sugar. When it is blended make a well in center and add milk. Stir with a fork until it balls up adding enough flour to outside to be able to handle without sticking to your fingers. Don't over knead. Turn onto a floured surface, roll thin, sprinkle lightly with sugar on top. Cut into long thin strips and then again into about two-inch strips.

Bring blackberry mixture to a rolling boil and drop dumplings in one by one, being careful to push the ones in the pot out of the way.

Cover and simmer gently until dumplings are done, stirring occasionally.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or Cool Whip. Can be stored in refrigerator and warmed in microwave also.

Easy Blackberry Cobbler

1 cup of sweetened blackberries with its juice or pie filling mix

1 stick of butter or margarine

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of flour

1 cup of milk

Melt butter or margarine in an oblong glass dish. In a bowl mix together the sugar, flour and milk, then pour into dish. Don't stir. Pour blackberry mixture or pie filling on top.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or until done.

Blackberry Jam

I follow the recipe on a Sure-Jell package.

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