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Busting with Blackberries

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woke up this morning telling myself it’s going to be a peaceful weekend. Last weekend, when I canned tomato jelly on Saturday and 54 quarts of stewed tomatoes on Sunday. I went outside and picked the garden this morning before it got too hot to find that I didn’t have a lot of any one thing to can or freeze. Good news, I told myself. I did have enough, however, to share with the rest of the family. So, I made up some boxes with a good variety of what I picked for everyone to have the freshest of produce this week. They looked so good and it makes me feel good to share and know that it won’t go to waste. 

As I sat down at the kitchen table, my phone rang. It was my son-in-law; something must be wrong, I thought, he never calls me. When I answered, the voice on the other end said, “Grammy, how do you make blackberry jam?” That could be a good thing, but after a minute I considered it might not be the ideal situation since my daughter was out of town. I started laughing and asked, “Have you ever made jam before?” That was a big no. He was driving through Valley Springs and found some blackberries and picked some. Well, he and my grandson did not just pick some; they picked a big bucket. I quickly said, “Come to the house tomorrow and we will make jam then.” So, we had a jam-making lesson on Sunday.  

We had way more berries than needed for a couple batches of jam. We worked on washing and preparing the berries for jam. The smell in the house was so amazing. After we finished the jam, my grandson and I washed and layered more blackberries, placing them gently on two baking sheets and dropping them down in the deep freezer. After several hours, we bagged them in 3-cup portions. Using a vacuum sealer, we then sealed them, removing all the air, and quickly put them back in the freezer for blackberry pie this winter. We still had more blackberries.

We decided to make some blackberry muffins, which we could eat fresh now and freeze a few for lunches or breakfast over the next few weeks. My grandson loves to cook in the kitchen with his Grammy. The two of us have had countless hours standing in the kitchen with aprons on baking, making up stories and laughing. After a double batch of muffins, we were done, thank goodness! I was tired. We have enough berries left over just for eating or maybe topping some ice cream. It was a long but fun and memorable day. Rowdy and I did our special handshake between Grammy and grandson and then a big hug at the end. The memories in my kitchen are made often along with always something good to eat. This month I’m sharing my Blackberry Muffin recipe. These muffins are tender, sweet and the fresh blackberries add that rustic look to this great-tasting muffin.

Blackberry Muffins
½ cup butter, softened
1¼ cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ cup milk
2 cups blackberries

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Add the vanilla and the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. In a separate small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Combine the flour mixture to the butter mixture alternating with the milk. Stir by hand using a wooden spoon until just barely moistened. Do not overmix. Gently stir in your blackberries. If the blackberries are really soft, coat them with a small amount of flour first so they won’t get blended up as easily in the batter; try to keep as many as you can whole. It also keeps them from sinking to the bottom of your muffin when baking. Pour the batter into greased or paper-lined muffin tins, filling the tins two-thirds full. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the tin for at least 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack or, in my case, right from the tin into my grandson’s mouth. Sometimes I like to use a little sprinkling sugar, carefully adding it to the top of warm muffins right out of the oven. It adds to the look of this rustic muffin, making it not just good to eat but gift-worthy. These muffins are fantastic with blackberries but also just as tasty if you use raspberry, blueberries and even strawberries.  

Blackberry muffins are great for breakfast with a cup of coffee or tea. And I know someone who’s going to love them in his lunch next week, if he makes it home with any. It was a fun day and, with blackberry-stained lips and fingers, another great recipe card from my recipe box to yours.