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Tag Archives: Blackberries


June 12, 2019

Sometimes a problem caused by carelessness can be solved while teaching a useful lesson.

There is a blackberry patch in the Raincatcher’s garden. Blackberry jelly is a real treat.  The first step in making blackberry jelly is naturally—picking the berries.  This isn’t quite as easy as it might seem but gardeners are tough and volunteer to do the picking.


Above: Blackberries ready to pick at Raincatcher’s

So, with a sturdy stick and rosetender gloves I, one of the tough volunteers, was able to pick a full bowl of nice ripe berries. I took off the gloves and laid down the stick and prepared to sack up the harvest—of course—I spied a whole cluster of ripe berries in the very center of a vine.  I had to add these to the bowl and felt pretty sure I could carefully grab them—which I did—but then my berry  filled hand got caught in the thorns and ripped a strip of skin.

Above: Blackberries and their thorns

How could thorns cause such a wound—it was bleeding a surprising amount—blood running down my arm. Yikes, I was there alone so this was a problem to solve myself.  I was just thinking I would have to use my shirt to apply pressure when I remembered that yarrow has been traditionally used to stop bleeding.  The garden has plenty of yarrow so I picked a bunch of leaves and held them to my thorn wound.  Amazing!!  The bleeding stopped—and my hand felt much better.

Above: yarrow leaves used to treat a wound

When I got home I looked carefully at my hand. There was no blood seeping at all.  This called for a bit of investigation.

The true name for common yarrow is Achillea millefolium. Millefolium means thousand leaves—makes sense—but why achillea?  The hero Achilles from Greek mythology is said to have used this herb to treat the wounds of soldiers in the Trojan war.

Now the truth of this is lost in the mists of time but— scientific studies have found an alkaloid—achillene—that facilitates blood clotting and activates blood platelets.

Now we do not practice medicine in the garden nor would we ever recommend using plants in place of medical advice and/or treatment. Its also very important to be sure of a plants identity before applying it to your skin.

That said—its also good to find out how plants have been used and valued by our ancestors. Plants are amazing and powerful—not just pretty.  The traditional wisdom of using yarrow to stop bleeding was a lesson learned.  Of course the other lesson—don’t think you are smarter than a blackberry vine!

Susan Thornbury

Pictures by Starla Willis and Ann Lamb

May Harvest At The Raincatcher’s Garden

A wheelbarrow of leeks, onions, garlic. Bush beans are growing in raised bed behind the harvest and our mulch piles are in the upper right corner.

Blackberry Pickings; these will make delicious jelly or cobblers.

This is a view of our raised beds brimming with healthy veggie plants and bordered by grapevines. You can see Dorothy and Syann measuring tomatoes in Bed #1.

Ann Lamb

Why would you measure tomatoes plants and weigh harvest? 

Growing blackberries in Dallas



Flavorful News from the Dallas County Master Gardener Cookbook Committee

A new Dallas County Master Gardener Cookbook is on the way.  Our members have submitted a wheelbarrow full of recipes and gardening tips that the cookbook committee has been dutifully busy tasting and testing.

cookbook collage

We jumped into July with forks in hand. Tomato recipes were tasteful and tempting.  Corn, in abundance, brought comfort to our tummies.  Blackberries had us beaming with their beauty.  And, peaches just pushed us over the edge with their juicy goodness.  What could be better?  Well…

Cookbook August cropped overhead shot

In August we anguished over the okra. Which do we like best?  Fried, roasted, simmered, stewed or even finessed into little muffins?   And, oh how the squash recipes raised our spirits.  Shaved into salads, grated for quiche, pureed into soup, carpaccio and casseroles to consider.  How will we decide?

September, October and November we celebrated the harvest bounty. Sweet potatoes to savor, pumpkin recipes to ponder, an over-the-top apple recipe, a unique and very elegant pear presentation that left us swooning while Meyer lemon pie made us pucker with pride.

Creamy Southwestern Pumpkin Soup

Creamy Southwestern Pumpkin Soup

Our journey has been filled with flavor, fun and friendly evaluations. We’ve tasted, tested, eliminated some and accepted over 140 recipes.  Profound thanks to our faithful volunteers who have traveled with us.   The adventure continues to grow more exciting and we can’t wait to share our discoveries.

