Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Tuesday's Time To ... Enjoy Autumn's Bounty

A picture of some brambles (blackberries) and in the background there you can see a marrow! 

Yes, it definitely is starting to feel as if Autumn is on its way.  The nights now are much cooler than they have been, and it gets dark so soon!  Before too long Papa Bear will be doing his "winter hours" at work, which I always welcome, because it means he's at home for longer with me!  As he works outside, he can't work once it gets dark so in winter he is often home well before tea time.  I always look forwards to that!

Yesterday we found some brambles growing on the roadside near our home.  I wanted to pick them, but Papa Bear said he thought they would not be very good, because they had been growing right by the side of the road where cars, lorries and buses go past every day, expelling lots of unwholesome fumes.  He didn't think it would be good for us to eat them!  We both have lovely memories of our childhoods spent picking fruit and berries with our mothers, and I remember my mam telling me I must not eat anything I picked until we had got it home and washed it - but I still did!  We use to get tummy ache from too many berries!  It was great fun, but yesterday we agreed it would not be fun to eat berries that had absorbed all those toxic fumes from the traffic, so instead, Papa Bear went out in the car and got me some!  Isn't he sweet?  You can see a picture of them up there - that is about half of what there was.  And what did I make with them?


Blackberry Crumble!

I used the recipe from one of my new cookbooks to make it - Summer In The Country, by Gooseberry Patch!  I can't share the actual recipe here as it is not available online, but as I adapted it slightly because the original recipe called for a quart of blackberries, and I did not have that much, I will share my personalised version below ...

You will need to make what I made -

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teapoon baking powder
2/3 cup butter (I used margarine - our usual, Clover, which is made with buttermilk)
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups oats
500 g blackberries
3 large cooking apples, (or use a sharp eating apple, like Granny Smith) peeled and sliced into chunks
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, butter, sugar and oats with a fork (or do as I did, and rub with your fingertips) until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs. 

2.  Combine the berries, apples and caster sugar, and simmer gently for about 5 minutes in a very little water.  Do not allow to boil dry.  Remove from heat - the fruit should still have some "bite" to it.

3.  Place the berry and apple mixture in a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish, then spinkle the crumble topping over the berries.

4.  Place in a hot oven for about 20 minutes (the recipe states 30, but this is too long in our fan assisted oven), until the topping is crisp and lightly golden.

Serve as you like - we had it with ice cream!  Yum!  We really liked this - it was sweeter than the crumbles that I've made before, but that didn't matter one wee bit!  We gobbled it all down (desserts never last long in our home) and declared it the best crumble yet!  Thank you Gooseberry Patch!  And thank you Papa Bear for your wonderfully generous gift!  Check out the Gooseberry Patch link on the sidebar of the blog for more delicious recipes like this one.

While we were all enjoying Papa Bear's unexpected autumn bounty, I was minded of a sweet children's TV show that I hadn't thought of for years - Brambly Hedge.  We use to love watching this together as a family, especially on cold and rainy Sunday afternoons in the winter, when it would feel impossibly cosy, all huggled up on the settee together with the icy rain pattering at the window outside, and indoors, the warm sweet tales of the cute little characters featured in the series gently being retold on the TV screen.  We had the whole VHS series of the tales from Brambly Hedge, and an adorable boxed set of the books that had inspired the show, to go with them, which the cubs loved to have read to them at bedtime.  The illustrations in them were so beautiful (do check out the website I have linked to, so that you can see for yourself what I mean - I'm sure you'll agree).  I got all nostalgic thinking about it, and when I told everyone else, they remembered too!  Then Little Bear said she was sure we still had the videos, and probably the books too, in her bedroom.  Later, whilse I was washing up the tea things, she went upstairs had a look - and what do you suppose?

She found them!

I was so happy!  Now we can watch them all over again, and enjoy the sweet books, too!  I shall share more about them another time, but they are just perfect for this time of year.  There are stories for each of the 4 seasons, and then 4 more stories, which are more tales about the same little mice and their busy lives.  The VHS tapes have the same stories, made into adorable animated tales which are just exactly how you would imagine, with incredible attention to detail, just like the beautiful illustrations in the books.  Thank goodness we still have our faithful old VHS player!  I am really looking forwards to having a "Brambly Hedge" afternoon with Papa Bear and the cubs when the weather gets a little cooler - we are already planning the menu for that day!  He he!  I wonder if we will be having hawberry pie, rosehip cordial and acorn cupcakes?  We'll have to wait and see!

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