August 28, 2010

The Blackberry Massacre

Not only did we discover mulberries on a tree growing right along our second story balcony, but we also discovered that there were all kinds of fruit and nut trees lining the creek that ran behind our apartment. Wild plums (three different varieties) figs, walnuts, cherries, and what we think may be hazel nuts. Among all the fruit and nut trees are also giant eucalyptus, redwood, palm, Japanese silk, and lotus trees; and, of course, three or four varieties of oak trees. All of these trees are extremely old, and are not cared for by anyone. They grow wild in a protected area which is bordered by a cemetery, a major highway, and the apartment complex where we live.

We discovered that this area was once called, "Foothill Farms" and was primarily orchards and gardens prior to being developed. The trees and all the plants lining the creek were all part of Foothill Farms and are the only ones remaining since the area was developed.

Well, while out walking in the garden, we also discovered wild blackberries! The mulberries were good, but they were very tiny and limited to one tree. The wild blackberries, on the other hand, were everywhere and they were ripe. The hunt was on!

I invited Deni over, early one Saturday morning, and greeted her at the door, dressed for the hunt!
Deni and I went out determined to find and pick every ripe blackberry that we could find. We spent, probably, two hours walking from one end of the secret garden to the other. Deni did most of the actual picking of the berries. I used my bamboo stick, which had a large hook on the end, which I had fashioned from a large bobby pin and secured with gold jewelry wire wrapped tightly around the base. I would use the hook on the end of the stick to pull vines that were out of reach, or so they thought. Deni would then pluck the juicy berries off the vines and place them in the basket that I wore around my waste.

As Deni I were walking along, she noticed a dragon fly following us. I shared with her that, one late afternoon, while Michael and I were out walking along the creek, a giant, bright orange dragon fly had landed on the end of my stick. Well, guess what. He decided to land on my stick again to both of our delight!

The most fascinating thing we discovered were berry vines growing up in old trees. We could hardly believe our eyes, as we glanced up to find wild black berries hanging 10 feet above us from the trees.

Well, the hunt was exhausting and it was getting warm. We couldn't decide who got massacred worst: the berry vines or Deni.

Up the stairs we went to wash: both Deni and the berries. Here in California, people pay a pretty steep price for certified organic blackberries. Well, we figured that we picked at least $40 worth (at fair market value) and were determined to eat them all.

After a thorough washing, I made blackberry and cream cheese stuffed pancakes, with warm blackberry topping drizzled over them and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

We ended up having enough to freeze at least enough for two more meals. In fact, Michael picked up a pound cake and tonight we will be smothering it will warm blackberries and blackberry syrup. Probably will add fresh whipped cream topping, as well.

More to come...

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