Until then, stay posted for more “flavorful news” from the cookbook committee and a special 2016 unveiling.

Take a peek at some “behind the scenes pics” courtesy of Ann and Starla!

Linda Alexander, Cookbook Chair

Goodbye Summer and Recipes

We’ve tested and tasted, savored and enjoyed but now it’s time to say farewell.  Our memories have been sweetened with the most delightful flavors of summer; juicy, plump blackberries, tantalizing tomatoes and the star of the show – those luscious, versatile peaches (many would agree, perhaps, summer’s finest fruit).  Yes, we would take them through every season if nature allowed.  But, we must let go and only dream about the spring and summer yet to come.

From the Raincatcher’s Garden: We wish you and your family a restful, and pleasure filled Labor Day weekend.  Join us on our seasonal garden journey by subscribing to Dallas Garden Buzz.

blackberries in carton


Blackberry Brie Bites


1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls (Pillsbury 8 oz.)

1 round Brie Cheese (8 oz.)

¼ cup blackberry jelly (Smuckers Spreadable Fruit)

24 fresh blackberries

24 large toothpicks, optional


  1. Separate the crescent rolls into 4 rectangles. Press the seams together and cut into

6 even squares. Press into 24 mini muffin tins.

  1. Cut the rind off the Brie cheese. Cut into 24 small squares. Place on square into each crescent lined tin. Spoon a small amount of blackberry jelly on top of each cheese square. Fold the tips of the crescent rolls over, if desired. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with a fresh blackberry on a toothpick. Serve immediately.

Yield: Makes 24 crescent cups.


Tomatoes for recipe

Gorgonzola-Tomato Salad


Gorgonzola Tomatoes4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese

¼ cup minced fresh parsley

3 tablespoon minced shallot

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

6 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced

⅓ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste



  1. Freeze cheese 30 minutes or until firm. Grate cheese into a small bowl; add parsley shallot, and basil, stirring gently to combine. Arrange tomato slices on a large serving platter. Sprinkle cheese mixture over tomato slices.
  2. Combine olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste, beating well with a wire whisk. Drizzle dressing mixture over salad.

Yield: 6 servings


Peach recipe tomorrow!


May Recipes from the Master Gardener Meeting

Linda, Evelyn, and Judy and Tarts

Linda, Evelyn, and Judy and Tarts

Heirloom-Tomato-And Goat-Cheese Tartlets


Black-Pepper Crusts (see below)

Pesto (see below)

3 cups heirloom tomatoes, cut in half

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 (4-ounce) package goat-cheese crumbles

Garnish: fresh oregano and microbasil


  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place prepared Black-Pepper Tartlet Crusts on baking sheet. Spoon about 3 tablespoons Pesto into bottom of each crust. Fill each tartlet with tomatoes, and season evenly with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle cheese over tomatoes, and bake for 15 minutes, or until cheese is slightly browned.
  3. Garnish with oregano and microbasil, if desired. Serve immediately.

Black- Pepper Tartlet Crusts


2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup unsalted butter

¾ cup sour cream


In the work bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and pepper; pulse to combine. Add butter, and pulse until crumbled.  Add sour cream, and pulse until mixture comes together.  Remove mixture and form into a disk; wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut 6 (5-inch) rounds from dough.  Place a round in bottom and up sides of each of 6 (4-inch) tartlet pans.  Line tartlet crusts with parchment paper to cover bottoms and sides, and top with pie weights.  Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven; cool slightly.  Remove pie weights and parchment paper.  Return to oven, and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Remove from oven, and cool.



3 cups fresh basil leaves

3 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 garlic cloves, peeled

¼ cup grated fresh Asiago cheese

¼ cup toasted pine nuts

½ teaspoon coarse salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

⅓ cup olive oil


  1. In the work bowl of a food processor, combine basil, oregano, lemon juice, garlic, cheese, and pine nuts; pulse until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add salt, pepper, and olive oil; pulse until smooth.  Prepared pesto can be stored, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to 3 days
Lettuce Prep for Butterhead Lettuce Salad

Lettuce Prep for Butterhead Lettuce Salad

Butterhead Lettuce and Spring Vegetable Salad


5 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Coarse salt and ground pepper

2 heads butterhead lettuce, washed and dried

6 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thin strips

2 ounces alfalfa sprouts

Jane with Sprouts!

