This week on the farm………Grab a cup of coffee or tea and relax with me for a moment.
While mowing the horse pastures this week on the farm, I noticed many blackberry patches around the field. They’re red now and prolific and plump from all the rain we have had here in Ohio. It won’t be long and we can pick them.
As a kid, we made our own pails to pick berries in. We took nails and made two holes in a coffee can and slipped a thin piece of wire through to make the handle. It was a great thing to have even besides using it for berry picking. Then, Mother instructed us that we could wear a belt and strap the pail to the belt and use both hands for picking making the chore go faster. Sounds exciting? At first it is. The first berry is good too. Then it becomes boring as most kids know and the berry vines get caught in your hair and you have to call for help. And then you’re bleeding or bugs are getting you and so on.And you get the picture, right?
During the picking season one evening of my youth, Mother informed us we were going to Grandma Fender’s farm, all of us, to pick blackberries the next day. She made it sound pleasant and exciting. We had never picked berries with Grandma before.
So the next morning, extremely early we got up, “while it is still cool” and drove down the long gravel drivewayto Grandma’s white clapboard farmhouse. She appeared promptly.
There, we met my mother’s older sister Vivian and a bunch of her kids and Grandma who was carryinga galvanized washtub. “ What’s that for?” I asked in wonderment. “Well, Sherry, we are going to pick until we have this full of blackberries so we will have plenty for jams and jellies, and pies and cakes this year, she said matter-of-fact.” And it was no joke.
I looked across the tub at sister Debbie. She looked at me. Her eyes were as big as last night’s dinner plate. I am sure mine were too. But we didn’t question her or smart off.
At the wild blackberry patch, the berries hung prolifically. There were oodles of sweet, plump berries. Some went into our mouth, though we were scolded for it. Then we smelled the most fowl odor from afar. “What is that?” we all asked.“It’s a pole cat,” Grandma told us. And she went on to explain how the polecat worked and then told us the familiar name, a skunk. But if it were a snake, she had brought a hoe to take care of it, as she was scared to death of them.
The icing is almost like fudge. So good put on while slightly warm.
Many hands do make quick work and by the time the noon sun had heated up the holler we were picking from we finished. Grandma’s girls grabbed a handle on each side of the washtub and joyfully we headed for the house.And did I mention that our pails had to be full too? Yep. We learned that later.
That winter for Christmas though, I experienced the best Blackberry Jam Cake with Carmel Icing ever. When Grandma removed the cake cover, the cake had split down the middle and the icing had slid, but though it looked a mess, it was delicious. I never forgot that berry- picking day and before Grandma passed away, she gave me the recipe for her famous cake. But more importantly, she gave me a memory that never fades.
BLACKBERRY JAM CAKE AND CARMEL ICING
Real cream added. Yummy and rich!
Blend together 1 cup butter, 6 eggs, 2 cups sugar. Add 1 1/2 cups blackberry jam. Next add 3 cups flour, 1/2 cup whipping cream with 2 teaspoons baking soda stirring in it. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg, 2 teaspoons allspice, 1 teaspoons ground cloves, 2 teaspoons cinnamon.
Bake at 350 degrees in 3 prepared pans no more than twenty-five minutes.
Grandma’s note on the recipe she gave me: ( If it falls apart use toothpicks to hold it together; they digest pretty good. Ha! Ha!) This is a real old recipe.
Carmel Icing-It Never Fails
Bring to a boil 3 Tablespoons butter. 6 Tablespoons canned milk, 9 Tablespoons brown sugar. Add 3/4 box confectioners sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Remove from heat and beat until thick enough to spread.
Grandma’s note on the recipe she gave me: (Not too long, Ive had it go to fudge. Ha!)
Love Grandma Fender (1997)
If anyone makes this cake, please send me a picture and I’ll post it here.