I don’t know what you think of when you hear the word “heavenly.” This summer, for me, heaven tasted like blackberries.
In late July we took a trip to Oregon, fetching up outside of Portland, where el Guapo’s sister and brother-in-law live. They had come to see us in Spain in May, and we were happy to repay the visit.
Our Spanish hang-out was utterly urban; our Pacific northwest gathering refreshingly rural. Our kin there live on a five-acre parcel that they share with an armful of chickens, a trip of goats* and an extensive spread of blackberry brambles. Though the goats have turned out to be both good company and good fun, the initial motivation for bringing them onto the team was as a blackberry bramble control squad, and they are good at their job.
They are also downright entertaining to watch. They do this little up-on-the-hind-legs maneuver that sometimes looks like just frisking for the fun of it, and is sometimes part of a hey-let’s-butt-heads-in-mid-air invitation. El Guapo is working on readying some video footage, which, while not as good as being there, will give you the idea. In the meantime, use your imagination on these stills.
The goats have been working their way around the property in their professional capacity, but there are many, many blackberry bushes still around, notably lining the long driveway in from the main road. We wandered down several times to pick, filling bowls and mouths. Our last morning there we stopped on our way out of town and picked our fill again. Heavenly!
Eating the berries warm from the bushes is a wonderful treat. Tucking the berries under a blanket of oats, brown sugar and butter is a fine thing, too. I include here a recipe for Blackberry Crisp. We tried a couple of different versions, and liked them all. Blame the relative scarcity of pictures on the fact that we were too intent on eating the bounty to spend a lot of time on photography.
5 to 6 cups blackberries
2 to 4 tablespoons sugar to sprinkle on the fruit
Put blackberries in a baking dish (8 or 9″ round or square works; smaller if you want it deeper)
1/2 cup rolled oats, quick or regular
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, ginger, and/or cinnamon
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup chopped nuts and/or coconut
Combine with a fork or pastry cutter, and spoon over the blackberries. Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes until topping is golden.
If, like my sister-in-law, you think the crisp topping should play a larger role in this dessert, you can increase by half, or double it. A middle course would be this:
3/4 cup oats
2/3 to 3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup flour
heaping 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, ginger and/or cinnamon
1/3 to 1/2 cup butter
1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped nuts or coconut
I learned today that the Spanish word for blackberry is mora, which fits fine–a few bites of this blackberry crisp should inspire you to say, in an Antonio Banderas accent, “Just serve me up a little mora that, por favor.” (I know, I’m off to pun time-out for awhile.)
*I’m a big fan of collective nouns. Yes, you can have a herd of goats, a flock of goats, and a tribe of goats. A trip of goats is a new one for me; it seemed very apt, given my experience watching our new goat friends–they wander around somewhat erratically, perhaps unlikely to trip themselves, but more likely to cause me to trip, either by getting underfoot, or by making me laugh hard enough to lose my hold on an upright posture.