Jane with Sprouts!


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar and oil; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Tear lettuce into bite-size pieces and add to bowl along with radishes and carrots. Toss; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Divide salad equally among four plates and top each with sprouts. Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

Asparagus Ready to Eat

Asparagus Ready to Eat

Parmesan Asparagus Roll-Ups with Lemon Dipping Sauce


1 package phyllo dough

½ – 1 cup Parmesan cheese

1 stick butter, melted

30 asparagus spears, washed, woody ends cut and dried

Lemon Dipping Sauce


Take pastry out of box and unfold one package of sheets. Cover sheets with a just barely damp paper towel when not using.

  1. Remove one sheet of phyllo and put on a work surface. Brush the entire sheet with butter; put another sheet of phyllo on top, brush second sheet with butter.
  2. Cut pastry sheets into six even strips, cutting from one short end to another.
  3. Sprinkle each phyllo strip with Parmesan cheese.
  4. Wind one phyllo strip around each asparagus in a spiral manner starting at the base.
  5. Repeat with phyllo until all the asparagus is rolled up.
  6. Brush the tops of the phyllo dough with butter and sprinkle with Parmesan.
  7. Put the asparagus on 2 parchment lined baking sheets and bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes, until the phyllo is light golden brown.

Lemon Dipping Sauce


½ cup sour cream

½ cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, pressed

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Dash of hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste


Put all ingredient s in a bowl and mix well. Serve with asparagus.  Chill if not using right away.


May 2015 Master Gardener Meeting 036

And what about those Blackberry Pie Bars? Click here!




Jim and I share many things, a love of dessert, finding just the right pencil for his beloved Martha’s crosswords, and The File.

My life was simple before The File. No longer.

For the last six weeks, my tired brain has been filled with the minutiae of helping Jim pick out trees and berries for an orchard at the Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills.   (We tried to have an orchard at the garden on Joe Field Road, but for various reasons, it didn’t come to pass.)

The File is a brown manila folder about 1½ inches thick filled with downloads, printed emails, notes from extension agents, a parts list for  a grape trellis, and receipts.

It comes with a complimentary bottle of Extra Strength Tylenol.

Jim knew right off the bat that he wanted the orchard to demonstrate pears, peaches, plums, persimmons, pomegranates, and “phigs.”  Grapes, blackberries, and asparagus rounded out the list.

Apples, too. Well, until we found out about the sex lives of pears, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Jim downloaded recommendations for North and Northeast Texas from Dr. George Ray McEachern, Professor and Extension Horticulturist with the Texas A&M Department of Horticultural Sciences.  This is the guy Texas Monthly calls when they want the inside scoop on the pecan industry in Texas.

We also looked up fact sheets on each crop by Larry Stein, Extension Fruit Specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.  The peach article alone is 14 pages long.

Peaches, plum, apples, and pears are fruit tree crops that require a certain amount of cold winter weather, measured in chilling hours, to end their dormancy and promote proper blooming and spring growth, according to Doug Welsh in his Texas Garden Almanac.  Chilling hours are the number of hours during which temperatures are below 45 degrees and above 32 degrees.  If you goof, and plant a variety that requires more chilling than it receives in your garden, the tree may not bloom fully—or at all.  Dallas-Fort Worth falls in the 800-hour zone.

Pollination is a big deciding factor, too.  Without pollination, a fruit tree may blossom abundantly, but fruit will not develop.  Some trees require pollination from another variety and are called “self-unfruitful.”  Other trees are “self-fruitful” and can produce fruit from their own pollen.  Then, just to make it more fun, some fruit trees can have varieties that are self-fruitful and-–don’t you just love this—other varieties that are self-unfruitful.  (Remember, the Tylenol is complimentary.)

