Farm to Table and Beyond

Well, it’s July, it’s hot, and that means it’s time to jump in the pool briar patch. Say whaaaaat? Yes, it’s time to pick some blackberries!

Forget the swimsuit. It’s time to put on your tall leather boots, your best thorn resistant pants, a big brimmed hat, and a long sleeved shirt you don’t mind ripping to shreds or dowsing with your favorite garden variety (no pun intended) chigger repellant. Mix that repellant with a little hard-earned sweat and you’ll be a soggy mess before you know it. You’re in, right?

So Don, bro-in-law Charles and I went to the family farm Saturday to do us some berry picking. Here’s Charles reaching in to pick that one ripe berry.

What a classy style and fine technique. You see, Charles is actually a blackberry pickin’ master. His parents groomed him as a young child for this moment by taking him to the most challenging blackberry patches around. They were filled not only with berries and chiggers but wasps! Oh how he hated those wasps. So here he is in a wasp free zone pickin’ the low hanging fruit.

Well, hmmmm … what are we to do when the berries are plentiful and we come home with more than we thought we would? Give some to others? Check. Ask Don to make some of his could be award-winning blackberry cobbler? Check. Freeze some? Check. Learn how to make preserves and can some? Working on it.

So this morning I woke up in the mood for baking some homemade blackberry muffins and to document this unusual event I decided to also get out my camera. It seemed like a great time for stock photography because who doesn’t need a little yummy in the tummy AND a little extra income on the side?

So here’s stock photo #1. You’re supposed to forget any aforementioned suggestion of DEET and look at this mouth watering bowl of blackberries and think of such sale worthy keywords as “organic,” “healthy” and “antioxidants.”

healthy bowl of antioxidant packed organic blackberries – yum!

Stock photo #2 is in fact a Pinterest wannabe:

Fresh blackberry muffins as easy as 1, 2, 3

Stock photo #3 is pretty much the same scene but shot at a different angle.

Fresh blackberries to be folded into muffin batter

Stock photo #4 is the finished product – homemade muffins on a plate Scott made in kindergarten. Aw …

Blackberry muffins served on a handmade polka dot plate

So what are we baking up next? Well, I think perhaps in honor of that time honored British lawn tennis tourney known as Wimbledon, we’ll be serving up blackberry lemon scones at tea time. You may have to follow me on Instagram @maryricephoto to see if they really pan out.

Thanks for grinnin’ and pickin’ my blog. Happy summer ya’ll.

It’s springerlie weather, Buddy!

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Alright, so the actual line in Truman Capote’s “A Christmas Memory” is “[I]t’s fruitcake weather, Buddy!”  But … I’m not a fan of fruitcake and I love springerlies so I’ve made a little recipe substitution a la Truman Capote.

Springerlies are German Christmas cookies that are a Schneiter family tradition. My great-grandparents on my father’s side immigrated to America from Germany in the late 1800’s or maybe early 1900’s and died before I was born, but I do have faint childhood memories of PawPaw (my grandfather) making springerlies at his farm in Louisville, Kentucky, and very clear memories of my dad making springerlies every Christmas wherever we/he lived.

My sister and I now carry on the tradition and I learned yesterday from our cousin who has recently moved from Chicago to Tennessee, that she once bought springerlies from a bakery in Schaumberg, Illinois. Buy springerlies?? That was enough to cause me to do a Google search which led me to discover this – http://www.springerliehouse.com.  Sweet!

So what are they? Well, they’re really just a mixture of flour, eggs, butter, sugar and anise seed or anise oil which lends the cookie a certain licorice flavor. The dough is rolled to about 1/4 inch thickness with a special wooden rolling pin (you can also use a mold). Once rolled, the cookies are cut and left in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours before baking. After about 10-12 minutes in a 350 degree oven, you’ve got yourself a pan of delightful little “picture cookies.”

There are several springerlie recipes readily available on the internet, but generally speaking, most springerlies are hard on the outside and have a little “springiness” on the inside. They partner well with a hot cup of coffee. You’ve heard of Dunkin’ Donuts?  Springerlies are the ultimate Dunkin’ Cookies. Oh, and some people paint them which can make them look a lot like Christmas tree ornaments, although we Schneiters always skipped the painting step and just got right to the eating.

Family holiday traditions such as this provide connection, links to your past, comfort, and a sense of belonging. Whatever your family roots or whatever you celebrate this holiday season, I hope you find something in your ancestry which makes you feel all warm and cozy inside.

Frohliche Weihnachten!  Or, as the Brits on my mom’s side of the family would say, Merry or Happy Christmas!