This past week I picked some blackberries. I used to pick wild blackberries when I was a kid. My Aunt Grace and Aunt Ad would get us dressed up in long-sleeved shirts, put hats on us and we would go down in the woods to pick wild blackberries, or possibly go out in the largest pasture area. We had two pastures where we would let the cows graze but the largest one was adjacent to a small airport. We actually rented some land from them to use for pastures. Uncle Donald had built us wooden crates that held 6 quart containers which we used. Sometimes, you really had to walk in the prickly bushes so we would just take one quart container or maybe a small bucket with us. You never wanted to drop all those blackberries you had spent time picking. Of course, as kids we also ate quite a few of those blackberries as we were picking.
One time my aunts and my sister were coming back from picking and were walking through the field when all of a sudden Aunt Ad said, “You have ticks all over you.” Now living on a farm you checked yourself each night for ticks. We were real careful because Uncle Donald had gotten Rocky Mountain Spotted Tick fever one year and had been sick in bed for quite a while. But we usually only had one tick, hidden behind an ear or in your hair. Those were the days when some adult would get a match, burn it and stick that hot match on the tick so it would release.
This was different, the ticks were all over our pants. Here we were in the middle of a huge field and my aunt was telling us to take off my pants. True, no one could see us unless they had binoculars but still I didn’t want to be standing in a field in my underwear. But we all took our pants off and shook them. We then put them back on, got in the truck and headed back to the farm. When we got there, my sister and I went straight home to take a bath and to check to make sure we had no more ticks. Thankfully, we didn’t find any more.
Usually when we got back from picking, we would take off our hats and long sleeve shirts and clean our hands. We would use diluted Clorox to get the stain off of our hands and wash our arms and legs real good to make sure we cleaned off any poison ivy.
Well, thankfully I didn’t have to pick wild blackberries this time, though on my sister’s property I have picked wild black raspberries, blackberries and wine berries. I usually don’t have to go in the woods though as they are around the edges of the fields. At this time of the year they are available around here at the store and farmer’s markets.
I like them on my cereal or ice cream, in my smoothies, or just pop a few in my mouth. Growing up we made homemade blackberry ice cream which was a hit. My aunts and mom all made blackberry jelly which they entered, and many times won, at the Maryland State Fair. Grandmother often made roly poly, which I loved hot out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
This is her recipe from her recipe book. It is written in her handwriting and next to it she has a similar recipe she had cut out of The Baltimore Sun paper. Enjoy.
BAKED BLACKBERRY ROLY POLY2 c flour
4 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 T sugar
2 T butter 3/4 c milk 1/2 c shortening 4-6 c blackberries 1 c sugar
Mix flour, baking powder, salt and 2 T sugar. Work in shortening with pastry blender or fork; add milk quickly. Stir-toss on floured board, knead, then roll dough in rectangle 1/2″ thick. Spread with melted butter and half of the berries. Cover with 1/2 c sugar and add cinnamon if desired. Roll dough, until berries are covered, put into well-greased pan, surround with the rest of the berries and sugar. Bake 30 minutes or until crisp in 400° oven. Cut in slices and serve warm with berry sauce in the pan. Yield: 6 servings.