Briefly, Jim’s first choice for a peach was ‘Redskin,’ a free-stone variety with yellow flesh that matures about July 20th.  With our high alkaline soil, we needed the ‘Redskin’ grafted on Halford Rootstock, which led us to barbecue in West Texas.  (More on that later.)

Abbe Planting Peach Tree

Abbe Planting Peach Tree

The number of peach varieties is mind-boggling.  Freestone, cling, or semi-cling? Ripening date? White or yellow flesh? The real basis of selection, however, is matching the chilling requirements of the variety with the chilling hours expected in your area.  ‘Redskin’ requires 750 chilling hours.  Peaches are self-fruitful.

Compared with peaches, there are very few varieties of plums adapted to Texas.  Jim chose ‘Ozark Premier,’ a large variety with red-and-cream streaked skin and yellow flesh that matures in late June. This plum is self-fruitful–but other varieties of plums are self-unfruitful.

Texas has a few native persimmons, but the Japanese persimmon is preferred by most gardeners because of its large fruit.  Jim picked  ‘Eureka,’ a self-fruiting variety recommended by Dr. McEachern.  ‘Eureka’ produces bright orange fruit as large as teacups in the fall.

We purchased a ‘Celeste,’ fig that is a smaller, brown “sugar” fig with sweet pink flesh and purple skin.  ‘Celeste’ matures in August.  Water is a big consideration with figs.  The trees will drop their fruit if drought-stressed and need heavy mulch and moist soils when developing their crop.  (Note to self: is fig on irrigation plan? I’m planning on fig preserves.)

Sarah brought the pomegranate from her backyard.  It was dug up and potted at the Joe Field garden, then pampered at Sarah’s for several months.

The big question with blackberries is, thorns? Or thornless? We decided to try a bit of both.  We purchased the time-tested thorned blackberry ‘Rosborough,’ the most popular of the TAMU releases.  It has a large berry, is disease resistant, and is widely adapted in Texas.  We will also try ‘Kiowa,’ a recent thorned blackberry release from the University of Arkansas.  Dr. McEachern noted on Neil Sperry’s radio show that ‘Kiowa’ was extremely vigorous and productive.

Our thornless blackberries, ‘Natchez’ and ‘Ouachita’ also come from the University of Arkansas.  They are known for their firm sweet fruit.

You would have thought growing grapes in Texas was easy.  After all, almost half of all grape species are native to Texas.  Native grapes are a cinch.  Wine grapes are another story.  Pierce’s disease and cotton root rot are some of the conditions that limit choices of grape varieties.  Womack Nursery, where we purchased our grapes, suggests ‘Champanel’ for prairie or blackland soils.  It has large black grapes that make a loose bunch, great for making jelly.

In addition to ‘Champanel,’ we decided to try ‘Carlos Muscadine,’ a grape variety used to make white wine.  Muscadines are the most disease-resistant grapes.

“If you only have one fruit tree, this should be it,” Dr. McEachern advised, when interviewed by Neil Sperry.  He was suggesting the ‘Orient’ pear, a variety that Jim picked for our orchard.  With pears—unlike fussy plums and peaches—the less you prune and fertilize, the more pears you get.  (More tree growth from fertilizer does not equal more fruit.)  We also picked a ‘Warren’ pear, since pears are self-unfruitful and you must have two varieties for good production.

Ana really wanted an apple in the orchard.  We realized at the last minute that both pears and apples need pollinators. Pears are much more disease resistant than apples, so the space in the orchard went to pears.

Judy and I looked at several area nurseries for fruit trees, but couldn’t find a place that had everything we wanted in stock.  One nursery carried the ‘Redskin’ peach, for example, but it was grafted on East Texas rootstock, rather than the Halford stock for alkaline soils.

The only solution was for husband Mike and I to have a road trip to tiny De Leon and Womack Nursery, “Your Texas source for fruit and pecan trees since 1937.”

Fruit Trees at Womack Nursery

Fruit Trees at Womack Nursery

Womack Nursery is often named as the premiere source for pecans and fruit trees in Texas by fruit and nut experts.  Traveling down two-lane Highway 6 between DeLeon and Gorman, you see a series of sheds and a small office.  The parking lot is filled with pickups—all white—as crews assembled orders.  Thousands of fruit trees, pecans, grapes, and berries were tucked in marked rows of sand.  Large boxes waited to be filled with trees and shipped to customers all over Texas.

