Foraging Again, through Brambles of Blackberries
Blackberries were about the last thing I should have bought upon my return to the Corvallis Farmer’s Market Saturday. Not because I don’t like them. Oregonians love to forage for and eat those wild blackberries so abundant here. But they loathe those same thorny canes that can become some of the most invasive plants, suffocating all other life out of your garden and yard with those looming, downward-seeking vines. Luckily, wild blackberry plants line the trails where I run, just minutes from our home. I didn’t realize they were already blackening (ripening) until I stumbled upon them in Bald Hill Park yesterday. Why buy blackberries when nature gives them up, generously, for free?
I set out to collect two cups more today for dessert. This time, I came prepared, pulling thick rubber boots over my jeans and bringing yard gloves to protect my hands from thorns. Blackberry gathering is like bee-keeping I suppose: the threat of pricks and stings somehow makes the fruit and honey gathered that much more sweet. I’m sure Novella Carpenter would agree. In 30 minutes (including my bike ride down the road and back), I had gathered what I needed.
Ivy Manning’s cookbook once again inspired me: this time, to make her uber-local Peach and Blackberry Hazelnut Crisp. Unfortunately, peaches are just barely in season here, but I still managed to snag some at the food co-op. Though ripe, the peaches sure didn’t seem freestone, clinging as they did to their pit. The blackberries: foraged. The ground hazelnuts, from nearby Hazelnut Hill farm. The Quaker rolled oats didn’t quite belong. Add chopped crystallized ginger to the fruit mixture if you have some lying around. Top with vanilla ice cream. I used vanilla coconut milk cream, because the pricey concoction was $2 off. Now if I could only forage for peaches.