Going for gold

Picking blackberries in the lane started off as a bit of a novelty. We live in the countryside, which means it’s the law to partake in these cute little seasonal activities. Amelie absolutely loves blackberry picking. So much so that we have blitzed the hedgerow down our lane. I defy anyone to find one more blackberry outside of our house!

Admittedly they have come in handy for sprucing up the MANY apple crumbles I’ve been baking which I’m truly thankful for.

However, this cute activity has now turned into something much more serious.
Every time we go for a walk we are on the lookout for blackberries. We scour each hedgerow, stomp through prickly brambles; tear our skin on thorns and brace ourselves for nettle stings just to reach the shiny, fat juicy blackberries right at the top (which all sensible people have left well alone). We pick blackberries like it’s an Olympic sport.

Today for example we went for a quick walk after lunch across the fields in the autumn sunshine. Not long into our stroll did we start to see blackberries. We quickly look at each other, nod knowingly and then swarm around the blackberry bush, all of us looking for the fat juicy ones. We each grab a few and then stand looking in dismay, as we have nothing to put them in (rookie mistake). It’s coming to the end of the season for blackberries so they are a little squishy so we need to handle them with care. blackberries-in-hood

Then we have a flash of brilliance – we can stash them in the hood of Amelie’s coat. Yes!!! (You’d have thought we’d just won the lottery). Come on Team GB-P (Great Blackberry Pickers), let’s go for gold!

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“I’m singing in church and I need to take veg”

In our garden we have an apple tree (cooking apples, no idea what sort!) which, when we first moved here we thought was charming. I had thoughts of baking my own apple pie in my country kitchen, filing the house with the aroma of apples and cinnamon. And apple pie is the perfect excuse for custard (I LOVE custard). In this dream-like state I imagined baking it in the Rayburn oven but as of yet I haven’t been brave enough to use it. It just sits there in the heart of the kitchen making odd noises and basically saying “Come on, give me a go if you’re brave enough”. I’m not.

As it’s autumn, the apples have started to drop from the tree. All three of us were very excited by this and Amelie was in charge of collecting the apples (in a cute little basket). Amelie thought this was the best job ever. (Needless to say the novelty has since worn off for Amelie). apples.jpg

And now I have so many apples I don’t know what to do with them. I literally can’t give them away! My lovely neighbour up the road generously gave me some of her Bantam hen eggs, so I suggested we swop the eggs for some cooking apples from our tree. She politely declined. Arghhhhh!

An aside – I have never seen apples so big! Some could pass for mini pumpkins and if they fell on your head they would probably knock you out. And yet, we have made a rope swing for Amelie in the apple tree. Hmmm, don’t think I’ll be getting the ‘Mum of the year’ trophy this year. 

I have to own up and admit that I’ve never made either apple pie or apple crumble before (hangs head in shame) so although I was excited about using our very own apples, I was also a little daunted. We are in the country, we have our own cooking apples – I MUST make a good job of this! The pressure was on. Oh and to throw another thing into the mix; my daughter Amelie is Coeliac so it also had to be gluten free. Gluten free (GF) baking isn’t easy, but that is another story. I’d never even heard of ‘Xantham gum’ before Amelie was diagnosed. I will share the delights of GF baking another day.

I decided to make an apple crumble, as that is far easier than trying to make GF pastry. I took the recipe from Doves web site and took note of the comments from others attempting the recipe and replaced some of the flour with ground almonds and didn’t add all of the butter (and felt SO virtuous by doing so).

By some miracle the apple crumble was a success (Hooray!) and Mr G was suitably impressed, telling me I can “make it again anytime”. Lucky me! Amelie liked the topping but being a kid didn’t like the healthier part – the apples. Mind you, any slither of healthiness in this pud was totally obliterated with the gallons of custard we had with it. Oops.

rope-swingA couple of days later, Amelie announced to me as she came out of school today that she is going to be singing in church next week and “we have to take some veg”. Eh? Is this a village tradition that churchgoers sit there with a butternut squash on the pew beside them? Is this the sort of carry-on that happens in Suffolk villages? But then it clicked and I asked Amelie if she meant it was for Harvest Festival. Thankfully she said yes.

So come Harvest Festival day I generously packed Amelie off to school with a good couple of tonnes of our apples. I know, I know – I’m all heart.