In a few minutes, our order was packed in damp hay, wrapped in brown paper and plastic, and tightly tied, ready for the trip back to Dallas.

We weren’t quite ready for the big city lights, however.  Some of the best barbecue on the planet waited for us in Stephenville on our way home.



Pictures by Starla and Elizabeth

More about blackberries here.






Let’s Picnic!

Before Christmas, the poem says, young children dream of sugarplums. Our Linda must have visions of gingham checks.  At the May 22 Master Gardener meeting, red gingham ribbon tied white picnic lunch boxes topped with blue gingham bordered menus, nestled by larger red gingham napkins.  Picnic tables were piled high with gingham quilts and vintage picnic baskets. An open picnic basket crowned the decorations, all ready for a party and filled—you guessed it—with red gingham napkins and red and white plates.

picnic basket close up


Master Gardeners visiting the Demonstration Garden were in for a treat.  Our Annette pulled out all her teacher skills and fascinated us with the world of earthworms.  How-to’s were flying right and left: we learned how to raise little wigglies in the laundry room, what to feed them, and how to sift out worm castings.

Sue and Michelle signed autographs after their unforgettable demonstration of how worms get close and friendly.

picnic-Michele and Sue cropped


Guests opened their picnic lunches to find a carefully packed feast wrapped in ladybug cellophane.  They enjoyed Arugula Rocket Salad with Nasturtium blossoms and Raspberry Vinaigrette, Copper Pennies, deviled eggs with candied bacon, crostini with Every Herb Pesto, Lemon Bars and Cupcake Brownies.   What a picture perfect day for a picnic.  Come back soon, fellow Master Gardeners!


picnic-boxed lunch


Salad with Nasturtiums and Raspberry Vinaigrette

Raspberry Vinaigrette



¼ cup raspberries

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons raspberry or red-wine vinegar

½ teaspoon sugar

6 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper



1.  Using a wooden spoon, push raspberries through a handheld wire strainer to puree.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons raspberry puree, lemon juice, vinegar, and sugar.

3.  In a slow but steady stream, whisk in olive oil until emulsified.  Season with salt and pepper.


Vinaigrette can be made 1 day in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Yield:  Makes about ¾ cup

Adapted from Martha Stewart



6 large handfuls of mixed greens, including wild rocket arugula, herb salad mix, etc.

6 nasturtium blossoms


Toss mixed greens with the vinaigrette.  Strew the blossoms over and serve immediately.  (Options:  may also toss with fresh blueberries and/or raspberries)

Picnic-deviled eggs


Deviled Eggs with Candied Bacon



1 ½ tablespoons light brown sugar

Cayenne pepper

Pinch ground cinnamon

1/8 pound thick-cut bacon (about 3 strips)

8 large eggs, straight from the refrigerator

¼ to ½ cup mayonnaise, or as much as desired

2 teaspoons whole grain mustard

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 scallions, minced

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Paprika, for garnish



1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, a pinch of cayenne and the cinnamon.  Place the bacon on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.  Sprinkle each slice of bacon with some of the spiced sugar and bake, about 10 minutes.  Flip the bacon, sprinkle with the remaining spiced sugar and continue to cook until crispy, about 20 more minutes.  Remove the bacon from the oven and allow to cool.  When the bacon is cool, mince it and set aside, reserving a quarter of it for garnishing the eggs.

2.  Put the cold eggs in the bottom of a medium sauce pan and cover with cold water.  Bring water to a boil and remove the pan from the heat.  Cover the pan with a lid and let stand for 12 minutes.  Drain the eggs and rinse with cold water.  Let the eggs cool a bit and then peel when they are still warm (eggs are much easier to peel when they are warm).  After they are peeled, you can then store them covered, in the fridge.

3.  Mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, dill, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, ¼ teaspoon cayenne, the scallions and the minced bacon in a medium mixing bowl.  Season with the salt.

4.  Slice the eggs in half lengthwise.  Gently remove the yolks by pressing your thumb against the back of the yolk to pop it out of the white.  Add the yolk to the bowl with the mayonnaise mixture.  Mash together, using a fork, until smooth.

5.  Put the filling in a re-sealable bag.  Cut one end off and pipe the filling into the egg whites.  Sprinkle with the paprika, extra bacon bits and dill before serving.


Yield:  6 to 8 servings.

picnic-marinated carrots


Marinated Carrots


For any kind of summer backyard gathering, Grandmother always served these.



¾ cup sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

½ cup vinegar

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 Tablespoon prepared mustard

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 lb. bag precut and peeled baby carrots

1 small red onion, sliced into rings

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 (15 ounce) can tomato soup


1. Simmer carrots in water to cover for 5 to 7 minutes or until crisp tender.

2. Drain into a large strainer.  Immerse strainer in ice water to cover carrots.

3. Drain briefly then remove to a large bowl.

4.  Combine first seven ingredients and pour over carrots.

5.  Add sliced onion rings, green pepper and tomato soup.

6.  Refrigerate overnight.

Yield:  8 to 10 servings


Every Herb Pesto



½ cup Marcona almonds, toasted

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 cup fresh spinach leaves

½ cup grated Parmesan

½ cup fresh cilantro leaves

½ cup fresh parsley leaves

¼ cup basil leaves

¼ cup fresh tarragon leaves

1/8 cup fresh mint leaves

1/16 cup fresh chervil leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Zest of lemon

Juice of 1 lemon

¾ cup canola oil

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Garlic-rubbed crostini, optional

Heirloom tomatoes, chopped, optional



1.  Blend the almonds and garlic in a food processor until fine.  Add the spinach, cheese, herbs, lemon zest and lemon juice to the food processor.  Blend the herbs just enough so they are mixed, about 3 seconds.  Add the canola oil and olive oil while the food processor is on a low setting. Season with salt and pepper.  Blend to desired consistency.

2.  Transfer the pesto to a serving bowl.  Place the chopped tomatoes on top of the crostini if using and top with pesto.  Any leftover pesto should be placed in a bowl and covered with plastic wrap.  Press the plastic wrap right on top of the pesto and refrigerate.


Yield:  About 2 cups.


Luscious Lemon Bars


Position a rack in the center of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 325°.  Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with a sling made of parchment paper or foil.

Sift into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup powdered sugar


Sprinkle over the top:

12 Tbl. (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces

Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand.


Pour the crust mixture into the pan and press to an even thickness with the bottom of a measuring cup.  Bake until golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes.  Set aside to cool slightly.  Reduce the oven temperature to 300° F.


Whisk together until well combined:

6 large eggs

3 cups sugar


Stir in:

Grated zest of 1 lemon

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 5 lemons)


Sift over the top and stir in until well blended and smooth:

½ cup all-purpose flour


Pour the batter over the baked crust.  Bake until set, about 35 minutes.  Remove the pan to a rack to cool completely before cutting into bars.


Just before serving sift with:

Powdered sugar


The Joy of Cooking (1997 edition)


Cupcake Brownies


A “go to” recipe for chocolate lovers!



2 sticks butter

4 ounces semisweet chocolate

4 eggs

1 ¾ cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup flour

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans



1.  Melt butter and chocolate together in a fairly large pan.  Remove pan from stove and let mixture cool a few minutes.  Add remainder of ingredients and mix together by hand.

2.  Spoon batter into foil-lined cupcake pans (use either regular-sized pans or the mini cupcake pans – just be sure to use the foil cupcake pan liners).  Fill cups ½ full.

3.  Bake at 325 degrees F for about 20 to 30 minutes (adjusting time if using mini pans).  Let cool.

4.  If desired, spread a little of your favorite chocolate confectioners’ sugar frosting on each cupcake.

5.  May be wrapped well and frozen.


Yield:  About 2 dozen regular size brownies, or 3 ½ to 4 dozen mini brownies.

picnic lunch balckberry tea

Blackberry Iced Tea



3 cups fresh or frozen blackberries, thawed

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint

Pinch of baking soda

4 cups boiling water

3 family-size tea bags

2 ½ cups cold water or sparkling water

Garnishes: fresh blackberries, fresh mint sprigs



1.  Combine 3 cups blackberries and sugar in large container.  Crush blackberries with wooden spoon.  Add chopped mint and baking soda.  Set aside.

2.  Pour 4 cups boiling water over tea bags; cover and let stand 3 minutes.  Discard tea bags.

3.  Pour tea over blackberry mixture; let stand at room temperature 1 hour.  Pour tea through a wire-mesh strainer into a large pitcher, discarding solids.  Add 2 ½ cups cold water, stirring until sugar dissolves.  Cover and chill until ready to serve.  Garnish, if desired.

Yield:  about 7 cups

Recipes by Linda

Pictures by Starla

Blackberry Pie Bars

Are you craving pie or dessert bars? No problem, here’s a buttery, creamy two in one.

Blackberry Pie Bars

 Ingredients for the Crust and Topping: 

Zest of two lemons

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

 Blackberry Filling: 

4 large eggs

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup sour cream

¾ cup all-purpose flour

Pinch of salt

6 cups fresh blackberries


1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with butter; set aside.

2.  In a small bowl, combine the granulated sugar and the lemon zest.  Using your fingers, rub the zest into the sugar until all of the sugar has been moistened.  In the bowl of a food processor, combine the lemon sugar, all-purpose flour and salt.  Pulse a few times to combine.  Add the butter and continue to pulse until the pieces of butter are no larger than the size of peas, about 10 to 12 pulses.

3.  Measure out 1 ½ cups of the crumb mixture to use for the topping and put it in the refrigerator until needed.  Press the remaining mixture into the bottom of the pan.  Bake the crust until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.  Let cool for about 10 minutes while you prepare the filling.

4.  To make the filling, whisk the eggs in a large bowl.  Whisk in the sugar, sour cream, flour and salt until thoroughly combined.  Gently fold in the blackberries.  Spoon the mixture evenly over the crust and make sure all of the blackberries are in one layer and not sitting on top of one another.

5.  Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly over the filling.  Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 45 to 55 minutes.  Let cool for at least 1 hour before cutting.

Yield:  18 bars

Recipe and Picture by Linda

Blackberry Puffs

These pillowy little puffs will have you dreaming for more.

Blackberry Puffs Ingredients:

All-purpose flour, for work surface

1 sheet puff pastry (1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package)

3 cups blackberries (12 ounces)

2 tablespoons sugar

¾ cup mascarpone cheese


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll out pastry to a 10-by-12-inch rectangle.  With a sharp knife, trim edges and cut pastry into eight 3-by-5-inch pieces.  Place pastry on a large baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.

2.  Transfer sheet to oven and bake until pastry is puffed and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.  Let cool, then split each pastry horizontally.

3.  In a bowl, mash blackberries and sugar with a fork until juicy but still chunky.  Spread mascarpone on pastry bottoms.  Top with blackberry mixture and pastry tops.

Yield:  Makes 8 servings

Blackberry Crumb Bars

Delight picnic goers with this perfect marriage of tart fruit and tender cake.

Blackberry Crumb Bars


6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted, and ½ cup (1 stick), room temperature , plus more for pan

1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan

½ cup packed light-brown sugar

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon baking powder

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2 containers (5 ounces each) blackberries


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.  Line bottom with parchment paper leaving an overhang on two sides; butter and flour paper, tapping out excess.

2. Make topping:  In a medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, brown sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt; add 1 cup flour, and mix with a fork until large moist crumbs form.  Refrigerate topping until ready to use.

3.  In a medium bow whisk together remaining ¾ cup flour, baking powder, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt; set aside.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat room-temperature butter, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy; add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Reduce speed to low; mix in flour mixture.  Spread batter evenly in pan; sprinkle with blackberries, then chilled topping.

4.  Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 40 to 50 minutes.  Cool completely in pan.  Using paper overhang, lift cake onto a work surface; cut into 16 squares.

Tip:  While you prepare the cake, refrigerate the crumb topping.  This will help give it a nubby texture once baked.  To store, keep in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 days.

Yield:  Makes 16 servings

Recipe by Linda, picture by Starla

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